Sociable leisure rides for enthusiastic cyclists

Ride Reports


Welcome Ride - Flat

 52 km  267 m  02:04  x13
Ride Category
The riders started gathering in Wantage Market Place from a quarter to nine, noting the cold north westerly wind and wondering whether they were dressed warmly enough. By two minutes to nine there were twelve of us - two bubbles - and then John Groves appeared. No problem!

Chris led the first bubble, including Oscar, who joined us for the first time - welcome Oscar - and Fiona, coming on her second ride with the club. John Talbot led the second bubble and I brought up the rear with the third bubble.

The ride through the lanes of Lockinge and Ginge was sheltered from the wind. The road from Steventon to Drayton less so, but the three bubbles made their way along the newly laid Peep O'Day cycle lane to Abingdon Market Place. We stayed in our bubbles, sitting outside chatting while consuming our drinks and snacks.

Heading straight into the stiff north-westerly out of Abingdon was draining, particularly for the person at the front. We turned out of the wind into Fyfield tunnel which has clearly been maintained and ran along the Corallian ridge past Longworth.

By now, well warmed up and benefitting from the emerging sun, we had the wind at our tail. Somehow the last bubble become the first and the first last. Back in Wantage the King Alfred's Head called and one bubble, i.e. six, sat in the sun-drenched sheltered beer garden enjoying a quiet drink. Now we were overdressed.

Wednesday Ride Hungerford

 61 km  693 m  02:46  x3
Ride Category
A day of warm sunshine and gentle winds - oh no, that was yesterday: welcome to autumn! In fact, it wasn't as bad as forecast: only light showers. I doubt I had my waterproof on for more than 25% of the ride. The roads were greasy with rain, fallen leaves and various varieties of manure. We observed good social distancing on the first ascent of Hackpen, i.e. I was way off the back. The Sheepdrove track was as delightful as ever. We saw Andy Cowan coming the other way. All was pretty uneventful until Mike picked-up a puncture on the lanes after Ploughley. We found two shards of glass in the tyre but the repair failed after another couple of miles. By that time we were almost in Hungerford so Mike walked the last few hundred metres to Honesty. Good café! We played a game of Count the Patches on Mike's Inner Tubes. Eventually I took pity on him and gave him one of my new tubes which got him back to Wantage. Louis had a lunch engagement, so left after a quick cuppa to hurry home. With all the faffing, it was 1.30 by the time Mike and I reached the top of Hackpen for the second time and I was hungry, so we hammered home through the Letcombes rather than through Sparshot. An enjoyable ride despite the conditions. Thanks to Louis and Mike for taking the brunt of the wind, especially on the outward leg.

Away Ride - Uffington to the Tea Cosy

 108 km  1206 m  04:40  x7  x3
Ride Category
Two of us rode to the start in Uffington where we were joined by three others. There was just enough chill in the air to justify second layers but these were mostly shed at the top of Ashbury Hill where Chris joined the ride to make a full six person bubble.

As we headed south with the wind at our back the sun came out, we smiled and pedalled happily along. Our first stop was at Wendys Community Cafe in Great Bedwyn for great breakfast sarnies while watching the local football team in action.

We stayed on route, climbing to Cornholt, before our second stop at the Tea Cosy in Hurstbourne Tarrant, where we met up with Phil. Sadly the eponymous tea cosies were absent - apparently they constitute a covid health hazard - but we sat in the sunny garden enjoying the splendid cakes.

We split into two bubbles for the return route.

The valley road past Linkenholt looked splendid before the climb up to Coombe Gibbet. Probably the easiest route up - summited with little difficulty - before the technical, i.e. slow for the gravelly bends, descent towards Kintbury.

The sun shone, we ate up the miles, and returned safely to Uffington.

A flat ride to Humble Bumble

 69 km  389 m  02:48  x8  x1
Ride Category
We needed two bubbles today in the glorious sunshine. Thanks to Phil Stubbings for stepping up to lead the first bubble.

