Brutal rides A339

Brutal rides A339

I wanted to write about my ordinary bike rides when I’m just getting from A to B. Theyre not particularly epic, sometimes they’re boring and occasionally they can be brutal; like this one. [1]

A combination of working on a customer site and getting  my car serviced the same day meant a car-bike-train-bike journey to get from A to B via C in order to reach D. With C being Basingstoke station and D being Nrebury. I quite like these journeys as they remind me of travelling abroad when I was younger: all the connections and timings somehow make it more exciting.

The C to D bit of the journey was exciting for all the wrong reasons as the A339 is 17 miles of cyclist’s hell. Many bemoan the challenges of urban cycling, but they should experience a few minor roads.

It’s rare that I’m glad to be wearing a dayglo jersey, but when there’s an 18-wheeler hissing it’s air brakes because it’s following a cyclist at 12mph and trapped by a solid white line, I’ll take survival over style.

After leaving the bleakness of Basingstoke the road carves through open, undulating farmland. Most of the time you’re oblivious since you’re concentrating on avoiding the gutter full of mud,litter and flint shards. I recall passing two private schools whose remoteness reminded me of prisons (which i suppose they are technically). It says something about a ride when the highlight is passing the edge of the Aldermarston air base, home to he ladies of Greenham Common for 15+ years.

There’s a large roundabout in Newbury that leads to a dual carriageway heading north. I used to hate doing this in a car and as had to got out of the saddle to crest a small incline I hated it more. By now the cold drizzle turned to rain and the final mile was ridden into a full headwind. I’ve not visited Flanders, but I imagine these are the conditions that toughen their racing cyclists professional level.

I spent about 6 hours at the clients offices before having to do the journey in reverse (the route, not cycling backwards – which would’ve been impressive). Despite eating at every opportunity, I still had to stop for additional fuel on the way home. I can’t imagine that many hearts leap on the sight of Basingstoke nestled in the Hampshire hills.   

[1] if you were expecting brutal rides to be a lung-busting account of my ascent of the Gavia, Croix de Fer, Ventoux or Alpe D’Huez, I’m going to disappoint. Were the planets to align and were I to secure a three month sabbatical, win on the lottery and get time off from family demands (list ordered in decreasing order of likelihood) then those accounts might move out of the fantasy league.


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