1st Feb 2009

After several flat rides recently it was time to take in some hills so we started from Andrew’s house in Middle Barton for this round trip to Buckingham and back.

There was a stiff easterly wind forecast so we planned to head east to start with. It was also cold with the odd snow flurry during the journey. We cycled through Duns Tew and North Aston to Somerton with the steep drop into and climb out of the Cherwell valley. Then on towards Ardley and Bucknell on quiet lanes. We planned to bypass north of Bicester but we went wrong somewhere and ended up on the A4095 and A4421 for a short while before diverting to Stratton Audley to get back on to quieter roads. Very small quiet lanes took us north to Tingewick where we used the cycletrack to cross the dual carriageway and into the village.

We continued north to Stow Park with it’s undulating roads and we joined the regional cycle route number 70 into Buckingham. We tried to find (unsuccessfully) somewhere to have a coffee but Buckingham is clearly not a Sunday town or expects many visitors in early February. So we found a bench in the sun and had a coffee from a flask instead.

After the break we were now heading south towards Gawcott, on reflection we may have been better to follow the cycleway signed at several junctions as the road south of Gawcott was very uneven and busy, not very pleasant to cycle along. We were glad to turn off to Twford and Poundon where we joined NCN route 51 to Bicester. We tried to follow the NCN signage to get us into Bicester and to start with it went OK, it took us through Launton and alongside the A4421 and towards the town centre. It was then impossible to follow as there were a plethora of cycle paths heading in all directions. We ended up in a housing estate using our sense of direction to get us towards the centre. This is another of my NCN bugbears, the signage in towns is usually far from adequate.

We stopped for lunch at a café in the town centre. The food was adequate and reasonably priced. After eating we made our way out of Bicester past the shopping village and alongside the A41 until we picked up the lane that led to Wendlebury and Weston-on-the-Green. We had a choice to get us back to our starting point here. NCN 51 headed north along bridleways to Tackley. We headed west from Bletchingdon towards Wootton. Soon we passed NCN 5 on it’s crazy muddy bridleway route, absolutely impassable on a road bike and difficult enough on an offroad bike. Why this route was chosen is a mystery when there are plenty of nearby quiet lanes to use. The last few miles we had done before and they are rather dull, gently climbing and featureless.

A nice workout with a decent amount of ascent for a change. A little below what an average LEJOG day will be on mileage and ascent but not far off.

Distance :: 57.80 mi
Time :: 4h35m44s
Average Active Speed :: 12.58 mph
Ascent :: 1159 m
Run.GPS Training Profile

One thought on “1st Feb 2009”

  1. We’ll see if we can sort out the Bicester signage! I do know what you mean about NCN signage in urban areas.

    The quiet lane situation in that part of West Oxfordshire is actually more difficult than it ought to be. There are so many big estates nearby (Blenheim, Cornbury, Ditchley) that it’s never easy to find a “way through”, without straying onto busy roads for a while. Our local cycling group is planning a route from Worcester to Oxford following the Cotswold Line, and thus far it has to stop at Charlbury because there simply isn’t a way through after that.

    In this case, from Woodstock I guess you could go north on the old B4028 towards Tackley, then left on the B4027 and turn right at Wootton – but that’s a fair bit hillier than the existing route (Dornford Lane), and cars do tend to hare along the B4027, as part of the rat run to the A34. Maybe worth mapping as an alternative for road cyclists – some of the Sustrans maps do this for the muddiest or bumpiest sections – but for the less experienced rider Dornford Lane is better, I think.

    cheers
    Richard
    (NCN Liaison Ranger, North Oxfordshire)

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