Before setting out please make sure that you and all your companions are physically capable of undertaking the ride, that your bicycle is roadworthy and that you know how to ride safely in the presence of traffic. It is suggested that you carry a spare inner tube, a pump and tools necessary to repair a puncture.
For cyclists who use a handheld GPS for route finding tracks are available for downloading.
Hampshire is one of the best southern counties for both on road and off road riding. Hampshire County Council have created on and off road routes throughout Hampshire. The rides are grouped geographically and cover the whole county. More information is available on the HCC web site and leaflets describing the trails can be downloaded or printed. There are also cycle route maps for Basingstoke, Eastleigh, Gosport, Portsmouth, Southampton and the London/Portsmouth road between Clanfield and Portsmouth.
With a little planning you can ride on quiet country lanes avoiding traffic. Off road riding is varied ranging from short gentle family rides to challenging rides with steep hills. Most of the listed rides pass close to cafes, tearooms and pubs so if you are hungry or thirsty you should be able to stop for refreshments.
View a map of start points for Hampshire County Council routes. This map also lets you view the routes, link to the HCC leaflets and download track files ready to load into your GPS.
Using a GPS can make navigation on your bicycle very easy. You’ll need a hand-held GPS, and ideally a PC with software that can load your GPS with your route. There are lots of GPS units on the market and the Garmin eTrex range, especially the Legend model is very popular with cyclists. You can mount the unit on your handlebars and a set of batteries will last for about 18 hours, although it’s probably best to use NiMH rechargeables. If you’d like to know more about how a GPS works this link is a good introduction.
The easiest way to plan your rides is to use a software package that includes Ordnance Survey mapping: the most popular seem to be Anquet, Fugawi, Memory Map and TrackLogs. All of these packages have options to buy the map coverage that suits you. All the packages show your 3D views of your route and the profile as well. There are lots of free or shareware packages that let you upload and download data, but most of these do not come with maps.
You can plan your ride using either Tracks, which consists of lots of points along the way or Routes which just record major waypoints like road junctions. Most cyclists find that Tracks are best because you can follow your progress more easily on the screen. All of the routes on this site can be downloaded in GPX format which is supported by many of the mapping packages. Dylan Hayes’ site has some useful hints for conversion.
DIY Route Planning:
First point of call could be the trusted 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey Landranger Map, available online or from most outdoor activities shops and bookshops. The 1:50,000 is approx 1 and a quarter inches to 1 mile, so detail is good and for most normal rides one or two maps would be sufficient. On the OS website you can choose to have a map made for you, centered on your house or other place of your choosing.
Also online, Hampshire has a section on the Hantsweb site showing maps of the whole county at 1:10,000 scale – probably more suited to walking than cycling. Neighbouring Surrey has a more useful interactive map.