Dan’s Favourite Bike Ride (And The Road That Made Him Cry)


(upbeat rock music) – Oh man, look at that! It’s also a place where
I cried on my bike. But not today, nighty, not today. And it would be rude not
to, really, wouldn’t it? (whoosh) I am back, riding my bike
for “Dan’s ADVENTure,” which is a 1000 kilometers
before Christmas, to fulfill a promise, but also to raise some money
for World Bicycle Relief. And that means I’m back
riding in the New Forest, which has brought back a lot of memories of when I grew up riding a bike. And so I thought it would be nice to show you around my local training loop and give you the GPX
files in case you’re ever in this neck of the woods. And I would recommend
that you come and visit because it’s a great
place to ride a road bike, or a gravel bike, as you’ll see. The ride starts here at
Café Velo in Ringwood, which is my current hometown. And it’s the perfect venue, really, to start our bike ride, because it is located just on the edge of the New Forest National Park, where I’ll be riding today. New Forest, in fact, is
the newest national park in the country, having gained that status back in 2005. The ride is 85 kilometers, or 53 miles, including around 12
kilometers of gravel tracks. There’s a link to the GPX route in the description below, and also a link to one
that avoids the gravel, if that’s not your thing. Either way, it starts
by taking the back route towards Bransgul, which
is where I grew up. My parents moved there from
London when I was four, and it’s where I first
started mountain biking at the age of 13. Right, I’ll just finish my coffee, and we’ll get going. (quiet upbeat music) Just over eight Ks in and we’re onto the first climb of the day. I say climb, it’s not exactly a mountain. I think it’s 1.3 Ks, an average of 4%, but, as a youngster, I did
a lot of in-tours up here, so I spent plenty of time
suffering on this road. And at the top here you
reach the dizzy heights of probably about 100
meters above sea level. And this, in fact, was the venue of a mountain bike race back in 1994, which felt like a really big one. I think it was only a Southern Area Mountain Bike Series race, but there were a few good riders in the Elite races who
I’d seen in the magazines, so I was loving it! I was here with my disposable camera like a pig in… like a happy pig. At the top, we hang a left towards Burley onto the first really
open section of road. There’re a lot of these ’round New Forest. Great when you’ve got a tailwind, but not so good if it’s a headwind. I always check the wind direction before I head out on a ride in the Forest. And that stretch of road leads
us here to Burbush car park, which is basically the
area in which I started as a mountain biker. Now New Forest has always
been incredibly frustrating for mountain bikers, because they’ve never
really made any provisions in terms of specific areas
or single track, et cetera, which is annoying when all
you want to do are a few jumps and berms and other rad stuff like that. However, in this modern
age of gravel riding, the New Forest is absolutely perfect, which is why I’ve included
a few gravel sections on my ride today. Now you may have noticed, I’m actually on my Orbea Orca road bike, but these sections are pretty tame and pretty flat. So as long as it’s not too wet, you should be all right on a road bike. Just make sure you pack a
couple of spare inner tubes. (upbeat music) (gravel crunching) This first part heads along
a disused railway track. The 60 miles stretch opened in 1847 and went all the way to Wimborne. It was known as the Castleman Corkscrew because of the way it wound
its way through the forest. It was closed down in 1964, but some of it is now open to ride down. (upbeat rock music) Right, if you continue down
this way along the railway track you’ll get to Halsey’s Tea Rooms which is an opportunity for
a very early coffee stop. We’re going to head left, up this climb, and very quickly on to sector number two. (rock music) (gravel crunching) (cow mooing) So that second sector takes
out there, Wilverley Plain, and back on to the road here. And actually you might
recognize this part coming up in just a second, ’cause
it’s where we filmed our first look at the
Factor Vista gravel bike, a year or so back. And it is a beautiful vista
over the New Forest there. Especially on a day like today. (upbeat music) From here, we take a nice
descent in towards Brockenhurst, another opportunity for a
coffee stop, if you so wish, and not a bad place to do so, as it’s previously been voted Britain’s most beautiful place to live. It’s also a place where
you can start the ride if you want to get the train down. But rather than stopping,
I’m going to press on because, well I’ve got a few
kilometers to ride after all. That road basically winds back on itself and down here to Ornamental Drive, which is really quite stunning. Apparently a forest
worker back in the 1800s planted a load of Sequoia redwoods, conifers, azaleas, and rhododendrons. And these redwoods are
now the tallest trees in the whole of the New Forest. It’s stunning at all times of the year, and so I always try to
include it on my local rides. The road leads to a
junction with the A-35, which is a busy road, so make
sure you cross it with care. Particularly as there is a
cattle grid on either side to keep the New Forest ponies
away from the main traffic. If you’re going to do any
road riding in the New Forest you’re going to come across
a lot of cattle grids, so it’s important that
you know how to ride them. There’s nothing too complicated about it, but there are a few pointers. Firstly, make sure that you
approach them head-on like this. Never lean the bike,
particularly when its wet, because they are slippery
(beep) in the wet. And also, try to approach
them with enough speed that you don’t have to
pedal over them either. But you should be absolutely fine. On the other side of that main road, we’re straight on to the
Boulderwood climb which, again, is particularly
pretty through the trees. It starts with steady drag, and
then gets gradually steeper, and steeper, and steeper. This last part, it goes
into double-digit gradient. And as a full-time rider,
I knew I was going well when I could sprint up this in a 53. Now today, I’ve got a 50, and I’m not even in that, I’m down on a 34. Conclusion being, I’m not going very well. Now again this is not a huge climb, and nothing like you’d find
in other national parks around the U.K. That was a bit of a
frustration, back in the day, as a full-time rider when I wanted longer climbs to train on, but right now, being slightly less fit, and wanting to get a 1000 Ks done as efficiently as possible, New Forest is perfect. All right, onwards. At the top, we’re going to fork left, past the Canadian memorial, and then have a short
bit, fairly quick descent, that takes us underneath the A-31, before climbing up the other side. Again, when I was pinging, I could sprint all the way
up this in the big ring. But not today, nighty, not today. Although this man probably could. This is the first of my mystery
guests, for today’s ride. He’s literally a mystery guest, because I can’t reveal his true identity. But his identity on
Strava is Bertie Wooster, and he’s a bit of a legend. Holds over 2,000 Strava KOMs, including this climb, and
the one we’ve just done. He’s like the Sting of cycling. (gentle chime music) I told you it can be quite open in the New Forest, didn’t I? In fact, rather ironically,
there are a lot of parts of the New Forest where
there isn’t a lot of forest. This being one of them. This is Stonycross, which
was opened as an airfield back in 1942, during World War II, where it served the Royal Airforce and also the U.S. Airforce, too. It’s also a place where I cried on my bike as a 16 year-old. So I didn’t have a road bike at the time, but I had purchased some road tires for my mountian bike
wheels, which I’d fitted. And I’d set out on a 30 mile ride, with the aim of averaging
20 miles per hour, which was going very well at the start of this road behind you. I’d averaged 20.3, and then I
hit it into a block head wind, and by this point it was down to 19.7, and I couldn’t go any harder,
so I burst into tears. It was a bit of a low point, but looking back it was quite an insight into the way my brain works because I like hitting numbers and I hate it when I don’t hit them. In fact, I’m only just
about getting to the point where I can go out on a ride and not be obsessed by what
I’m seeing on my computer. At the end of the road,
you take a left turn and then you fork left again, then cross the main Cadnam
to Fordingbridge road before heading down Nomansland. You’ll be glad you’re going
down this, rather than up, because it’s a steep one, and also slightly off
camber, for some reason. So take care when you do descend it. At the bottom, there’s a possible
pub stop at The Lamb Inn. And it would be rude not
to, really, wouldn’t it? Particularly rude, actually, as my second mystery guest
is waiting for me inside. Hello, mate. – Hey.
