Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Uffington White Horse

Miles cycled this year: 1990
In 123 Hours burning 70600 Kcal climbing 69130ft
Most miles in a week (so far) : 160 (still!)

I have started including cycling in getting to work. It’s at 50m+ round trip, and I have cycled the whole journey, but I have found that driving half way and cycling the remainder one day a week is a comfortable addition, as is cycling to one of the satellite offices and working from there. I do one or the other of these each week, and reduce my travel to work by 15%. As the year goes on I intend either to cycle the whole distance, or as I am not keen on getting up any earlier, I might well extend my ride on the way back.

The last week in April, I was away. We were going Saturday, but my mother-in-law wasn’t well, so we delayed to Sunday, when she felt better but not good enough to travel, so I went on ahead, bike in the car, having had a nearly 4 hour easy ride on Sunday morning. Sunday evening was spent lying on the sofa, planning a route for Monday. I was staying near Bourton-on-the-Water, but where to go. I like a destination, somewhere to go, but where? I looked on the map and decided on White Horse Hill near Uffington. It’s to the east of Swindon, and comprises a steep climb up the hill below the white horse, past Dragon Hill. It’s hard and unforgiving, but short.

This was also another chance to test my navigation using my walking sat nav. No maps on this screen, just a series of nodes joined by lines, all programmed by me in advance.
Monday morning was cool. I waited until after 9am as I told myself to let the rush hour traffic and school run die down, but also, and more truthfully, I was on holiday and I wasn’t up for rushing. I came out of the house, up the short drive, then right. The road rose and I went surprising slow. Heavy roads, heavy legs, not warmed up? Change down and forget it, ride on, there’s a way to go yet.

I had plotted a route down through back roads. These were so lightly trafficked that I saw more horse riders than cars in the first hour. I also saw deer and a hare in the road, my they move fast when pursued by a cyclist!

It was basically down hill into the Thames valley, then a climb up the Downs to the highest point on White Horse Hill, (That's the point half way across the profile), then back down across the Thames and back up through rolling Cotwold hills to Bourton. My body said enough at 54miles, so sit up & eat. It was just a nudge to say, “ I’m a bit feed up with this now, can you give it a rest?“ I think it was the cumulative effect of the last three days riding and the fact that I had been going gradually up hill for some time now. It was also lunch time and it wanted feeding.

It was quite weird riding into Bourton. Down a steep straight hill, exceeding the speed limit into the village, through a couple of tight bends, and into the main street, and people, loads of them, wondering kamikaze like across the road, ducks, more people, cars winding up the road through people looking for parking and not seeing the bright orange cyclist. It was nearly 2pm and I went into the baguette shop: Tuna and Mayo, Chocolate Brownie, in the back pocket. Up the hill to the house to sit and eat them, jam sandwich and whatever other goodies I had brought with me.

The rest of the week was spent walking 2 1/2 hours a day on the Cotswold Way. Very pleasant, mile after mile of beech wood with a woodland floor of bluebells, garlic or beech leaves.

Since getting back I was asked for my time to climb (cycle) a local hill from bottom to top. My time was quicker, but my times were to a different ‘top’ of the hill. I was quicker but to a lower point, a bend in the road where the hill is really over. From there the road turns to the left and rolls a bit until a car park.

So Monday I went to see what I could do. The time to beat was 9.20, I rode to my ‘finish’ in 8.06, 14 seconds faster than before, and I felt good, and rode on to the end in 10.02. It was much further and tougher to the car park than I recalled, and maybe I mentally turned off pushing so hard, but that doesn’t account for the extra 42 seconds. There is work to be done!

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