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Sociable leisure rides for enthusiastic cyclists

Ride Reports

5WednesdayAUGUST

Wednesday Evening Ride

 37 km  363 m  01:26  x6
Ride Category
A lovely evening for a single bubble ride.

Understandably, there was some trepidation as we set off with the wind behind us towards Grove and Denchworth. The only issue of note was a young rabbit which ran in front of the leader going past the burger bar in Grove. Fortunately it found it's way back into the grass verge.

We maintained a good pace together to Blowingstone and then spread out a little up the hill, where several personal top 3 times were achieved. Regrouping at the top we rolled down to Seven Barrows and met Mike, who had been detained at work and rode out on the reverse route to meet us.

Conditions were ideal for the B4001 and then through the Letcombes. We returned at pace, completing the ride in 90 minutes. This gave plenty of time to reflect in the welcoming garden of King Alfred's Head.
2SundayAUGUST

All-day Ride

 108 km  750 m  04:08  x9  x1
Ride Category
Two bubbles set off on the day of the British Grand Prix.

Both bubbles had a one stop strategy: lunch in Chipping Norton. However, meeting up at Chadlington, we all took elevenses at the Cafe de la Post and set a two stop strategy.

Bubble 2 went straight through Charlbury and passed bubble 1 who took the circuitous route around Charlbury. Bubble 2 chose to stop at Huffkins in Witney, while bubble 1 went on to Cogges Farm. Bubble 1 then maintained their slight advantage back to Wantage Market Place. (beer)

There were no punctures on a wonderful day for riding in the Cotswolds.
29WednesdayJULY

Wednesday Evening Ride

 43 km  351 m  01:36  x12
Ride Category
A lovely evening brought 12 of us out and Richard kindly volunteered to lead the second bubble. Both bubbles made quick progress up Hackpen Hill and in fact throughout the ride, despite some route eccentricities (I blame RwGPS). A low-flying Chinook helicopter provided some entertainment near Denchworth and both bubbles got back to Wantage Market Square around 2015, allowing some of us to enjoy a convivial pint in the KAH garden.
26SundayJULY

Welcome Ride - Abingdon

 62 km  312 m  02:34  x7
Ride Category
The weather forecast looked to be OK. Only one of the Holiday Club made it out. The bubble size of 6 was just perfect.

We made good pace on the undulating part of the Spring Line Road and then picked up the pleasant westerly from Fernham to deliver us express-style towards Abingdon. We also picked up Richard near Hinton Waldrist, breaking bubble etiquette briefly - Pam was planning to leave the ride before coffee anyway.

On arrival at Abingdon, Pam left us and the heavens opened. Fortunately Costa had some indoor socially distanced seats, so we donned our face masks and held up the shop. I had made a comment earlier, having seen the skies, that if it rained, I'd eat my helmet. Fortunately (polystyrene is not my culinary favourite) it threw it down as we left Abingdon. Really heavy rain as we traversed the lovely new surface of Peep O'day Lane.

Mike left us at Steventon to bag a few more miles, and the main body of the ride carried on down the A338, pretty bedraggled.

24FridayJULY

Colmar Holiday - Le Markstein

 94 km  1700 m  04:33  x3  x4
Ride Category
Mountain Goat Option - Loop from Colmar up to the ski resort of Le Markstein

Three of the party opted for the hilly ride up to Le Markstein. It was overcast and muggy as we negotiated our way out of Colmar and onto the Route des Vins, Southwards through small towns built around some of the big names in Alsatian wines and between the terraced vine fields.

After a couple of steep climbs and descents the air became a bit fresher and the sun broke through the clouds from time to time. We paused at the first world war cemetery of Romanian prisoners of war at Soultzmatt and a little while later at Lautenbach at the bakery for coffee and pastries.

Lautenbach marked the start of the main 800 m climb up the valley. Though long the gradients were a reasonable 7-8% for the most part, the surfaces again superb and traffic very light. At Linthal just before the start of the final hair-pinned section the dam provided sweeping views Eastwards and up to the ski lifts of Le Markstein. Approaching the resort a light drizzle started and 2 minutes after parking bikes and entering the cafe the drizzle transformed into a torrential downpour.

We enjoyed a good, lengthy lunch ensued and when we emerged the rain had long passed. The route continued upwards and onto the ridge (1200 m alt) offering panoramic views to the West. We then plunged down a never-ending (well 20 km!) descent through the forest taking care on the damp sections not to "over-cook" the bends, and on through small towns and villages into Munster. Somewhere around here the rain started, we donned jackets and time-trialled back to Colmar arriving at 1530.