Our journey along the spring line road, down through Uffington, up to Faringdon and flat to Brize Norton was a joy for all. As we sat in the welcome shade at Humble Bumble chatting over snacks and drinks the only thing missing was some action on the cricket pitch.

Things got a little more interesting on the return leg. Within a mile of the restart we were due to go down Abingdon Lane. Unexpectedly, this was a farm track. (Note to ride leader/planner: do a bit more research.) Those riders with narrow tires and bling bikes, a clear majority as it turned out, changed our route to take a more circuitous route through Curbridge.

Thereafter we enjoyed the tail wind home. Shedding riders, who had other obligations, along the way, four of us returned to the market place a little bit after our target of 1:00pm.

Same again next week please.

Morning Ride to Chiseldon

 67 km  895 m  03:00  x15
Ride Category
This was a truly perfect day for riding - sunshine, warmth, not too much breeze, and a great turnout (joint record) of riders.

We split into 3 bubbles (Chris, John G, Caroline, Claire and Paul; John T, Pam, Ken, Phil and Mike; and the rest)

Lots of ups and downs on the outward leg, our bubble managed to lose John (wrong turning at the back of the group) who had no route or mobile phone. Paul went back up Marridge Hill to find him to no avail, but John turned up just as we decided to carry on without him!

The Three Trees cafe worked well and was rammed to the hedgerows with cyclists.

With a slight tailwind, a number of people managed some PBs along the Spring Line, after we'd dodged all the diverted traffic from the M4 closure.

Ice-creams and drinks in the KAH garden, soaking up the rays, followed a glorious ride.


Social Ride to Snelsmore Common

 60 km  587 m  02:32  x4  x1
Ride Category
Four of us met up at what seemed to be a thriving midweek market. Good to see that it is now occupying the whole square again. Conditions were good and a strong tailwind swept us along for close to 20km between Lambourn and Woodspeen before we turned north. We decided to swerve the steep climb to Snelsmore and instead rode on to take our coffee break at The Saddleback Cafe. This set us up nicely for a strong finish down Chain Hill and back to the Market Square.

All in all a pleasant social ride with good banter on the road and in the cafe.


All-day Ride

 105 km  1150 m  04:30  x7  x3
Ride Category
A scenic, if somewhat indirect, tour to Marlborough.

Six of us set off on the A417 but in the wrong direction (East) to meet Richard, who had cycled from the Hendreds, at the Lains Barn junction.

Most of us were ready for the first climb of the day, from Sparsholt up to Sparsholt Firs. We were definitely into the swing of things on our second climb out of Lambourn towards Baydon.

We took the descent into Aldbourne carefully where we paused to admire the Doctor Who street furniture before rolling into Ramsbury. After a slight detour from the planned route we took Spring Hill in our stride. Some of us almost nipped up it.

Our luck ran out in the Savernake Forest where Jez punctured. Despite little recent practice, he quickly replaced the inner tube while the rest of us admired the woodland. Our progress was slow on the forest gravel path but we made up for it on our speedy approach to Marlborough.

After a satisfying lunch stop at Mercer's in Hilliers Yard we made our way back rather more directly, if still somewhat undulating. The only incident of note was another puncture, this time for Andy, just before we turned onto the B4494. Another woodland setting, another pretty swift repair and we were off again to enjoy Chain Hill the easy way!

Charlbury - Broadway Loop - Hilly

 113 km  1410 m  05:03  x7  x6
Ride Category
We gathered at Charlbury station in cool but sunny conditions, cool enough to prompt a mixed bag of shorts and tights wearers within the group. But the weather remained kind to us all day and I thought it was just about right for this hilly ride.

Most of the ride was on quiet back roads, many of which were miraculously well surfaced, quite recently too by the look of things. The usual tourist hot spots were reasonably busy, but not unduly so and definitely less than would be the case in a normal year. We quickly escaped onto the lesser known back roads to ride through picture postcard villages and over hilltops with distant views.
To avoid the hassle of queuing and the danger of over-indulgence before the big climb, lunch at Broadway was simple fare from the Co-op eaten in the pleasant courtyard in front of the shop. Underway again, after pausing at the bottom for an equipment check, we duly conquered Snowshill, rode through the lavender fields and onwards over the two cheeky climbs that came after.

