Next week we celebrate (?) our 13th lockdown ride. It’s also the week closest to Midsummer’s Day, so how about a 43 mile ride to Bramley and back? We should be able to get sustenance at the Bakery and there’s likely to be socially-distant seating available at the railway station. The planned route goes out via Gatehampton, so anyone who’d find it more convenient could meet at Goring station at 9:35 as an alternative to Phil’s at 9:30.
As lockdown eases, groups of up to 6 are allowed to gather outside at least 2m from each other. Chris, Mick, Phil and Steve gathered at Phil’s house at 9:30 on Monday – almost like old times. Traffic on Streatley Hill was still relatively quiet, but the hill was still as steep. We were met at the top by Alun and Simon, then proceeded on the planned route, stopping in the churchyard at Hampstead Norreys, where those that wanted could buy take-away refreshments from the shop next door.
As Alun said “My first picnic in a graveyard”. Neville turned up while we were there, as did Andrew and Thomas.
Five of us carried on via the planned route down the Pang Valley, others taking shorter options. Just below Hampstead Norreys there was a magnificent display of poppies in fields that a couple of weeks ago were blue with flax.
Chris showing off his balance while the poppies draw a “crowd”.
“We decided to do ride today (Sunday) instead of tomorrow. Can confirm that ride is definitely undulating but lots of cyclists having a go. We got as far as Sprigs Alley but decided to avoid off road on return. Went into Chinnor instead then Kingston Hill and directly home. Photos are Fingest Church and Cowleaze Wood for picnic on way home.”
Congratulations Alun and Breeda! Not only your longest ride on Strava, but almost certainly your hilliest! Those of us plugging our way to Goring along the Ridgeway below the escarpment thought that climbing Kingston Hill on the way back was definitely above and beyond. Your 994 m of ascent is equivalent to 3261 ft – Goring to Portsmouth has 3260 ft.
Neville, Chris, Simon and Steve
“Chris, Steve, Simon and I (Neville) cycled the route, using the Ridgeway on the way back. As you can see it was reasonably smooth.” “Looks a bit ridgey to me…” – Mick
“Worse than ridgey here” – Steve
Chris started the route in Ewelme, so we said goodbye to him here on the way back, and had a demonstration of Moulton origami (strictly not, as it doesn’t fold).
“I was busy this morning (Monday) but managed to do some of the route this afternoon. After Cookley Green I went down Britwell Hill and on to the B4009 then turned off on to the road to Britwell Baldwin and joined the return leg of the route.”
“The Force wasn’t with me to do to 40 odd mile route do I did the short route below. Thought I might have a coffee and cake at Stoke Row shop but it was packed out so didn’t bother. I did buy some stamps from the mobile post office – a first for me. Also saw Breeda running on Gatehampton Road.”
With the easing of the Government’s Lockdown came the opportunity for us all to see each other for the first time since March. Those who wanted could even have a socially-distanced coffee at the Maharajah’s Well, either from a flask rattling around in the bottle cage on their bike, or from the Stoke Row Village Store across the road.
For a brief while, various sub-groups enjoyed reminding themselves what others looked like and catching up with news. We then went on our ways in a variety of variations on the published route.
Alan and Breeda demonstrating serious social distancing to the others.
Alun and Breeda “Breeda and l followed a clockwise extended route via Cholsey, Benson, Swyncombe Hill, Cookley Green, Park Corner, Nuffield, Stoke Row and South Stoke, all on road 52.5 km. Lovely ride and great to meet everyone in Stoke Row.”
This was possibly the longest version of the route, and the earliest, with a 7:41 am start.
Mick Of the people who did the anticlockwise route, Mick may have been the first back home, taking the on-road version throughout.
“Good to see you all!”
Phil (plus Neville, Simon and Steve)
Phil followed the off-road route, accompanied by Neville, Simon and Steve, though Steve stayed on the B481 from Park Corner to Cookley Green, having done the bumpy Swyncombe Estate bridleway last week.
