March marks both a change of scenery and a change in segment type as we head North of Winchester to tackle a thigh-burner that will see riders test their ability to put out VO2Max levels of power for an extended period.
A Westbound drag, this segment runs from the crest of the small hill, just beyond the Kites Hill crossroad with Stratton Lane, all the way to the end of Northington Lane, just before it meets the old Basingstoke Road dual carriageway.
The segment begins just beyond the crest of the hill moving Westbound, marked by the tree lined driveway on your right-hand side. The initial run sees you drop down a short and not too steep hill, the bottom of which greets you with a cluster of farm buildings.
Look out for gravel in the road, on and around the foot of the descent leading into the corner, as well as any farm vehicles that may be crossing the road at this point.
Here you now sweep right and up a short ramp, maintaining your momentum as you settle into the highest level of comfortable power you can hold for around (hopefully), a circa 6-minute effort.
From here the gradient continues to descend ever so gradually and is for the most part, imperceptible. You sweep left and then again right, punctuated by straight sections of road, lightly lined with trees and a number of side roads leading to industrial units or farm buildings.
Another left then right-hand curve combination lead you into a more densely wooded area. Here you pass a warning triangle on your left that alerts you to the possibility of wildlife crossing the road. This is not the only potential hazard in this section; please look out for potholes as well as cars that may be parked along the roadside, partially blocking your progress and also walkers who converge on this popular hiking area.
Further into the woods, you pass a car park and layby on your right and then a forest road extending away up the hill on your left. At this point roughly two thirds of the segment is now behind you and your thoughts can turn to winding up whatever power your legs have left in them, for the final push.
A little further on you pass Chillandham lane, that disappears off into the forest on your left, just before you pass under the M3 Motorway bridge. The road surface under the bridge can be inconsistent and being dark, is difficult to see if you are wearing cycling glasses, so keep an eye out for any potholes or other hazards.
Another set of gentle left then-right curves in the road lead you to a less densely wooded area, as the gradient shows a gentle pitch up, signifying the final run in to the finish line. You pass the first of two warning triangles for the dual carriageway on your left, then the road opens out and you can see industrial buildings on your left.
The finish line is just beyond the entrance road to the industrial site, with plenty of run off to allow sensible braking from high speed before reaching the dual carriageway.
Please note the following: Upon review, in the interests of equity and also to attract the widest possible range of competitors, the use of TT bikes, full-disc wheels and / or any clip-on TT style handlebars are not permitted for this segment.
At around two and a half miles, with no discernible gradient, this segment will require a measured yet maximal effort to deliver your best possible time.
We expect the competition to be fierce this month, following the recent announcement that for 2022, the monthly segment winners in both the Men’s and Women’s categories will win a complimentary hot drink and cake at South Downs Social cycling café in Winchester!
As always, please follow the rules of the road, along with any social distancing requirements that may be in place at the time.
The link to the segment is here: