Sunday, 29 August 2010

Chilterns Cycleway-ish

I'm a bit behind my planned mileage at the moment, and there's a temptation to pick flat routes where all the effort goes into burning up the miles, rather than anything else.

I need to work on handling hills though, so I'm trying to resist the temptation to stay on the flat, and today I decided to try out parts of the Chilterns Cycleway that recently appeared on Open Street Map.

My original plan was to start in Henley, and work my way clockwise around the Chilterns Cycleway to Stokenchurch, then head home and leave the next section for another day.

However I was slow getting started, and the weather wasn't brilliant. So by the time I got to Stoke Row I was running late. It was windy and wet.

If  I had stuck to the original plan I would have dropped down to Ipsden and Ewelme, then I would have had to climb back up the escarpment to Christmas Common. In principle I was up for a bit of hill climbing, but in practice I wanted the option of cutting things short if the weather didn't improve. So I left the published route and continued north along the top of the escarpment, to Christmas Common.

Road between Northend & Turville
By then the weather had improved again. The rain had stopped, the sun was out, and while it was still windy, it wasn't the steady head wind that I had been battling earlier. So it was a glorious run down one of my favourite bits of road - Holloway Lane, between Northend and Turville.

I then continued to Hambleden and stopped for coffee and a lovely piece of flapjack in the churchyard. After Hambleden my normal route home gets a bit spiky. I've been promising myself for ages that one day I would manage these hills without getting off and pushing. Today was the first day I have actually achieved it. That is a bit of a milestone, and it raises the bar for the next time I do this route. To some extent it made up for skipping the tougher hills earlier.

A bit further on about eight Red Kites were circling overhead as someone ploughed the fields. That's probably not a hugely unusual sight around here any more, but it was pretty impressive just the same.

In summary, things didn't quite go to plan, but total distance of 55 miles moves the numbers along a bit. More importantly I got in a bit of practice at hills, there were some memorable moments, and there is plenty more of the Chiltern Cycle Route to explore.

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