Challenge Henley - Bike Recce



  • M...eldy wrote (see)

    I may come and play - date dependant, unlike Rafi I shall not be on my bike on the 9th June!!

    Got to....doing Windsor the following week, then off to the Pyrenees for a week's cycling image

  • So how's about Sunday April 28th then? Seems there's 4 of us - enough for a recce and some cake surely? It's a 2 hour drive for me so I need to get it booked in...

    Maybe start for say, 10am? Then I don't have to get up too early. Unless the weather's looking biblical of course - we can make a call nearer the time.

    Who's with me?


  • Works for me.

    Normally I have a moral objection to using Starbucks, but as its easy to find and has plenty of room outside for bikes, shall we say there at 10.00? I'll be in Pirate top, so should be easy to spot!

  • I have finally got the other half to discuss the plans for the weekend at the end of April and I too can make the Sunday, so if everyone else is still available then there should be 5. I may also see if the lady at my local tri club who is doing Henley would like to join us for the morning.

  • Excellent Raf - thanks for hosting us! image

    I take it Starbucks is in the high street/main drag and there's easy parking nearby? Are we doing just the one loop?

  • I think there might be one more  - I think Mr Frag gets back from Prague on the saturday so i should b free

  • Bike course notes as promised….

    You leave T1 onto a country lane and ride on a very gentle upflat for about a mile towards Fairmile roundabout, where you turn right and head down the ‘Fair Mile’, which is anything but!! There’s a crack in the road about every 10m so if you ride fast enough, you sound like a train! The centre of the road is not as bad. At the end of Fairmile, you head up the dual carriage way on the first major climb, which is about a mile long. Expect to take it slow, just find the right gear for you, head down and keep spinning, it’ll be over soon! The road surface is pretty crap, but they’re doing a lot roadworks, so they may resurface by Sept?? At the top of the dual carriage the road appears to level off for the straight 2 mile to the next roundabout, but it’s actually still an upflat, but it’s on new tarmac, so it’s still hard going! This first four or five miles will be slow, so don’t worry about your pace too much.

    At the roundabout its left, passed the Sue Ryder home and some pretty rough surface for a mile or so, but this soon passes, and you’re onto a nice fast section for 4 miles or so, which is possibly the nicest part of the course. You should be doing two or three times the speed you were for the first four miles with little effort, so a good time to take on some food. A couple of turns and you’re heading to the first turnabout (you also pass the Natural Burial Ground, in case it’s all getting too much for you). After the turnabout, its back up to the roundabout – there’s the odd little upflat section, but nothing too serious, and it’s not long before you’re back onto crap road surface which means you’re near the roundabout and the first section is almost finished.

    Left at the roundabout and through Nettlebed, avoiding the odd pothole, down a nice fast, but bumpy little downhill which doesn’t last long enough, then up a brief uphill towards the next left turn at the golf course (you pass a petrol station just before the downhill which may be open for emergency supplies?).

  • Turn left, down through the village of Nuffield, over two small speedhumps, through a nice little wooded area to the next turnaround – the road surface here is a little rough and has been very ‘dirty’ of late. This is best described as a short but sweet section! The turnaround is two very tight, technical,  righthanders – needs some care especially if there are faster riders coming up behind you. There is also lots of dirt on the road, so it’s easy to lose traction here. Its then back up to the golf course, straight over the road and turn left.

    This is possibly the most ‘technical’ section of the course and the only bit which is one way. The road is very narrow and contains several, blind 90 degree bends. Even with the knowledge there is nothing coming the other way, you will need to break at some of these but its good fun! There is also lots of dirt and gravel in the middle of the road, so care is needed.  The surface is fine and te section more or less flat. After a mile, you come to T-junction, where you head left.

    Now, back on the main road, you head up through another small village. The surface is OK except for a couple of patches which have some huge potholes! These have been sprayed with white paint in the last couple of weeks which may mean they’re about to be filled – or maybe not!!

    After two miles of gentle uphill you come to Howe Hill – you’ll know when you get there by the 10% sign at the top. If you’re not use to fast decent, take care. The surface is rough but no major holes; however, there is quite a steep opposite camber half way down which can raise your heart rate if the bars are shaking too much! On dry days, when I’m feeling brave I’ve hit 45mph + on this little section. It’s only half a mile in length, but it is steep, with a gentle right hand bend half way down. Once you reach the bottom, it’s a gentle, calming 2 miles to the next turnaround…and then guess what – is back up Howe Hill!!

