Viewing 39 posts - 1 through 39 (of 39 total)
  • KAW – just how ‘off road’ is it? I.e. will 100km a day be tough?
  • ibnchris
    Full Member

    I am pretty out of shape these days and planning to do King Alfred’s Way in 3 days.

    A few years back I did the Kielder 100 and SDW in a day but that was the absolute limit for me.

    For those kind of routes I’d always reckoned off road was about half what you can cope with on road. And right now I’m not sure I could do 200km in a day on road. My usual road rides these days (due to work, kids and being old) are 50km in a couple of hours. I’m confident I could do 100km (maybe 150km) on road easily in a day.

    But I don’t think I could do 100km of SDW style riding. But I know only a bit of it is on SDW.

    So is the rest pretty easy going? More like add a third in times of extra challenge?

    Or am I going to need longer?

    crazy-legs
    Full Member

    GCN have done a couple of videos of KAW which are worth a watch to give you an idea of terrain and conditions.

    jameso
    Full Member

    It’s pretty easy going on flat lanes for ~25% of it, there’s a bit of it that’s more SDW style but it’s not that far and there’s a chunk of Ridgeway. There’s not much that’s what I’d call harder-going XC terrain. Gravel? Well you could ride a skinny tyred gravel bike loaded up, that’ll make it feel harder : ) I enjoyed it on a rigid 29er as an old-school XC ride. I think it’s more about how much or how little kit you take.

    ibnchris
    Full Member

    I’m going to stay in B&Bs and will be riding a 29er with Lauf forks for a bit of comfort. So hopefully travelling pretty light

    ransos
    Free Member

    There’s nothing particularly difficult, but 100km was enough for me. I used an old Giant Anthem.

    anagallis_arvensis
    Full Member

    It’s 350km I did it in 3 nights, about 3 full days riding carrying full kit, was reasonably tough, the riding itself is pretty straight forward.

    llama
    Full Member

    It’s all classic XC

    The stretch along the Ridgeway is about 100k but it’s ‘south downs lite’

    The south downs bit is the easier end

    I’d say do 3 days but allow time each day to ride steady

    ransos
    Free Member

    It’s 350km I did it in 3 nights, about 3 full days riding carrying full kit, was reasonably tough, the riding itself is pretty straight forward.

    Yeah I was the same. Two full days and two half days with the other halves travelling from/ back home.

    garage-dweller
    Full Member

    There was someone on here over the weekend who had issues with destroyed brakes due to the filth/grit after a pretty punishing day in the wet. Weather the preceding few days may be a factor.

    jameso
    Full Member

    I’m going to stay in B&Bs and will be riding a 29er with Lauf forks for a bit of comfort. So hopefully travelling pretty light

    It’s all variable and down to fitness and motivation of course but in that case 100km a day sounds quite realistic. Far easier than SDW in a day.
    I rode with light overnight kit on the bike so I could stop wherever I found a good bivi spot (there’s loads) and make an start early, that helps keep it quick and flexible – if you stay in B+Bs there’s advantages to finishing earlier for dinner and staying later for the breakfast! Enjoy.

    Weather the preceding few days may be a factor.

    Or few weeks perhaps – The Ridgeway and Salisbury plains sections will be far more enjoyable after a longer dry + warm spell. Dry summer rides along that Ridgeway section are lovely.

    One tip if you’re not a regular in the western half of that route – it’s a flinty area. Take tubeless worms and tyre sidewall boots, plus some of those small single-use tubes of superglue powerflex.

    Other tip is to try to time it so you’re on the Reading canal section early or late in the day as I expect it gets busy along there.

    barrysh1tpeas
    Free Member

    I did it over 3 days, on a GB, and it was dry. Light overnight kit, staying in Premier Inns. Very enjoyable indeed.

    If it was wet I would not have enjoy that many wet mucky miles in a day, on a gravel bike. I would have waited a week or so until it had dried out.

    cobrakai
    Full Member

    Like you, ive done the SDW in a day and the KAW over 3 days with bikepacking kit on a 29er hardtail.

    KAW is easier than the SDW as there is less vertical but navigation is a bit trickier. I used my garmin fenix 5x mounted on the bars and it was great.

    It’s a great route but pretty sloppy at the moment. It’s less chalky than the SDW and the ruts on the ridgeway can be a pita.

