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 Post subject: Rides close to Newbury
PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 9:54 am 
retrobike rider
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Joined: Sun Aug 15, 2010 3:32 pm
Posts: 405
Location: London, UK
I will be working in Newbury, Wiltshire this week and fancy an after work ride somewhere close by, just a pootle, nothing too technical. I posted the same message in the South East section, but the response has been lack luster to put it mildly.

I am on an early shift that knocks off at 3pm and have spotted that there is gentle riding to be had on the Kennet & Avon canal and also around Greenham Common air base.

If anyone knows any better, or fancies a bit of exploration, let's hear your 2p worth.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 21, 2013 10:12 pm 
South West Deputy AEC
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Joined: Mon Nov 09, 2009 4:53 pm
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Location: Devon
Head over to the Ridgeway - the car park at Uffington Castle is a good staring point. Plenty of riding in both directions.


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 Post subject: ajantom
PostPosted: Mon Apr 22, 2013 12:08 pm 
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Location: London, UK
Thanks for the recommendation ajantom.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:11 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:28 pm
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Location: Almeria, Spain
Sorry to highjack the thread but I plan to be in Newbury from the 6th to 18th June and plan to ride lots [in the Berks, Wilts, Hants & Oxon area] so if any one would like to join me or show me some new routes feel free to contact me here.

PS, I'm a moderatly fit sixty something who doesn't mind buying a beer. :)


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 Post subject: Newbury to Reading
PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:56 am 
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I recently acquired an unexpected opportunity to do a week's work based in Newbury, Berkshire. This pleasant home counties market town is host to the corporate headquarters of one of the UK's largest mobile phone companies. Commuting from my home in time for an early shift starting at 7am meant the only viable transport option was by car. Outside rush hour, the 75 miles can be covered in a shade over an hour and a quarter.

By contrast to my regular work, a lot of time would be spent in the car and the rest sat behind a desk. With that prospect I would soon be getting stale and needed to find myself some exercise before I seized up or got any fatter. Once again the RetroBike Forum came to my aide, I received suggestions for routes and found myself a ride companion in the shape of Gordon, aka Secret Squirrel, who had recently joined me on Urban RetroBike #3.

Leaving work on the dot of 3pm I headed for the company car park and with what modesty I could muster, changed from sober business clothes into gear more appropriate to trail riding fun. I don't know if I was spotted on CCTV, but if so, it must have given the security team a good laugh. Transformation completed, I mounted the wheels, tweaked the brakes and headed towards the centre of town.

Having consumed breakfast some hours previously, I hoped there might be time to grab a quick snack on the go, but the phone rang and Gordon was already just moments away at the train station, oh well, I wanted to shift a few pounds from my mid-rift. We met on the tow path as it runs through Victoria Park, a pleasant area complete with; band stand, early season sunbathers and the ubiquitous ice cream van.

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Following the National Cycle Network Route 4 along the Kennet and Avon canal you pass through the town's industrial area, but the presence of so many canal barges, trees and wildlife makes for a bucolic ambiance. In spite of recent rain, the trail was dry and hard packed, which made for easy and rapid progress. There were some rooty sections plus the odd dip and bump to keep you on your toes, the trail also switches from bank to bank, so there is plenty to maintain interest.
At Thatcham you have to cross a busy road and it was not obvious where the trail continued, after a small detour, we got back on track and were riding on what was to be the best section of the route. It was smooth and well manicured, but empty, we both had some mad moments, forcing up the pace and getting a good thirst on for a swift half at the Rowbarge Pub by the swing bridge in Woolhampton.

