12th Oct 2008

Longest and hilliest training run to date. Joined my Brother-in-Law for a long ride through the Cotswolds in a big loop around Chipping Norton via Stow-on-the Wold (the highest Costwold town apparently). We started in Middle Barton for an undulating ride through tiny villages (Over Worton, Sandford St Martin, Nether Worton, South Newington, Wigginton and Swerford) to Hook Norton. Beautiful golden houses in the autumn sunshine greeted us. We were mostly riding along tiny lanes and from Hook Norton we had a nice downhill to be taken by surprise by Traitor’s Ford around a corner at the bottom, splash!

More tiny villages (Lower Brailes, Sutton-under-Brailes, Stourton, Cherington, Little Wolford, Great Wolford and Evenlode), wooded lanes and undulations eventually got us to Broadwell and the bottom of the long steep climb into Stow. This was our planned lunch stop at just under 30 mi and where our families were meeting us for lunch. We found a lovely hotel serving Sunday lunch, and even if you’re not supposed to tucked into the generous portions of food.

After a break of about 90 mins it was back on the bikes for the ride back. Starting with the fast descent out of Stow through Maugersbury and on to the B4450 to Bledington. It was here that I took a chance with the route and went along the narrow surfaced road to Foscot. Eventually it turned into a stone track with large puddles but it was only a few hundred metres of off-road cycling that got us back on to the tarmac at Bruern. Pretty villages Milton-under Wychwood and Shipton-under-Wychwood before a mean climb up to Shipton Down, it didn’t look much from the bottom but it was pretty long and steep and slightly unexpected! The downhill stretch was glorious though, down a narrow valley with woods to one side and a stream to the other. This took us down into Swinbrook and our second ford crossing of the day.

Navigating the small lanes became increasingly tricky along the next stretch as there were many of them and neither of us were over familiar with the geography of the area. Frequent map checks were required even with the GPSr pointing the way. But we went through Asthall Leigh and Minster Lovell and then onto even tinier lanes and small hamlets before stopping for a brief rest on Ashford Bridge over the River Evenlode. This preceded the last serious climb into Stonesfield which was nowhere near as bad as I remember from driving. This was followed by a long flat straight to cross the A44 and into Wootton. This village has a short steep drop and over the River Glyme and then a short steep climb back up to the church. I found the last four flat miles fairly dull and the scenery was much less interesting, or maybe I was counting down the miles back. I’m sure the sign that said Middle Barton 4, was very wrong! One last descent and we were back in Middle Barton.

The battery ran out on the PDA after 46 mi but I will have a new solution to this problem soon. Total cycling time was about 5.25 hr. A very beautiful day weather-wise and cycling-wise. Some great scenery and excellent cycling country despite the frequent hills (there is 1000 m of ascent on this route)! A good test and passed with flying colours!

Distance :: 46.44 mi (GPSr track is 61.82 mi)
Time :: 3h43m14s
Average Active Speed :: 12.48 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile