Training 4th Jan

Riders John & Andrew
Distance 56.24 mi
Time 4h29m06s
Average Speed 12.54 mph
Ascent 645 m
Run.GPS Training Profile

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

6th Dec 2008

This was a good ride, the weather was a huge improvement over the previous week’s. Sunny, cold and little wind. I headed north from home through Abingdon town centre and out towards Cumnor on the B4017 through Wootton. I crossed the A420 at Bessels Leigh and climbed steadily to Cumnor and rejoined the B4017. During the fast descent to Farmoor and past the reservoir I remembered I had to cross the Swinford toll-bridge and I had no money with me. I hope cyclists were free otherwise I was going to have to blag my way across. It was free!

I cycled into Eynsham and turned southwest on the B4449 as far as Sutton where at last I could join quiet country lanes. Sutton was the birthplace of my paternal grandfather and he lived in Sutton and Stanton Harcourt as a boy. There are several relatives buried in the churchyard in Stanton Harcourt. Just a short distance later I cycled through the tiny hamlet of West End which was where my paternal grandmother lived as a girl. I continued along the long curve through Northmoor and into Standlake.

A short distance on the A415 followed before I turned towards Aston. I turned off this road onto a very beaten up road to Old Shifford, more a farm track than a road in places, a bit rough and muddy but isolated and pretty.

The road then had an excellent new surface alongside the Great Brook, a side channel of the Thames, this was an idyllic stretch of lane cycling. Probably the best bit of the ride. I turned south onto the Buckland Road which was pretty busy and to Tadpole Bridge where I took a breather and found Flush Bracket 112 and took photos. The only real hill on the entire route into Buckland was next but pretty easy, didn’t need to drop to the granny cog for this one.

After Buckland I had to cross the busy A420 again, took a while for a gap in the traffic to appear so I could scoot across and to Charney Bassett. I was onto roads that have become familiar now, I used the handy bridleway bridge at Southmoor to recross the A420 and the secret tunnel at Fyfield to go back under it again!

I was cycling well as Tubney, Frilford Heath, Gozzards Ford and Shippon followed. A small distance of town cycling through Abingdon was left (isn’t it odd how as soon as you get to the towns cars no longer give you any room when they pass, yet in the country most follow and pass slowly and carefully). I used the NCN route on Peep-O-Day Lane to get back to Sutton Courtenay.

My longest solo ride, nearly 50 miles when I add on the bits that GPS-Sport decided not to record. I really enjoyed the latter half of this ride, the B-road cycling early on was less good but necessary to get to the good bits.

Distance :: 46.17 mi
Time :: 2h58m08s
Average Active Speed :: 15.55 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

30th Nov 2008

I had a 50 mile route planned for this Sunday but the weather was so atrocious that I quickly altered my plans and took a 30 mile moderate route out of my Philips book of cycle routes. I knew the wind was from the north so I picked a nearby route that had most of the north component at the beginning.

I drove to Lambourn on the Berkshire Downs and parked up. It was sleeting quite heavily, the car was telling me it was 3ºC outside. I sat in the car for a few minutes and then decided to go for it. It was cold. The first few miles uphill to the Ridgeway into the wind were pretty tough, the sleet stung my face, the roads were flooded, it was pretty dull (I had my lights on). Once I went down Blowingstone Hill and across the B4507 to Kingston Lisle it wasn’t so bad. In the Vale of White Horse the roads are flat and the wind was less of an issue. The sleet started to ease too. I soon cycled through Uffington and onto the Longcot road where I made a bit of a mistake. The railway underbridge was flooded with a few inches of water and I should have slowed down. My left foot got sodden and almost straight away my toes started to go numb! No matter the remaining section to Shrivenham was pretty easy and then I turned south and had the wind behind me. Through Bourton and Bishopstone on small lanes was pleasant enough, the sleet/rain had almost stopped. The steepest ascent back onto the downs south of Bishopstone followed, a fairly long ascent but not too bad.