It was a great route and a marvellous last ride of the holiday.
24FridayJULY

Colmar Holiday - Mulhouse

 127 km  228 m  05:13  x4  x7
Ride Category
Flat option for those whose legs had had enough of hills :)

We rolled through open farmland on quiet roads and through quaint villages, we stopped at Ensisheim for coffee, to the outskirts of Mulhouse (rhymes with Toulouse) where we negotiated the city streets to the beautiful central square by the cathedral. It was too early for lunch so we made a note to return here later.

We headed out of the city via the EuroVelo 6 cycle route alongside the Canal du Rhône au Rhin, a beautiful traffic-free route. We saw a Kingfisher and a Heron that was almost so tame we could stroke it.

We headed back on the other side of the L'ill river where the route went a bit Ken Castle for a few hundred metres but quickly reverted back to the smooth stuff. We actually had a hill for about 200m in Didenheim and I had to select the small ring :o

On the way into Mulhouse we took a small detour to Cité du Train, one of the ten largest train museums in the world. We didn't go in but a nip around the back of the building bagged us a few locomotives 8)

We negotiated our way back to the cathedral square where we had a very pleasant lunch. Just as we were about to leave a few spots of rain started falling and then there was a rumble of thunder. And then the heavens opened. Every time it looked like the rain might be easing another torrential downpour started. We stopped for coffee.

Eventually, having sat it out for over an hour, the Sun broke out and we decided to go for it. No sooner had we started than the heavens opened again and we got soaked, stopping would only mean we would get cold and the rainfall radar indicated it would clear as we headed north so heads down and go for it.

The radar was right, the rain stopped, the Sun tried to come out and we dried a little. We then had a great blast back along minor roads towards Colmar. As we approached the city it started raining again a little and with the mucky roads and taking turns at the front by the time we arrived back at the hotel at gone 5pm we looked like we had been competing in the Paris-Roubaix in the rain.

Great fun, great route. Thoroughly enjoyed :)
23ThursdayJULY

Colmar Holiday - Schwarzwald

 85 km  1525 m  04:19  x7  x7
Ride Category
Another trip into Germany - through Frewibourg and across some interesting roads to Todtnau, where we started the ride. Straight up pretty much immediately, and very much like the first climb on the Ballons day... with a bit more traffic. A nice gentle descent followed into Titisee... a veritable tourist trap on a lovely lake, and the cuckoo clock capital of the world.

Of course, Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte und Apfelstrudel were consumed for elevenses....

A bit mode climbing and descending saw us in the no-less-cute but rather less kitsch town of Schluchsee for a lovely lunch of salads, pizzas and sausages. It was baking hot at this point, so a bidon refill with cold water was most welcome.

More climbing post lunch, but also some lovely descending through alpine-like valleys. A drink stop in Todtnau was a fitting end... (not to mention the double Chelsea buns you get in the area!)

We finished a great day with a Curryallian in Colmar - marvellous!

22WednesdayJULY

Wednesday Evening Ride

 45 km  136 m  01:51  x4
Ride Category
A perfect warm summer evening for a bike ride and very little traffic too as we left Wantage. The first half of the ride to Longcot was into a blustery head wind but we made good progress to Gainfield with the breeze on our backs. Richard had cycled in from Faringdon so the pace dropped as we headed back to Wantage.

Lawrence is in training for his Lands End to Birmingham ride so he peeled off in Grove to get some extra miles in and Phil Ingles joined him to go home via Abingdon. Richard and I returned to the Market Place before 8-30pm.

Great ride.
22WednesdayJULY

Colmar Holiday - Rhein

 78 km  84 m  03:02  x1  x7
Ride Category
After the Vosges excesses of the previous day, I needed a flat day to ride out my leg cramps from the night, so plotted a splinter group of 1. After the club ride with record elevation gain yesterday, today was to be the flattest club ride ever.

Heading east towards the Rhein through near identical villages, I managed to spin along nicely at under 150 watts, the sunshine and fields full of storks for company.

I didn't quite cross the Rhein, keeping on the French side, taking a break at a large lock near Marckolsheim. You're always aware of the German influence with place names though, and I stumbled upon a museum of Maginot Line relics which made a decent diversion.

Legs starting to feel good, I was able to lift the pace a little on the way back - a very nice chilled, no-pressure ride!

22WednesdayJULY

Colmar Holiday - Col de Freland

 66 km  930 m  03:25  x5  x2
Ride Category
Col de Freland and some Viticultural Towns of Alsace

So we started out of Colmar heading for the Col de Calvaire. We joined the planned route only to find it was a narrow trunk road full of big trucks. At Kaysersberg we'd had enough. John's expertise with Wahoo and RwGPS found us a cunning little gem through Fréland, up to the col of the same name by a gratuitously steep minor road. The energy sapping climb brought several of us to a standstill.

Once on the ridge we were treated to some glorious views of the Vosges, followed by a wonderful descent to Ribeauvillé where we took lunch at a patisserie down one of many narrow streets.

The afternoon route started with a rolling road through some lovely vineyards and ancient towns. We dropped into the plain and diverted off to take in the Statue of Liberty before taking refreshments in Colmar.
21TuesdayJULY

Colmar Holiday - Ballons des Vosges

 84 km  2027 m  04:40  x7  x5
Ride Category
An away ride today - 80 minutes in the car and then we stretched our legs up the Ballon d'Alsace - the most consistent 9km at 7% I have ever seen. Good road conditions as we climbed up through the forests, and it was overcast enough not to be roasting hot. Great views from the summit and a really nice descent!

Some undulating road followed until we hit Plancher les Mines - and then it climbed up until we turned off to go up what will be the individual time trial on the last proper stage of the 2020 Tour de France - the Planche des Belles Filles. Brutal is a good word to describe the climb. Often changing the gradient, and often over 10%. I opted for the multi-stop strategy. The final 300m is at 20% up to the finish line - very challenging as the front wheel was constantly lifting with combination of the effort to turn the back wheel and the gradient.

Those who listened at the top got lunch, and the remainder sped off down the mountain in search of personal best speeds.

The following climb up the Ballon de Servance was tough in its own way - the temperature had risen and the poorer surface made up for the gradient. Top summited and the descent underway - a few sketchy moments on the poor road surface, we caught up with the splinter group at Col des Croix - splendid views from here!

A final decent into Le Thillot before a quick trip up the valley to the cars. All in all, a tough day.

20MondayJULY

Colmar Holiday - Freiburg

 128 km  415 m  05:18  x7  x8
Ride Category
Today's ride was a mostly flat ride into Germany.

A quick launch from Colmar along a straight road with a cycle lane and a disused railway alongside got us to agricultural land that lies on the French side of the border. We reached the River Rhine and the border which was completely open, no passports required.

We followed the riverside path south on the German side of the river which initially was smooth tarmac but suddenly turned into a loose surface with a very narrow worn path. High concentration required as any deviation into the loose stuff was going to end up in a world of hurt.

Back on the roads the theme for the day in Germany was do we use the segregated cycle tracks parallel to the roads or not? Poorly signposted it was easy to miss them and then on busy roads having to cross the grass verge to get to them, only for them to end suddenly a few hundred metres later. Sometimes they were more hassle than they were worth.

We stopped on the outskirts of Biengen for a drink and a snack. Free wasp with every order and the mystery of John's open handlebar bag was quickly solved when Chris discovered two Corallian buffs in his pocket. Having nearly identical bikes and bags can be confusing!

Afterwards followed the gentle climb towards Frieburg, again alternating between road and cycle path. We then followed the tram tracks into town. Some interesting cobbled roads with a stream in the gutter and tram tracks needed careful navigation so that your front wheel didn't end up in either!

Lunch was taken next the Cathedral. Wurstsalat all round. Some thought it was wurst than others.

We used cycle routes out of town and back into the countryside where we crossed the Grand Canal d'Alsace back into France and watched a large oil barge navigating the lock.

A drink stop was required as it was getting quite hot and an open boulangerie in Fessenheim was found and cold drinks and pasteries were consumed in the shade on the steps of the Marie.

It was then a very flat run back to Colmar, and with good team riding a high pace was set and with riders taking turns on the front it wasn't long before we were back outside the hotel.

An excellent ride to set us up nicely for the Queen stage tomorrow :)

19SundayJULY

Morning Ride

 70 km  671 m  02:41  x3  x1
Ride Category
The three elite riders went on the ride this morning. We started in very overcast weather, with quite a lot of surface water, but it soon dried off and we finished with the sun out. We enjoyed an excellent coffee at the Hampstead Norreys Community Shop before the ride back into Wantage - back at 12:45 all in one piece with no issues - a few wrong turns along the way!!
19SundayJULY

Colmar Holiday - Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg

 108 km  1202 m  04:47  x7  x8
Ride Category
Bright blue skies for the first ride - 10km of flat through the Alsace vineyards, and then from Ribeauvillé (beautiful town!) we had the first climb - 6km at 5% including some sections of pavé for entertainment. A great descent followed down into Ste-Marie-aux-Mines, where we stopped for coffee.

The next climb took us up to the Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg - another up through the woods and quite reminiscent of the Ventoux segment from Bedoin through the forest, but rather less steep!

The castle gives awesome views out over the Rhine graben (ask Andy) over into Germany and Switzerland, and was sadly closed to visitors.

Another fast descent took us to Sélestat for lunch - a classic Alsace town with lots of German-influenced ancient buildings. Very pleasant.

The remainder of the ride was rather a blast through the Rhine valley, with great overall pace and some nice tight riding, before a cooling forest on the outskirts of Colmar, and a cooling beer in Colmar.

A great start to the week.