A ride with @gavgav today to catch up and so that he could get his qualifier for the half century challenge.
He came up to me for about ten then we set out on a meandering route to Lyth Hill and dropped down the other side to Condover. There is a field on the way that has had some tractor activity on it and this has dragged not just mud but a lot of large gravel onto the road, which makes bike tyres want to jump sideways. The mud is annoying, the stones have made it hazardous.
There was a lady with a chicken-shaped woolly hat in Condover then we headed for Cantlop, Pitchford and Acton Burnell on roads that were busier with cyclists than motor traffic. We splashed through the flood on the way to Cound Moor then headed for Cressage, which I haven't been to in a while, encountering more cyclists than I think I've ever seen at one time on this particular stretch.
Having crossed the Severn we climbed up through Eaton Constantine (following, but not catching, a chap on a Brompton), then took the turning to go along the ridge to Donnington. We'd gone a good mile along this lane before realising it wasn't where Gav had intended to take me (partly my fault as I'd pointed out the sign for Charlton Hill when Gav was looking for the road to Charlton which is not the same at all )
Fortunately this was fixable by dropping down through Donnington, taking the road to Wroxeter, the lane to The Horseshoe then joining tthe old A5 to Bluebell. This former trunk road wasn't too busy but we were most unimpressed to be passed uncomfortably close by two motorbikes doing (in my estimation) somewhere north of 80 mph.
Thankfully the rest of the trip was a lot less fraught than that. Bluebell Lane was nicely fast as always - even into a bit of a headwind and the lanes through Walcot, Withington and Upton Magna were plenty quiet enough for chatting as we rode. From the bridge over the new A5 we noticed that the Shrewsbury-bound carriageways were completely empty which is very unusual - I can't find anything to say it's been closed.We saw another speed-demon in a convertible Peugeot on the road to Atcham but he was heading the opposite way and not causing us actual bother.
Heading through Cross Houses is less direct but there is only one steepish hill to slog up rather than three, then we took to the lanes for Berrington and Weeping Cross before rejoining some nicely quiet main roads to the point where we parted.
36.1 miles by the time i got back at 11.5 mph average.
We kept stops to a minimum so not many snaps today:
The view of the Wrekin from Charlton Hill (not Charlton)
On the old bridge at Atcham.
The River Severn is quite swollen again after lots of rain in Wales over the last couple of days.
Time to get my Half Century challenge ride in, before February is done and dusted. Arranged to meet up with @Rickshaw Phil for some socially distanced company on the ride as well.
I headed up to Phil’s and we set out up Lyth Hill, lots of traffic passing us, heading for their walks and indeed the car park up there was heaving. Too many people about for my liking and so didn’t stop to look at the view, dropping down to the A49.
We had to wait for quite a bit of traffic, but got across and down the road to Condover, having to negotiate some thick mud and stones that the farmer has strewn across the road and clearly can’t be bothered to clean up. Downright dangerous.
From Condover, we climbed up to Cantlop, Pitchford and Acton Burnell, where we turned off past Concord College and had a flood to contend with, not too deep though. We then turned to Evenwood, passing a lady on a bike who was waiting for her 2 children to catch up. Said kids looked thoroughly fed up to be out!
We continued on to CoundMoor and down to Cressage, crossing the A458 with ease and then climbed up to Eaton Constantine, where I wanted to turn towards Charlton and Walcot. Not having taken the road from this direction before, I checked with Phil at the first staggered junction we came to, which looked like the one I wanted, and he confirmed either of the next 2 would do, so we took this one. We’d been going for a short distance and I remarked how I didn’t remember it being so hilly before, plus was thinking to myself it seemed narrower than I remembered........We climbed up and had some lovely views over towards the Wrekin and Ironbridge, where you can just see one of the remaining towers at the power station, which is in the middle of being demolished.
After the photos, Phil checked my intended route and wires had been crossed, as were on completely the wrong road ! We were heading to Wroxeter and not where I was intending. Charlton Hill and Charlton are completely different places, even though named very similar, we’d gone to Charlton Hill! Not to worry, there were options and so we got the map out to check. We were then approached by a chap on a bike, who’d stopped to talk to the couple riding in front of us, first and says “are you lost”? I said no, as we weren’t really, but he seemed intent on a conversation and imparting some local information onto us, around a “famous” 80’s pop band whose lead singer lived round there.......neither Phil or I had heard of them ! He was a nice chap, but I didn’t interact much, as close social interactions with people I don’t know, on a very narrow lane, during a pandemic, are not top of my list of things to do.