“What a wonderful Monday, great to see all well at Stoke Row, and my extra off-road bits were easily ridable, if very slow (back at Goring 14:30…) Total 30m.”
“Tom and I did a modified off-road route; up past Braziers Park to Stoke Row then via bridleways from there towards Nuffield and then to Ipsden. A really beautiful day and lovely to see people at the Maharajahs Well.”
Looks as though we’re keeping right up with government policy, with groups allowed to meet from next Monday. The plan is for those who want to buy coffee from the Stoke Row Village Shop and take it across the road to the Maharajah’s Well, where there are benches for suitable social distancing. Suggested target time is 10:15 – 10:30.
The ride turns off at the bottom of Witheridge Hill to take a mixture of bridleways and tarmac farm roads to Nettlebed. Beyond Nettlebed there is a restricted byway parallel to the B481 that is quite narrow, twisty and bumpy, but not as bumpy as the bridleway through the Swyncombe Estate. Both these off-road segments can be avoided by taking the B481.
Feel free to take a break for home once you know where you are if you want a shorter ride, or extend the ride through Wallingford and beyond if you want a longer one.
Steve Not being available to do the ride on Bank Holiday Monday, I did a version of it a day earlier.
I followed the route as far as the top of Burnt Hill, where I diverted to Hampstead Norreys and had my first coffee since before Lockdown. The lady who served me told me very firmly but politely that it was takeway only- I wasn’t even allowed to sit at a picnic table in the courtyard. So social distancing in the churchyard it was then.
I enjoyed Neville’s Easter Eggs, and even felt motivated to document some of them.
A magical ride over the Downs, a struggle up Streatley Hill but after Rotten Row I was flying. – Isn’t that cheating? [Mick]
Headed out with Breeda at 6.30 am. Fine sunny ride to Stanford Dingley Some navigational difficulties there when we inadvertently climbed up to Chapel Row before we realised our mistake and turned back.
Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun! Met Ron outside Rotten Row and went as far as Upper Basildon with him.
Did the route this morning/afternoon (Monday). Very scenic and some roads I haven’t been down before. Like Alun & Breda I had navigation problems.
Ron I had navigational problems and found myself in Southend (not Southend on Sea unfortunately!). The first time I’ve used Viewranger to navigate.
After a test ride on Sunday, felt OK for the hills (but with no quest for speed) A few aches, but otherwise strangely fit! And yet another beautiful day.
Lovely day, thanks for the route; Tom and I cycled to Stanford Dingley but avoided Streatley Hill and took a few short cuts including off road from Ashampstead towards Yattendon and back from near Bradfield to just before the long hill up to Captain’s Gorse, Upper Basildon (I’d always wondered about that bridge over the M4). Met Phil near Rotten Row and Simon very public spiritedly strimming nettles on the path from near his house to the river bridge (he’d cycled the route previous day).
Simon Thanks to you and Nev for a wonderful, intricately crafted route through villages and roads invented for the day. The mercifully brief Tutts Clump hill and wonderful countryside was a real treat and the mileage seemed at least double – but in a “I’m really enjoying this” way.
Sorry to keep missing the tutorials. My home study is progressing but very slowly. Dist 25 mi Time 2.10 Av Sp 11.8 Elev 1675
Neville Having a go at being the earliest byrd perhaps, Neville started his ride at 05:12. He took a loop around the Ups and Downs to warm up before tackling Streatley Hill. His track shows a stop of 15 min at Hampstead Norreys Community Shop, for a socially-distanced coffee. There’s building work going on around the back.
Steve With the aid of a few WhatsApps to and fro during the week, Nev and I had figured out how to get Buddy Beacon working, so I was able to track him. I left home at 09:12, hoping to catch him at The Bull; in practice we met on Streatley Bridge.
After a suitable socially-distanced chat I carried on up Streatley Hill and anticlockwise around the route to Peasmore, where the bench outside the church made for a great place for a snack stop. I had a quick chat to a cyclist who was doing around 30 mi from Newbury and back.
A few minutes after leaving Peasmore I met Chris coming the other way, so we stopped for an across-the-road chat.
