8 Mile Ride (9th April 2008)

The right pedal on my bicycle has been a bit stiff since I replaced the pedals last April. I thought it would wear in over time but it hasn’t.

  1. Levered the cap off the end using a long screwdriver.
  2. Eventually found that a 12mm socket fitted the nut.
  3. Undid the nut.
  4. Still as stiff as it was.
  5. Noticed another, larger nut deeper inside.
  6. Couldn’t find a socket large enough that would fit in the housing.
  7. Gave up and put it back together.

Ben Rides Out

Started by riding towards the woods near Basingbourne Park. Was wearing a T-shirt and quickly found the air was way too chilly on my arms. So I went back, got a jumper and headed out again.

Rode into the woods and noticed a fallen tree had been cleared. Went along that bit and crossed the ditch. This leads into a slope where trees are just far enough apart to slalom between them. The ground is covered in pine cones and needles, making it very easy to lose the front wheel.

After winding between the trees for a fair while, I pootled out onto the roads. Went straight at the roundabout and the subsequent crossroads to the dirt track which runs between the houses and the woodland. After a fairly short while I saw it ended on a road, so I turned right into the woodland. The path ran past a park where kids were doing football training for a local club.

This route ended near Pondtail. This was the shortcut I’d been trying to find since the start of this year. It was like discovering the Northwest Passage! Well, not really, but you get the idea. From there I took the roads to the path between the houses and the woodland.

Towards Pyestock

After a while I turned right and headed towards the stream. It has a shallow ford and a bridge. I stopped on the bridge and watched the clear water rushing underneath. A man walked three dogs across the bridge. Only one was on a leash and it hid behind his legs as they went past.

Going straight on a gravel track leads to the long hilly track at the foot of the hill Pyestock sits on. Some tracks weave exciting routes across the face of this hill so I explored them more fully that ever before. They seem to continue right around, alongside a road. Another area to explore!

I took the gravel road back to the stream. The track drops sharply, flattens out then drops again. This is perfect for tucking in and whizzing along at dangerous speeds. So, naturally, that’s exactly what I did.

This time I went through the ford. The mixture of small, loose gravel, changing depth and fast flow mean you have to be awake and fairly well balanced to get across.

Towards Fleet Pond

I turned left and followed it a long way. There were quite a few families with kids and dogs walking so I went slowly and gave way.

After some time I wondered how far it was to Fleet Pond. Soon after thinking I noticed a puddle on my right. Looking over to it, I realised this puddle actually stretched out a long way and was, in fact, the Pond! It’s the largest body of freshwater on Hampshire, easily classed as a lake. So why is it called Fleet Pond? Well, the people round here are a modest sort. c{:-)

I circumnavigated the pond. There are some awesome views along its length, particularly in the corner between Fleet Station and the business park.

Hill Climb

Further round there is a steep bank; perhaps an ancient shoreline. I rode up and down this and found a really challenging part. It is steep, long, turns slightly left, gets very narrow, steepens some more and then levels out. There is a less steep but equally high slope further back along the track, so I would hurtle down that to get as far up this slope as possible.

After about 10 attempts, I couldn’t quite conquer it. Either I’d lose the front wheel on the lose surface as it turned left or I’d run out of momentum. In a way this is cool because when I eventually reach the summit, the difficulty will have made it all the sweeter.

Heading back around the pond led me to an opening where you can get right down to the water’s edge. The way back from here always eludes me! After a wrong turn I picked up a stream and figured it led to the ford since the bed was made of orange gravel, same as at the ford.

My guess was correct, thankfully.

Homeward Bound

Turning right, I rode back to the track between the houses and the woodland. I joined straight into the roads rather than riding along the track. After going some way, I realised this joined King’s Road some way down from where I wanted.

Luckily there was a through road on the left. This led me to the Pondtail I had followed to the woodland. It exits onto King’s Road at a cross-roads which I can go straight across towards Church Crookham.