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 caf
We set off for this 60 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 lodged 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 Lechlade. 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 2000m, today’s ride was a paltry 454m!!
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.
First ride for three weeks and after the excesses of Xmas. This also gave John’s sore leg a chance to rest, doctor reckons it was muscular although thought initially it might have been a hernia.
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. Andrew’s car was indicating an outside temperature of -5C as he drove to John’s. The metsite at Wallingford had recorded 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 John’s familiar commuting route to Wallingford via Wittenham Clumps, it would have been close to 9am when we arrived in Wallingford where we now know it was -6.9C. No wonder our water bottles 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 John took us on a slight detour to the top of Britwell Hill and a trigpoint he hadn’t logged before!
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 Trees. 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 John was pretty sure the old route to Lewknor went through an access tunnel and he was right. A nice way to avoid negotiating Junction 6 of the M40!
Lewknor is when our feet froze, they had been going numb for a while but they were now rapidly becoming blocks 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. Removing our gloves meant our fingers quickly became cold and sore when we restarted. We had decided to head for the Waterfront Caf