Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A good cycling week- CTC and Audax rides

Thursday 17th July

The Blackmore Vale CTC Dunkeswell ride.

My cycling week continues building on the 90+ miles already since Sunday, I met the Blackmore Vale CTC group for their ‘further faster’ ride from Yeovil over to Dunkeswell and return, 65 miles.
The day had been forecast as being the hottest of the year, so it was nice not to think about waterproofs and long sleeves etc.
I met the group of 7 at Perrys Cider at Dowlish Wake, where they were tucking into coffee and cake after their 15 miles from Yeovil. I had only ridden 6 miles!

The ride took us up the long 5 km climb up Stickle Path, past Crock Street, Barley Hill ensuring a hot and sweaty summit. Great views down towards the coast. Breath was gathered before a steep descent to Beetham, the road being very broken and potholed in places making the descent more treacherous. A steep climb out again before the A303 crossing. The long descent into Bishopswood before another long 2 km climb up to the B3170 , never steep but sustained, traffic was light and the road surface was good, the group was stretched out now with the stronger riders pushing at the front, needless to say I was somewhere near the back! But not last.

Yet another ridge crossed before the start of the next one with dropping down to Royston Water and up to Churchingford, at least that was the last of the climbs for the morning as we turned left at Redlane and along the ridge to Smeatharpe passing the disused wartime aerodrome onto Luppit Common, the group now in team trial mode in a line, I sat in the middle, very comfortable at a steady 25 mph. This all changed as we turned right down ‘Rough Grey Bottom’ and a very steep windy 16% descent, on damp potholed roads, this was followed immediately by a 16% climb again on damp, potholed roads, calfs burned!!! There was another sharp steep climb up to the village of Dunkeswell with an awkward turn onto the main road through the village and more climbing to the lunchtime venue café at the Aero drome.

A very pleasant lunch in the sunshine, outside with entertainment from parachutes, helicopters etc. Time for the off, at least it was on the ridge with a nice long 5 km fast descent down to Hemyock. We continued through the village along the Culm Valley, tight back lanes, overgrown, very rural, beautiful countryside. Being in the valley meant we had to climb out at sometime, the 16% Bramley Hill was that exit up to Churchstanton, my last real climb of the day, the Yeovil group do have a few more before they get home, but no where near what we have done already.

Past the old Trickey Warren listening station, now a business park, along to turn right at the Holman Gavel continuing along the ridge, Staple Hill, the highest point on the Blackdowns before the fast downhill, speeds of 35 mph + as the road was clear and well surfaced. A short climb up to Neroche castle [a reminder my car was broken into earlier this year]. Then the 5km 16%+ downhill to Broadway. By now the day had become very hot and humid and the ride through to Barrington was very hot, but at least most of the climbs of earlier in the day finished. A quick stop at Barrington with several opting for more tea and cake at the NT. I decided to say cheerio to the group and went on my own, back through Dowlish and on to the cycle track. The heat of the day building even more and now I was feeling tired and hot, and somewhat said 29 degrees on my Garmin, it certainly felt like it!
A great ride with several 16% climbs and other long but not steep climbs, great views all around, my new bike went well and I covered 58 miles with over 4500 ft of climbing using 3706 calories. A nice build up to my weekend Audax ride of 140 km [87 miles].

