I went for a ride with my stepson Ian yesterday, a bit harder than my normal solo rides but a good workout.
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I was aiming for around 45 miles and I made the route up as we went along. I just pieced together bits of other rides that I do. It ended up at a shade under 50 miles of central Bedfordshire, predominantly lanes and quiet roads. The area consists of what could be described as rolling countryside, somewhere between hilly and flat. It was just the right weather for bike riding, quite bright, not too sunny and not much of a wind. The route encompassed the villages North Crawley, Ampthill, Clophill, Stewartby and Astwood.
Stewartby is an interesting place in that it was created by the London Brick Company to house its brick making employees. If you want to read more detail I suggest you click the link at the end of the previous paragraph. When I first moved to the area the brickworks was still in full production and there were 167 chimneys from the brick kilns in the area putting out all kinds of smoke and pollution. I noted yesterday there are only four left and I see that they avoided demolition as a preservation order was placed on them as a reminder of the history of the area.
It was a typical misty Autumn morning with sunshine forecast later after the mist cleared. Perfect day for a bike ride. I had two purposes for the ride. One was to check out the new Sti levers and the gear settings prior to Sundays Brickhills Challenge and the second reason was to check out my new position on the bike before Sunday. I had lowered the saddle a little bit, I had felt I was stretching for the pedals a bit. I had ridden some of the climbs a few weeks ago, including Church Lane, Bow Brickhill which is a 20% climb and almost a mile in length. I wanted to see how the new position affected my performance, if at all as a gauge to the settings.
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I took it steady first of all, to warm up slowly. I wasnt going to ride hard, just enjoy the ride and take in a couple of the climbs to start with. I managed the climb pretty well, no more difficult than last time anyway and if anything maybe a little easier. The new position seemed to suit me pretty well actually. I had less neck ache and no pins and needles in my left hand. Due mainly I think to the fact that my arms were slightly bent at the elbow, therefore cushioning vibrations from the road.
The rest of the ride was very pleasurable, I took a long loop round with still a few more climbs but quiet country lanes and little traffic and sunshine !! I stopped in the middle of Ampthill for a drink and a snack. There is a nice seat in the middle of town on an open area that is in the sunshine when it shines, I have used it a few times before. It had got pretty warm by this time, so much so that I removed my arm warmers and gloves for the rest of the ride. The total ride length was 93km (58 miles), a little bit more the distance of Sundays ride but with half the climbing today.
Everything on the bike seemed to work just fine. The only thing I had to do when I got back home was to alter the bar tape a bit as on one bend there wasnt enough overlap and tape parted, allowing some handlebar to show through. I also lowered the saddle a little bit more so maybe a little ride tomorrow just to check that out. Apart from that I think I am all set for Sunday and even the weather forecast is looking good for the day. I dont want to be too late home as the Paris – Tours cycle race is Live on TV in the afternoon, the last big classic of the year, so thats an incentive to get a move on.. !
Dont get many signposts like this anymore… on yesterdays bike ride..
Had a couple of rides towards the end of this week.. 38 miles on Wednesday and 52 miles today.
Both rides where on new routes. On Wednesday it was a new route in Bedfordshire and into Northamptonshire and home via, Sharnbrook, Melchbourne, Yielden, Wymington, Podington Wollaston and Grendon. This morning (Friday) I went to Cranfield, Ampthill, Flitwick, Silsoe, Clophill, Haynes, Houghton Conquest, Wootton, Cranfield, Astwood, Newton Blossomville and home.
Having done quite a few rides in the mid 30 mile range I decided it was time to stretch the miles a bit and have sorted out a few in the 50 – 60 mile range to do once a week in with the other rides.
Todays ride was on my newly converted Specialized bike that is now all set up for winter riding with some mudguards. It was a bit of a struggle to fit them as there are no mudguard ‘eyes’ on the front forks but I managed to use a little expertise and some cable ties to overcome that problem.
I was keen to get out on my bike again today. The sun was shining, still a bit of a wind and also still a little aching in my legs from the other day so I set off on a loop ride via Ampthill in Bedfordshire. Once I was going it felt good to be out again and on a nice light bike again too.
I left Olney around 9:30 and headed south for Chicheley where I turned off the main road onto a quieter road to North Crawley. On reaching North Crawley I meandered through the back road to Cranfield and then Marston Moretaine and on past the Millbrook Vehicle Testing Track, no sight or sound of Jeremy Clarkson to disturb the peace. No sounds of any vehicles either. It was on past there and up the steep hill into Millbrook village, just a pub and a few cottages and onwards up the hill to join the road into Ampthill.
Ampthill is a very old market town with a very convenient seat right in the middle for me to sit a while and refuel with some food and drink. I took a few photos too. By the way, the bike in one of the photo’s isnt mine.. !!!
After a rest and some refreshment it was on and up the hill out of Ampthill to a view across Marston Vale.
There then followed a very fast descent into the bottom of the valley and at last a tail wind that sped me towards Stewartby. I then crossed the main road and headed for Wootton and on back towards Cranfield. There I turned off towards the small village of Astwood which remains very rural and just off another main road which was diverted around it for it to retain its old fashioned character.
Then some more nice country lanes, sheltered from the wind by high hedges but what wind there was, was now a tail wind so I pretty soon sped through those and dropped down into Newton Blossomville which is only about 4 miles from home.
The building you can see is a pub called ‘The Old Mill Burnt Down’. A few years ago it was just called the ‘The Old Mill’ but i was burned out in a big fire and was subsequently rebuilt, hence the new name.
From there it was short ride home just skirting the outside of Clifton Reynes with a sign at the ‘T’ junction advertising the Robin Hood pub and telling everyone that is just ’359 Paces’ to the pub. I resisted the temptation and carried on through and down the hill into Olney again. A ride of 38 miles in 2 hrs 20 mins including stops..