Excellent ride, great to meet up again! I managed a shade under 12mph for my reverse trip, and can confirm that Applepie hill is much easier than Streatley!
Phil Did the route this morning which was very enjoyable. Along the way I met Alun, Breda and Chris as well as cycling with Ron from Compton to Hermitage.
Ron I drove to Compton then followed the route. It was good to meet Phil along the way, and to be able to cycle with him for part of the route. After Hampstead Norreys I completed the circle back to Compton. We met Chris along the way.
Alun Lovely ride to and from Peasemore with Breeda in glorious sunshine. Also the most sociable in recent times meeting Phil near top of Streatley Hill and then Mick and Chris at Peasemore.
Social distancing while admiring Chris’s Moulton (photo by Mick).
Also bumped into Alun & Breeda and Chris
Simon Another wonderful ride in glorious sunshine that has greatly enhanced my local geography and the need for the magic cream.
Data: Dist 30.19 Time 2.32 Av Sp 12.0 Elev Gain 1,700
Sorry, photo from weeks ago near Cuddesdon – NHS balls up!
Andrew Did an off-road version of this with Tom today as far as East Ilsley via the Ridgeway in lovely weather. Included off-road south from East Ilsley towards Hampstead Norreys but chickened out in the middle of nowhere when signs only seemed to want to show a route back towards Compton; a bad move as the shop in Compton was closed…
It’s not quite as high as that, but you can still swoosh like a byrd down some of the long descents on this ride. You get the payback in early, by starting up Streatley Hill, which should still be reasonably quiet. Alternatively you could take the back way round, up through Stichens Green.
Peasmore is not somewhere we often go, usually bypassing it or whizzing straight through en route to Saddleback. It has a suitably-placed bench outside the church (strangely absent on Google Street View), possibly long enough for two people to sit 2m apart until a third person arrives and the first one has to leave. In theory we could have a serial Gromil meeting.
This week’s quiz has no particular relation to Peasmore, or even Gromils in general, other than that the answers all involve places in the local area most (if not all) of us have been to. Answers to Steve please.
Here are the figures for my Gromil ride on Friday, a mix of the two Britwell routes. Alas, a puncture – my 5th of the year.
I rode the Britwell off-road option today (Saturday), fabulous weather and another splendid route, thanks Nev! I didn’t know of the sunken lane near Nuffield…
Phil I did the Britwell Hill on road route yesterday (Sunday). Cool and windy but not as bad as today.
Steve I did the off-road on Sunday morning, while it was still moderately warm. The on-road route Monday morning was very bracing, with the stiff northerly wind.
Not much room for social distancing on the bridleway near Ipsden; better to stick to the wide (?) open road.
Breeda and l did the on road Britwell Hill ride this morning (Monday). Fine sunny weather but cold strong winds gave an added challenge.
View from our walk.
Many thanks Steve and Neville for three (THREE!!) absolutely fantastic rides this week. Water hazards, tree roots, tree roots, stunning, stunning scenery and a big hill twice.
Attached photo: – Full PPE at New Barn Farm
Stats according to Messrs Garmin:
Britwell Road Big Loop Britwell off-road
Dist 27.67 46.06 31.09
Time 2.42 3.50 3.02
AvSp 12.9 12.4 10.2
Elev Gain 1145 1822 1596
Mick Lovely morning (Tuesday) – not too windy and I managed to cycle all the way up Britwell Hill
Ewelme Church – last resting place of Alice Chaucer and Jerome K Jerome
Britwell Hill – doesn’t look so bad from the top!
Andrew Took advantage of better weather on Tuesday and did short ride of the bottom half of the off-road figure of eight route with Tom. I really didn’t know much about Swan’s Way but we’ve now done two local parts recently and its really nice; I believe the whole 65 miles towards Aylesbury and Milton Keynes is Bridleway so unlike the Ridgeway in that direction, it can be cycled.
We approach the seventh week of lockdown not knowing the extent to which restrictions on travel will be eased, or even when. Life is certainly Strange at the moment.
