King Alfred Way Day 2 Review
This is part 2 of my King Alfred Way cycle report of the route from Ogbourne St George (Marlborough) to Farnham.
A sign that I was truly shattered from the epically hard first day of riding can be shown in the fact that as soon as I my head hit the “pillow” I didn’t wake until the early sunrise at 0530. I packed up all my kit leaving no trace, and started the day on the Ridgeway.
An early start on this section of the route was truly a blessing. No one else on the track and with the morning mist rising from the hills, I was spoilt to be enjoying these beautiful views in complete silence, with only the noise of the gravel under my tyres as company.
Ridgeway Views at 6am
The profile for the day was a lot more forgiving than day one. It was undulating for the first half with it ultimately slowly heading down. So for the morning riding before breakfast I enjoyed some coasting downhill on the Ridgeway with no other users to worry about, and enjoying the rolling Wiltshire countryside views the elevation of the Ridgeway offered.
Only downside to such an early start was that nowhere was open for breakfast, and with only cereal bars as fuel I needed to wait until I got to Goring on Thames before I would have some food and a coffee. This was 50km and longer than I would have liked but it did mean I got a good chunk of mileage done before breakfast.
Goring on Thames is a lovely town with a few good options to have something to eat. I opted for The Miller of Mansfield as the others seemed busy and as a hotel could guarantee I could get my Full English. It didn’t disappoint. I ate like a King and rested there for a full hour. Couldn’t recommend it enough should you pass through here for some food.
Leaving Goring I left the Ridgeway and started on the Thames Path. This was a very different path compared to everything I had been on until this point. Wooded with compact mud and with more walkers to navigate than my deserted morning section. As the track was narrowed it meant just keeping it slow and being patient at times.
Isn't wasn't long on the Thames Path and before I knew it I was in Reading. The meander through this city was largely well signposted and through quiet areas. Only exception was when it went through the restaurant area near the Oracle shopping centre, which seemed like an odd choice. After going through a quiet business area the route spat me out into the quiet countryside roads south of Reading. I really enjoyed this section from Reading to Risely where I stopped for lunch. It was mostly tarmac but on quiet roads where I was able to enjoy the riding. It was a nice change from all the off-road stuff, and a common theme of appreciation from me on this route is the ever changing type of riding you are getting to do. It keeps it interesting and the variety means you don't get bored.
Risely was my planned lunch stop, which at 84km meant it only left 40km for after. The only pub in the village, The Bull, was having a Jubilee party. A jazz band, an old Rolls Royce, and I presume the entire village had attended for the celebrations. A couple of cokes, some crisps and a hog roast was the choice here before heading off. Risely was lovely and if you can stop here you won’t be disappointed. It was such a friendly local area where strangers chatted with me and we swapped some stories. I would happily go back here and continue where these conversations left off.
The final section into Farnham was fairly uninspiring from a technical perspective as it utilised mostly gravel bridleways, but remarkable again that the route avoided any busy areas. This close to London generally has lots of busy roads so staying clear is a bonus. I’m not sure where all the riders were from the first day which I kept bumping in to, but today I had the trails to myself for the entire day it seemed. I popped into Farnham from a back road which had a cheeky final climb, and I was on the hunt for a decent dinner stop.
I had hoped to stop at a lovely pub which I went past but it was jam packed, and I was in the need of a sit down. I went to Zizi’s and had an unnecessarily large 3 course meal. It was perfect and just what I needed. But it did make me think – who, or why, is anyone eating this type of mega 3 course meal without having cycled for 120km? This is a completely side point but the pizza alone was 1700 calories, and I had some bruschetta and ice-cream added to this as well. But we digress.
Loaded up Marin Nicasio+
After dinner I cycled with my eyes peeled for a camp spot. I cycled on the most crazy street for huge houses, Compton Way, where each house looked like a Royal Palace.
With rain due overnight my hope was that I will find something that will offer a little protection from the elements. The cycling Gods had answered my prayers on my wish for some shelter.
Not long after riding on the MTV Cribs street, I spotted a little A-frame style tee-pee that someone had made in some woods by the road.
A-Frame Camp Spot Day 2
With day 2 coming to a close it gave me a great opportunity to reflect on everything so far. The Ridgeway was a real highlight for me. I absolutely loved the section from this mornings camp spot to breakfast in Goring on Thames. My favourite perhaps so far. The quiet country lanes were much appreciated in the afternoon and a nice change from the style of riding I had been on up until now.
When I was settling into the bivy for that night, I couldn't recall without the aid of some photos what I had done the day before. Days on the road seem to stretch much further, with you getting more done in them compared to normal. I love that about cycling, especially touring.
Totals from today were 126km with 1,134m elevation. With less climbing, less technical riding and kinder surfaces under tyres it made today a lot easier than day 1. I was still shattered though!
Keep an eye on for next week and the third and final instalment on this King Alfred Way report.