Cycle 209km/7h35 (inc. 8 min stopped) 27.9km/h HR135(163) ascent 2028m
Great Kingshill -> Ludgershall 46.8km (27.3km/h) HR136(162) asc. 572m
Ludgershall -> Chipping Norton 48.2km (27.8km/h) HR142(163) asc. 371m
Chipping Norton -> Ludgershall 75.5km (29.5km/h) HR132(159) asc. 652m
Ludgershall -> Gt Kingshill 38.5km (27.0km/h) HR131(157) asc. 377m
Pretty good day out in the Cotswolds – not an audax I’ve tried before. Not too many starters in the village hall, maybe 50 in total. A few sharp hills out towards Bledlow quickly whittled the front group down to just 4 of us, and after the first mini-checkpoint en route to Ludgershall, we became three and soon after, two. The other guy following me, some bloke who introduced himself as “Mike” and was strutting about in an Ironman top at the start, had a line of conversation that mostly seemed to consist of how great he was at ironman.
I think he was expecting something more than just simple route instructions and was hoping for a bunch to follow round. Disappointed to find that the bunch consisted of just me ;-) He couldn’t be bothered to fish the route sheet out of his back pocket, the lazy bugger. He was riding some fancy carbon fibre Look (a 595?) with full Dura-Ace, Bontrager XXX-lite wheels, SRMs, Garmin computer. Perhaps if he’d bothered to look at the route sheet in advance, he could’ve programmed that Garmin thing to tell him where he was going…
I bounced in and out of the first (proper) control at Ludgershall (which was stocked with many tasty looking cakes and rolls) and Mick doggedly followed my wheel, in the wind, all the way to the next control at the Old Mill Cafe, Chipping Norton. He told me he’d wait there for the next bunch to roll though and pick them up. I guess he was going to have a fair old wait.
The next sections passed off fairly uneventfully. It warmed up quite a bit, and I stripped off my leg warmers to expose my still somewhat pale legs. The extra warmth from the tail wind meant I drank a bit more than usual and I had to top up a bottle when I got to Ludgershall on the return. The last leg back to Great Kingshill took a rather circuitous route down the “Phoenix Trail”, a sustrans route (http://www.sustrans.org.uk/default.asp?sID=1100100771734). There was an alternative road route, but I thought I’d try it out. It was OK, but only because it’s been fairly dry lately. It’d be rubbish in the wet as only the first couple of klicks are tarmacced. There were plenty of families cycling on it – I had to take it steady – but I guess that’s the whole point of these Sustrans routes, they’re off the roads and safe for novices. The far end of it petered out into a rough byway – they need to sort that bit out!
There was a final kick up and over Bledlow Ridge, and then a good, mostly downhill run, back to the village hall HQ for a welcome cup of tea, a banana and some cake.