Phil gave a couple of options for deviated routes and I decided we would head down the road to Wroxeter and then turn along the lane to Uppington, which was a small amount of new territory for me.
At Uppington we took the old A5 to rejoin my intended route, down Bluebell Lane, but unfortunately encountered 2 moronic idiots of the highest order, on motorbikes. First one sped past us, closely, doing what must have been getting on for 100mph, just as a car came the other way, followed by another prat with him, who gave us a deliberate close pass at a similar speed. Nothing “essential” about their journeys and there is never a Police car around when you want one.
Down Bluebell lane was nice, with the wind behind us, to Charlton (the correct one ) and Walcot, before we turned and climbed up to Withington and Upton Magna, then along Pelham Rd to Berwick Wharf. We paused there, as we’d had a chap drafting behind us, along there, which I wasn’t keen on, with it looking like we were a group of 3, which wasn’t the case.
We paused at Atcham, on the bridge, for a quick snack (not a picnic) and then took the roads to Cressage, Berrington, Betton Abbots and up to the junction for home, where we parted ways.
Throughly enjoyable 35.88 miles and good have Phil’s company as well.
What a difference a week makes, minus 12 last Friday when I set out, today it was plus fifteen as I rolled back into the garden at the end of the ride. With the roads to the North now free of snow, I set off that way and headed off into the forest. As I leave the tarmac and plunge under the canopy, the sun is blocked by the trees and the temperature drops, it's like a walk in freezer in here. All around snow remains along side frozen puddles.
I head North, dodging the deeper puddles that lie around everywhere. As the paths switch direction, the temperatures rise and fall, dependant on the orientation of the sun.
After a few kilometres I come out onto a less dense section of forest and the sun feels warm on my back. The way is clear of snow and we make good progress.
Further on the sands of Wildech are still frozen and progress is surprisingly swift over a section that would normally be slow and heavy going. Swinging South here, I start heading toward home. The track snakes through the tress and provides several kilometres of single track fun. Then we cross onto a section that has been churned up by heavy forestry machinery, then mixed with all of the snow, has turned into a muddy quagmire. The bike is snaking this way and that as I hunt out any traction I can find. After a while, the thick glutinous mud is starting to play merry hell with my drivetrain and gear changes become clunky and imprecise.
In the mud under my wheels I can see numerous animal tracks, amongst which I can clearly make out the footprints of a badger thats meandered along this way.
It's only a few kilometres left now and I take a break in the warm spring sun. After riding all winter, I really appreciate the ability to stop and just rest in the warm sun and not start to feel hyperthermic after a few minutes. The last kilometres are on the road and it feels great to be flying along without the mud sucking the life out of my progress.
In all it was 32km through the forest, on a day that was over 25 degrees warmer than last week and hopefully the first of many more warm spring rides.
Definitely starting to feel a bit more like spring today especially now the wind has dropped so even swapped my jacket for a jersey.
Set off into Whixall through to Hollinswood, Fenns Bank, back to Alkington having to stop and retrieve the rear mudguard which somehow flew off when a stone flicked up and hit it. Fortunately there is never any traffic here so no danger of it getting run over, got it back together and carried on back across to the other side of Hollinswood, down to Coton, turned to Coton Wood through to Steel Heath. Onto the Whitchurch road which seemed a bit busy so turned down Lightreach Road to Prees finding the barriers down at the railway crossing with a queue of traffic waiting. They must have been waiting a while as none of them had passed me on the way down, didn’t have to wait too long for the train to pass and get moving again back to the Whitchurch road taking the first turning back into Whixall. Hoping that the flooding had gone down towards Edstaston I headed to Waterloo and there was just a big puddle left, passed the chicken farm to Ryebank, Horton and home. 23.5 miles in slightly less mud than yesterday. Lots of people about today enjoying the warmer weather.
Had a very short ride early on today, just to get what I thought would be the best of the day.
In to Bognor, and couldn’t believe the numbers of joggers and cyclists at 8.15 on a Sunday!
Passed a banana and a skeleton doing a 5k promenade run, amongst the normal type.
Back home in time to make Mrs SnG croissants and coffee for brekka at 9am.
This has been our first ‘normal’ weekend for some time, with no other plans for day except to await the impending cross trainer delivery, and then it’s construction.
A revised fitness schedule awaits us both this year, with less focus on work, and worry about others, and more settling in to a more relaxed attempt at life.
A tasty lunch then preceded a reduction to the numbers of trees in the garden, and a visit by both of the foxes who call by occasionally.