    Alex
    Full Member

    Never got round to doing it (Covid, then terrible weather, then I monged my wrist the week before we were due to go and then we decided the time has passed!). But our plan was to take it easy (we’d done a couple of 100km/1000m+ climbing prevously on Welsh C-T-C route). B&Bs, ‘gravel’ bikes – although I was tempted to take my daughter’s very light Solaris build.

    From the guidebook (which is excellent, defo recommended) we came up with this:

    Winchester Market Lavington 78.7 1036 1016 -20 6HR45
    Market Lavington Stanford Dignley 97.6 1153 1278 125 8HR10
    Stanford Dignley Hindhead 91.7 1028 820 -208 6HR30
    Hindhead Winchester 82.4 1350 1570 220 8HR45

    Column headers are KM/Ascent/Decent/+- descent/suggested time in guidebook.

    Could defo do it in three but didn’t want to be rushing. On Welsh CTC we tended to get to the destination time/pub around 3pm which suited us fine 🙂

    nickc
    Full Member

    Stanford Dignley was mostly famous for playing the limping butler; Mr Grieves in Alan Bennets’ 1958 farce “Whoops Vicar that’s My Flange not Yours” was very successful in the West End and was made into a radio play.

    Alex
    Full Member

    Stanford Dignley was mostly famous for playing the limping butler; Mr Grieves in Alan Bennets’ 1958 farce “Whoops Vicar that’s My Flange not Yours” was very successful in the West End and was made into a radio play.

    Which is obviously the reason we chose to stay there 🙂

    I was looking for accom for that day and the village name caught my eye. I thought ‘got to find somewhere there’. I wanted to go into the pub and announce myself as the long lost ‘Standford Dingly’ 🙂

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    Depends on the weather +1

    I live on the Reading section of the route* and it’s slowly drying out. Last month 30km would have been a horrible ride, next month 100k will feel easy.

    If you’re B&B-ing it the it’s probably about right, much nicer to have a lie in, or finish early, or have a long lunch and a few pub stops. Than have a 200km day that means getting up at the crack of dawn and not stopping for fifteen hours.

    *I’ve asked Cycling UK why, apparently they wanted to make it accessible via public transport. Which just means we get loads of T5’s and Berlingo’s parked on our street most weekends whilst they all miss the nicest riding in the area to head off into central Reading 🤷‍♀️ If records and official routes aren’t meaningful to you I’d turn south in Pangbourne, take the gravel track to IKEA, over the M4 cyclebridge, quiet backroad through Burghfield Common and Mortimer West End, and ride through the farm tracks and Roman Ruins to the Devils Highway, follow that east and rejoin the route after the A33 section. The actual guidebook talks about those (the gravel track is part of the Sullham deffence line) , but the route itself misses them.

    nickc
    Full Member

    Been looking at the google maps, and now I want to do this later this year.

    Ridgeway though 😬

    Alex
    Full Member

    Yeah remember that from our Chiltern days Nick. Needs to be dry. Also that’s why I was thinking about the HT as it’s always going to be a few hours of stutter bumps….

    I’ll do a day with you Nick if you decide to do it…

    barrysh1tpeas
    Free Member

    I live a couple of miles from where the route passes through Salisbury (near Woodford Valley). There’s a bit that goes down a muddy, very overgrown (restricted in width and height), section, it isn’t rideable. Much better to go along a bit and then down.

    Often point it out whilst I’m walking the dog, and bump into people doing the KAW laden with bags.

    It’s fantastic stopping and chatting to the KAWers, you get all sorts doing it! Makes me envious I’ve not doing it with them.

    nickc
    Full Member

    Cool @Alex, sounds fun, going to see what the lay of land is like for late Aug early Sept I reckon.

    ransos
    Free Member

    *I’ve asked Cycling UK why, apparently they wanted to make it accessible via public transport.

    Tbf starting/ finishing in Reading made it easy for me to take the train.

    jameso
    Full Member

    *I’ve asked Cycling UK why, apparently they wanted to make it accessible via public transport. Which just means we get loads of T5’s and Berlingo’s parked on our street most weekends whilst they all miss the nicest riding in the area to head off into central Reading 🤷‍♀️ If records and official routes aren’t meaningful to you I’d turn south in Pangbourne, take the gravel track to IKEA, over the M4 cyclebridge, quiet backroad through Burghfield Common and Mortimer West End, and ride through the farm tracks and Roman Ruins to the Devils Highway, follow that east and rejoin the route after the A33 section. The actual guidebook talks about those (the gravel track is part of the Sullham deffence line) , but the route itself misses them.

