A couple of weeks ago we attended the Woods Cyclery Grand Rando in the aim to test out some bike packing gear, check-out the shop but mainly to have fun and enjoy a fantastic park of the U.K.
After an eventful drive down to the New Forest, it was great to catch up with friends at the shop, drink coffee and enjoy a good gossip. With the warm weather, it was going to be a great weekend filled with cycling, gravel, adventure, beer and food.
Setting off we had the day to ourselves and were in no rush. This is one thing I like about events like this and with a little planning, you can easily go off route if need be to explore even more.
For those that don’t know the New Forest, it is an amazing place filled with vast gravel tracks, wandering cows, sheep, horses and donkeys to name the least. Most of the roads that do pass through, and especially on this route, were quiet and away from the main roads giving you the freedom to chill-out.
Throughout the day were bumped into other riders who had either turned up late or decided to gun it. Either way, everyone had a smile on their face and looked forward to catching up in the evening.
One thing that did happen was a rather annoying puncture on the review bike we had. Luckily the spare tubes were the correct size, but as this ride goes deep into the forest you have to make sure you carry everything you need as there is little help. A silly mistake was avoided but only by luck.
Knowing part of the route was a bonus as finding a good pub which served fine beer and pork pies came as welcome relief.
Once we had filled ourselves up we pushed on. There wasn’t far to go so we made the most of a cafe for a coffee and a slice of cake…..who doesn’t like cake on a ride?
As we pulled into the campsite tents had been erected and we found our spot. Soon after the beer started to flow from The Way Outback Brewery, whiskey soon appeared and then the rum. At this point, I don’t remember much. For someone who doesn’t drink too often, I drank an awful lot that evening and honestly don’t remember most of the evening. What I do remember was shouting out random requests to the drummer of Jawbone and The Swine, eating amazing pizza from Catch a Fire and talking in depth about bicycles. All-in-all it was a fantastic evening.
That being said, and I’m lucky I do not get hangovers, I did the rounds in the morning apologising just in case. After coffee and amazing pastries from Bakehouse24 we set off back to the shop.
Words from a Bikepacking newbie
So although I have undertaken the odd bit of bike packing in the past I would still count myself as a newbie and my gravel riding experience is limited to a quick dash around the local woods and down ‘horseypoo drop’, so it was with some trepidation that I signed up to The Woods Cyclery Grand Rando.
have to say that any fears I had were quickly abated after a coffee and
a few quick chats with some friendly cycling folk. Gravel riding takes a
lot more out of legs than road riding, but the New Forest makes for
some beautiful scenery, and the thought of Pizza and Beer at the end got
me through it.
There were a few steep sections which were a struggle but more due to the bike set up than the rider. Unfortunately, too much beer, whiskey and rum, put me out of the 30-mile ride on the Sunday but this has only made me more excited for next year
What I learnt,
• The cycling community is a very friendly and inclusive one (although I already knew this)
• I am capable of riding down a steep gravel path without falling off
• Don’t take rum from strange men
From speaking to the folks at Woods Cyclery and those that attended next year they will be repeating the event and if it is as good as this year I expect it to be a much larger event. We hope to see you there, drink a beer and whiskey or two and enjoy what was a blooming good weekend.