Paul experienced some trouble with a dragging rear wheel or freewheel bearing that sapped some of his power but he bravely rode through this issue to the finish. Getting back to the station just in time to spot the 16:15 to Worcester was an added bonus. There was an air of general contentment and everyone was smiling was we packed up the bikes for the drive home. All except for Louis that is, who, having already ridden out to the start girded himself ready for the ride back home.


Committee Meeting


London Sightseer

 104 km  480 m  05:55  x6  x1
Ride Category
Six riders gathered in West London to traverse the great metropolis and back.

We made our way Eastwards along pleasant waterside paths and quite back streets before turning North, zigzagging through Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush, Notting Hill, Bayswater and into Kensington Gardens. It was too early for the planned stop so carried on and came out through Hyde Park, under the Wellington Arch and down Constitution Hill (a hill in name only I’d say). Passing Buckingham Palace, we headed up the Mall under admiralty Arch and into the melee of Trafalgar Square and the Stand. Along Fleet Street, passed St Paul’s and on towards the “old lady of Threadneedle street”. A stop opposite The Lloyds building for Louis to take a picture of his old stomping ground and we were off South towards the river. A left before Tower Bridge took us East through Wapping along the ornamental canal and round Shadwell basin towards Limehouse Basin. From there we headed North East along the Limehouse Cut and River Lea to the Olympic park. The original lunch stop was binned off in favour of one recommended by Chris. The Stour Space provided good food at a reasonable price (for London). Certainly, better than what’s available at the velodrome. Post lunch we headed South(ish) to Victoria dock and the Emirates Airline cable car where we crossed over the Thames. Landing on the Greenwich peninsular we joined the Thames path and headed for Greenwich proper. The highest point of the ride (if you discount the cable car) was reached after ascending Greenwich Park drive to the Royal Observatory. Pictures were taken and the first spots of rain felt before we descended back down to the river by the Cutty Sark and headed East. It always surprises me how nice and relatively quiet London can be if your away from the main roads and high streets. Skirting Surrey Quays we head across to Surrey Water and back onto the bank of the Thames. Stopping only at the Golden Hinde replica to don jackets, we dodged around back streets, pedestrians and tourist hot spots on our way to Westminster Bridge, where we crossed the Thames and headed round the Palace of Westminster and onto the Embankment. A run along the cycle super highway took us to Chelsea bridge where we crossed again and into Battersea Park. The rain had eased so we stopped for coffee before pushing on West. Across the Thames again at Battersea bridge and passed Chelsea Harbour and Hurlingham Park before crossing again at Putney Bridge and heading for Richmond Park. Crossing the Thames for the final time at Teddington lock, the rain had really set in so it was heads down to get the miles done. Following the bank of the Thames we skirted Hampton Court Park and across into Bushy Park, before exiting on Hampton Hill High Street and the last 1/2km to the cars. As we arrived there was a tremendous clap of thunder and the heavens really opened, so it was quick goodbyes and away home.

Thanks to everyone who turned up, a team navigation exercise where everyone got a chance to take a wrong turning.

Wednesday Evening Ride

 30 km  127 m  01:13  x10
Ride Category
A very mellow end to the season, and a welcome to Fiona, joining her first club ride.

Bubble 1 (Louis, Nick, Pete, Paul and Andy) set off and we didn't see them again until the garden of the King Alfred's Head - exactly how it should be. There was Ford owners' event in the market place with engines being revved and exhausts a-poppin', and the general driver behaviour on the roads was not much less juvenile, with a number of blind passes, and plenty of impatience.

The wind didn't really impact the ride, but it did make it a bit nippy in the beer garden afterwards, with Louis not really dressed for a second pint.

A big thank you to those who've come along and supported the summer evening season, curtailed as it has been, and also special thanks to ride and bubble leaders who've allowed the rides to happen!