Decided to do a back-to-back 200, as part of my LEL training. This was basically a 200k audax event followed by another 200k audax event the following day. Yesterday I completed 'The Cheltenham Olde Folks 200' and today I completed the 'Banbury Cross 200'.
The 'Banbury Cross 200' is definitely one of my favourite 200k audax events. It's a great route virtually completely on lanesy roads. This was the third time I had completed it. (First time was with Aid. The second run was a solo affair. Chris Hodge and I recently completed the 'Cotswold and Thames 200' event too which was considered to be a variation of said event - in my opinion, it doesn't really compare).
As per usual (for me), I started the event from the Broadway control. It was a warm start but the skies were grey and a few drops of rain landed on me during the first few k. Starting in Broadway was a good idea - some (most) of the hills were conquered early on. Passing through Winchcombe was a pleasant experience and then the descent that followed Cleeve Hill was great too. I didn't reach my fastest speed descending down the other side of Cleeve Hill because traffic was jammed (school hour, I think). I reached Cheltenham and felt this was going to be a good ride.
Leaving Cheltenham and the second hill was battled - Lilleybrook Hill. Once again, when the summit was reached, I was rewarded with a zoomy descent. Lovely roads took me all the way to Cirencester.
From Cirencester the route continued on nice roads. My previous attempts to find the bridleway that leads to Cricklade had failed. This time, I had partial success. I found a bridleway, but it wasn't the correct one as this was like single track and not tarmac as the route sheet stated. However, after so long this bridleway became tarmac and did lead to Cricklade! For future reference, I need to take 'the next' bridge along that crosses over the A419!
As I cycled from Cricklade, I thought about the 'great aviation disaster' at Fairford which I informed Chris about on our last audax. Am not sure if my tale is true or a yarn to be fair, but am sure elements of it were correct?! Just outside RAF Brize Norton, another disaster had taken place. Not sure what this disaster was but police and ambulance were everywhere. I didn't pay too much attention and instead sped on to Witney, as this would be my food stop. I stopped at the self same cafe that Aid and I stopped at on our first trip and ordered a huge delicious breakfast. Yummers!
Witney to Bicester was a lovely stage. I liked passing over river, canal and train track in quick succession. Bicester was a pretty area too where one is supposed to 'walk' to the shops for POP purposes. Oh well...
Bicester lead to Banbury. And in Banbury was the Banbury Cross, the 'thing', I guess, this audax was named after. I didn't take a photo of the cross, instead I took a photo of the white (grey) horse with the fair lady upon it. Shame she had her back turned to me.
Not sure of the frog's significance, but I took a photo of that too.
The route from Banbury back to Broadway was certainly undulating in nature and quite demanding on my tired legs. I forgot how hilly this section was. The climbs were rewarded with super descents though - I reached speeds of over 70kph! After reaching Chipping Campden, with just about 5k to go, the heaves opened and I got drenched! I didn't mind too much, this had been a great ride and made up for yesterdays not-so-great event. I cycled a total of 201k in under 10 hours (9 hours 57 mins). And on my return home, SJ cooked me up another top dish (lamb casserole), bless her! Maybe I should cycle more often?!
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