30th Nov 2008

I had a 50 mile route planned for this Sunday but the weather was so atrocious that I quickly altered my plans and took a 30 mile moderate route out of my Philips book of cycle routes. I knew the wind was from the north so I picked a nearby route that had most of the north component at the beginning.

I drove to Lambourn on the Berkshire Downs and parked up. It was sleeting quite heavily, the car was telling me it was 3ºC outside. I sat in the car for a few minutes and then decided to go for it. It was cold. The first few miles uphill to the Ridgeway into the wind were pretty tough, the sleet stung my face, the roads were flooded, it was pretty dull (I had my lights on). Once I went down Blowingstone Hill and across the B4507 to Kingston Lisle it wasn’t so bad. In the Vale of White Horse the roads are flat and the wind was less of an issue. The sleet started to ease too. I soon cycled through Uffington and onto the Longcot road where I made a bit of a mistake. The railway underbridge was flooded with a few inches of water and I should have slowed down. My left foot got sodden and almost straight away my toes started to go numb! No matter the remaining section to Shrivenham was pretty easy and then I turned south and had the wind behind me. Through Bourton and Bishopstone on small lanes was pleasant enough, the sleet/rain had almost stopped. The steepest ascent back onto the downs south of Bishopstone followed, a fairly long ascent but not too bad.

I was blown through the tunnel under the M4 and cycled to Aldbourne. This is when the sleet started to get heavy again. I turned onto tiny lanes which took me uphill to Marridge Hill, these lanes had grass in the centre and were basically flowing rivers either side. the descent I took carefully through the flowing water under the trees there was little tarmac visible as the road was covered in leaves mud and grass!

At the bottom I turned due north for the final 4 miles back to Lambourn. These were the hardest most miserable few miles of cycling I can remember doing. The wind was blowing straight at me, the sleet was heavy, the roads were past industrial sites, uphill and over the M4. My face stung with the sleet and I started to feel cold. My feet were numb and my lower legs started to sting too. I was counting down the distance to the top of the hill above Lambourn where I could freewheel, teeth grittted back into the town.

I was soaked but thanks to my windproof jacket my top half was warm and dry. Without that I don’t think I would have made it, best £105 I’ve ever spent on clothing! I got into the car and I could see on the windscreen that the precipitation was more snow than rain, I thought I must have been mad to cycle in that, I was probably right!

Distance :: 31.38 mi
Time :: 2h20m16s
Average Active Speed :: 13.42 mph
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