Cycle 407km/15:13 (inc. 37 min stopped) Severn Across Audax, steady, HR 128(165) asc. 3370m
Chalfont St Peter -> Woodstock _ 72.2km/2:22 (30.5km/h) HR119(151)
Woodstock -> Tewkesbury _____ 73.5km/2:32 (29.0km/h) HR133(160)
Tewkesbury -> Chepstow ______ 75.2km/2:36 (28.9km/h) HR129(158)
Chepstow -> Membury ________ 94.0km/3:35 (26.3km/h) HR135(165)
Membury -> Chalfont St Peter __ 92.1km/3:31 (26.2km/h) HR122(148)
A much warmer start to this year’s ride. There were quite a few riders keen to get a move on though, and two quickly slipped away. I followed the wheels of a following group of three riders. I don’t know how they kept up such a fast pace, but eventually they slowed a little and I took the front for the last few miles into Woodstock, where the two faster riders were already on their way.
It was warming up, and there was a nice following/cross wind. I got caught by a train at the same level crossing in Ascott-under-Wychwood as the previous year, and then rode steadily on through Stow and Winchcombe to the next control at Tewkesbury. I only stopped long enough to get my card stamped, as carrying two 750ml bottles and a camelbak, I didn’t need a refill yet. The fast pair had passed through some 8 minutes earlier. The controller said they were planning on sticking together to face the headwind home together so I reckoned I’d seen the last of them.
There was plenty of tailwind to enjoy on the next section. The sun had properly come out, and my armwarmers went in my back pocket. Using my GPS for navigation, I was confident enough after the info control to take the alternative climb from Kerne Bridge via Lydbrook to Coleford. Although 1.5km longer than the standard route, this proved much better than going up Symond’s Yat. It’s was a steadier gradient and a two-lane road so there was no chance of getting baulked by tourist traffic as so often happens on the other climb. A lovely descent to Chepstow followed and I stopped for a sandwich and to re-fill my bottles from the Texaco garage at the top of the hill.
Crossing the Severn Bridge was not so straightforward – the strong crosswind made it hard going and a couple of times I was afraid I’d lose control of the bike, but I made it across OK, and plugged away into the headwinds through Thornbury. I’ve done this section a fair few times now, so it was just a question of keeping a reasonable speed up and not trying too hard into the wind. There were a couple of horrible draggy climbs on the last stretch to Membury, my feet were aching with “hot foot” and I could feel a headache coming on from lack of caffeine, so I was glad to get to the services for a 10-minute break and have a stretch. I got a knowing smile from the cashier when I asked for a receipt for my purchases!
The next section, through the lanes to Henley, was much better. There was some shelter from the wind, and although it’s quite hilly, the coke I had at Membury had perked me up and I tootled along, enjoying the views. I had a good run into Henley and seemed to pick up a bit more tailwind again, and only needed to switch my lights on once I’d got to Marlow. My armwarmers went back on. The cooler air seemed to be a little beneficial to my feet and they weren’t quite as painful as before. There were quite a few boy-racers out and about through Bourne End, but the last few lanes back to Chalfont St Peter were quiet.
I had to wait a minute or two at the cashpoint queue to get my last proof-of-passage before an easy freewheel back to the car park to pack up and drive home. My feet were very tingly and sore – something I’ll have to tackle before my next long ride. I used sorbothane inserts for LEL and might try those again. Maybe a switch to some new shoes might do the trick? My Nikes are 6 or 7 years old now.