Who would have thought it…a UK bank holiday and no rain clouds in sight!
With sun cream, shades and full water bottles we headed out in the late morning sun of the early May bank holiday for one of the largest group ride of the year so far! The team consisted of Andy (singlespeed 42/16), Lex (tourer), Ben (fixed 44/16), Cliff (fixed 42/16), Luke (fixed 42/16), Meg (road), Will (road) and Kayleigh (shiny new BMC road bike).
We had a lovely 40 miler planned, which would start by taking us out of Southsea via the Easton Rd up through Havant and onwards to Rowland’s Castle.

When we got to Rowland’s Castle we were meet with a full May Day fair on the village green, complete with a brass band, vintage cars and the obligatory Maypole! An even larger group of cyclist whizzed by the other way all in their matching club jerseys and to our surprise turned out to include some friends of Kayleigh and Will’s from up in Basingstoke…small world!
Just passed this we stopped for a water bottle top-up at our local, The George inn Finchdean.
From here we were in the Southdowns proper and the scenery was amazing as always!

The farmers weren’t the only ones with their guns out…

After superman, aka Will, almost got hit by a land rover and we made it up the first real incline of the day we stopped for a photo outside another old favorite The Red Lion in Charlton
The pub is situated on a cross roads halfway up a hill and as luck would have it we headed downhill from there. The rush of the descent was soon surpassed by the inevitable climb to follow and there was no time to stop at the Butser Ancient Farm.
At the top we regrouped and crossed over the A3 heading west towards Clanfield. Out of Clanfield is a long steady climb up until the Bat & Ball pub. This descended into a race to the top followed by the first signs of dehydration and subsequent refilling of the bottles. By now it seemed that we were on a great pub crawl ride, if only we had actually got a pint in any of the pubs we were passing 🙁 We opted not to stop for food here in the end and instead push on to Wickham for our planned lunch stop at the The Kings Head
After another fast descent and possibly inaccurately informing Cliff that the worst of the hill was behind us (sorry dude),  we turned right on to a fairly substantial climb. The fixed boys raced off but didn’t realize that instead of flattening out around the left hander the road kicked up even more! This lead to people walking their bikes the last bit of the hill, although walking was actually faster than riding as I found out. 
After a well earned photo and a top-up of sun cream we were soon on our way again and after a few more miles pulled into Wickham. The The Kings Head is a great pub for cyclists as in the winter there is a covered and heated outdoor area and for the summer there is a big beer garden out the back. It was clearly evident that we were not the only ones who think this as most of the garden wall was full of bikes leaning up against it. 
After ordering our food and enjoying a much needed pint we relaxed in the sun. After a bit of a mix up regarding a couple of orders they eventually turned up, along with a random extra sandwich (thanks very much) and they even knocked them off the bill for us 🙂 good work Kings Head we will be visiting you again.
Wickham is not that far from Portsmouth and in fact the only thing between the two is Portsdown Hill. After a hill training ride a month or so ago where I climbed it 6 time during a 30 mile ride I don’t see it as being that bad now and pushed up it as fast as I could without seeing my lunch again. The rest of the group each pushed themselves as hard as they could and we regrouped at the top for some more photos and a quick rest. 
If going up was slow coming down was even slower for the fixed lads as they took the sensible option not to boom it. For those who don’t know, Portsdown Hill is 131 meter elevation, 10% gradient hill that has a sharp bend half way down and ends at a T junction. You can get some proper speed coming down, Ben has even overtaken a moped before on his road bike, but on a fixie…you need some real strong legs and a big old pair of balls! Maybe next time, after a few more pints…
We rolled back into Pompey and after picking up some ice creams headed down to Spice Island for a sit down and few celebratory drink in the afternoon sun 🙂
All round a perfect day! Good work guys 🙂

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