  • Howe Hill is a steep one, but the steepest part is actually at the bottom, it eases off half way up. And it is just under half a mile long, so if you need get off and walk, you will not lose too much time. For those of a technical nature, I can get up it on my TT in the highest gear without getting out the saddle, riding a 53/34 and 11- 27 cassette (but it hurts). There’s a couple of big pot holes on the way up, but trust me, you’ll be going slow enough to get out the way!! Ironically, you know when you’re at the top as there is a sign that says ‘Please slow down’.

    From here, the good news is the next 8 miles are downhill – almost! You head back down the main road to Nettlebed, where there are some huge potholes which I’m guessing will be filled before September as they are dangerous!! As you come into Nettlebed, there’s some speedhumps (the square ones that don’t go all the way across the road) which can be avoided. Then it’s back over the Sue Ryder roundabout, along possibly the fastest 3 miles of the course, on new tarmac, down to the Fairmile roundabout…….when you get to do it all over again - twice!!

    I will post my Garmin data at some point, but problems with the website won’t let me at the moment!!

    Overall, I would say 80% of the course is currently on reasonable road surface, but I would expect some of the big pot holes to be filled by September.

    Another thing to think consider, is I’ve ridden the course half a dozen time on both my TT and my road bike and I’m still undecided which one I will use on race day. My times are a little quicker on the TT, but I’m not spending as much time as I would have thought on the aeros. There are a lot of short climbs, which are just easier to do on the bull horns…..but each to their own!! Certainly if I upgrade my road bike in the next few months, I would use that.

    If anyone has any specific questions, feel free to drop me a PM (if it works)

  • Henley Car Parks:

    And Starbucks is on the corner of New Street and Bell Street - which is basically the Market Square

  • Thanks rafiki that was very detailed, sounds like a better course then last year.... That up flat section is a bit of a weird bit isn't it... It doesn't feel fast... Doesn't feel slow... Looking forward too riding the new course =)
  • Wow, thanks Raf. Some good information there. Very interested on your take on the road vs. TT bike debate. I too have both and pondered about this due to the amount of climbing on the course. I will bring my road bike on the recce and make my own mind up I guess - but, on the assumption you're a stronger rider than I, sounds like it might be road bike for me too...

  • I've just converted my TT to a Compact (50/34) ready for Lanza - if the weather's ok I was planning to do a coulpe of laps round Henley tomorrow - so it will be intersting to see if there's much of a difference with the different gear set up.

  • Ah OK that changes things a little. I have the same gearing on both road and TT bike (compact too)

  • Rafiki - Thanks for the excellent route notes.

    Get you lot with loads of bikes to choose from. Its easy for me, secondhand Trek 1.7 with aerobars or nothing.

  • ST - it's the engine that counts anyway mate so don't worry about it (said from a bloke with 3 bikes and a set of race wheels that cost more than my car!)
  • JY - The engine is about as second hand as the bikeimage

  • My bike cost more than my car too. Its a really crap car though image

  • I don't have a car any more but I've got 5 bikes image

  • I don't have a car now either - but I've lots of bikes (not saying how many!).

    Wish I could do the recce but weekends are busy at the moment.
  • Is there a final guest list for Sunday?

    I will be bring one or maybe 2 people with me from my tri club.

    Looking forward to the outing and meeting a few pirates. Hope the weather is as kind as it was this weekend.

  • I hope that there will be more outings, in fact I'm relying on it. I've got a practice run run to do on Sunday.

  • Not sure on a final list Scubes but I shall definitely be making the trip up - barring any biblical weather. Looking forward to seeing what I've let myself in for. Will be a great help to see if I need to tailor my training to suit. If there's a fair few of us I will bring my road bike to be a bit more sociable - rather than a head down TT hooligan (that makes me sound fast - I'm not) image

  • Blisters - I am sure we can do more. I would like to do two laps next time.

  • Sweet I forgot about this! I will definitely be coming can do either day! Gonna be premiering my Wallace and grommit cycle kit as I'm so cool! Il be the guy who's like an hour earlyimage
  • I'm bringing the TT bike.... Can always ride the outer bars if needed... My road bike is craptastic compared too my TT bike image
  • So we still go for Starbucks, 10:00am Sunday morning then??

    Blisters - I'm sure more recces can be arranged, but as I'm local I'm happy to meet up anytime to keep you company on the way round and point out the bigger potholes!

  • Sorry, can't make this any more. I forgot the small matter of entering Stratford Half Marathon. I've only run up to 7 miles. Oops. Think I'd rather be biking round Henley if I'm honest, but accomodation booked and I'll no doubt enjoy it once I get there. 

  • I won't be there either this time - my bike is still in the shop and I think I may be doing a ride with a mate on mtb's on sunday. Have fun image

  • No worries Soupy and Fraggle - although I'll be disappointed about the lack of cakes Soupy! Best you make up for it at the Outlaw!! image

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