Thursday 22 November 2012

Stroud 5 Valleys 50 (Nov 2012)

Completed the Stroud 5 Valleys 50k audax this week with Ron. Have now completed this ride a number of times. Even though the ride is (essentially) the same, the experience is always different.

We started at the usual control point in Stroud - a large free car park. Our start time was relatively early, just gone 10 o'clock. The first info control came after just 4k (and a big hill). The information control asked what the woods were called but the sign was missing (as it was last time I cycled this audax) - luckily I knew the woods already and was able to answer 'Stockend'.

The next control (information again) came after another big hill, only down hill this time. We had to turn left at the bottom of this hill to check out the phone number of the B.T phone. Again, I knew this information already.

Cycling to the next control was a little bit menace. A large silver transit van came a little close to Ron, so close I thought he was going to come off. Luckily Ron was okay. We climbed a wee bit during this section and past a farm where a dog ran at me last time. This time, no dog was to be seen. After more climbing we reached Painswick, the next control.

The next section led to Bisley. This section was the toughest of the whole ride. Both Ron and I battled these hills here with relative ease and didn't put a foot down. I was really pleased, last time I pushed a little after I lost traction on a switch-back menace piece of hill. After all the climbing came The Bear pub. This pub is where I have stopped many a time for a delicious meal. Today we had reached the pub very early and it wasn't open. We headed to the post office for POP purposes. The post office would usually stamp a brevet card, however, the stamp had ran out of ink! Worse still, the till would not print a receipt either. The post office worker kindly signed our brevet cards.

From Bisley to Minchinhampton we noticed just how windy it was. Leaves were swirling in the wind (according to the news, the wind reached speeds of 50-65 mph) making pretty patterns and tree branches were creaking. The wind never actually hindered us, it always appeared to be on our side, pushing us along. In addition, we had a fast descent down the Toadsmoor Valley. As we continued, Ron took me on a different (but correct) route to the control. Ron had downloaded a GPS track and the correct route took us up additional hills. Both routes led to same control - all roads lead to Rome!

The Minchinhampton to Nympsfield section was a bit of a drag, as I often think it is. This section is a slow up hill drag with little to look at. Scenery was hidden by tall hedges and the skies were grey. We passed a postman and he was really cheery and impressed we were cycling up a big hill. The post man said 'I take my hat off to you'. He couldn't take his hat off, he didn't have one on! We stopped at the Rose and Crown pub at the end of this jaunt. The pub was great and we ate an awesome steak! Ron also purchased some dodgy liquid stuff...
The last section was super zoomy. Mostly down hill with a strong wind behind us. Again Ron's GPS took us a slightly different way. We reached the arrivee in no time and felt great. Both of us had a great day, cycling 52 hilly k's in under 5 hours.

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