Saturday, 12 February 2011

Turville and Hambleden (again)

It's been a beautiful day today, and I've covered 42 miles on the bike. That's my longest ride in months: and it feels like it.

The plan was to ride out to Christmas Common via Henley, then from Northend down Holloway Lane (a lovely ancient road) to Turville. The return was going to be across Hambleden weir and home through Warren Row and along NCR4. These are all familiar roads, so I didn't think to take a map.

Just after leaving home, it occurred to me that my plan involved covering the same roads in the first and last part of my day. I had plenty of time, and felt up for anything, so I thought I would take a different loop on the way out, approaching Christmas Common from the north via Marlow and through Stokenchurch.

The bit between Stokenchurch and Christmas Common is not so familiar to me, but I knew it was part of the Chilterns Cycle Route, so I didn't think it would be difficult to follow. I thought it would be a bit different and I was right.

Unfortunately I turned off too soon, and ended up in Ibstone. That road gets me directly to Turville a bit more quickly than I had planned. It's been a bit of a day for bright ideas that turn out not to be so clever. I decided I would be able to get back on track by taking a short-cut along the Chilterns Way, a bridle path. Several people on mountain bikes had obviously gone the same way before me. I could tell because they left tyre marks in a very soft and muddy path. I was slower to twig that this meant riding it on a road bike was a non-starter. But I was too stubborn to backtrack.

That part of the Chilterns Way runs through the Wormsley Estate, which is owned by the Getty family, so you pretty much have to stick to the path. I ended up pushing the bike through a lot of sticky mud for longer than I would have wished. However, we made it in the end, around a long difficult loop that took me back to where I had originally left the road.

At that point I gave up any ideas of finding a short-cut to Christmas Common, and pressed on directly to Turville. I made it most of the way up Holloway lane, before turning round and heading for home.

The return journey was much more straightforward, with one exception. I was running later than I had planned, so to save time I came back across the roundabout where I've been knocked off the bike by a car once, and almost knocked off another time. This is not my favourite piece of road. This evening, as I rode round the roundabout I was Clarkson'ed by an idiot who yelled and peeped his horn at me. He obviously didn't think I ought to be there. The seriously wealthy might be able to insulate themselves from the rest of the world, but the rest of us can't. I hope that it ruined his day to discover that cyclists use his personal roundabout - but he wasn't going to spoil mine. It felt good to have covered a longer distance, and (as usual) when things went a bit pear-shaped they also got more interesting.

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