On the menu this week we have both on-route and off-road routes to our local ski jump, aka Britwell Hill. For anyone who’s yearning for a longer ride, while still remaining a socially-responsible distance from Goring in case of breakdown, there is La Grande Boucle de Goring Gap.
There’s a special picture and music quiz this week, courtesy of Neville. Answer sheet is below. Send your answers to Neville for scoring. Good luck.
Bonus question (from Steve): Which re-release overshadowed both Isn’t Life Strange and I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band) Apologies to Simon, who’s probably too young to remember the hits of 1972?
Lots of variety, both in terms of times and routes. Neville was the first to get started, on Friday, though he did miss a turn or two, but reprised some old quiz photos.
Cycled to Mackney Island today! (Saturday). What is locally known as Mackney Island is on fact a small village south of Brightwell cum Sotwell surrounded by streams, making it technically an island!
Monday I cycled from Blewbury to N Stoke then up to Well Place, then home. Beautiful sunny ride 24 miles.
Phil I did the route on Saturday and was surprised it included a road I have never been down before.
Thanks Steve for the joy of two rides this week. How spoilt we were.
My data as follows:
Boxford Alps (Sat) Essential Reading (Sun)
Dist: 36.86mi 25.6mi
Time: 3.12 2.02
AvSp 11.5mph 12.5mph
Elev G 2766ft 1,324ft.
The Bagnor Valley and the Alps was absolutely delightful and well worth the ‘hilly’ bits. Essential Reading was also great but I took issue with the ‘Easy’ epithet when coming down Berins Hill my brakes completely failed! Thankfully my cycle shoes provided just enough drag to stop at the bottom and the ride was long enough after that to regain some composure. I ordered new disc pads immediately followed by a very strong drink.
Sunday I drove to Streatley to ride the Boxford route, on a rather cool and cloudy day. Did it anticlockwise, which meant straight up the hill! And I’d forgotten Frilsham’s also uphill. Pleasantly scenic route anyhow.
Thanks for the route, lovely ride with Tom today (Monday) which we completed this time (with a couple of minor diversions to reduce main roads mileage). BT Openreach had closed the road near the old Cross Lanes orchard but no problem for cyclists.
Regarding the quiz this week, some great entries but none with full marks yet. By the way with one exception, each clue is a specific landmark, so I think answering Goring for the “GOR” clue would get 0.25 of a mark. New (and updated) entries up to Thursday Zoom call…
Alternative Monday exercise. Plan to cycle tomorrow.
Breeda and l did the ride this morning. Very pleasant but busy leaving Reading on B481. Gravel Hill is a great way to avoid riding through the worst parts of Caversham and potentially part of a new route to Henley.
Like Andrew and Tom I came across the road closure at Cross Lanes, but snuck past without any problem. Gravel Hill no longer lives up to the first part of its name, with a nice smooth tarmac surface. The hill was just as bad as ever though.
Just after Ipsden church I heard what sounded like a small bang, followed by quiet tinkling. When I investigated by getting off and spinning the wheels, I found one of the rear spokes had broken – drive side, of course. No problem riding home the rest of the way once I’d removed the tinkly bit, then it was Tuesday afternoon’s job to fit a spare. Thanks Chris for the spare.
Bonus quiz question (from Steve): Who famously played the saxophone solo on Steeleye Span’s wonderful Now We Are Six album, and what was the title of the track? There’s a clue on the gnome page.
We also have another couple of suggestions on offer, in case you want cycling exercise more than once a week – you could consider these as the B rides. (No promises that next week there’ll be seven B rides for seven brothers).
This is the route Phil took to Bradfield and Basildon. (We can’t embed it in the web page, as it’s a third-party route)
Below is my route to the Bagnor Valley and Boxford Alps
Having driven to Ewelme on Saturday, I rode the route from there in the prescribed clockwise direction. A spectacular aerial display just beyond Chiltern Park where a big field being ploughed had attracted a score of circling red kites! Not much else to report, apart from many cyclists being on the roads…
A glorious day for cycling Kingston Hill… (Sunday)
Did some of the route yesterday (Sunday). I only went as far as Watlington then up Watlington Hill instead of Kingston.
