Thursday, November 16, 2006

Autumn Ride, Chilterns 12th November

Well, where were you all??? A fantastic ride probably less than an hour away and, if it had not been for a few new faces, it would have been just Farqui and myself!

The ‘Killer Loop’ series in MBR magazine have always been appealing, but until, now they have generally been too far away for a casual visit. When I saw the Chilterns route I got very excited, as it was a new area for me and not that far away. A posting on STW Forum caused quite a bit of reaction, clearly this is a popular biking area with a lot of potential.

The route starts at Watlington and heads onto the Ridgeway, (Farqui tells me this is England’s oldest road and one he attempted to ride a while back.) A good gentle warm up, because very soon we were faced with a steep and long climbs, fortunately on quite a good surface. Good to get this out of the way early and everyone managed to clear this. The reward for this height gain was soon to come after a short road section we headed off onto a woodland bridleway for a long fast downhill section which could mostly be done flat out, (keeping an eye open for walkers). Although there was more mud about than when I did my ‘recce’, the trail condition was generally very good.

The next climb, although shorter, was more ‘technical’ and saw one or two of the posse pushing before the top. A little more on the road and we reached Christmas Common and into the wood for another long blast – think I had the advantage here having done it before. This one just seemed to go on and on before ducking out into open countryside. A short road climb led to a short but fast downhill, but sadly this was over too quickly and we were faced with the most challenging climb of the day – according to the magazine no one has cleared this. Maybe because of the log across the trail half way up, but for us there was the added challenge of slippy leaves. My attempt ended quickly with wheel spin. Farqui was determined to get up and did well, but was still defeated before the log (think he will be back in drier weather to try again!)

There was nothing too demanding after this, but we were treated to another fast downhill on a field side trail before heading back onto the Ridgeway.

I must say I just love this route, it's not technically challenging, apart from some of the climbs perhaps, but the surface is good and the scenery is fab. The long downhill sections are such fun and no doubt get better with familiarity. If it was a choice between Cannock and the Chilterns, both around the same journey time, it would be a tough one.

It was great to see some new faces, my nephew Jeff kept us entertained with his ‘tricks’ – a long time cyclist probably more at home at the jumps at Woburn; His partner Heidi is new to Mountain Biking, so did very well, she regularly competes in triathlon events, so has the fitness, but found off road very different. Nice also to meet Paul from Northampton who found us through Dozer.

Posse: Farqui (5 Spot); Jeff (Trek HT); Heidi (Specialized Hardrock); Paul (Carrera HT); Uphilla (5-Spot).
Route: Tracklog
Weather: Bright, but cool
Mechanicals: None
More Photos


uphilla said...

What I forgot to say for the nature lovers amongst you is that we had the most fantastic views of Red Kites at most points on the route, but partcularly around the Car park in Watlington.

Farqui said...

T'was a good ride mate, made even better by the good weather. Oh and the company ;-)

Thanx for arranging it.

The scenery was spectacular and I'm now sorry that I didn't stop and take snaps of all those autumnal colours.

Yup, the kites were fab and I reckon we saw at least one for every mile cranked.

Hehe, that darn hill was interesting with a liberal coating of leaves. Next time tho...

Rob said...


Most upset I didn't make it but (unlike Dozer) I have a good excuse, I couldn't get my right shoe on my club foot. Apologies and all that.

Cheers Rob