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I could have sat and shot the breeze for longer, but Gordon was on a mission, there were kids to be collected at 6 and there were still 12 country miles to go. The next section around Aldermaston Wharf was quite rough in places, according to the signs it had been deliberately left for the grass to grow and promote the diversity of fauna and flora, etc. Furthermore, the presence of quite a few gates to negotiate made for quite a tiring leg of the journey.
At Theale we passed under the M4 motorway and soon began to sense our proximity to an urban centre. There was a notably boring slog alongside the motorway, as you skirt the Theale Waterskiing & Wakeboarding club lake, with little to please the eye and the relentless drone of drivers speeding along the M4 above.
Close to Reading, the trail rejoins the canal tow path and after passing under the A33 there are much prettier sections at Waterloo Meadows heading into the centre of town. Arriving just minutes before Gordon's 6pm deadline, there was no time for lengthy farewells, as he zoomed off to carry out paternal duties.

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I was faced with a conundrum, should I grab some late "lunch" and take the train back to Newbury or turn around and head back up the Kennet and Avon canal ? My legs were already tired and this was only half way and just a couple of hours to go before nightfall descended. But there's nothing like a race against the clock to motivate you when you are running out of puff. There was a bit of a headwind to contend with and in theory you are heading slightly uphill, in consequence the ride back felt slower, but I was back at my car by 8pm, so time wise there can't have been much in it.

By my reckoning the distance traveled was 18 miles each way. Allowing 30 minutes of stoppages, I was riding for 4 hours, which makes for an average speed of 9 miles per hour, not bad considering it is only a fraction slower than the speed I make cycling in to London.

I can highly recommend National Cycle Network Route 4 along the Kennet and Avon canal, it would be nice to do again, maybe at a more leisurely pace though, or just in the one direction. I would be keen to see the continuation of the route too, which runs all the way to Bath. Interestingly by following the linked Bristol and Bath Railway Path, you can make it to Bristol too, should the mood take you.

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Last edited by PurleySquire on Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:42 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:22 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 12:28 pm
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Location: Almeria, Spain
The trails around Coomb Gibbit are great as are the tracks off the Ridgeway. The Long Distance Path itself has been sanitised but serves as a good traffic free way to join up rides IMHO.

If you're going to Greenham Common head into the woods where there is some good single track to be found.

Depending on how much time you have Lambourne makes a great base for exploring dozens of trails. Good Luck.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2013 1:52 pm 
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Today (Thursday) was a fantastic spring day, almost hot enough to be summer, but still with a bit of a chill in the morning. I was feeling surprisingly chipper after yesterday's jaunt. You have to make the most of such conditions here in the UK, so I chose to break my journey homeward with a visit to Greenham Common.

Here in the UK the name for many is still synonymous with CND, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and in particular the Women's Peace Camp based there in the 1980's. Today, the missiles, military and political activists are all gone, the huge concrete runways have been dug up and for the most part it has been returned to common land.

The single track trails at Greenham Common were recommended to me right here on the RetroBike Forum, but it also has the potential for lighter mixed riding too. I "scoped out" the site before hand thanks to Google Maps and decided to use the industrial estate area as my point of entry. This turned out to be an unexpectedly busy place and hard to find an obvious parking place without antagonising anyone.

Not wanting to find my car clamped or towed away I eventually parked on Lindenmuth Way, had a snack and a drink and got myself organised.

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The English Provender Company who make posh chutneys and pickles are based nearby, the not so posh "Monster Munch pickled onion flavour" smell pervaded the immediate area. A gate behind the factory leads straight on to the firm gravel perimeter road. From here I took a pleasant, if unadventurous, ride around the site to view; the missile silos, control tower and sundry artifacts left on show.

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At the Eastern end I found a tiny trail leading down through a gully and met a biker heading the other way searching for his dropped phone. There didn't seem to be much more to ride, even though what there is was quite a challenge with my skills. The area was hemmed in by houses and roads and not quite the epic single track I had been recommended.

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On the return leg back to the Western end of the site I discovered a trail leading into the woods

behind the ominous looking nuclear missile silo. This turned out to be where the good stuff is, I picked my way along tentatively, not wanting to risk picking up any speed on alien territory, this trail was above my ability level and is exactly the sort of thing I need to do more of.

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I returned to the car around sunset very pleased with my exploration of the site but feeling more than a little worn out, keeping my eyes open on the ride home was quite a struggle.


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