Once over the top, we descended to Ratlinghope down the hill we had come up on the Wild Edric. Like most of the hills round the Long Mynd, I would prefer to go UP it, despite the gradient.
Another draggy hill followed, together with another mental descent before a tea stop in someones garage/garden in Picklescott. A truly lovely location.
Immediately after the stop, with cold legs as is the Audax tradition, was another climb with another stonking descent. These new Fulcrum Racing 3 wheels are ace!! Whenever the road pitches downward it feels like someone has lit the blue touch paper, and rockets are propelling you. Next purchase, I think, will be Swisstop Brake Pads.
The final ascent after Bridges is the one I think the rest of the Tour de Mercredi did two weeks ago. The sign at the bottom warns "Narrow Road with Passing Places and Steep Gradients". It does not disappoint with a posted gradient of 20% at the bottom, and several others that feel just as steep. By the time the road tops out the views are stunning, and the countryside wild. Just as well that there is another cake stop then.
After a few km of undulations, the road descends (fantastically) to rejoin the outward route for a gentle return to Lydham. Rarely have I been that tired after just 28 miles. Rarely has my face ached so much from having had a fixed grin during 3 hours cycling.
Many thanks to Mr Cheshire, 5 of us (and Andy) enjoyed a splendid 103km in each others company around the delights of the sunny Cotswolds on Sunday.
Early departure from the Market Square was followed by a swiftish drag down to Mickleton and up Nineveh Hill into Chipping Camden. Conduit Hill was dispatched prior to heading through the Snowshill Lavender Farm, and onto the delights of Ford, Kineton and Grange Hill (by Naunton). A stonking descent into the Slaughters followed where the masses assembled for the obligatory photo call.
Once arriving in Bourton on the Water, we helped ourselves to the best that Ginsters (and Cadbury) had to offer, before weaving our way out of the village amid the 10km runners, who looked considerably less comfortable than we.
After climbing Wyke Beacon, the descent through the villages to Moreton was a pleasure, followed by another Tea Shoppe in Moreton itself.
A return to Stratford saw us through Aston Magna and Ebrington before splitting up to make our own ways back into town.
Tony and myself chose Bakers Hill on the route, and this saw my highest speed year-to-date of 77.4kmh. Feeling good. Clive, Tony, Marcus, Joe and Colonel Charlie were all looking various degrees of good. Despite the reducing number of weekends before the Etape, we can all hope to complete, even if we can't all hope to complete it tomorrow without a lot of further training.
The Poor Student Audax 7/1/2012 - Clive
Clive's traditional New Year opener, this is a basic level 200km Audax event starting and finishing in Oxford. This year's event was on Saturday 7th January, and thankfully the weather relented from the grot of the preceding week and granted us fine weather.
Arriving early at the Park & Ride, there was only limited faffing and we were ready for an early getaway. Sneaking off a few minutes early, we were noticed by the Audax Gods who, frowning upon our 'cheating' dispatched the Puncture Fairy to enact their vengeance upon us. A puncture after just 400 metres is NOT the best start to a year.
Patched up, we headed through the 'official' route under the Bridge of Sighs and through the ancient University Buildings before heading West into the fresh and persistent wind. The first indication that "weight loss is good" was that I arrived at the top of Cumnor Hill in the main group, and without the customary lung hanging out. Ray, who was accompanying me, was already struggling after being ill all week.
Shrivenham and Swindon came and went, the wind remained. Long draggy bits were climbed more easily than normal, but Ray went off the back a couple of times, normally he's another one who is a nightmare to keep up with uphill. As we arrived in Malmesbury after 80km, we caught Marmite Geoff who had started even earlier. I was up for a quick "grab and go" stop at the garage control, Ray decided completing the event with Geoff was far more sensible, and let me go. Despite the wind, the first leg had only taken 3 1/2 hours for 80km and I was keen to see what time I could finish in.
Having refuelled at the garage with the obligatory dirty pasty (Cheese & Bacon Ginsters Mmmmmm) and first of the day's 3 cans of Relentless (really must check if that stuff is on the UCI list of banned substances) I left quickly and was soon blasting along the main road. I credited the refuelling with my speed increase, but it was probably due to the fact that the first bit of the second section went East with the wind.
Flashes of brightly coloured lycra could be seen way ahead on occasions and through the Cotswold Water Park to Cirencester, I managed to reel in many of them. Even when we reached the long drag of the WhiteWay no-one came past. Approaching the "Compton Abdale Alps", 3 steep climbs one after the other, I could see a largish group near the top (probably 5 minutes ahead). On each climb, they were a little closer, and it may have taken 6 miles, but eventually I caught them up, and we cycled into Chipping Camden together. I realise now that no-one overtook me on the second leg over the Cotswolds. Previously, I've been on my own, save for the few seconds of respite when passed by others.
Equally, last year I left Chipping Camden in the dark, this year we were in and out by 2:45. Fuelled by double Relentless intake our group of 5 stayed together over the lumps and bumps to Moreton-in-Marsh, and I climbed Dorn Hill near Draycott for the first time on this event without walking. It helps to be doing it in the daylight, and to be able to see how much of it is left. We arrived at Shipston-Under-Wychwood, only ??km from the finish before stopping to put on lights, and had the energy left to sprint up the chevronned climb in Finstock in the big ring after 180km ("weight loss is good"). The last few kilometres is gradually downhill or flat, but I was still amazed (and dead chuffed) to arrive back at the start at 17:03. A personal best by three hours ("weight loss is good").
My phone threw a wobbly about operating Endomondo in low power mode, insisting that I had travelled to and from London several times in the day. However, my trusty GPS functioned well, and I managed to upload the stats here. A great ride made better by an unexpectedly good performance.
Ray & Geoff finished too, by the way.
Giuseppe & Fillippo 26/12/2011
Joe came down to sunny South Wales on Boxing Day and we managed to fit in a ride on Tuesday as the rain had relented enough to allow us out. We ventured out via the lanes in the Vale of Glamorgan up the Rhondda Valley to tackle the Bwlch and Rhigos before returning to Cardiff via Pontypridd.
The weather was dry, about 10 degrees, light west wind , roads very wet in places. The link on map my ride is here - http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/83362836