There was quite a large group assembled for the ride by the time of the start and quite a few ‘newbies’, I thought they might have picked the wrong week. The circuit was going to be longer than usual and one of the tougher rides, especially with the extra miles and climbs Steve put in. Not really one for newcomers but I volunteered to ride ‘shotgun’ and tidy up at the back. One or two kept tailing off on the climbs, but not so bad considering and they gamely got back on. My services were not really required but I think its nice to have somebody in sight and waiting. It was going to be around 40 miles to the cafe, quite a way.
By the time we got to Helmdon I could see the situation was going to be tough for those near the back and hoped I would get a chance at the cross roads to offer to take those that wished on a shorter route as there was an opportunity to take one there. Sure enough I did get the chance and the offer was gratefully accepted by some and we headed directly down the road to Syresham and on to Stowe Gardens via the turning up to Turweston but not stopping there this time. I think our route was about 28 miles to the cafe.
I have been to Stowe as a motorist and National Trust member but never arrived by bike before. Its a very nice cafe in a modern setting and very reasonably priced as well by comparison with other cafes we visit. The actual grounds and gardens are enormous but the cafe is set in the reception building as you enter the grounds in some converted old farm buildings. The entrance to the landscaped gardens is about a half mile walk from the main entrance.
It was a pleasant ride back from there with the benefit of a tail wind most of the way. We all arrived safely and comfortably back at Stony Stratford and after our farewells went our separate ways.
My Garmin seemed to be working just fine after its misdemeanours in the week. I hope to a get a ride in early this week to try out the navigation aspect of it, but I am hopeful its going to be OK for weekend Audax. I do have my old Garmin 605 as back up and also the 500 but the 800 combines the best of both, navigation and full stats.