4th Jan 2009

First ride for three weeks and after the excesses of Xmas. This also gave my sore leg a chance to rest, doctor reckons it was muscular although thought initially it might have been a hernia in my groin region. It has been very painful, but is well on the way to being AOK again, although still not 100% cycling doesn’t seem to make it worse or hurt it. Table Tennis does though.

Anyway, boy this was a cold one. Absolutely blinking freezing. The first really cold winter weather we have had for several years was close to its peak on this Sunday morning. My brother-in-law drove to my house and his car was indicating an outside temperature of -5C. At work on the Monday I checked what our metsite had recorded and they had an overnight minimum of -7.6C and a recorded temperature at 9am of -6.9C! We were heading for Wallingford that morning!

We headed off on my familiar commuting route to Wallingford via Wittenham Clumps, it would have been close to 9am when we arrived in Wallingford where I now know it was -6.9C. No wonder my water bottle had frozen solid!

We were heading for Christmas Common and along the Chiltern ridge towards Lewknor. So from Wallingford we cycled through Crowmarsh Gifford and past Ewelme to Sliding Hill to Swyncombe. Before the hill we saw half a dozen Red Kites fighting over some food in the field next to the road, we stopped and watched for a few minutes. The hill was a very straightforward climb and much easier than Watlington Hill I had cycled before. Once we got to Cookley Green I took us on a slight detour to the top of Britwell Hill and a trigpoint I hadn’t logged before (sad I know)!

Any brief stop in the journey quickly allowed our bodies to cool though and shivering we headed to Christmas Common past the Tree Barn where a few weeks earlier we had bought our Christmas Tree. This road along the top of the ridge is lovely and offered great views down towards Oxford over the frozen landscape. We crossed the M40 at the Chiltern Cutting and over the old A40 London route. Down the steep hill wary of ice to Kingston Blount. We needed to recross the M40 and I was pretty sure the old route to Lewknor went through an access tunnel and I was right. A nice way to avoid negotiating Junction 6 of the M40!

Lewknor is when my foot froze, they had been going numb for a while but my left foot was now a block of ice. Everything else was fine, feet were a problem. We cycled through Wheatfield and Stoke Talmage and had a brief stop for a kitkat and a stamping of feet near Clare. My right foot thawed a little but removing our gloves meant our fingers quickly became cold and sore when we restarted. We had decided to head for the Waterfront Café at Benson for a coffee and a warm up, so we hurried through Brightwell Baldwin and Ewelme to our destination. It was around lunchtime so we had a nice snack and warm drink and warmed ourselves a little. Our feet stubbornly remained numb and frozen though!

The ground was still white and it was cold restarting but with renewed vigour after lunch we were soon back in Wallingford and cycling back to my house using the other half of one of my commuting routes via East Hagbourne and Didcot.

The break from cycling hadn’t effected my fitness at all and I felt strong. It was cold though and that was really beginning to bite just before lunch and I’m glad we had a break and something to eat.

Distance :: 56.24 mi
Time :: 4h29m06s
Average Active Speed :: 12.54 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."