With rain forecast for Monday afternoon I hit the road before nine so as to be back by lunchtime. Very benign cycling conditions – hazy sun, little wind – but Kingston Hill seemed as hard as ever. By the time I got to Woodcote I was feeling ready for lunch, so didn’t follow Nev’s little jaunt around the back streets and so got back home with a total of less than 38 miles.
Good route and weather but nasty hill turned into pleasant walk and even more bluebells!
We cycled the route this morning omitting only the last part from Woodcote to Whitchurch Hill due to urgent need for a cup ot tea available in Elvendon Road. Stats from newly downloaded Strava sent separately. A really enjoyable ride with long gentle downhill or flat section from top of Kingston Hill to Goring.
Tom and I did a reduced route, cutting down the Ridgeway and Swan’s Way from Watlington to near the bottom of Syncombe Hill (where there was a police car waiting on the bridleway). A very nice ride plus I’d not done those bridleways before; oh and no nasty hills…
I cycled from my home in Blewbury to Ewelme via Wallingford, then off towards Goring, returning after the airfield to Ewelme then home. I deviated to Cholsey and back to bring the total mileage up to 40 miles, my record for the year so far. Enjoyed a rest by the pond at Ewelme on the way back.
Simon Many thanks Nev for a stunning ride through some of the prettiest parts of the neighbouring counties. Bluebells and all!
Thank God for ViewRanger – I’d still be trying to complete the fiendish circumnavigation of Woodcote without it.
Dist: 44.6mi Time 3.37hrs Av Speed 12.3mph Elev Gain 1,854ft
As we go into the fifth week of lockdown, could we take another five? Let’s hope we don’t have to. In the meantime, here’s a ride from Neville, taking in the mighty Kingston Hill, but not the wee cafe called the Wee Cafe.
There’s also another Cwiz from Steve. See below for the Cafe Cwiz.
When the world eventually gets back to normal (if it ever does), I wonder if we will look back with some fondness to this period of the coronavirus lockdown when the sun shone every day, the roads were quiet and cyclists often outnumbered cars. Since the rain stopped and lockdown started, this has been a wonderful spring for cherry blossom, empty skies and extensive views due to the clean air. Pale greens of new beech leaves complemented by the bluebells and the blue sky.
Inside the hospitals it must be a very different story for patients struggling to breathe or staff working 12 hour shifts in trying conditions. Blues and greens have very different connotations for them. Extra reasons for us to be extremely grateful and to hope that everyone will be able to enjoy the great outdoors again soon.
I went wrong a few times, including just after this photo!
Didn’t you see the arrow, Nev?
Complete; many bluebells. Slow time
Did the bluebell ride this afternoon (Sunday) on my mountain bike.
Ridden on Sunday, plenty of bluebells (and other cyclists!), but slightly modified, as I didn’t want to off-road after the recent rain… Chiltern woods now carpeted with bluebells, just wonderful.
Mick This is my slow track being a nervous off roader. Bumped into Steve and accompanied him for a while. Became almost bluebell blasé !
Andrew Tom and I took bit of a short cut but still spectacular bluebells and lovely weather. We met Breda and Alan coming the other way just up from the King William but I think the wind favoured our anti-clockwise circuit…
Breeda and l did the ride in reverse direction on Monday. Beautiful sunny weather with spectacular woodland scenery and bluebells. Saw Andrew and Thomas, then Steve then Simon. Rode via Hailey, lpsden Heath, Checkendon, Stoke Row, Greys, Rotherfield but then back directly via Wyfold and Exlade St to avoid some of the off-road. Great ride.
Thanks Steve for an absolutely stunning ride. The route through so many bluebells was really magnificent and the fragrance………!!
I must have been just behind Andrew & Tom because I passed Breda and Alan just before Homer farm.
No mechanical issues but very sore with the unsuspended mountain bike. Average speed 10.7mph.
Mick did not literally bump into me I’m glad to say, but we did take the opportunity to take photos of each other from an appropriate distance.
