Wot no training?

Has he given up? No new trainings for a while? Fret not dear reader for I have created a whole new website dedicated to LEJOG 2009. Check up on all our latest exploits, training etc. at http://www.jochta.com/lejog/. And why not sponsor us while you’re there wink

14th Feb 2009

I found this ride quite hard work for some reason. The weather was fine and I wasn’t going too far but I didn’t seem to get into it today. It was the first chance after the snow and ice to get on a ride for a couple of weeks. It was also surprisingly lonely going on my own, it’s much more enjoyable going out as a pair or small group.

The route I used was basically bolted together from several previous rides. I used the NCN 5 to get to Abingdon and then cycled through Shippon and Gozzards Ford. I think this was the first time I have reversed this section through Frilford Heath and Fyfield. I headed south west through Fyfiled Wick and Lyford on a small lane I’ve not used before. There was a small flood over the road here from recent rainfall and snow melt.

I turned north through Charney Bassett towards Southmoor. This was followed by the flat stretch through Appleton and down to Bessles Leigh and across the A420 (for the 4th time). After Wootton I decided to take in Boars Hill, a steep climb where I was surprised to still see snow on the road and a reasonable amount still on the hilltop. Just small elevation changes can make all the difference. I descended through Bayworth and Sunningwell to get back to Abingdon and home.

Distance :: 37.47 mi
Time :: 2h40m53s
Average Active Speed :: 13.97 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

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

24th Jan 2009

I was on my own for this ride which I didn’t enjoy much at all. I wanted to see if there was a route to the Berkshire Downs without having to go via Wantage. There isn’t. Well, there is but it’s rubbish. Literally rubbish.

I cycled through Harwell and Didcot and onto the old railway line to Upton. There are byways that lead to the West Ilsley turn on the A34 which I wanted to try. The first bit wasn’t too bad, uphill on an unsurfaced track but quite cyclable. Once I reached the bridge over the old railway it turned nasty. The deep cutting here has been turned into a landfill and the track to the A34 was made up of broken rubble and bricks used by refuse lorries. There was a road scraper apparently ‘levelling’ it when I was there, he was turning it into more of a mess. It was also covered in a brown/grey slime that absolutely stank. It was too far to turn back so I very slowly and carefully picked my way to the road. My mudguards and tyres were covered in the smelly mud by then and it’s all I could smell for the next few miles. I was seeking out puddles to try and wash some of it off. Yuck.

The road up to Bury Down was crap too. The car park at the top of the hill is used by foreign lorry drivers as an overnight stop and the road and verge were covered in detritus. By the time I got to West Ilsley I was a bit fed up and not enjoying the ride much.

I turned towards Farnborough and eventually got to nice country lanes through Catmore and Stanmore to East Ilsley. At Compton I had the steep climb up Applepie Hill to Aldworth where I joined the B4009 to Streatley and the very steep hill (down for me). A couple of miles on the A417 were necessary next to get me to the Cholsey turn and then I was on familiar roads I use for cycling to work.

So, what did I learn from this ride? Seeking out byways on a tourer is a stupid idea, getting to the downs is not sensible without going via Wantage, the roads around West Ilsley and Farnborough aren’t great fun in the winter and having your mobile phone bouncing around on the handlebars is likely to crack the LCD screen.

Distance :: 44.18 mi
Time :: 3h19m47s
Average Active Speed :: 13.27 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

18th Jan 2009

We (Andrew and I) set off for this roughly 58 miler to Lechlade and back around 8.30am on Sunday morning. The forecast was for a strong westerly wind so the route was designed to minimise the time spent cycling into the wind.

Using the NCN offroad route to get to Abingdon town centre we reversed the end of the previous week’s ride through Shippon, Frilford Heath and Fyfield. Crossing back over the A420 at Southmoor using the bridleway bridge we headed south to Charney Bassett before turning to the north west towards Buckland. Along this stretch we suffered our first training puncture. Andrew picked up a rear wheel puncture so we stopped to switch inner tubes and set back off. I got to the Buckland turn on the A420 looked behind and he was nowhere in sight, slightly concerned I headed back about half a mile before I spotted him repairing another puncture! A slither of flint had lodges in the tyre and punctured the new innertube. Another tube and we were off again.

After Buckland we had the fast smooth descent to Buckland Marsh and over the Thames. We cycled alongside the Great Brook (lovely quiet and smooth lane) into Aston and on to Bampton. We had a couple of miles of A-road through Clanfield before turning off towards Clanfield. This stretch was directly into the wind and was straight flat and hard work. Quite bleak. We were glad to reach the A417 where we turned into Lechlade to pick up some lunch. We retraced our steps to the Thames and had our lunch next to the lock. It was very chilly off of the bikes so we didn’t hang about too long.

We headed south to Buscot on the busy A417 and a tricky right-turn onto the minor road to Coleshill. The first and only hills on the entire route were next. The climb into Coleshill was short but steep. The second on the B4019 (which I had to push up last time I was here) was nowhere near as bad as I remember it. The 8% sign at the bottom is absolute rubbish though and should be 18% I think.

