|Riders||John & Andrew|
|Average Speed||10.12 mph|
|Run.GPS Training Profile|
The night was chilly, needed two layers to keep warm and we were a little surprised to see frost on the tents! But we rose at 7.30am, breakfasted, packed up and we were away on the return leg of our journey.
We were concerned we might have to push up the track from the YHA but it’s not too bad, it seemed steeper going the other way. Once at the top it was a fast descent to Goodrich and back across Kerne Bridge. We were doing a different route home and I had concerns that it was going to be hilly, especially near the beginning, we were further south from Ross and the hills there are bigger. There was a massive climb from the Wye Valley to Ruardean, it was very very long and pretty steep in places. It was virtually never-ending. We got to the top though and descended into Drybrook to have to climb back up to Mitcheldean.
We had a few miles on the A4136 and that had a short but nasty climb too, especially as it was on a fast three lane road. We stopped for a breather before attacking it. After Huntley we were back on minor roads to Tibberton again. The B4215 is not the most pleasant cycling road, very busy with traffic it must be a main route from Gloucester to Newent and beyond.
We wanted to avoid the A40 so we followed the signs for cyclists to get to Gloucester, there was a farm shop at Over where we could get a coffee and cake. Another NCN nightmare followed sadly. The signs for cyclists totally vanished and it didn’t seem that Gloucester wanted to welcome cyclists at all. After going under and over a few bridges we finally spotted an NCN sign which took us under a barrier which was too low for the bicycles to get under. After dismounting and getting the bikes through we were apparently in the middle of a waste tip with no real path to speak of. We followed the NCN signs though and a few hundred metres later tarmac appeared, did they run out of money?
Following the NCN signs we eventually got to the docks (one flight of steps later as well BTW). That’s when the signs disappeared again so we just sodded it and stuck to the roads to get into Gloucester. A very confusing sign before the pedestrian zone made it as clear as mud whether we were allowed to cycle or not. Half expecting an on-the-spot fine we cycled through anyway. We followed the long straight road to Brockworth over many sets of lights and glad to be out of the city that doesn’t seem to welcome cyclists at all.
The unfortunate thing about crossing the Cotswolds from west to east is that you have to climb the scarp slope somewhere. The chosen route this time was up Birdlip Hill. Very long and very very steep, the signpost at the top says 1:6 and it’s a prolonged gradient. What started as a 3-stopper, turned into a 10-stopper as we took it a hundred metres or so at a time. We also had a longer break nearer the top. Not recommended fully laden! I hope there aren’t too many of those on LEJOG!
We were pretty pooped by now, there’s only so long you can cycle on two bowls of cereal and a Mars Bar so we wanted some lunch badly. Birdlip didn’t deliver and only minor hamlets followed until we got to the A435 at Colesbourne. Thanks goodness there was a filling station and shop, they had no filled sandwiches but they did have one sausage roll, some bread and cheese. We improvised some filled rolls and ate sat on the wall of the forecourt. After a rest (lovely toilets in the filling station BTW!) we were off again.
Another steep climb up and over the ridge to Withington and along the Coln valley past Chedworth Roman Villa and Yanworth. Yet another steep hill to get to Northleach which had another steep hill to get out of it again. Finally we were in the Windrush valley and we could relax a bit as we headed home. After a brief stop in Windrush we had a modest climb above Taynton before my favourite section of the ride. The B4427 into Charlbury, mostly downhill with undulations you could speed down and use momentum to get back up the other side. We got some speed up on the smooth surface and were happy again for a bit.
One last hill out of Charlbury and along B-roads and to the finish.
This was one hell of a hilly ride it has to be said, the ascent is close to 2000m and there were two really big 300m climbs in there. They really took it out of us and we were tired and a bit saddle sore by the time we finished. A really tough fully laden test and hopefully about as bad or worse than anything we could experience on LEJOG. We also did a few too many miles on each day, and we’d be better off sticking to about a 60 mile limit on tough, hilly days.