It was a fine September’s day for Simon’s ride to Vernon Dean. Ten riders met at the start at Chilworth and were joined by four others, including a guest, at the Hunters Inn.

The group spilt at the Hunters with Marcus taking on a faster group to the coffee stop at the Apache cafe at the Nuseum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop.

Simon took the second group at not-a-lot-slower pace than Marcus’ group and we headed out through Timsbury, Mottisfont and the Wallops to the Apache cafe. After essential refeshments (the fruit cake rated at 10 on Alan’s cakeometer scale for taste if not for portion size), four returned home whilst the other ten pressed on as one group passing through Grateley, Amport to Appleshaw. Simon mentioned what he called “a steady climb” ahead of us (reviewing the statistics once home showed this to be 10km rising 160m).

We continued through Upper Chute and joined the Chute Causeway, once part of a Roman road linking Portchester to Cirencester. After the slog up from Appleshaw this came as a welcome respite and was followed by one the highlights of the ride; the fast descent of Conholt Hill which rook us into Vernham Dean. Lunch was enjoyed at the George Inn, a delightful, picture postcard country inn. Everyone felt satisfied with their choice from the roasts, the quiche and the ham, eggs and chips.

We were relieved to learn that most of the climbing was done for the day and we headed down the valleys through Upton, Hurstbourne Tarrant, St Mary Bourne, Hurstbourne Priors, Longparish to Wherwell were we had a brief stop for a photo call for those that had the energy to get off their bikes and enjoy the view from the bridge over the river Test. Then it was on through Longstock, Stockbridge, Houghton, Mottisfont and Timsbury.

All agreed that it had been a cracking day out despite some tired legs and realising that the route was slightly longer than expected and the average speed had been ummm.. “brisk”.

Thanks to Simon for the lead and to Marcus for taking some of the group to the coffee stop.

(Thanks to Grahame for the photo)