    That’s useful, thanks for adding – will look it up on a map. I liked the route overall but to do the loop again I’d want to re-route the bit between Pangbourne and Farnham-ish to stay further west. I get why Cycling UK set it up the way it is, no complaints from me. Just got a bit more urban there, lacked the openness and continuity I enjoyed in the western half.

    ibnchris
    Full Member

    Thanks all. I think I’m all decided now. Going to go for 3 and a half days. Starting off at QECP (it’s a 5 mile ride from my folks place where I can park up) 3 x 100km rides with a 50km on the last day hopefully ending in a roast dinner back at the folks 👍

    damascus
    Free Member

    I did it last May but as I love history I stopped at all the sites, hill forts, burial chambers, stone circles and roman camps etc, made slight detours to some but most are on the route, some you even cycle through. Carrying full kit we easily did around 60 miles a day. Lots of places to find food too but some places struggled to find staff after covid and only sold food Thurs to Sunday. Don’t know if that’s changed?

    Without luggage that’s very achievable. The last 70 miles into reading was mainly downhill.

    The hardest part was riding in the open plains battling headwinds.

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    @Alex

    3pm finish! That’s a half day! What did you do with the rest of your time? 😉

    I’d be interested in riding this and three days with camping kits sounds like a nice distance that you can take it easy and have time for proper meals.

    But if I was staying in a B&B and carrying minimal kit, I’d be doing it in two days I reckon.

    3 day b&b

    I normally average about 15km/h when bikepacking so that would mean 3 X 8 hour days on the bike.
    Breakfast at 7am
    Set off at 8am
    Lunch at 12noon
    Set off at 1pm
    Finish for the day at 5pm
    Evening meal at 6pm
    Bed for 10pm

    2 day bikepacking

    Without kit, I normally average about 17km/h or a little quicker so that would mean 2 X 10 hour days on the bike. Although that sounds a lot, it’s very doable.
    Breakfast at 6am
    Set off at 7am
    Lunch at 12noon
    Set off at 1pm
    Finish for the day at 6pm
    Evening meal at 7pm
    Bed for 10pm

    You could build in an hour a day for stopping to take photo or admire the view plus general faffage. And still have plenty of time to eat at cafes and have a few beers along the way.

    Just my thoughts.

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    @ ibnxchris

    Although you say you’re pretty unfit, you tend to retain tour endurance fitness for longer. It’s hard effort riding fitness that fades fastest.

    Longer rides are as much about mental endurance as physical endurance. As you’ve done longer rides before you’ll already have the necessary mental endurance. It’s the physical part you’ll suffer with. I think the areas of your body you’ll most suffer on the ride will be your back, neck, shoulders, legs and arse. This can be managed with post ride stretching, getting 8 hours sleep each night. Not drinking too much. Drinking plenty of water. Taking paracetamol and ibuprofen first thing in the morning.

    I’d also look at the all the small gains in increasing efficiency on the bike including fast tyres, minimal kit weight etc.

    Alex
    Full Member

    @Alex

    3pm finish! That’s a half day! What did you do with the rest of your time? 😉

    Pub. Leisurely shower and kit sort out. Mooch about. Pub. Dinner. Pub 🙂

    Was great. First night we stayed in a Weatherspoons and the double Gins were about £2 a shot. Ah happy days (if no so happy mornings)

    anagallis_arvensis
    Full Member

    Breakfast at 7am
    Set off at 8am
    Lunch at 12noon
    Set off at 1pm
    Finish for the day at 5pm
    Evening meal at 6pm
    Bed for 10pm

    <p style=”text-align: center;”>I don’t think he’s heard of second breakfast Pippin.</p>

    dknwhy
    Full Member

    I did it in 2 1/2 days last summer on my gravel bike (Sonder Camino Ti – 700x42mm tyres).

    I started the route in Winchfield (shorter/cheaper train from London) and rode just past Winchester on day 1 to get the worst of the climbing out of the way first.

    82 miles, 8 hours moving time 6,500 ft climbing.

    Day 2 was Littleton to Chiselton

    81 miles, 7h50m moving, 5,500ft climbing.

    Day 3 was Chiselton to Winchfield

    63 miles, 5h20m riding time, 3,100ft elevation.

    I was staying in B&Bs so just took evening clothing on the bike (Tailfin).

    I’m a relatively strong rider and found day 1 hard. It rained in the morning which made the SDW and trails through QECP not that fun.

    Ridgeway was fine as it was dry when I got there.

