Friday saw me complete the Lechlade on Thames 200 audax. This was a permanent audax covering a distance of 200k. This was the first of Steve Gloster's events I had ridden and hence the first time I had completed this event. I chose to cycle this event because it was relatively local to me and having already acquired AAA points for January, just wanted a relatively flat 200k event.
I chose Bromsgrove (as suggested) for my start control. Bromsgrove was relatively near my home and this is where Aid's folks (Aunty Christine and Uncle John) lived and proved the perfect place for me to leave my car. Oh, and Aid himself joined me on this adventure.
We left Aid's folks at just before 8 a.m and made our way to Asda - the official start control. It proved to be a very cold start, about 3C and very foggy. After acquiring a ATM receipt for my first 'proof of passage' (POP) we were off. Chris made me chuckle last audax by riding with his fat 35mm tyres, Aid's bike was making me chuckle this time around...
The initial few k's were very busy with traffic and school kids but I guess that was to be expected at that time of day. Once we were away from the traffic rush we were on lovely country lanes but progress was slow because visibility was so poor. The fog was real thick. We sped through Feckenham and then followed familiar roads - we cycled part of the TROAD! Shortly after the TROAD part we cycled through Sambourne and passed the Green Dragon pub, just a couple of miles from home. Aware that I could start this permanent audax at any point on route but getting a POP would be difficult as pub not open till lunch time and no local shops (hence choosing Bromsgrove as start). In Sambourne we followed roads that I use on my Deer route. We turned off in Great Alne and followed lovely lanes all the way into Stratford. I had to stop at one point and dig out my extra pair of gloves as my poor pinkies were freezing. We missed the official first control as route sheet stated we stop at Texaco garage of which there was none - it was a Murco garage. We stopped a little up the road at Morrisons and used this as POP control and for emergency poo purposes.
Had difficulty following route sheet after the first control, not spotting the necessary bollards. We went off course but only about 2k and soon were back on track. The day had warmed up just a little and the fog had cleared. We followed a long stretch of the B4632 before heading to and reaching Chipping Camden. We stopped at the Bantams Tea rooms for beans on toast (with egg) and tea. Yum!
The route from Chipping Camden was awesome. Great country lanes, traffic free and awesome views of the country. Despite being very cold the sun was trying to shine. Almost perfect cycling conditions - only the weather and the many pot holes upsetting things. We passed through The Slaughters (without having any major climbs) and through the very pretty Bourton-on-the-Water before reaching Lechlade. I found Lechlade a bit of a let down really, it was not as pretty as I had pictured. Maybe I was miffed because we couldn't find a pub serving food. We eventually found a cafe called the Black Cat. Am convinced the Black Cat owner was a witch. Her gaffe was aptly named, she had ginger hair, missing teeth and am sure she was trying to cast a love spell (curse) on Aid. The witch obviously had the hots for Aid - she served us both hot drinks but Aids with a biscuit, she filled our water bottles - mine only half full, Aids to the brim. We both had a full English breakfast here - that meant this was the second time today for beans and eggs. Bloated!
The Lechlade to Tewkesbury section felt like 2 different halves. The first half was along beautiful quiet country lanes again. I loved this section and mist/fog could be seen starting to form. It started getting dark here which coincided with lights on and Aid having a brief lull. This lull soon passed once we were away from the country lanes and onto real fast zoomy roads that seriously whizzed from Withington up to near Winchcombe. We passed through Bishops Cleave which made me chuckle. With a picked up pace we sped along to the control in Tewkesbury - a Shell petrol Station. At this control we ate some nasty pasty's, devoured nicer malt loaf and waited an age for Aid to change his batteries ;)
The last stage was equally as good as the previous ones, nice lanes to follow and relatively traffic free. We passed through Pershore and found the 'easy to miss' turning towards Alcester. Passed a place called Bradley Green where I was tempted to change the 'Green' to 'Wiggins'. However, could not find the Flying Horse Lane and as is so often the case, I had gotten us lost. A telephone call to my dear wife SJ soon got us back on route and enabled us to reach the control in Bromsgrove within the necessary time limit! Thanks SJ!
We reached the arrivee just before 10 p.m.and reached Aid's folks a few minutes later. Thanks for the chicken salad baguette Aunty Chris! We had a great days cycling and cycled 214k. This was a lovely audax and worthy to be ridden again.
Cycled earlier in the week on 2 occasions. The first cycle was a quick blast on Ron's turbo trainer. The second occasion was with Ron himself. We cycled the Reed route in very foggy conditions. So thick was the fog that our lights were dazzling us as it reflected back. All these miles have brought me up to 310 miles cycled thus far, this year.
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