Thursday 27 September 2012

Cotswold Corker (Sept 2012)

No blogging the past couple of weeks because my bikes did not see any tarmac or trail. The powers that be made me work compulsory night shifts which resulted in me feeling to rough to cycle and really quite sleep deprived. Have had planned adventures floating around my head though and made some preparations ready for the Bear Bones 200 (an off road 200k time trial) and a From Anywhere Dinner Dart (an unusual 200k audax).

In an attempt to both start moving my legs again and prepare for the Bear Bones 200, decided to complete a Cotswold Corker permanent audax using Scotty, my mountain bike. Scotty had recently been serviced and what better way to test her out. For those that regularly read this blog, they will know that the Cotswold Corker is a very hilly event (scoring 1.75 AAA points), which I have completed several times now. This is probably my favourite 100k (hilly) permanent audax event.

As usual (for me) started the Corker from Winchcombe. It looked like it was going to be a bright day, so I left my waterproof jacket in the car. Cleeve Hill was the first hill encountered and it didn't prove to be any bother. I started the next hill at Bushcombe Lane in a fairly confident mood. This is the biggest hill on the Corker and I beat it the last time I cycled. The only worry I had was whether or not I would lose traction as the roads were slippery and wet. Climbed slowly up the hill in first gear and just as I reached the last turn just yards before the summit - screech - my chain had slipped off the cassette and into the spokes. Grr! I nearly came off too! Disappointed is not the word. Grr! Put my bike back in gear, caught my breath and headed off again. Screech - ugh, the same thing! Walked the few yards to the summit and listened to the voices in my head screaming things they shouldn't. At least I had a nice descent back into Winchcombe!
After Winchcombe came another hill, a long slow hill, that took me to Guiting Power and then on to Northleach. This stretch is always nice to cycle as it is probably the most scenic. Stopped in Northleach (it was a control) and purchased some strawberry flavoured water which was nice.

Nice quiet country roads were followed from Northleach control pretty much all the way to the control in Bisley. Despite the fact that there were a few climbs here (some quite steep) the thought of dinner in Bisley kept me suitably distracted. Another distraction was the beautiful lone deer skipping along in the open fields. Even the pigs on the pig farm made a nice sight too. I always think of the 'Centurion Super Grimpeur' audax when I pass through Daglingworth (an info control on this audax) as said event starts and finishes at the village hall here. On reaching Bisley, I went to the Post Office (as the lady there stamped my brevet card) and then to 'The Bear' pub for lunch. I had beef lasagna, chips and a large coke. My feed was nice but a little over-priced.

On leaving the pub it had started to rain (should have taken my rain jacket) so I took shelter for about 10 minutes until the rain had eased (but not quite stopped). This stage - Bisley to Andoversford is usually quite challenging. It has some really steep descents and a big climb (reaching 288 metres). I said  'usually' because the route sheet had directions for an 'alternative' route and today I followed this alternative route, just for fun. This alternative was definitely easier but took me away from quiet secluded roads onto busier roads. It was nice in that no great care was required on menace steep descents and I was awarded with a lovely view of the Malvern Hills.
This alternate route also passed through Seven Springs which is the source of River Thames spring water. After passing through Seven Springs, an ascent led to where the original route would have taken. Once here (just outside the Kilkenny Inn), a super fast descent took me to Andoversford, the penultimate control.

The final stage was only 10k and led back to the start in Winchcombe. This stage was no real bother and it was nice that the rain had stopped and the sun had come back out. I often remember this as a fast stage, but to be fair, it still has a few climbs. The last few k are very zoomy though - once past Belas Knapp, it was downhill all the way to the arrivee! This put a smile on my face!

Cycled 100 kilometres and scored 1.75 AAA points in just under 6 and a half hours.

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