This weekend was the New Forest 100 and a ride I’d had booked ever since I first rode in the New Forest in the Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive a few months ago and fell in love with the place.
This one shared the fabulous event HQ at Somerley House, an old country estate just north of Ringwood and with a HUGE event village as the event runs twice in the weekend: on Saturday and then again on Sunday. Both days are a sell-out, with TONS of cyclists everywhere.
I’d driven down to the area on Saturday morning and went out for what now seems to be my tradition of a good curry the night before a long sportive. My favourite food and it seems to work fuelling wise so who am I to argue?
On Sunday morning, I was up at 4:45am for the 40 minute drive to the venue. This time the entrance to the estate was on the opposite side to last time I was here but it was easy to find and I enjoyed the drive up the tracks in the beautiful estate, with the big old stately home on it’s elevated position coming into view as I approached.
After parking up, I got everything sorted for the ride and rode over to the event village, which was right in front of the big stately home. A perfect setting!
I registered and popped over to the BOMO Expresso Bar that is at all these southern Wiggle events. I’ve been to so many now that I know the couple who own it and chatted to both of them about my adventures over a coffee.
Now it was time to head to the start line as the first riders were off at 7:20am. I managed to get in the second group of departures and was soon heading out into the New Forest for a fab day of cycling.
The route headed south over familiar roads (from other Sportives in the area) towards Hurn and Bournemouth Airport before turning eastwards and into the stunningly beautiful New Forest.
I stopped at the first feed stop at Bashley to top up with water and tuck into a couple of the delicious cheese and marmite savoury pastry rolls my lovely wife had made to fuel my ride.
Next, we headed up the totally gorgeous Ornamental Drive, through deep forests that I imagine the whole of the New Forest must have been like years ago when it was a Royal hunting ground. Most of the New Forest is more open and more like moorland these days but this bit remains.
We exited the New Forest up near Romsey and headed into Wiltshire with more gorgeous countryside and the second feed stop was soon upon us at 54 miles into the ride. I stopped for the usual but did not hang around too much. I was aware that the next feed stop was at 91 miles and only 9 miles from the finishing line so planned to miss this one out.
At 75 miles into the ride, I saw a nice bench on a village green and decided to stop for my own feed stop as I already had enough food and water with me for the ride. Suitably fuelled up and a lot quicker than using an official feed stop, I was soon on my way.
All too soon I started to recognise the roads from previous sportives and realised we could not be too far from Fordingbridge, which in turn is not far from the end of the ride, back at Somerley House.
I got chatting with another rider who lives in Kent and found out he was also doing the Le Tricolore next Sunday in Calais, so we agreed to look out for each other then. We chatted all the way to the last feed stop, where he stopped and I rode past.
On the last part of the ride I realised I had tons of gas left in the tank and I knew what to expect from the roads from here on in, so stepped things up somewhat and spent the rest of the ride zooming past everyone I came across. Absolutely loved it and the feeling of satisfaction of being able to take on any rider I saw as they all looked tired by now, but I was anything but tired!
Back at the event village, I finished with 99.7 miles on the clock. It’s the New Forest 100 and not the New Forest 99.7 so I had to ride up and down an estate service road to get the extra bit in so I was comfortably over 100 miles. I smiled to myself when I saw few others doing it and was happy I was not the only midly OCD rider around ;).
Then it was off for a recovery pint and a massage. I discovered there was a 40 minute wait for a massage and to be honest my legs felt absolutely fine, so I gave it a miss and headed off to the Jeep and the drive home instead.
An amazing weekend away and another great sense of satisfaction in how my cycling is coming along. Absolutely loving it!
Route: click here