I was blown through the tunnel under the M4 and cycled to Aldbourne. This is when the sleet started to get heavy again. I turned onto tiny lanes which took me uphill to Marridge Hill, these lanes had grass in the centre and were basically flowing rivers either side. the descent I took carefully through the flowing water under the trees there was little tarmac visible as the road was covered in leaves mud and grass!

At the bottom I turned due north for the final 4 miles back to Lambourn. These were the hardest most miserable few miles of cycling I can remember doing. The wind was blowing straight at me, the sleet was heavy, the roads were past industrial sites, uphill and over the M4. My face stung with the sleet and I started to feel cold. My feet were numb and my lower legs started to sting too. I was counting down the distance to the top of the hill above Lambourn where I could freewheel, teeth grittted back into the town.

I was soaked but thanks to my windproof jacket my top half was warm and dry. Without that I don’t think I would have made it, best £105 I’ve ever spent on clothing! I got into the car and I could see on the windscreen that the precipitation was more snow than rain, I thought I must have been mad to cycle in that, I was probably right!

Distance :: 31.38 mi
Time :: 2h20m16s
Average Active Speed :: 13.42 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

27th Nov 2008

Usual commuting route with an added loop at the end of the morning through Wallingford which adds about a mile to the total distance. On the way home I was really cycling well so added on a loop via Drayton and Milton which adds about 1.5 miles to the total distance. Really noticing the fitness improvements now.

Distance :: 18.13 mi
Time :: 1h14m27s
Average Active Speed :: 14.61 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

Distance :: 18.72 mi
Time :: 1h17m04s
Average Active Speed :: 14.57 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile


20th Nov 2008

The morning ride to work was glorious, the Sun was just rising and surrounded by the Chilterns and Berkshire Downs it was beautiful. The wind was behind me too! You can see the difference in average speeds between the morning and evening due to the wind! It was pretty strong but I did my usual 17 miles route to and from work.

Distance :: 17.16 mi
Time :: 1h06m00s
Average Active Speed :: 15.60 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

Distance :: 17.25 mi
Time :: 1h13m44s
Average Active Speed :: 14.04 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

15th Nov 2008

I’ve avoided going east from home until now for two reasons, I would have to repeat some of my commuting route and it’s hard to avoid busy B and A-roads. But this Saturday for a change I decided for variation to head east.

I’m not very good at planning for the wind as a strong and blustery SW wind was blowing as I headed NE to start the route on to the A417 at Culham (you’ll see why this was a bad move in a minute!). There is a cyclepath alongside the fast, busy A-road which I used. This is where the UK is so poor at accommodating cyclists, this path is VERY rough, potholed and narrow. A real teeth-rattler. In fact they’ve been patching it in recent weeks and, no exaggeration, the patched sections are actually WORSE than what they have replaced. Still it’s just about better than using the road but I don’t blame any cyclist for not using it.

Turning onto the busy B4015 cut through to the A4074 at Clifton Hampden, this is another road I have avoided until now, luckily it’s quite short and wasn’t too busy. I now had my first section of dual-carriageway since I started training from Golden Balls roundabout on the A4074. This is a short section though and I soon turned off onto minor roads at last at Nuneham Courtenay. I cycled through the Baldons, which reminded me of childhood Sunday afternoons with my siblings and Mum & Dad having a Coke and pack of crisps on the green watching the cricket or playing.

Crossing the B480 I then had the steep climb up to Garsington, this was the only hill I knew existed on this route as I wasn’t familiar with some of the roads I was going to be cycling, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever driven some of them either. At the top I turned down Denton Lane which was a steep downhill, smooth fast road. A scary moment at the bottom though as there was a 90º bend covered in water and mud, hoping the tyres would grip as I slammed on the brakes. Thankfully made it round although at one point I thought I might have to bail into the verge!

There was then an immediate climb up to Cuddesdon and another fast descent to the mill where I used to fish as a teenager on the river Thame. Straight back uphill again and towards Great Milton I joined the A329 through Little Milton. A minor road cut across to the B480 and Chalgrove and through Berrick Salome. One final steep hill on this stretch up from the pretty village of Ewleme. I descended to Crowmarsh Gifford and then I was on my commute route back home. Up via Wittenham Clumps and through Long Wittenham. This is where I should have done more wind planning before setting off as the final 5 miles were really hard work, straight into a strong wind I pushed hard to keep my speed up, it was fairly relentless though and maybe I should have headed the other way this week!