Turning through Great Coxwell and over the A420 (still not my favourite road crossing, fast busy and a bit dodgy) to Little Coxwell. With the wind now pushing us along it was fast easy cycling, especially after Baulking where we barely had to pedal through Goosey and West Hanney. The road to Steventon is not my favourite stretch, long, straight and dull and quite busy with cars. But with the wind behind us we made short work of it.

Then it was through Drayton and back home. Nearly 61 miles in total, with a couple of detours, but far flatter than anything we might experience on LEJOG. I’ve started doing some routes and the total ascent on day one will be over 1200m, today’s ride was a paltry 149m!!

Distance :: 60.91 mi
Time :: 4h34m01s
Average Active Speed :: 13.34 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

15th Jan 2009

Commuting cycle to work on my regular 17.5 mile route. A stiff easterly breeze was blowing and the difference in active speeds between the morning and evening reflect this.

Distance :: 17.25 mi
Time :: 1h15m58s
Average Active Speed :: 13.62 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

Distance :: 17.23 mi
Time :: 1h10m30s
Run.GPS Training Profile

11th Jan 2009

This was the first ride when all three of the LEJOG 2009 participants cycled together. We were meeting at Tom’s in Wootton for 7am so I decided to cycle the short distance (about 7 miles) there from home and left around 6.30am. Of course it was completely dark then. I arrived on time to find Andrew waiting outside, no sign of Tom yet! After a short delay we set off around 8.50am northwards towards Cumnor.

The roads were icy in places so we avoided the minor road down Tumbledown Hill and took the main route to join the Farmoor road and over Swinford Bridge. At Eynsham we crossed the A40 and headed towards Freeland. The hill down from East End was very dodgy, the trees were dripping on to the road where it was freezing into sheets. We took it steady and had a break on Ashford Bridge over the Evenlode at the bottom.

We cycled to Finstock and through Hailey into Witney. This was a wider B-road so we strung out a bit. After Witney we took the very minor Cogges Road towards Stanton Harcourt. Rather than going back towards Oxford I suggested we head south to Standlake and approach Abingdon from the west using routes I had cycled before. To save a long loop and time we used the A415 over Newbridge to get to the Fyfield road. Using the secret tunnel under the A420 and through Tubney, Gozzard’s Ford and Shippon to Abingdon. I then headed south back home, whilst the others headed back to Wootton.

A good ride, the air temperature was pretty decent after recent rides, the ground temperature was clearly a different story judging by some of the white roads we cycled along.

Distance :: 49.30 mi
Time :: 3h49m37s
Average Active Speed :: 12.88 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

8th Jan 2009

Commuting cycle to work on my now regular 17.5 mile route! Weather was misty in the morning and pretty foggy on the way home, this made it quite tricky as when cars came towards me it was basically a whiteout and it was hard to see the edge of the road!

Distance :: 17.46 mi
Time :: 1h13m13s
Average Active Speed :: 14.31 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

Distance :: 17.25 mi
Time :: 1h13m54s
Average Active Speed :: 14.01 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

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

14th Dec 2008

A bit of a last minute decision to go for a ride with my brother early on Sunday morning. We decided to meet in Moreton-in-Marsh and he had listed a tentative set of villages to aim for and I quickly knocked up a route on Run.GPS to follow late the previous evening.

We headed NW from Moreton to Batsford and up Dorn Hill to Draycott continuing on to Chipping Campden which is where our planned routes began to diverge and it all went a bit wrong! I thought we were aiming to cycle through Broadway going down and back up the steep hills, my brother planned to bypass the village and go via Broadway Hill. I had planned to go down Willersey Hill to avoid the main road but we missed the turning as my brother thought we were heading to Broadway Tower! I think we should have maybe worked out where we were going and I shouldn’t have done a Run.GPS route late at night.

We ended up at the top of Fish Hill on the A44. I was a little ahead and there was a big congregation of motorcyclists at the top of the hill, I turned right and headed off to Broadway not knowing that we could have gone straight on to the tower. It was too late then, I was committed (at 35mph) to going down Fish Hill! Which was fun! And Broadway is pretty!

Through Broadway we of course had to climb back up the ridge which we did via Snowshill, a decent steady climb and hill training is good! We then followed my brother’s route and I ignored Run.GPS. There weren’t any villages to cycle through but I did bag a trigpoint on top of Custdean Hill on the grass verge. We cycled close to Temple Guiting and the Cotswold Farm Park. Past Condicote, Longborough and Sezincote to Bourton-on-the-Hill. We were back on the A44 for the brief steep drop back into Moreton-in-Marsh.

A good ride in cool, calm conditions with one slip up that gave us a nice climb. Discrepancy in distance is due to me messing up the start/atop button in Run.GPS and missing the first 6mi of the recording!

Distance :: 23.65 mi (GPSr track is 29.72 mi)
Time :: 2h03m43s
Average Active Speed :: 11.47 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile