About the challenge
The valleys and ridges of the chalk downs west and south of the historic city of Salisbury set the scene for this challenging day of cycling. Our route is a hilly 50-mile course that takes us through beautiful valleys, woodland and small villages. Much of the route is rolling, with short climbs and descents, though there are several longer and more significant climbs to tackle. This is not a day to undertake without training! A shorter loop through the same beautiful hills and valleys provides an alternative challenge (approx 25 miles), while the accessible, one-mile route will take riders around the perimeter of the hospital site. A range of hand and powered-bikes will be available to try out that will suit people with most levels of injury and the spinal centre staff will be on hand to assist with transfers.
We meet at Horatio's Garden at The Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre at Salisbury District Hospital. Please follow the signs to Car Park 10 and register in Horatio's Garden by 9:30 am. The briefing will be in Horatio's Garden at 9:45am and the ride will start promptly at 10am. We head downhill towards the small village of Odstock and follow the rolling road west. The road continues to roll through small villages as we ride along the beautiful Chalke Valley – there are quite a few small hills and it’s a good warm-up to our day. After about 10 miles the hills become more frequent, though they are still relatively low. The scenery is beautiful! Our first longer, steep climb lies just after Semley; half a mile seems a long way at this gradient, and we’ll be glad to reach the top! The next 8 miles undulate continually as we ride towards Dinton; here our next significant climb awaits, as it takes up out of the valley. There are great views over the extensive Grovely Wood and surrounding fields and valleys, as we ride along the top of the ridge. We then plunge steeply down into Wylye Valley, and enjoy the only relatively flat section on the route, through the picturesque valley to Barford St Martin and on to Wilton. Here our last long, steep hill awaits us, as we climb for almost 2 miles out of this ancient small town through fields and woodland. Dropping back into the Chalke Valley, we return to our start point the way we left – with a sharp climb at the very end bringing us back up to the hospital. We’ll have a real sense of achievement and elation after conquering these hills, and can celebrate with our fellow cyclists with tea and cake at the end.
Cycle approx 50 miles
The tour cost includes Discover Adventure leaders/mechanics, route notes and maps, back-up vehicle support, and snacks and water enroute.
It does not include personal travel insurance (optional), a bike, or meals. Cyclists should make their own way to the start. We strongly recommend you carry a credit card in case of personal emergency.
Snacks and water-stops are provided en-route and there will be refreshments at the finish. Any dietary requirements can usually be catered for provided we know far enough in advance.
Discover Adventure Crew
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders. Our leaders are selected for their experience in harsh wilderness environments, knowledge of travel in remote areas, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader.
All our leaders are from the UK or other English-speaking countries. Most work for us on an ad-hoc basis and have ‘real’ jobs in-between trips! We never send our leaders to the same destination for months on end – we want them to be as enthusiastic about your trip as you are. The number of crew and support vehicles looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but the team will be looking after every aspect of your trip. At Discover Adventure we pride ourselves on our high leader: cyclist ratio and believe it leads to greater trip enjoyment as well as excellent trip safety.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will always have access to 24-hour emergency back-up. Our leaders are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration – such as compulsory medical questionnaires and recommended travel insurance – is all done with your safety in mind.
Preparing for the challenge
We cycle approx 50 miles on this challenging day-ride. It’s more useful when training to think about the type of terrain you will be cycling than just in terms of the distance! Cycling is on tarmac roads of varying quality; there may be potholes or loose gravel so be alert. The route is predominantly undulating with several longer or steeper climbs. Traffic is usually light and we will cycle at our own pace, but when we pass through a busier area we may go through as a group. We will always take safety into consideration and reserve the right to change the itinerary on that basis. We are always happy to talk through the route in more detail with you if you are worried about your fitness at any stage.
Bikes & Repairs
We strongly recommend that you ride a road or hybrid bike for this trip. Back-up vehicles provide support throughout the route. There will be a range of spares in the vehicle along with a full tool kit; however, it is impossible for us to carry spares for every eventuality. It is vital that your bike is in excellent working order before departure. We recommend you train on the bike you will use on your main challenge. Although training in the gym is useful, there is no substitute for getting out into all weathers and really getting to know your bike – especially the range of your gears as you climb. However, Discover Adventure can provide hybrid or mountain bikes if you wish, at an additional cost of £15 (We have limited availability so please book early). It is imperative that you supply your own helmet and wear it at all times while cycling, with straps done up.
Clothing & Equipment
We will be cycling whatever the weather and could be exposed to difficult weather conditions. It could be hot or cold, rainy or windy, so be prepared! You will need appropriate, good quality clothing and kit, including a hi-vis jacket. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice. You should bring a small daypack for items needed during the day, or have plenty of pockets!
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.
We strongly recommend that you have had a Tetanus injection in the last ten years.
Worlwide Sustainable Tourism
Long before ‘Responsible Tourism’ became a recognised phrase, we designed and ran our worldwide trips to ensure they made minimum impact on the environment and a positive impact on the local communities we pass through.
Discover Adventure Projects
We are supporting a tree-planting project in Peru and a children’s home in Tanzania on a long-term basis. If you would like to ‘give something back’ please consider donating £5 to our projects when you sign up.
We encourage all our customers to offset emissions connected with their trip. You can offset at any time in the lead-up to departure by visiting Climate Care via our website and making a donation to a worthwhile project supported by them. Alternatively, if you wish to take more practical action in the UK you can volunteer for a day with TCV and work on an environmental project local to you. Work may include construction footpaths, dry stone walling, creating wildlife habitats or planting trees in your community. Volunteer today at www.tcv.org or call 01302 388883.