Ron Yesterday I cycled from Blewbury over the 7 hills to Goring, then joined the Gromils route. I avoided the off road section by turning off to Well Place. A donkey near the bottom of the hill, and lots of bluebells at the top! Returned via the A417 and Cholsey. Exhausting!
Here is a picture of the Cholsey buttercups as a change from bluebells!
It’s that time of year when the sun is shining (hopefully), the birds are singing, the nettles haven’t yet grown over the paths, and the bluebells are out. Time to take a little excursion into the woods around Crays Pond and Checkendon to enjoy the bluebells while they’re at their best. Don’t forget to stop and take some photos, or just admire.
See below for Neville’s quiz, which has nothing whatever to do with bluebells, but does have a prize! Answers to Nev.
So here’s what everyone’s been up to on “Monday’s Ride”, anytime from Saturday to Tuesday.
Here are my stats for this week’s route that I did on Saturday when the weather was perfect. I think my track missed a bit when I accidentally had it on pause although I did do the whole route.
I did the route, but did it anticlockwise (never done it that way before). I passed Simon in Cuddesdon, 5 minutes later he called me – he had broken his chain. Neither of us had tools with us. At this moment he is on a long walk home…
Ride done, windy all the way and chilly until 11ish. No Gromils spotted, but roads nicely quiet. 47 miles at 12mph average.
With a 30+ mph NNE, it was lovely zooming along the flat from North Stoke to Little Stoke on Monday. The rest of the ride was a different story. In terms of sunshine, wind and temperature, those who did the ride earlier in the weekend had the better of it.
I did a recce of the ride last week and was more than 20 min faster for the route. This time I thought I’d ride it anticlockwise in the hope of passing some Gromils coming the other way. It looks as though Chris had the same idea, as the stats show I was generally 15 min behind him all the way around the part of the circuit we had in common. His speed was remarkably constant, both into the wind and with it, whereas I speeded up considerably after stopping for two mini Easter eggs in Cuddesdon (and having a following wind for the next bit).
Breeda and l went for a walk today (Monday) instead of cycling. Elvendon Rd – Airfield – Furniture Hill – Norman’s Timber – Wellplace – Tour of Ipsden – Elvendon. 26500 steps, 3 hrs 30 mins, approx 13 miles. Bright sunny weather but cold wind. Too cold to cycle? Hope to cycle to Cuddeston Tues or Weds.
Cycled to Cuddesdon this morning (Tuesday). Alone!!!! Fantastic weather for cycling. I left at 11.15 so cold wind had largely gone. Stuck to the route on the outward western leg and almost did the same on the return eastern leg but once l got to Ewelme it occurred to me that l could take a flatter faster route by riding across to Benson then past Howbery then on main road to Goring arriving at 2.45pm. Really enjoyable ride.
Andrew Tom and I did the route as far as Benson then came back via the other leg. Very few cars but cold and windy to start; much nicer with sun and following wind on way back. Met Breda and Alan near the airfield…
Ron Could not cycle this morning (Monday) as my boiler failed. British Gas Home Care were amazingly good at fixing it! Hoping to be on my bike tomorrow
My stats for Tuesday- beautiful weather but cold!
Derek I did a bit of exploring the local byways 14 miles roads lanes tracks and paths. Really nice, a bit cool but sunny scenery wonderful.
Simon Sorry to be so late… I’m just coming to terms with the trauma. Just to say an absolutely stunningly beautiful ride surrounded by Goldfinches until just past Cuddesdon when Neville passed at great speed going the wrong way round and a minute later my chain mysteriously departed this life. I set off on foot wheeling my untrusty steed until a very tooled and lycraed up man stopped with a chain splitter. 5 mins later I was on my way and 5 hours after I’d set off, I was thankfully home. Neville then rang offering condolences and positive psychology.
Not my fastest rise but certainly my most informative. I’ve had the chain splitter surgically attached, have bought a pump and will be getting a fold up bike that attaches to the frame of the current beast for emergencies. “Be prepared”!