I did 80 solo miles on the bike today on a loop from Olney down to Aldbury and up Toms Hill, along Ashridge and then down Ivinghoe Beacon, all without a stop except for putting on and taking off my rain jacket.
I had beem promising myself a long ride for a while now. Probably the tail end of Hurricane Katia wasnt the best travelling companion, but I thought it was less severe when I looked out of my window and even in the shelter of my garden as I was leaving. However as soon as I left the shelter of the town and headed south-west I felt the full brunt of the wind. It stayed that way for about 40 miles generally speaking but I had the homeward loop to look forward to!
At about the halfway mark though was the ascent of Toms Hill to be mastered, about a mile and a quarter of 8-10%. A hill I know well from my early racing days. It was on the route of our club open road race and had to be encountered usually about 3 times in the race. Just before that there is another little just under a mile and slightly less steep.
In between the two hills is the picturesque little village of Aldbury complete with ancient stocks and village duck pond. It also used a lot for filming locations for TV and Movies.
Immediately on leaving Aldbury you are straight into the climb of Toms Hill. On rounding the hairpin bend at the top you are on Ashridge, a road along the summit of that part of the Chiltern Hills. This takes you through to Ivinghoe Beacon, a high point on the edge of the ridge with a terrific view. It was riding along by Ashridge that it started to rain so I stopped to don my rain jacket. I was passed by two speedy cyclists whilst I was doing that but within a mile I spotted them sheltering under some tries as the rain had got particularly heavy by now. I just gave them a wave and pressed on. I had planned to stop at the Beacon for some refreshment and to enjoy the view but it was raining so hard I just pressed on. The descent from there was quite hazardous, a couple of sharp bends and then a straight run through to the bottom. I had my brakes on all the way down as it was very wet. The Chiltern Hills have a flint based rock and stones are plentiful and when it rains the flint grit gets washed onto the road and becomes a puncture hazard.
After that I just kept pressing on homeward bound and eventually stopped to remove my rain jacket and grab something to eat from my pocket to keep me going for the last 25 or so miles.
I had been intent at the outset to make the ride about 80 miles and when nearing home I could see that it was only going to be about 74 so I took in extra loop to make it nearer to 80 but didnt quite do enough however I felt I was near enough.
I did go for a short ride yesterday on my Claud Butler touring bike just to get my legs turning and to try out the bike as it had been a while since it had an outing. The wind was even stronger then but I only did about 20 miles.