Sunday 20th July – A grand day out over Salisbury Plain

The 'Hungerford Hooray' Audax

As the Audax start was at Awbridge near Romsey I was able to combine my trip with a visit to my sons near Wimborne to deliver my old bike, my Trek, we were quickly in garage putting the new cassette and chain on followed by fixing of new cleats to his new shoes. He was ready to ride then, if his injured hand would let him!
Sunday dawned bright and sunny with the promise of a dry sunny day with the possibility of a shower. To make sure I wasn’t caught out I put mudguards on my new bike and carried a waterproof jacket – needless to say this was enough to deter the rain and we ended up with a scorcher of a day.
I arrived in the village hall car park just as a smallish group of 200 km riders were leaving, all young fit looking cyclists with stripped down road bikes. No CTC touring types to be seen.
I was meeting Dave down at the start and he duly arrived, mumbling about not fixing his bike on the rack properly and it moving bending his front drop out. It seemed to lock in ok with the QR .
I had a printed copy of the points on my handlebars and also loaded on my Garmin, the bad news was my Garmin refused to do turn by turn directions, so I relied on the written instructions, this was helped by Dave having his Garmin that actually worked and gave turn by turn, so between us we made sure we didn’t make any mistakes. We signed in and received our Brevit cards, stamped by an efficient looking 3/4 year old, who was having a great time assisting dad.
Loaded up we were finally off, again a relatively small group of riders but this time more CTC touring types.
We set off and seemed to be climbing, passing through East Tytherly and West Tytherly and the lovely named Stoney Batter before crossing the busy A30 near Winterslow and turning up through Porton, the big gates at the cross roads and official MOD signs at the side of the road were ominous and somewhat thought provoking, “what ever do they do in there”!!! Having said that the countryside around Porton Down was beautiful and unspoilt with poppys in hedgerows etc. The sun was getting hot now and we were glad when we got some respite from the odd cloud scudding across.
A drop down to Winterbourne Dauntsey before climbing once again to the A345 over the ridge and a descent down to the Avon Valley a nice little place Upper Woodford. We f followed the Avon valley north east wards to get to Amesbury and our first manned check point in the aptly named Friar Tuck café, sadly it took sometime to get served 15 minutes queuing to get a mug of tea !!
We crossed the A303 and started to climb unto Bulford, through the military camp, climbing further on to Salisbury Plain past Nether Avon airfield, Salisbury Plain opened out, it was a gloriously sunny day and the Plain looked magical and remote, assisted by the sound of skylarks, up till now the roads had been very quiet and nicely surfaced.
We continued on through Everleigh and Colling Bourne Dulcis being over taken by a large group of Swindon road club riders clearly on a training ride, I had to hold my mate Dave back at this point as he found difficulty restraining himself not to chase them[Dave being an very good ex road racer in the 70/80s] We continued through Great Bedwyn, and North Standon before a nice descent down into Hungerford, lunch and checkpoint, The Tutti Pole café was very busy, but we were able to find a pasty shop up the road, cheese and onion and take away tea, very nice! I topped up my water bottle with water from the Coop, which was ice cold.
A short climb after the break took us quickly out of Hungerford [82 km] over Inkpen, good descent before the steep, hard climb over Walbury Hill, it was very hot now with the lane in the direct sun and no breeze. I had to stop at one point to take off my glasses as sweat was stinging my eyes, the climb got steeper near the top and I was pleased, allowing myself a break with a good drink of water.  After a very steep descent that included a hairpin bend it was a good steady run at a good speed down the valley, through Hurstbourne Tarrant and Hurstbourne Priors. We crossed the A303 near Wherewell before heading onto Mottisfont. This part of the ride was a very pretty area and lots of good riding following the rivers. The morning was a lot of climbing over Salisbury Plain, so a good contrast, and helpful as we had covered 120 km. The last 20 km took us through Dunbridge down the Millennium walk which was a cycle track from an old lane. The final KM were a sting in the tail with a climb back up to Awbridge, 141 km covered or 87miles old money!  5144ft climbed and 5284 calories burned [glad I had the pasty!] After card stamping, welcome cups of tea, biscuits and cake help revive before getting changed from sweaty cycling kit. Other riders slowly appeared, we all felt the heat and were glad to finish, and I assumed the 200 km riders still had more km to finish. The drive home was busy, but I made good time over the 80 miles.  A great day out in country side I don’t know very well, it was a very nice area, Salisbury Plain stunning with the Test valley villages showing the true England. Traffic on the route was relatively quiet and the road surfaces most of the time very good. My new bike ran well, and my set up seems about correct, no particular aches and pains, gearing were appropriate to the terrain. I texted my son and told him I had completed my 87 miles, he replied he had done 30 miles on my old bike, very good to say he has just had 6 weeks off! With his tendon trouble.

Monday 21st July

A big contrast, the day was another scorcher so we had a pleasant walk along Seaton seafront and picnic lunch on Beer Head. I did get my mountain bike out and prepared for next Monday and Tuesday on Exmoor. long time since I have been off road, bike seems ok, but the front forks are looking as though they need a service. Gearing works well and more important the disc brakes, I was worried the hydraulics would be leaking, but these were fine. The rear tyre needs replacing as it’s a little worn on the walls and I don’t want a blow out on the downhills.

Tuesday 22nd July

Car seat fitting training at Somerset Road Safety, because the weather is so good I decided to cycle in the 15 miles to Taunton. A pleasant if very hot ride, but! Another 30miles to add to my total. This is my last chance this week as we are off for a short break in Gloucester tomorrow.

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