Not too bad a route, a little hillier than I expected, which isn’t that bad a thing, the first few miles on busy roads aren’t much fun but once I got onto the lanes I barely saw any traffic.

Distance :: 37.90 mi
Time :: 2h37m05s
Average Active Speed :: 14.48 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

13th Nov 2008

Cycling to and from work on my now regular 17 mile route via Appleford, Long Wittenham, Little Wittenham, Sires Hill, North Moreton, South Moreton and Cholsey. I can do this route without having to think too hard and it takes in a couple of moderate hills, one up to Wittenham Clumps and Cholsey Hill. There is another short steep hill in North Moreton.

Also got to test my new front light which is like having a headlight, made such a difference to cycling on the unlit country roads. It was a thoroughly miserable day though, the morning ride was overcast but dry but it poured down on the way home and I got soaked. Dark and wet winter cycling… hmmm…

I followed the cycle home by immediately going out to play table tennis in the Divisional Championships. I won my group but sadly lost in the semi-final.

Distance :: 17.17 mi
Time :: 1h10m34s
Average Active Speed :: 14.60 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

Distance :: 17.19 mi
Time :: 1h09m28s
Average Active Speed :: 14.85 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

8th Nov 2008

In my never ending quest for variation in routes I stole another route from the Wantage CTC. They rode this almost exact route on 1st November as their ‘moderate’ ride. I was interested to see whether I would keep pace with what they manage. They averaged 13.3 mph on the route, I did 15.02 mph which was faster than I expected. I wasn’t keeping track as I cycled as I wanted to see what it would be and I wasn’t especially pushing hard.

The route started in Sutton Courtenay and went via Milton and under the A34 and up Milton Hill. Using Featherbed Lane as a cut to the A417 there was a brief section on the A-road before turning thorugh West Hendred. Heading up to the highest point on the road close to Ginge and along the very quiet lanes to Ardington and Lockinge. Crossing the A417 onto Grove Park Drive fast downhill past Lain’s Barn. I took a short break where the road crosses the old Wilts & Berks Canal, I was looking for an OS benchmark which is on the old bridge access but didn’t find it. There was a brief heavy shower, the weather had been bright but breezy up to then. I then joined familiar roads through Grove, Denchworth and Charney Bassett. I had to cross the A420 at a staggered junction at Fyfield and then I was on the long fairly dull section through Appleton and Eaton I had done a few weeks before.

Back across the A420 at Bessels Leigh and through Wootton on the B4017. The wind was now against me for the final few miles through Sunningwell and Radley. The final stretch was through Abingdon town centre and along the A415 to Culham where it started raining again. But I was only a few minutes from home.

Not too bad a route, some of it is a bit boring and there aren’t many climbs, I wonder if the Wantage CTC average speed includes all the stops?

Distance :: 37.35 mi
Time :: 2h029m13s
Average Active Speed :: 15.02 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

6th Nov 2008

The main distinction of this ride to work on a grey November day was that my front light is rubbish. I couldn’t see a thing on the way home as this was the first commuting ride since the clocks went back. I still did the full 17 mile route, but boy it was dark on the country roads! The picture isn’t my light, I have been using an old battery light, this is my new light! Normally £300 the nice man in Rides on Air in Wallingford sold me his last display model to me for £150! I was going to buy the £65 Cateye rechargeable light but couldn’t resist the bargain. Not had a chance to try it out yet but it looks pretty impressive.

The other thing to note today is that I officially broke the 500 mile training distance. So I’m halfway to John O’Groats already!

Distance :: 17.24 mi
Time :: 1h07m38s
Average Active Speed :: 15.29 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile

Distance :: 17.26 mi
Time :: 1h010m51s
Average Active Speed :: 14.61 mph
Run.GPS Training Profile