– Got my pint already? – Yeah, all ready to go. – Right, let’s go and grab a seat. Cheers. This is Roger Hammond, who holds the grand
total of zero Strava KOMs around the New Forest, but he is still a bit of a legend because he’s finished both third
and fourth at Paris-Roubaix, and he was a teammate of
mine at the Cervélo TestTeam, which I’m sure he’s got
an anecdote or two about. – Uh, no not really. But we can talk about my
third in Paris-Roubaix, if you want to. – Nah, it’s all right. – Oh, cheers. – Cheers. Just after The Lamb Inn,
you take a left hand turn, which goes over a cattle grid, and then another left
at the end of the road which leads you eventually to Lover. Now apparently, the post
office at Lover used to be inundated with people on the
lead up to Valentine’s Day who wanted to have the Lover
post stamp on the envelope that they sent to their valentine. How romantic. I say “apparently” because
I never received one with the Lover stamp on, or without, actually, if
you want me to admit it. Cue some violin music here, if you want. (slow violin music) At the end of the road in Redlynch, we turn left and then fork off right to a narrow descent into Woodgreen and then another left toward Sandyballs. Yes, you heard that correctly, Sandyballs. A campsite and another full
mountian bike race venue. The terrain is really quite rolling on this part of the ride. We’ve hardly any flat. But the worse is yet to come, unfortunately. Now this is a dead straight road, and in front of you, you
can already see it now, is what can only be described as a wall. Now, if you’re very fit you can utilize this
small descent before it to build some speed up and
sprint all the way up the wall. On the other hand, if you’re like me, you can grind up the 25%
gradient of Blissford Hill on your granny gear. Oh man, look at that. (intense rhythmic music) (heavy breathing) Now if you would rather avoid that pain toward the end of your ride, there is an alternative road
that’s only slightly longer, but far less severe in terms of gradient. But you want the challenge, don’t you? The next section of road takes
you back toward Ringwood, where we started, and past
another possible pub stop, The Royal Oak, although I am
going to resist this time. Instead, I’m heading on to
meet my final special guest. Sorry I’m late. Final special guest of
the day, this is Jude. Jude Lloyd, my son, who once upon a time wanted
to be the next Daniel Lloyd, but now appears to want to be
the next Mathieu van der Poel which I guess is quite
understandable, isn’t it? Do you want to do the last
part of the ride with me? – Yeah. – Right, let’s go. Remember who I used to ride for, Jude? – [Jude] The Cervélo TestTeam. – [Dan] That’s right, yeah. Have you told your mates about it? – [Jude] No. – You’re still on the front? I’m just going to sit on
your wheel, all right? We are effectively headed
back into the New Forest now, past the Red Shoot pub,
lovely roast at the weekends and another possible pub stop, and then up a small but
deceptively hard climb. Then it’s effectively the home run and the final gravel sector. (gravel crunching) And this is basically the
final climb of this route. Quite a tough one, Jude, isn’t it? – Yeah.
– This gravel one. But from there on it’s downhill almost all the way back to Ringwood. Keep going, keep going, keep going. Over the top. From Linford we are back onto tarmac, albeit on a small road, and a descent down towards Poulner, and finally back over the A-31 and into Ringwood, where we started. And we’re back, after around
about 87.5 kilometers. Did you enjoy that, Jude? – Yeah. – It was good, wasn’t it? And if you would like to
go around that same route, you can find a link to the GPX
in the description down below and there’s also, as I mentioned earlier, a link to one which is
entirely on the road, if gravel isn’t your thing. Also in the description is a
link to my JustGiving page. I’m doing “Dan’s ADVENTure,” which is a 1000 kilometers
before Christmas to try and raise as much money as I can for World Bicycle Relief. They are getting children on to bikes for a very different reason. Not necessarily to become the
next Mathieu van der Poel, but so they can get to
their school a lot quicker. Many of them are having to
currently walk two hours, or even more, each way to get there. Which means that often,
they quit their education before they’ve finished it. Any donations that you can make
will make a huge difference and would also be very much appreciated. All right, if you’ve enjoyed this ride around the New Forest, and you’d like to see
other presenters do rides around their neck of the woods, let us know in the comments
section down below. And if you’d like to watch another video, and your kid’s about to
get on a balance bike, you can find out how
to do that, with Jude, just down here.