I have set myself a goal of keeping active throughout the London winter this year. By active, I mean, riding at least one 200 km event every month. I could not find any suitable calendar events (i.e. events organised by AUK with a decent amount of audax riders), and so I decided to sign up for our first permanent event. These are events that you can ride any time of the year, provided you let the organiser know in advance. Similarly to the regular calendar events, proof of passage must be obtained along the way.
Below is the route (courtesy of Mike) we ended up doing, with only three controls: Oxford, Malmesbury, and Chipping Campden. Easy navigation and just over 200 km, with rolling terrain.
Given Lucy had been off the bike for a while, I anticipated an slow ride which will go on through some of the dark evening hours. With that in mind, we set up the bikes for night riding and set the alarm at 5 am. After an hour ride on the train to Oxford, I collected my receipt (Lucy won't be registering her ride) just past 7:50 am and off we went.
Deciding on what clothes to bring out for this ride was a bit difficult. At this time of the year it can be chilly at the start, but then it usually warms up in the central hours, to then plummet back to below 10C. As that was to be the case, we each had at least 4 layers of synthetic materials, plus leg warmers and long finger gloves with liners, just in case. Also, a couple of buffs.
|8:30 am, leaving Oxford|
Somewhere near West Swindon we hit a closed road sign. As it usually happens on these rides, we went through it and eventually hit a barrier with a no cyclist no walkers writing on it. Despite the best of our efforts to go through it, we got turned away, having to retrace some 8 km and do a bit of navigation to get back to original route. The GPS came in very handy, with all the roads shown up on the screen, it did not take us more than 30 min to loop back to the planned route. We had lost some valuable minutes here that would mean less time to get back to Oxford later. The only high of this diversion was a very old-looking bike chained on to a fence, showing a 1930s date, and a very old leather saddle.
Malmesbury had its Saturday market on by the time we got there, and with that, plenty of traffic. I find it amusing how people happily get stuck in traffic jams on a Saturday morning, in a random Cotswolds town. Wiggling through traffic I got my receipt and headed off for a quick bite before we carried on. At an English pattiserie we had a difficult time trying to choose between the usual staples: flapjackes, scones, rice cakes, and sandwiches. We wished we were in France/Belgium/Spain and their traditional bakeries here!
|Malmesbury Saturday market|
|Lucy escaping the threatening clouds in the background|
|Steep downhill as we crossed the Cotswolds|
|Luckily we cleared those clouds in time|
Eventually we had a sit down meal at one of the only two pubs of the village. Lucy got saussage and mash, while I got a simple tomato soup. It was getting cold and rain started to drop over our bikes, but we had the luxury of a fire and some warm food.
|Riding into the last 60 km|
|Cannot get any better than this! 6:30 pm, sunset and corn fields|
At 8:50 pm we had officially completed the ride, nearly 13 hours after we set off in the morning. Shortly afterwards we were heading back to London, after what it had been an enjoyable ride in reasonable autumnal weather.
This completes my October ride, and am now looking into the November options. Lucy had a harder than expected time after all the time she spent off the bike in September. The route was quite flat overall, and fairly quiet. I intend to be back to do this same ride in January, when the actual calendar event takes place. It will surely be a much colder day, but the company will hopefully help me ride a bit faster.
The overall stats were as below:
- Overall km: 210 km
- Overall average: 16.5 km/h
- Moving average: 20.4 km/h
- Max speed: 51.2 km/h
- Time on the bike: 10:32
- Time stopped: 02h 15 min