18th Oct 2008

Cotswolds last week and the Chilterns this week. This was the toughest training ride I’ve done. Not especially long but there were some ‘serious’ hills on this one. I borrowed the route from Bikely which basically crosses the Chilterns from west to east and back again in a circular route. I didn’t know many of the roads but I knew Watlington Hill was going to be a proper climb. In the end that one wasn’t too bad, it was long and steep but not really a problem.

Anyway, I started in Crowmarsh Gifford and headed north through Benson to Ewelme and Brightwell Baldwin. The route joined the B480 at Cuxham and went through Watlington and up the aforementioned hill, which measures out at 1 in 8 (13%), to Christmas Common. The ride along the ridge was great and crossed the M40 near the large chalk cutting at Stokenchurch Hill. A very short stretch along the wide A40 and back onto minor roads at Junction 7 of the M40. A very fast descent followed through Ibstone down to Fingest. Then another serious climb up Dolesden Lane, this one was quite deceptive as it gradually got steeper and steeper towards the top up a very narrow road in a tiny valley. It was only when I looked back when I got to the top then I got a real sense of how steep it really was, measured from a map the last 200 m are 1 in 6 (16%) and the whole hill averages at 1 in 10 (10%) over about 1 km.

After this it was nice to have a descent back down into the valley I had just climbed out of! The narrow roads took me to Fawley Bottom and another short but very steep climb back up the other side of the valley, only 300 m long but the average gradient is greater than 1 in 5 (20%). Again all the altitude gained was lost almost immediately in a fast descent back down to Lower Assendon, the lowest point on the whole route. I had now basically crossed the Chilterns from Watlington to Henley.

The last really big climb followed, up Bix Hill, again pretty short (less than 1 km) but averaging out at 1 in 7 (14%). This very minor road was a useful bypass to the dual-carriageway alongside which I hadn’t known about before. I was slightly surprised to then join a busy road towards Rotherfield Greys, my legs were getting a bit tired after the hills so it was with a slower pace that I cycled to Highmoor Cross and a short descent followed by the climb up to Stoke Row, I was on autopilot up this 1 in 10 (10%) hill and again looking back from the top showed me the scale of the ascent through the woods. I hardly appreciated the autumn colours. I took a well-earned rest at the Maharajah’s Well before the final few miles back to the car.

These are pretty wooded lanes and I was following the NCN 5 along part of the way down Berins Hill to Well Place. It was all plain sailing from here with the rolling countryside taking me to the final descent down Crowmarsh Hill and back to the Thames Valley.

The route was very pretty, the weather was a bit average, light winds but a couple of light rain showers. My legs knew I had done those hills by the time I got back to the car and this was easily tougher cycling than the previous weeks 60 mile route. I was pleased with the average speed though, on such undulating terrain glad I posted >10 mph, also no getting off and pushing anywhere, I cycled every metre of those hills (although I did rest halfway up a couple!).

Distance :: 38.85 mi
Time :: 2h59m43s
Average Active Speed :: 12.97 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

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John Talbot

The main protagonist behind this nonsense. The website title is inspired by the lyrics of the B-side to Lily the Pink by The Scaffold. "The buttons of your mind were difficult to find and my fingers far too clumsy."