5 counties in a day and 200k

The route

The route

My continuing interest in Audax has encouraged me to set new challenges. One challenge is Randonneur Round the Year (RRTY) which entails riding a 200k event or longer every month. In the cold, dark, winter months this becomes more of a challenge as everything is harder. Riding in the dark and the cold and the road conditions and weather are likely to be poor.

I started at Raymonds Hill in East Devon at 06:30.

Devon...county number one

Devon…county number one

Pitch black!

In the dark at Raymonds Hill

In the dark at Raymonds Hill

Next I was in Dorset briefly

Dorset...county number 2

Dorset…county number two

before crossing into Somerset.

Somerset...county number 4

Somerset…county number three

After an hour and a half in the dark the sun rose over Somerset.IMG_2945

Sunrise in Somerset

Sunrise in Somerset

My route worked out well and through Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire, heading east, I spent a lot of time on quiet empty lanes.

Dry, clean roads

Dry, clean roads

Unusually they were clean and dry – and this bit was even flat. (there was a headwind – can’t have everything!)

The flat didn’t last long and on approaching Shaftsbury I had a clear indication that things were going upwards.

If they say 'Very Steep', it probably is.

If they say ‘Very Steep’, it probably is.

I wondered which road users the sign was aimed at? Certainly of interest to cyclists!

In Shaftsbury I made a deviation from my route to cycle up the famous Gold Hill.

Gold Hill

Gold Hill

Eventually I turned South and leaving Wiltshire for Hampshire.

Hampshire...County number 5

Hampshire…County number five

I crossed the Avon at Fordingbridge

Crossing the River Avon at Fordingbridge

Crossing the River Avon at Fordingbridge

and entered the New Forest National Park.

The New Forest National Park

The New Forest National Park

I cycled along the Western edge of the New Forest.

Friendly locals.

Friendly locals.

It was unusually dry and all the fords were empty.

Empty fords

Empty fords

I continued South until I came to the sea at Christchurch. The sea was very calm but the view across to Swanage from Bournemouth was a bit grey on such a dull, overcast December day.

Grey but calm

Grey but calm

I cycled though the urban sprawl of Bournemouth and Poole, mainly using cycle tracks to avoid the main roads and emerged at Poole Harbour at 14:30.

Poole harbour

Poole harbour

As the light started to fade I was back on familiar territory and all that remained was 40 relatively easy kilometres through a calm, dry, quiet Dorset. I was in the dark again before reaching Dorchester and was pleased to reach my end control at Winterbourne St Martin just before 5pm.

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