I left work early on Friday and attempted to cycle from Bristol to Stow-on-the-Wold. Knowing that I had a 70 mile ride I had wanted to set off early afternoon, but it is sometimes difficult to prioritise being an amateur long-distance cyclist over a professional Engineer. My wife had questioned not only my sanity but also my ability to make it to Stow before nightfall and unfortunately she was proved right, it becoming too dark to complete the last 15 miles of the journey along the country lanes. The rescue crew was disturbed from her relaxing Friday night glass of wine in Stow, at a frustrating cost of double the uncycled miles to the car v the bike.
Not wanting to be defeated by my latest challenge I decided to cycle home to Bristol on Sunday. Part of my problem on Friday night had been several miles of confused cycling trying to relate village road signs to the place names on my printed A4 Google Map saturated with body-sweat from the back pocket of my cycle jersey. The case for purchasing a GPS for my bike grows ever stronger! My solution on Sunday was to note down the route from a good road map and stick the directions to the handlebars of the bike. Who needs high-tech when you’ve got sticky tape?
By car it is a 60 mile drive from Bristol to Stow but I chose a less direct route to avoid the busy main roads. One thing my route didn’t avoid was the hills. The “Cotswolds” comes from “cots” meaning stone sheep shelters and “wold” meaning rolling hills. I didn’t notice too many stone sheep shelters on my ride but is in entirely conceivable that I passed a few while head-down, grimacing and swearing my way up the umpteenth “rolling hill”. However I did notice some beautiful countryside and a classic Cotswolds dry-stone walls to lean my bike against while I caught my breath.
I eventually made it home to Bristol at 6pm. My bike speedometer stated that I had cycled for just under 5 hours but I suspected that the journey had taken more like 6 hours once stoppages were accounted for. Nonetheless, I wasn’t racing and 70 miles was the furthest I have cycled which was another good landmark. Next week is the 60 mile Blenheim Palace Sportive – the climax of my cycling training. I’m hoping for a sub-four hour time which would be a good achievement on those scenic but never ending “rolling hills”.