- 2 days
About the challenge
This fabulous weekend sees us riding through the beautiful New Forest National Park and over the valleys and ridges of the beautiful chalk downs west of Salisbury. The scenery is spectacular and the cycling very varied. Our route is carefully designed to help you to gauge your fitness and training progress, boost your confidence and improve your cycling skills under the guidance of experienced leaders. We clock up over 100 miles over the weekend, and will ride a mix of terrain from flat roads to a range of climbs and descents, allowing you to test your abilities. We also make time to teach you some general bike maintenance and you can ask us any questions about your main challenge, so it’s a great way to aid your preparation.
The weekend can also serve as a stand-alone challenge – ideal if you’re not sure whether to take the plunge and sign up for a longer event!
Dates & prices
|Departs||Days||Charity||Availability||Registration fee||Fundraising target||Payment option|
|25 Apr 2015||2||Open challenge||Spaces||£170||—||Or||—||Book now|
|11 Jul 2015||2||Open challenge||Spaces||£170||—||—||Book now|
|23 Apr 2016||2||Open challenge||Spaces||£180||—||—||Book now|
|09 Jul 2016||2||Open challenge||Spaces||£180||—||—||Book now|
Day 1: New Forest Ride
Approx. 62 miles
We meet early in the historic market town of Salisbury, Wiltshire, and after a short briefing and ensuring the bikes are set up comfortably, we set off. After a short stretch in town traffic, we head through quiet villages connected by narrow leafy lanes, and then out into a sweeping green valley with fields either side. There are a few small inclines but this first section acts as a good, gentle warm-up. After about eight miles we come to our first climb; just over half a mile long and steep, it’s a real test for our legs! Including hills like this in your training rides builds your stamina very effectively. Once over the top, we have a great descent on narrow lanes and join a quiet, tree-lined main road for a short stretch. Turning off, we ride through more quiet villages and then have a stiff climb up into the New Forest National Park. It’s a longer climb but a gentle gradient initially, which allows us to get into a good rhythm and ride gently to the top – the second half is steeper. By the time we get to the top our surroundings have completely changed and we can enjoy classic New Forest views – miles of heathland, carpeted with ferns and heather and dotted with gorse, and oak and beech copses, while the large pine enclosures show dark on the horizon. New Forest ponies and cows roam freely, so beware of them on the roads and give them plenty of room. You may also see deer.
Our route takes us over the highest part of the New Forest, so we have plenty of opportunity to enjoy the views before a gradual winding descent takes us on narrow roads through lovely areas of woodland – we stop for lunch along here. Our ride today forms a figure-of-eight, so if the conditions are tough there are options to take a shorter route home. In normal circumstances we assume everyone will be happy to loop south, and we skirt the small town of Ringwood before heading east again into the New Forest. Small lanes lined with hedgerows and trees take us between old villages dotted with thatched cottages, before we come to one of the New Forest’s most scenic stretches of woodland. One of the trees here, the famous Knightwood Oak, is one of the largest and oldest trees in the Forest, estimated at approx 600 years old. The road climbs relatively gradually through the trees to Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary, where we stop to catch our breath and load up with more water or snacks. The last section of our ride takes us north on undulating roads through small villages with traditional village greens, usually home to a few snoozing ponies, and more thatched cottages. After a beautiful stretch of beech and oak woodland, we leave the New Forest behind and continue north on small winding lanes which take us back to Salisbury.
At our accommodation, we have time to freshen up before a debrief and dinner. In the evening you’ll have a chance to ask any questions you may have about your main challenge, kit to take or anything else on your mind! Salisbury centre is within easy walking distance, so you may like to have a look round and try some of the local pubs.
Day 2: Wiltshire Downs
Approx 42 miles
After breakfast we take some time to practice some basic bike maintenance skills. We always provide bike mechanic support on our challenge events, but it’s useful to have some knowledge so that you don’t always have to wait for a back-up vehicle. If there were any punctures on Day 1, we may have already covered this!
