King Alfred's Way

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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RickH
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby RickH » 20 Jan 2020, 2:14pm

mattheus wrote:If you google
wayfarer berwyn centenary rsf

… you will see a somewhat broader demographic (-:

Yes that was definitely an eclectic mix. Plus it was a big group, around 50 IIRC.

I was there on my Kona Sutra, my friend was on her touring bike. There were MTBs, both hard tail & full sus, at least one fat bike. Plus Isla Rowantree, & others, riding on 100 year old machines in period outfits.

DSC_1411.JPG
Doing gate duty, Kona to left of shot

A great weekend & everyone seemed to get along just fine. :D

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mjr
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby mjr » 20 Jan 2020, 6:07pm

mattheus wrote:Just register with Instagram - it won't kill you!

I'm not agreeing to a contract when I don't have time to read it.

Frankly, every self-respecting cyclist should at least *know* about the Rough Stuff Fellowship. ;P

I know about them. I've just never knowingly met any of them and the pictures and descriptions from other people vary so wildly that it's useless as a route surface description.
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cycle tramp
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby cycle tramp » 20 Jan 2020, 6:22pm

Zulu Eleven wrote:Happily provide examples (and apologies if I came across as a bit defensive)

Anything from this6C3B6665-740F-4583-9007-8E8DFDFE5785.jpeg

Through AAF17C28-6B80-4522-B0AA-34EF1802C9BF.jpeg

Bits of81F01DD4-9263-4B3E-BCFE-B1F175DFCCDB.jpeg

Stretches ofDFDE4310-B846-4FDB-A3A5-5D372704799B.jpeg

And some3F3FA5F1-6D26-4052-8DC1-C1917629E6DD.jpeg

And all interspersed with anything from field-edge bridleways to quiet roads (I’m confident we’ve got it down to just a couple of short stretches of what I’ll call ‘busier roads’ - plus a few urban paths and towpaths (spoilers) but for the avoidance of doubt, the balance is entirely towards the traffic free option even if it’s slow/hard going but passable).

Of course, The photos above in summer are not representative of what these routes would be like in winter months, nor would you expect them to be -seasons vary, crops change through the seasons and can really affect the condition of a field, nettles & bramble growth abounds at certain times of year, so seasonality is an issue. There is no pretence that any of this route should be presumed to be suitable or promoted for transport or utility cycling. What you will get however is genuine adventure and amazing landscapes, a sense of being at one with nature whilst travelling along some of the oldest roads in Europe, mixed in with a huge amount of history - everything from Neolithic burial mounds to Saxon hill forts, medieval Cistercian abbeys & WW2 anti invasion defences.


Thanks for your reply, its appreciated. I look forward to reading about the project on the future

Carlton green
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby Carlton green » 20 Jan 2020, 7:14pm

The Rough Stuff Fellowship are a relatively tiny group of cyclists and their website is to some extent for members only - no problems with that. Looking at what pictures I can (still) see without Instagram the older ones show, wait for it, Road type bikes going to all types of wild places and in adverse weather too.

The bikes appear to be single chain wheel with either hub gear or five speed block, the derailleurs don’t look like long arm and the chain wheels aren’t small. Drop bars were the norm. I would guess that they’re on amongst the widest 27 x 1&1/4” rims and tyres available at that time - my 27” rims (alloy) and tyres are the widest that I can find but still only 34mm, with hub gear they’re fine enough on tracks but I’m not so sure about a derailleur wheel staying true for me.

I’m a bit of a sceptic and think that we get too hung up about fancy gear, to me the feats of those Rough Stuff riders from the past clearly demonstrate that you don’t need a fancy bike to go off of tarmac ... but your bike being well maintained and well set-up would be a rather good idea too.

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gaz
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby gaz » 20 Jan 2020, 7:37pm

2020 : To redundancy ... and beyond!

slowster
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby slowster » 20 Jan 2020, 8:35pm

I rode a short section of part of the western half of the Ridgeway many years ago, and my hazy recollection is that parts of that particular section were extremely deeply rutted by 4 x 4 use. What made the ruts particularly bad was not just the depth, e.g. 6", but the fact that the sides of the ruts were often nearly vertical, so if a rider was not very careful and their front wheel strayed into a rut, the front of the bike would drop into it very suddenly with a hard jolt.

I think that there are only limited discrete sections of the Ridgeway that are Byways Open to All Traffic*, and I remember reading since I rode on it that there have been restrictions on motor vehicles using them during the winter to reduce the damage they cause when the track is muddy.

