With a free day today, I had to try it out. Obviously, I couldn't just do the ride, I had to ride there and back too. Here's my write-up from the forum:
Well, Wood'n'Wheels to Wood'n'Wheels in 4 hours dead. I did however, skip the second of the inward loops, arounf Penningtom Rake, which I think cut off about 7km, so I only did around 43km. When I got to the crossroads at the start of that loop, I'd already been riding for 3 hours, so I decided to cut the ride short, since I also had to ride home. I'd not realised quite how quickly I'd get to the Grove, so I did do all of the rest of the ride.
I think I made the right decision to cut the ride short, since the heavens opened as I got back to Hamsterley village and I got rained on for the hour and a half it took me to get home from there; not helped by the jockey wheel on my chain tensioner unscrewing itself on the approach to Darlington, requiring a 10 minute roadside repair.
* Ride to forest: 32km (20 miles) on the road
* Most of "The Hamsterley Hill Rush" (Ash's Loop): 43 km (26 miles) off-road
* Ride home: 32km (20 miles) on the road
- a total of 107km (66 miles)
In hindsight, setting my personal best time for riding from home to the forest (1:35) wasn't a good start, leaving me pretty tired. I had to push up some climbs that I made easily on the GMSR; I was trying to make up for setting off late.
I left home at about 8:50 and arrived in the forest at 10:25. I took a ten minute break for some food and drink and set off on the loop at 10:35. Had a 10 minute snack at 12 o'clock (here: http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=403050&Y=529510&A=Y&Z=3) and another ten minute break at 1:00 somewhere on the first of the two inner loops. I reached the start of the second loop (which I skipped) at 1:35. Reached the end of the Grove link at 2:25 and legged it back to the visitors' centre to arrive at Wood'n'Wheels at 2:35. I had another ten minute break then set off home, finally getting home at 4:50. A straight 8 hours door-to-door, roughly 50/50 on and off road.
Without map reading and the road riding, sub-4 hours would be doable. 3 hours was over optimistic
Distance: 66 miles (107km)
Surface: On- and Off-road
Time: 8 hours
Weather: Cold and foggy, turning to cold and rainy
Bike: Kona Singlespeed (with 2.25″ tyres)