Write-up Jurassic

The Jurassic Coast trip enjoyed some great weather over the May Bank Holiday weekend and we covered some 320km in 3 days with a lot of climbing .This was a short 'tour' over 3 days with manageable day 1 and 3 to allow for the 2 hour drive time and an 'epic' day 2.

Day 1  - Toast, Coast and Monuments

The day got off to a classic VCGH start with our pathfinder squadron arriving at the Hotel in time for a late breakfast. The second wave arrived to find the fire alarm sounding courtesy of an episode involving Heinz and a Toaster. As we enjoyed a pre-ride coffee
we all agreed not to mention this or make any childish jibes throughout the trip! If only I could find a tabloid style headline re-write of bikeroutetoaster.
We enjoyed a lumpy 48k ride to the Hive Beach café near Burton Bradstock for lunch before a ride along the coast towards Portland and then over the downs past the Hardy Monument. A short obligatory off-road section popped up (well you can't get it right all the time) before we climbed over the downs to Cerne where all but a few managed to miss the aroused Giant carved in the hill.

Day 2 - Cows and the Dorset Nymph 

Saturday dawned under cloudy skies. We entered the breakfast room with the Hotel staff clearly adopting a man-marking strategy around the buffet area to head-off any further bread-fuelled arson attempts. We headed out East with a nice tail wind over Bulbarrow (the highest point in Dorset) then down onto the flat roads near Bovington before arriving in Swanage for lunch. Paul J sniffed out a good café (you can't have too much tea you know) and we then headed Westwards along the coast. As we crested the ridge at Lulworth the weather cleared to give us clear sunshine for the route back. We stopped for coffee at the excellent Moreton Tea Rooms before riding back (again not spotting the Cerne Giant) via 3 fairly epic ridge climbs. As with Day 1 the route did include a short off-road section and for those that braved it I gather that the Cows found them very interesting.

Dinner in the nearby Fox and Hounds was a lively affair capped off by our meeting with a fabulous local (I think we imagine she was probably fabulous in about 1955) who made valiant efforts to be-friend us convinced that we were clearly a long way from home and longing for some female company.  A rare chance to meet men with support stockings perhaps!

Day 3 - Lyme Bay

Sunday brought unbroken sunshine as we headed out to Lyme Regis through the back lanes almost totally avoiding traffic before some tough climbing and then the drop down into the town. We basked in the sun over coffee and cakes before tackling the long drag back out of town before meandering back across country to the hotel  - Heinz, Paul H and Alastair tackling the brutal climb out of Beaminster while the rest of us took a slightly easier route with many macho attempts to outpace Marco to the top of the last few hills.

Summary of what seemed to work well; 
  1. Weather - obviously getting lucky with  the weather makes a massive difference, so probably May-August is the best chance
  2. Navigation - Everyone on this trip had Garmins which meant we could ride it without having to be 'led' as such and this combined with not too much spread of ability allowed us to ride almost like the European tours
  3. Ability/Fitness - riding in West Dorset is tough compared to Surrey simply because for the same distance ride you will typically get 20% more climbing often with 15% short sections commonplace
  4. Group Dynamic - It worked really well with 9 of us where the spread of fitness was not too wide. This meant that we could naturally drift into smaller groups but easily re-group at stops
  5. Driving  - Thanks to Peter D, Heinz and Marco for driving. We were able to comfortably and safely get 9 of us down there and back in 3 cars with real ease
  6. Routes - The routes generally worked well and the plan of shorter day 1 (back to Hotel at 4pm), longer day 2 (5pm) and shorter Day 3 (2pm and then a shower and home around 5pm) seems to keep it manageable
  7. Dorset as a Tour Location - Assuming you get the weather it works well as it is only a 2 hour drive and is a different riding experience from our local haunts with some spectacular scenery
Things to improve
  1. Tweak the routes
  2. Pop-up toaster