Does the section of the Ridgeway forming part of King Alfred's Way include Byways Open to All Traffic*, and has any assessment of the condition of those sections been made to ensure their suitability?an

Even if the winter motor vehicle restrictions have reduced the damage and ruts, it might still be necessary to estimate/measure the number and the impact of 4 x 4s etc. which would be encountered by cyclists on those sections, especially narrow sections where there would not be enough space for an oncoming or overtaking 4 x 4 to go safely past the cyclist without the rider pulling off the track.

* Edit - I see that they are not Byways Open to All Traffic, but Restricted Byways:
https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/ridgeway/news/driving-ridgeway-and-what-do-if-you-see-illegal-activity

Answering one of my own questions I can see that the section of the Ridgeway forming part of King Alfred's Way does include Restricted Byways:
https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/ridgeway/information

Zulu Eleven
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby Zulu Eleven » 20 Jan 2020, 8:58pm

slowster wrote:I rode a short section of part of the western half of the Ridgeway many years ago, and my hazy recollection is that parts of that particular section were extremely deeply rutted by 4 x 4 use. What made the ruts particularly bad was not just the depth, e.g. 6", but the fact that the sides of the ruts were often nearly vertical, so if a rider was not very careful and their front wheel strayed into a rut, the front of the bike would drop into it very suddenly with a hard jolt.

I think that there are only limited discrete sections of the Ridgeway that are BOATS, and I remember reading since I rode on it that there have been restrictions on motor vehicles using them during the winter to reduce the damage they cause when the track is muddy.

Does the section of the Ridgeway forming part of King Alfred's Way include BOATS, and has any assessment of the condition of those sections been made to ensure their suitability?

Even if the winter motor vehicle restrictions have reduced the damage and ruts, it might still be necessary to estimate/measure the number and the impact of 4 x 4s etc. which would be encountered by cyclists on those sections, especially narrow sections where there would not be enough space for an oncoming or overtaking 4 x 4 to go safely past the cyclist without the rider pulling off the track.


There have been ongoing efforts for several years to restrict motor vehicular use. Many/most of the stretches which were, some years ago, badly affected are now subject to seasonal TRO’s restricting use, hence the heavy and extreme rutting during the winter months has been prevented. A number of groups argue for a complete ban, but the evidence base supporting that is patchy, but speeds are generally low and there are very few reported accidents involving motor vehicles (the figures I’ve seen suggest it’s even lower than on the surrounding roads). The position remains under ongoing review by local authorities and Natural England, but most involved feel that things have improved from the situation a few years ago.

You may find this video interesting (though they clearly used the full route, stretches of which are footpath

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1K4d2Dd8FeM

Personally, I think it’s better on an MTB.
Last edited by Zulu Eleven on 20 Jan 2020, 11:53pm, edited 3 times in total.

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gaz
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby gaz » 20 Jan 2020, 9:02pm

I don't often go BOATing. This one is on the Cyling UK NDW route, also the actual NDW, Sustrans NCN17 and Kent County Council's Pilgrims' Cycle Trail. The latter is promoted as a MTB route.
Mud.png
BOAT, North Downs Way - May 2019.

Challenging on a tourer :wink: .
2020 : To redundancy ... and beyond!

AndyK
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby AndyK » 21 Jan 2020, 6:38pm

st599_uk wrote:If CUK are going to create a guide to the route (or a website about the route), would it be possible to liaise with local hire companies and list firms which will hire out suitable bikes for parts or the whole of the route?

For example, would loan you a bike in location X and allow you to drop off in location Y. I'd like to do the route, but won't be buying a different bike for the trip.

That would be nice. In fact it would be nice if CUK gave cycle hire and holiday companies a preview of the route so they can plan services and tours to be ready for the launch of the Way. I might consider adding a supported trip to my programme of tours if I knew more about it.

As for local hire businesses, though... it would be a short list. I know much of the area (I live in Winchester and used to live in Swindon) so from the wiggly line on the map I can make a pretty accurate guess as to where most of the route goes. As far as I know the only mountain bike hire location anywhere on that route will be my friends at Bespoke Biking CIC in Winchester. Within 10 miles of the route, you could maybe add Swinley Forest bike hub, Surrey Hills and Alice Holt (all in the SE end of the loop). The big hire outfits in the New Forest would probably deliver a bike to Salisbury for a small fee. There used to be a few bike shops that hired bikes out from locations near the SDW and Ridgeway, but as far as I can tell they've all stopped that.

Point-to-point bike hire sounds like a good idea but it's very expensive to run, as the hire company has to retrieve its bikes from wherever they've ended up. In an ideal world another hirer would come along at just the right time and pay to bring your bike back to you and the distribution of bikes would all even out, but in reality it doesn't work out like that. (It doesn't even work out like that for Boris bikes or Enterprise car rentals, so it isn't going to work for low-volume MTB rental in the south of England.)

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Si
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby Si » 25 Jan 2020, 10:46am

Zulu Eleven wrote:Happily provide examples (and apologies if I came across as a bit defensive)

Anything from this6C3B6665-740F-4583-9007-8E8DFDFE5785.jpeg

Through AAF17C28-6B80-4522-B0AA-34EF1802C9BF.jpeg

Bits of81F01DD4-9263-4B3E-BCFE-B1F175DFCCDB.jpeg

Stretches ofDFDE4310-B846-4FDB-A3A5-5D372704799B.jpeg

And some3F3FA5F1-6D26-4052-8DC1-C1917629E6DD.jpeg

And all interspersed with anything from field-edge bridleways to quiet roads (I’m confident we’ve got it down to just a couple of short stretches of what I’ll call ‘busier roads’ - plus a few urban paths and towpaths (spoilers) but for the avoidance of doubt, the balance is entirely towards the traffic free option even if it’s slow/hard going but passable).

Of course, The photos above in summer are not representative of what these routes would be like in winter months, nor would you expect them to be -seasons vary, crops change through the seasons and can really affect the condition of a field, nettles & bramble growth abounds at certain times of year, so seasonality is an issue. There is no pretence that any of this route should be presumed to be suitable or promoted for transport or utility cycling. What you will get however is genuine adventure and amazing landscapes, a sense of being at one with nature whilst travelling along some of the oldest roads in Europe, mixed in with a huge amount of history - everything from Neolithic burial mounds to Saxon hill forts, medieval Cistercian abbeys & WW2 anti invasion defences.


Looks ideal gravel bike territory to me...can't wait. Need sample pictures of the cafes that it passes through ;-)

As for whether CUK should spend money on this kind of thing: it's a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't.....so many complaints that CUK does nothing for tourists any more, yet when we have something like this which is aimed specifically at tourists questions are asked about why money's not being spent on utility cycling. And it's a valid question as we do need to promote utility cycling...it's one of the most important things CUK can do. In the ideal world CUK would have an unlimited budget to spend on both but it doesn't. Thing is though, there are many ways of promoting utility cycling and none of them works for everyone. Back when MTBing was at the same stage gravel biking is now I had lots of friends who started cycling via MTBs - initially they just rode off-road, but over time many started daddling with road riding until we were at the point where a hell of a lot of them found that they had become full time cycle commuters! If they hadn't had the off-roading stage to tempt them onto two wheels I doubt if many would have ever started road riding. And, of course, _if_ creating routes like this helps to boost CUK's image and attracts more members then it can't be a bad thing for their campaigning clout. Will it produce more members? I don't know, but I've seen CUK get mentions in gravel and MTB groups where it was unheard of before the Great North Route (or what ever it's called) was launched.

mercalia
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby mercalia » 25 Jan 2020, 1:09pm

Carlton green wrote:The Rough Stuff Fellowship are a relatively tiny group of cyclists and their website is to some extent for members only - no problems with that. Looking at what pictures I can (still) see without Instagram the older ones show, wait for it, Road type bikes going to all types of wild places and in adverse weather too.

The bikes appear to be single chain wheel with either hub gear or five speed block, the derailleurs don’t look like long arm and the chain wheels aren’t small. Drop bars were the norm. I would guess that they’re on amongst the widest 27 x 1&1/4” rims and tyres available at that time - my 27” rims (alloy) and tyres are the widest that I can find but still only 34mm, with hub gear they’re fine enough on tracks but I’m not so sure about a derailleur wheel staying true for me.

I’m a bit of a sceptic and think that we get too hung up about fancy gear, to me the feats of those Rough Stuff riders from the past clearly demonstrate that you don’t need a fancy bike to go off of tarmac ... but your bike being well maintained and well set-up would be a rather good idea too.


I had a look at their website and they seem to be mainly north england based? very little activity SE and SW?

mattheus
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby mattheus » 26 Jan 2020, 5:48pm

Yep, that seems right.(although they do get all over Europe!)

