A lovely 100k ride through the splendid Dorset countryside.

The route (Click for more detail)

The route (Click for more detail)

There are many targets and challenges in Audax, but I have been working towards AAARTY for the last 12 months. To obtain this award, you ride an AAA event in each of 12 consecutive calendar months. Audax events which attract altitude points are hilly – very hilly.

So today’s ride was 100k with 2000m of ascent. Living at sea level in West Dorset it’s quite easy to find a hilly route. There are no flat routes. There is a certain neatness to riding from home in a North Easterly straightline for 51 kilometres. This brings me to Shillingstone – I then turn round and ride back again. This ride has 10 proper hills. It is extremely scenic and on quiet roads. I did this ride in January and I found it very tough.

Today I made the route a bit easier by coming straight home rather than taking a detour up Abbotsbury hill.

The weather today was warm, sunny and dry with light winds. The roads were dry. The damage from the winter flooding had all been repaired and there was 16 hours of daylight. Today’s ride was an absolute joy. I didn’t rush and I just had a lovely day and really enjoyed myself (after Saturday I needed to reconnect with having fun on my bike). The lanes were full of wild flowers and I was accompanied by constant birdsong.

I left this morning in the sunshine

Leaving home in the sunshine

Leaving home in the sunshine

and cycled through the picturesque village of Burton Bradstock where I live.

Burton Bradstock

Burton Bradstock

The first hill is Eggardon

View from the top of Eggardon Hill

View from the top of Eggardon Hill

from where the route descends to Maiden Newton and then climbs out on a quiet lane to cross the A37.

Bluebells and blue sky

Bluebells and blue sky

The route continues down to the ford at Sydling St. Nicholas

The ford at Sydling

The ford at Sydling St. Nicholas

before once again ascending to the ridge and then down again to Cerne Abbas.

Piddle Lane at Cerne Abbas

Piddle Lane at Cerne Abbas

Piddle Lane ascends from Cerne Abbas to cross the B3143 before descending into the Piddle Valley. More quiet, flowery lanes

Wild flowers everywhere

Wild flowers everywhere

took me to Cheselbourne and then up Bulbarrow.

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Bulbarrow Hill in the sunshine

Bulbarrow Hill in the sunshine

5 hills completed and now the long descent to Shillingstone – the half way point.

Shillingstone...half way.

Shillingstone…half way.

I then turned round and worked my way back over Bulbarrow and down through Ansty to Cheselbourne and across to Piddlehinton again. Up the hill to the B3143 again.

On the way home

On the way home

There is a huge crane at St Catherine’s reservoir which is near this junction. The crane can be seen for miles around. Wessex Water are building a new service reservoir up there as well as laying a new main between Forston water treatment works and St Catherine’s Reservoir. The work will be completed by September 2014. However, if you are heading up there Piddle Lane will be closed from 9 June for 6 weeks.

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Wessex Water works at St Catherine’s reservoir.

Wessex Water works at St Catherine’s reservoir.

After Cerne Abbas I crossed the A352 again before ascending to the ridge and down again to the ford at Sydling St. Nicholas, before ascending to cross the A37 and steeply down to Maiden Newton. The River Frome wandered all through the village in the winter floods but it was difficult to imagine it ever being a problem looking at it today.

The River Frome

The River Frome

All that remained was to climb the last proper hill up to the summit of Eggardon again before the predominantly down hill run for home.

Downhill on the way home

Downhill on the way home

It was a really good day and it was a relief to have some fun on my bike after the arduous 300k ride I had on my last outing.

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