On Monday morning I took the opportunity to do the above mentioned challenge ride set by Strava, the website for checking your rides and segments of rides against other cyclists. There is an overall category, but I especially like the fact they have an age group for the over 65’s ! However this is a just challenge to do one ride in the month of January of at least 130km. I planned the flattest route I could, not that it was that flat, and I added on a few kilometres just in case my planning wasn’t that good.
I set off just before 9am. I delayed as long as I could because there was a heavy frost but I had to go then as I was going to be out for around six hours. There was plenty of frost around still and parts of the road that had been wet were still frozen so care was called for. About an hour later I stopped at the village of Nash to put on my my cycling cap under my helmet as I needed the peak to keep the low winter sun out of my eyes as I was now headed generally south. I made my stopping point the village pond at Nash so that I could also take a photo of the pond, my bike and the remnants of the frost.
I pressed onwards and on my way went past this nice looking old fashioned field by a farm in the village of Hoggeston. It was full of undulations, not the usual flat fields you see and just looked really nice under the blue sky and sunshine.
Soon after Hoggeston I had to make unexpected diversion from my planned route. The road I required had a ‘Road Closed’ sign at the entrance. I kept on riding though looking for another right turning and the one I found was one we use on club rides. We usually approach it from the opposite direction and turn left though but I recognised it so I knew where to go despite my Garmin being at a loss for while. Eventually I found my way back my original course and after about 60km I reached the The Barn Cafe at Wilstone.
I got myself a large Americano coffee and from the large selection of inviting home made cakes I chose a ‘Boost Bar’. It was the nearest thing to flapjack I could see, consisting of fruits, seeds and nuts stuck together with something sticky. It was nourishment I was after despite the tempting array of other cakes. I needed something to get me through the remaining 75km’s or so. I sat outside the cafe in a sheltered sunny spot and the temperature there was 14c !!
On leaving I asked the staff to top up my water bottle as I was making sure I stayed well hydrated. I was on my way again and trying to get my legs moving and my body warmed up again. It was colder again away from shelter of the cafe. The terrain assisted my heating process by the nature of it, very undulating. I was headed east now and after a few miles, passed through Marsworh and Ivinghoe village, Ivinghoe village being about the halfway point on my ride.
After leaving Ivinghoe I was on the climb up long drag of the footslope leading to the start of main Ivinghoe Beacon climb that I rode a few weeks ago. Fortunately at the top of the slope instead of turning right to start the climb proper I went over the top and down the long sweeping descent. At the foot the road became undulating again until I turned left towards Eaton Bray and then I was at least headed for home now, albeit quite a way to go yet.
The road now was familiar territory to me and i didn’t really need the Garmin to navigate for me but I kept it running as it gave me a running ETA to get home and also the distance remaining to be covered. I wound my way up through Eaton Bray, Stanbridge and across to Hockliffe, crossed the A5 road and then up another long steady drag towards Woburn. Before reaching there though I turned right towards Eversholt and Steppingly. This section was unfamiliar to me so I was grateful for the Garmin’s navigation once more. Heading towards Ampthill I went past the new Center Parcs holiday centre that seems to have been being constructed for years and still not finished.
I was now into really familiar territory and found my way through several familiar villages and roads. On approaching Stevington I saw an unusual site and decided to turn around to get a picture. I saw this handsome chap and some of his friends in a field
I think they were Llamas and not Alpacas as they looked quite big to me. Alpacas have become a fairly common site on my rides in various places but not Llamas. I am not sure about the brown animals at the back. They looked very much like Llamas but just a different colour.
There were now just a couple of short steep climbs remaining that I wasn’t looking forward to very much and about 25km to go and I would be home. On finally arriving at home I wasn’t feeling too bad. My legs were aching a bit but I definitely wasn’t on my last legs so I think the special attention I paid to hydration definitely helped.