Just a matter of a few weeks ago, I’d never even heard of the King Alfreds Way cycle route. But now, I’ve cycled a (very small) part of the 350km circular off-road route while working with Rutland Cycling on their Staycation campaign.
It was great timing for me to be fair, just the week before I’d signed up to a cyclocross race where I started the sighting lap then decided the race would be too much for me. I’d not been out much on my Liv Brava and my handling skills for cross were ropey.
That and the fact I’d been lazy and never put the cleats on my off-road bike shoes which made riding the very short and sharp inclines difficult.
So cue the next week, I’m picked up at Reading station, sat in the back of the car attaching my cleats. This was gonna be one fun ride where I’d get to grips with clipping in on my cross bike for the first time and get re-acquainted with riding off-road.
- Height: 164cm / 5ft 5 inches
- Off-Road Bike: Liv Brava SLR 2020
- Off-Road Experience: Started cyclocross in 2018 and had dabbled in mountain biking briefly. Loves taking Brava out to Epping Forest.
- Watch: Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL Multisport GPS Watch
- Loves: Cake
- Hates: Hills
What is King Alfreds Way?
King Alfred’s Way is a 350km circular off-road adventure route through 10,000 years of history, connecting some of England’s most iconic sites, created by Cycling UK.
Named after the Anglo-Saxon ruler of Wessex, the King Alfred’s Way is now a route that’s renowned for being technical, challenging and exciting amongst Gravel riders and Bikepackers.
The route is easily accessible from many cities in the south of England, including Reading where I picked up the route. The train from London Paddington to Reading took just 23minutes. But you feel like you’re a million miles away from all the city madness when you’re out on the trails.
King Alfreds Way Day Trip
I joined the official group on Facebook in the lead up to my day trip to get as much information as I could. It seems most people typically ride the entire route anywhere between 24 hours (yes, I know) and 5 days.
Watch The Video:
I’d put myself in the Beginner / Intermediate category for off-road riding, and I think ideally, I’d want to do it over 5 days, covering ~70km a day. That’d leave time to ride the route at a steady pace and include stops for lunch and dinner without time pressures.
There are plenty of places to eat and sleep along the route so you can bike-pack (with a bivvy or tent) or stay in a hotel / bed & breakfast.
Cycling King Alfreds Way – The Terrain
Bearing in mind I took in just 40km of the route, the terrain was so varied. The weather on the day I rode was hot and it had been for some time so the ground was very dry. Where there once was mud, was now dried with deep ruts.
There were uphills, and downhills. Gravel, road, grass, stones and everything in between.
Cycling King Alfreds Way – The Scenery
I don’t think I can do the scenery much justice by writing about it so I’ve shared a few of the photos the Rutland team took. And to think, there is 310km more worth of views to take in, including Stonehenge which I think is the part I’d love to do the most.
It’s been a while since I’ve ridden by myself, but the silence was bliss, interjected every now and again by a quick “hello” to passing dog walkers, hikers or other cyclists going in the opposite direction.
It even threatened to rain at one point, which would have been a welcome relief to the incessant heat, to be honest.
Your Bike-Packing Kit
All I had, and needed, for the day was the Ortlieb Frame-Pack Waterproof Toptube Bag and my jersey pockets. I don’t have bottle cages on my Brava so I carried my water bottle in my jersey pocket. I used my KISE ridepac for a few valuables and small essential items.
If I were spending a few days on this route, I’d be confident this set-up could carry everything needed. I actually managed to ride from London to Paris with less luggage space and that was a 4 day trip in total!
Being out on the trails for longer would require more clothing, more layers especially waterproof and warmer items, tools, food / snacks, lights and personal items like sunscreen.
This was a pretty tough ride for me, but doing it with the guys from Rutland made it way more enjoyable. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be off-roading or bike-packing again for 2021, but I’d never say never…
Is the King Alfreds Way cycle route on your must ride list?!
Leave a Reply