So, this week I signed up to do the London to Paris bike ride in August this year. I will be covering the 308 miles with three of my best friends – Kate, Katie and Jenna. None of us are cyclists, I think Katie is the most accomplished of us. She rides to work and back everyday. Kate also has done a fair bit. Jenna and I only cycle once a year to Fairford Airshow and all of us would prefer a ride that involves stopping at a pub.
This week, each of us has done some training. Kate has been spinning, Katie has been out on her brand new bike wearing her cliques! Jenna did 12 miles on her new bike – see her Facebook status update (excuse the language)….
The training has officially commenced.
I am quite lucky in that my next door neighbour Woody leads the novice group for Swindon Wheelers. He took me out on a couple of rides last year and I have been going to the Wheelers’ spinning classes on a Tuesday for the last 4 weeks – dragging my husband begrudgingly along.
This week I have been out on 2 rides on the road an 18 miler on Friday and a 21 miler today (Sunday).
Here are the details of my first two training rides of 2018 on the long road to Paris.
The 18 miler – three counties circular route from Highworth
On Friday it was a lovely sunny almost spring like day. We started out from Highworth. We being me, Woody and Dave (our other neighbour). The ride took us down to the Freke Arms where we turned right up (hill) into Hannington. We turned right at “the library” – an old phone box now used as a book exchange, down the hill to Hannington Wick. We crossed the Thames onto the decidedly bumpy road to Kempsford.
The bridge over the Thames is where we usually stop for our first Pimms en-route to the airshow. There was no stopping today. It is a gorgeous spot and is where Justin (my husband) once took me for a picnic where he cooked up a treat but that’s another story. Also a good spot for a game of Pooh Sticks. I think it is also the delineation of the boarder from Wiltshire into Gloucestershire (which may be why the road is so blooming bumpy). In Kempsford we turned right and along the bottom of Fairford airfield – no planes about today. It’s a long road that takes you through the beautiful Whelford over a gorgeously picturesque stream.
At the end of the road we turned right onto the busy road to Lechlade. Stopping briefly at Lechlade Garden Centre to have a quick drink. Back in the saddle, we rode through Lechlade turning right to the Trout and back over the Thames towards Buscott where we gave a tractor a run for it’s money. We turned right towards Coleshill and then right again to Buscott Wick. I think at this point we may have been in Oxfordshire. We cycled along the lovely country lane back to the main Highworth to Lechlade road. This is a busy road where cars go too fast. One car passed us so closely, I could’ve stuck my hand out and touched it. It is very annoying that people see a bike and don’t think there is actually a person on it who is quite exposed!
Arriving back in at the bottom of Highworth, we just had the hill to tackle. Highworth is the highest town in Wiltshire and we live at the top of the hill!
We went up Roundhills Mead – made up on 2 hills with a bit of a decent in between. It was a hard slog but I made it to the top without getting off. It was just a brief cycle down the High Street and home.
We (Dave and his partner Jo, Woody and his partner Martina, me, my husband Justin and our dog Alvie along with our friend Mark and Ozzy) rewarded ourselves with a visit to the Rose and Crown that evening where we enjoyed a drink or two.
The 21 Miler – The Freke Arms to Aston Pottery
I woke up this morning daunted at the prospect of going out with a group of cyclists who although novices would have a damn site more experience of cycling than me. So I text Woody to tell him I wasn’t going. At 8am, still in bed, there was a knock at the door. It was Woody – dropping off the bike (I am currently borrowing Martina’s bike). He hadn’t seen my text. Justin went downstairs to let him in. Woody gave Justin a base layer, full gloves and a little hat for me to wear under my helmet. I couldn’t possibly not go out now. I was meeting Woody and the rest of the group at the Freke at 9.15am.
Now, not being proficient at riding one handed or looking over my shoulder yet, I asked Justin if he would drop me off. So after a bowl of porridge, a cup of tea and a scrambled egg, spinach, avocado and cheese wrap we headed off.
We met Woody and the Wheelers – it was a small group today – Sam (short for Samantha), Roger and Dave. The first thing I noticed was they all had cliques. I was in my trainers. After brief introductions, we were off.
We followed the same route as the 18 miler until we got to the end of the Whelford road we went left them right instead of right to Lechlade.
It was actually really lovely to chat with the other people who were in the group. They were really supportive and interested in helping me, giving me tips and generally chatting.
I am not 100% sure of where we went. I know we passed through the beautiful village of Southrop to the Lechlade to Burford road which we were on for a short time. We turned left off the road and then under the road into Filkins. Then went through Kencott, Alescott, Black Bourton, Bampton to Aston and some beautiful Cotswold countryside. We pulled into Aston Pottery – a gorgeous little shop and café. I treated myself to a well earned cup of tea and a slice of coffee and walnut cake.
The rest of the group had another c25 miles back however, I had arranged for Justin to pick me up. He arrived just as I finished my cake. We had a look around the shop and bought some cards and a lovely French cookbook. On leaving, we were careful not to forget the bike.
I will be blogging about my training over the coming months. I am raising money for Neuroblastoma UK. If you would like to sponsor me, click here.