We head out through Salisbury, taking a cycle path to avoid the busiest stretch. Our route takes us through the Woodford Valley, passing through meadows, woodland and lovely villages, all with views of the River Avon. We then tackle a long but relatively gentle climb out of the valley, freewheeling down a lovely straight quiet road into the neighbouring one. Our route now lies on quiet rolling lanes dotted with small villages and farms as we follow valleys separated by high chalk downs – the views are wonderful. After approx 15 miles we have the day’s toughest hill, with roughly 1.5 miles of climbing though the gradient is steepest at the bottom and becomes gentler. A wonderful descent follows with fabulous views over woods and farmland. The rest of the day undulates through lovely country lanes and villages, and forms a good follow-up to yesterday’s longer ride - today’s main purpose is to see how you feel after yesterday’s efforts and gauge how well you’ll be able to handle consecutive days of cycling on your challenge. We stop for lunch en-route, and return via Wilton – the ancient capital of Wessex – to Salisbury by mid-afternoon.
Back at our accommodation, we say our goodbyes and head home after a rewarding weekend which will leave you with a sense of achievement and hopefully some new tips and knowledge, allowing you to face your main cycle challenge with confidence!
Discover Adventure reserves the right to change the route or itinerary for safety reasons should local conditions dictate.
The trip cost includes accommodation and meals. It also includes full support of experienced Discover Adventure leaders and drivers. We recommend you ride the bike you will use on your main challenge. Although training in the gym is useful, there is no substitute for getting out into all weathers and really getting to know your bike – especially the range of your gears as you climb. However, Discover Adventure can provide hybrid or mountain bikes for the weekend if you wish, at an additional cost of £30. (We have limited availability so please book early).
As a general guide, other items not included in the trip cost are your personal travel insurance (optional), any extra meals, drinks, personal items and entry to any optional tourist sites you may wish to visit. Approx. £50 is recommended for personal expenses. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Accommodation is usually in the local youth hostel, which is in a wonderful location with good facilities and friendly staff. Rooms are single-sex and dorm-style. If the hostel fills, we will use local B&B’s. If you need accommodation on Friday night, you can book direct – though check with us first to ensure you are booking the right place! Salisbury is very popular with tourists all year round, so do plan ahead and book early.
All meals (two lunches, one dinner and one breakfast) are included from Saturday lunchtime to Sunday lunchtime. We also provide snacks at the water stops. There will be plenty of food available!
Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. If you know there are foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. The number of crew and support vehicles looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but the team will be looking after every aspect of your trip. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
You should bring a small daypack or large waist pack to carry all items needed during the day as you will not have access to your main luggage during the day and the vehicles may be some way ahead or behind.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will always have access to 24-hour emergency back-up. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and recommended travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
Our route lies mainly on quiet country lanes of varying quality, but all roads are tarmac. There may be some flint and gravel on some road surfaces. Expect some steep ascents and descents. There are some very short sections on main roads and road crossings. Traffic is light most of the time but you must be vigilant for other road users, especially in poor visibility.
Clothing & Equipment
We will be cycling whatever the weather and could terefore be exposed to bad weather at any time, so be prepared! Even in the summer months we can be exposed to rain, strong winds and storms. This may only be a weekend ride, but you still need appropriate, good quality clothing and kit, including a hi-vis jacket. IT IS A CONDITION OF TRAVEL THAT YOU SUPPLY YOUR OWN HELMET AND WEAR IT AT ALL TIMES WHILE CYCLING.
You will ride approximately 85-90 miles over the weekend, depending on the exact location of our accommodation. It’s more useful when training to think about the type of terrain you will be cycling than just in terms of the distance!
There will be a range of spares in the vehicle along with a full tool kit. However it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality so it is vital that when bringing your own bike it is in good order.
We recommend you check that your Tetanus vaccination is up to date.
Worldwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.
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