    Day 3 was also fine on the gravel bike.

    If I were to do it again, I’d do it over 3 1/2 days, on my rigid MTB and take my time to enjoy it a bit more.

    It’s a nice route though but as others have said, it has some quirky parts!

    I saw a couple of people doing it with full camping gear. It didn’t look that fun, particularly the guy I saw with panniers on some of the rutted, tramline sections.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    That’s useful, thanks for adding – will look it up on a map. I liked the route overall but to do the loop again I’d want to re-route the bit between Pangbourne and Farnham-ish to stay further west. I get why Cycling UK set it up the way it is, no complaints from me. Just got a bit more urban there, lacked the openness and continuity I enjoyed in the western half.

    There’s a few bits I’d change on that section but I’d have to sit down with a map and they probably require a bit of cheeky riding or involve diversions that wouldn’t be worth it .e.g. it’s a fairly straightforward and nice diversion to go via Swinley, then down onto Tunnel Hill, but it’s going a bit out of the way, and isn’t that much different. At the end of the day it’s a built up area and the route does a reasonable job avoiding all but Reading.

    ibnchris
    Full Member

    Thanks @didnthurt very reassuring. Got bags of mental endurance (2 small kids and insane work helps build it too!) so it will just be the physical bits I suffer from.

    what tyre would be fastest for this do you reckon? Currently have XR4s bit considering some narrower Ramblers I have in the shed

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    @ibnchris

    I rode the Cairngorm Loop 300 with a 2.3″ mixture of Maxxis High Roller 2 and Ardent. I just pumped them up hard. I did have suspension at both ends though. And that was completed in two days. So long off road rides can be done with a treaded mountain bike tyre at higher pressures (around 40psi) but they’re not ideal.

    I just finished the Badger Divide with a 2.25″ Racing Ray / Thunder Burt combo and they were great. The Thunder Burt is essentially a gravel tyre masquerading as an XC tyre. I even managed my longest distance in a day whilst bike packing at 182km. They’re pretty pricey though for the ones with the decent casing and compound.

    I’d be looking at a 2.0″ / 50mm gravel tyre, there’s some bargains about as this isn’t a very desirable width on a 700/29er rim.

    Vittoria Terreno Dry get a lot of love and are very fast, bit sketchy in the mud though. Mezcals might be the better all-round choice.

    If you’re not in a rush then I’d get some tyres from Germany. R2 is good.

    They’re doing a racing ray / Ralph bundle which would be a good xc combo.

    https://r2-bike.com/SCHWALBE-Tire-Bundle-29-x-225-Racing-Ray-Racing-Ralph-Super-Race-Transparent-Skin-Front-Rear

    didnthurt
    Full Member

    If you’re willing to drop your tyre width to 45mm then these look a bargain.

    https://www.wiggle.com/p/wtb-riddler-tcs-fast-tyre-dual-dna?gclsrc=aw.ds&utm_medium=base&utm_term=

    jameso
    Full Member

    I wouldn’t go light or thin on the tyres there to save time/effort. There’s plenty of sections where you’ll be glad of a bit of tread if it’s wet and I don’t see any drawbacks overall with the right 2.2-2.3 tyre, something that rolls easily on tarmac but handles XC like a Nano, Saguaro or Mezcal. Terreno XCs would be fast if the Ridgeway and SD chalk was totally dry. Purgatory 2.3s aren’t a weenie choice but only £22.50 at the moment and I’m impressed by how well they roll on tarmac or hardpack for a capable trail tyre. Decent sidewalls also.

    damascus
    Free Member

    I remember cycling/pushing up the big hill to an old iron age fort and it started raining. The track had worn the top soil away and it was chalky. As I’m from Yorkshire I’m not used to chalk. When it’s wet it’s absolutely lethal. So pick your tyres according to the weather.

    barrysh1tpeas
    Free Member

    The chalk is fantastic when it’s dry, very fast and smooth.  Gravel Kings fly over it!

    ransos
    Free Member

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>The chalk was wet when I did it and had very little grip. 2.1 inch Nobby Nics worked quite well, and aren’t massively draggy on the road sections.</p>

    soundninjauk
    Full Member

    Pondering tackling this in September as something to work towards over the summer. My gravel bike can take max 45mm and at the moment I’ve got 700×42 WTB Resolutes on there. Reckon they’d do?

    barrysh1tpeas
    Free Member

    Reckon they’d do?

    If it’s been dry-ish, absolutely fine. It’s a perfect gravel bike route

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