It was a chilly but fine start at Woolton Hill even for Louis who had cycled over form Wantage, and the warming climb up to Ashmansworth was very welcome. We then hit the splendidly quiet, and splendidly dirty and potholed lanes of North Hampshire. Alas it was not long before the first of a series of enforced breaks for which this ride will unfortunately be remembered.
Barry's broken chain (in two places!) was repaired, along with a puncture, and Richard's tyre punctured in sympathy. Barry rode on gingerly to Whitchurch where he decided to retreat, but not before Jez punctured as we entered the town.
Louis kindly forewent his caffeine stop and we headed up the hill towards Micheldever Station. Shortly after Richard punctured again - a cut tyre was the culprit here. It was now touch and go as to whether we get to Alresford before they stopped serving breakfast (noon)! Finally we crossed the footbridge by the ford, alongside the cress beds of Alresford, and made our way to the Courtyard Café, where we had the upstairs room to ourselves and enjoyed the breakfasts despite arriving 5 minutes late.
Dave yet again took on insufficient ballast at lunch - only Jez seemed to be able to hold his wheel, and the roads of the return leg were fast and straight with sweeping views in the afternoon sun. With 10 km to go, a puncture-free afternoon seemed on the cards, so Dave contrived one (5th of the day)! Still we were back at the cars by 1530 as it started to feel chilly again.
Thanks everyone for a very enjoyable ride despite a little adversity.
Now for the quiz! What should you carry to repair:
1. A 9 speed chain? — No, sorry it's not an 11 speed quick link.
2. A punctured 700C x 25 tyre with rim drilled for a Presta valve? — Nope I'm afraid neither a 26" tube nor a 700C tube with a Schrader valve will cut it.