First chance for a decent ride this year thanks to the weather. Just as warm & sunny as yesterday, but with a noticable drop in the strength of the wind, so I took the Planet X road bike for its first outing since New Year's Day.
Took the main road up to Nacton, then joined by usual back road into Ipswich, round the dock and then for the first time in a long while south down the other side of the River Orwell towards Holbrook. Here the lack of use for this bike showed when going up Freston Hill I went to change to the small chainring and nothing happened - the drerailleur was stuck (I think it had got a bit wet & muddy on the last ride) but this was fixed with a couple of size 10 taps once on the level.
Through Holbrook and Bentley, under the A12 to Capel St. Mary and up to Great Wenham for the return to Ipswich via Washbrooke & Sproughton. Round the top of Ipswich and a regular route home through Rushmere & Bucklesham for a most welcome mug of coffee after the longest ride of the year so far.
2021 got off to a great start with a ride on ne'er day but since then the weather has been so bad that today was only the 4th ride of this year.
The rain had been hammering against the windows last night and the effect of this was obvious on the height of the Tweed at Ashiestiel -
The further west I went the bigger the puddles got. I was warned by a couple of mountain bikers outside Innerleithen about the depth of the next puddle, which covered the entire road and the MTB car park. It was almost up to the hubs and quite long, I had to pedal one legged to avoid getting my feet wet. This is the mountain bike car park, on a normal Sunday it would have been full of cars not water.
Onwards and upwards over the Paddy Slacks climb. I've never seen so many cars out on this road on a Sunday afternoon. What lockdown?
Back home down Yarrowdale, with some snow still on the hills -
... and more flooding, though the road was mostly dry.
Almost home, one last stop at the confluence of the Tweed and Ettrick. There was a huge heron standing at the junction.
My missus and I could see it was going to be a fine weekend so yesterday i dragged the tandem out of the shed and fettlled it ready for a sunday ride and scoped out a flattish ride of around 20 miles back in my old territory that I knew, as my missus has not ridden a bike for months.
Come Sunday morning and she got the call to help babysit one of her grandchildren so she scurried off leaving me to my own devices.
Now I have been not on the actual road for 4 months, instead i have just sat on a turbo. So I thought i would do a 30 odd mile route but I dont know this area very well as moved here under 3 years ago and only cycle commuted no cycling much on the weekend.
So I decided to use garmins round trip planner, had a brief look at the route and off I went.
Turns out garmin has a sense of humour as to what constitutes a good road ride , it took me on a dual carriageway out of Basildon, through the middle of Billericay and Ingatestone, then I hit proper rural roads which felt fantastic then back down a dual carriagway through the middle of Chelmsford then through a park full of runners, dogs etc on a 2 foot wide path. back onto rural roads again through the middle of Billericay and down beside the A127 which is never pleasant.
So lesson learnt, dont trust garmins route planner especially if using the tandem, i was ok on the road bike in fast traffic but with my missus on the tandem she would have not have liked it . However nice to be back on the road again. I did notice a fair amount of nearly all male cyclists, however I actually saw more female runners than cyclists, hordes of them and only 2 men running, weird!. The other thing to note was every single cyclist nodded or waved or actually said hello everyone was in a friendly happy mood it would seem. Also did not get close close pass or any aggro from motorists.
This must have been pre-lock down, but a ride through town (city, if you’re nitpicking!) and down Dukes Drive.
From the far end of that, into Eccleston, then onto old Wrexham Road.
Through Lavister, a couple of miles on then left turn and into Holt, before crossing the border and the bridge and back via Aldford onto Chester.
The bike was a £50 job on eBay, the vendor said it would need ‘everything’ doing to it. I simply cleaned off the dust, pumped up the tyres and cleaned and oiled the chain! It rides absolutely spot on, not a sound nor a problem out of it. Happy days.
The rain finally stopped at lunchtime so out on the Hewitt Chiltern at 2pm for a steady ride out to Tadcaster, Bolton Percy, Appleton Roebuck, Acaster Malbis, Naburn, Cawood and Ulleskelf.
Nearly 27 miles with an average of 15.2 mph, Beautiful afternoon.
Lovely ride this afternoon over to the Wirral, pretty much perfect riding conditions I would say. Bonus that you can get a free bench to perch on for a rest at the moment.
The Wheatsheaf Little Neston.
Nice along the cycle route around Burton Marshes, just feeling the heat of the sun was a real tonic, hard to believe its still February.
28.5 miles, plan to get up to 40 milers by end of next month, but steady does it