Astride the seat of learning

For no better reason than the weather is good and cycling all day is fun the usual veteran audaxers (plus honorary veteran Elspeth Grace) decided to ride to Oxford for lunch.

The day began well at 0730 with 9 starters at the Clock roundabout – a secret rendezvous given it hasn’t had a clock for about 7 years. A brisk pace set by pour in-form chairman Andrew Brown didn’t dull the early ride conversation and the audible murmur rumbled through the group until the first hills. We went out via the Sharpenhoe Clappers through the Woburn deer park where Laurence Davis, Adrian Trott and Howard Ashmore turned back for a shorter ride.

The six remaining riders trundled on to the excellent cafe at Quainton about 75km where Alex Peeke upset some other riders by picking them up on their superfluous use of word “literally”. As we were riding to Oxford, grammatical exactitude was the order of the day. The plan was to ride through the Waddesdon manor park but they seemed to have dug and diverted the cycle path (see picture). After a little detour we were back on the road to Oxford. Arriving on the dot of 1230, incredibly other people felt it was time for lunch as well which left us sitting in the graveyard eating our tofu, mung beans, sourdough and feta.

The first section out of Oxford on flattish roads and a gentle tailwind was brisk but the heat meant that our bottles were soon empty so the siren-call of a garage forecourt could not be ignored.. although not an official audax we certainly got into the vibe by sipping chocolate milk among the diesel pumps.

Geography is immutable and whichever way you do it, the Chilterns sit between Oxford and Welwyn so we had some sharp climbing to do after passing 100 miles. A particular beauty to recommend is one called the Hale coming out of Wendover. The best bit was near the top when a mountain biker drew alongside Adrian and started asking inane questions about the recumbent just as Adrian was reaching VO2 max.

A few more climbs depleted our waterbottles again so it was time for a pub stop at the very charming Rose and Crown just outside Flamstead. Adriano Botswold’s recumbent once again drew many questions and the look on a small boy’s face as he set off was as if Adrian had set off on a rocket pogo stick.

Another uneventful 10 miles or so passed along familiar roads before returning to the reality of Sunday night and the TdF highlights. What better way to spend a hot summer’s day than with the wind in (what is left of) your hair and the company of friends en velo.

– Alex