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mjr
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby mjr » 27 Jan 2020, 12:19am

Si wrote:As for whether CUK should spend money on this kind of thing: it's a case of damned if you do and damned if you don't.....so many complaints that CUK does nothing for tourists any more, yet when we have something like this which is aimed specifically at tourists questions are asked about why money's not being spent on utility cycling.

I raised concerns that maybe money is being spent entrenching nasty soft surfaces which are unsuitable for most tourists in areas which don't seem to have much of a touring route network.

It seems really unhelpful for some sand fans to pretend I was complaining about it being unsuitable for utility cycling. I wasn't. If anything, I was questioning if it may be unsuitable for all but the most masochistic tourers and whether the existance of an ill-maintained rough roads route might undermine calls for touring network improvements in South Wilts/North Hants/North Dorset.

If CUK wants to become MTBUK then great but please let's have clarity and drop the pretence of being CTC any longer, or equally, if this is just a tiny fraction of resources going on a niche activity, then great but please let's have clarity and the relative resource numbers published or the bigger touring network that dwarfs the unmetalled one unveiled or something. But I can't be the only rider confused about where CUK's core focus is now, with so much push seemingly given to riding on dirt lately.
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mjr
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby mjr » 27 Jan 2020, 12:29am

gaz wrote:I don't often go BOATing. This one is on the Cyling UK NDW route, also the actual NDW, Sustrans NCN17 and Kent County Council's Pilgrims' Cycle Trail. The latter is promoted as a MTB route.
Mud.png
Challenging on a tourer :wink: .

That should have no place on Sustrans NCN IMO. The Sustrans network should be a sustainable transport network, as that's what Sustrans is an abbreviation for. It's including that sort of mudbath which brings Sustrans into disrepute among tourers - in other words, their name is mud, appropriately enough!

I'm fine with that sort of stuff being part of National Trails and maybe council trails, as long as it's clearly labelled as soft/rough not suitable for all cycles. I think it's a bit borderline as a touring club route, but is CUK still for touring? I just don't know what being a CUK route means any more.
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Richard Fairhurst
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Re: King Alfred's Way

Postby Richard Fairhurst » 27 Jan 2020, 11:23am

(This is probably devolving into a different thread but...)

I have no problem with CUK developing off-road routes like King Alfred's Way - it looks like a superb ride and I'd love to try it one day. Full marks to Zulu Eleven and colleagues for their work on it.

The problem is that we don't have anyone left fighting for country-lane cycling. CUK has recently been campaigning on general cycling funding, off-road routes like the Great North Trail and King Alfred's Way, urban cycling safety, and off-road access issues. Sustrans' priority is (rightly) traffic-free paths, not so much the long winding quiet-lane routes of old. All of these are great, but it does mean no-one is really working for leisure cycling on the quiet road network.

And that's a huge shame, because it needs someone to fight for it. Car speeds are getting higher, and many roads that were pleasant for cycling 20 years ago are intolerable now. The North Coast 500 has directed large amounts of traffic onto formerly good cycling roads, and the blueprint is now being rolled out elsewhere - Wales, SW Scotland - without anyone speaking up for the cyclist (or potential future cyclist). And it's not just an insular thing about supporting a niche hobby: many small rural cafes and shops rely on passing cyclists (I know four within three miles of here where this is the case), there's all the health benefits, yadda yadda you know the drill.

Here's an example of what could be done. In 2013 the DfT published a paper on setting rural speed limits. It says:

"We would welcome applications for zonal rural speed limits, usually 40 mph zones, for example in national parks or AONBs or on other networks of minor rural roads where speeds are already in line with such a limit. Such zones would include entry treatment and painted repeater roundels."

"We would welcome"! It's not often Government gives such an open invitation. But to the best of my knowledge, this has only happened in a few areas in Humberside (as was), and even then mostly prior to the DfT paper. I've spoken to AONB and Highways staff and no-one is aware of this invitation. It's crying out for a campaign.

CUK did publish a "Beyond the Green Belt" paper on rural cycling in 2018, but even this was predominantly off-road: the report begins "Cycling UK knows for a fact that cycling off-road is already immensely meaningful to thousands of people", and relegates on-road riding to "connections", viz "most of us need to use stretches of road to get onto rural trails and paths".

Possibly we need an equivalent of the US's Adventure Cycling Association. I don't yet see any sign of one emerging.
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