Upper Thames 213km Audax

My first time riding this audax (website here). It’s very popular with riders looking to complete their Randonneur-Round-the-Year award, as there aren’t all that many events at this time of year.

Starting in Cholsey, it hardly seemed worth getting the car out so I rode the 23km from home, although this meant leaving at 6:25am. I got to the Scout Hut HQ in plenty of time, already feeling a bit overdressed as it was warming up a bit, and picked up my brevet card, had a bit of a chat to Chris Asher (VC163) who I’ve not seen for a few years. He’d put on a bit of weight as he’d had an accident at work three years ago and put his back out. He was just getting back into riding.

After a few words from Phil Dyson about dodgy road surfaces and so on we were off. A fair-sized bunch soon formed, although once we got to the first decent uphill it split up. I made off up the hill, keen to get a good run down the next long downhill, and Chris was not far behind. Around here the hills were shrouded in mist. Chris caught me after a left turn and we rode together for a bit, having a chat. I warned him of a dodgy descent after Bix, and then he started to fall back a bit on the long drag up towards Christmas Common.

Riding into the first checkpoint at Waterperry, Phil D stamped my card but the cafe wasn’t yet open. I didn’t need to stop, and only ran out of water in my bottles on the way to Bicester where I topped them up at a service station. I suffered a rear-wheel puncture on the climbs over towards Ambrosden, and it took me about 10 minutes to fix it, but there was a nice view across the valley to Ashendon. I fully expected Chris to catch me up while I faffed, but I never saw him again.

The run over familiar roads to Bicester, although hilly, had a nice tailwind and I got rather warm along here although by the time I’d turned for the next checkpoint at Chipping Norton it had started to rain a bit and the wind was becoming more of a problem. The next section I found very hard – into a headwind with some heavy showers – and I was relieved to get to the left turn in Stanford-in-the-Vale which meant a tailwind for the last hour most of the way back to the HQ.

I stopped for about half an hour back at the hall, drinking a few cups of tea and having a bit of a snack. The second rider behind me rolled in not long after, and then I was off home, a decent tailwind pushed me all the way back to Cowley. 259km for the day, a pretty decent ride although I don’t suppose I’ll be doing big mileages over the winter. Washing my bike the next day I discovered a stripped thread on a bottle-cage boss, so the winter bike needs stripping down and sending off to Vernon Barker Cycles to get that fixed (they specialize in titanium frame repairs).

Strava ride data HERE