I rode a long way today, at least by my standards – it was the furthest I’ve ridden in a long long time. It was one of those rides where every time I get to a junction I thought “Oooh, I’ll try this way” and see where I end up.
Unless you know Cheltenham and the surrounding area well, this bit will mean nothing, but I’m going to put it in anyway.
So I set off from home on the singlespeed Stiffee and rode out through Swindon Village, up the uber-muddy track to Elmstone Hardwicke and along another to Stoke Orchard. Turned right at the end, then left into a new (to me) bridleway. Followed that to it’s conclusion and turned right again. From there I followed the roads out towards W…something, then to Gotherington and Bishops Cleeve and up through Woodmancote.
Here I did a silly thing: I went up Stockwell Lane. Oh my, that was one steep mother hubbard. Alas it defeated me and despite my best efforts, I ended up walking the final section. Still, it’s proably the most direct route up Cleeve Hill. After a rest at the top, I rode up through the golf course to the aerials at the top of Cleeve, before following the Cotswolds Way (oo cheeky!) across the top. It’s a public footpath, with padlocked gates at either end. There’s no was a horse can get in there and yet there were plenty of fresh hoof-marks. Hmmm…
After that trail, I took the roads down through Andoversford and Upper Dowdeswell, before joining the main road at the Kilkeney Inn. That was scary as, what with all the lorries and mental drivers, but I stuck it out until the shooting school. There, I turned off and headed down the bridleway, which was the muddiest place in the entire world. So much so that my back wheel nearly stopped turning thanks to a severely clogged rear brake. I must sort out a disc-brake compatible rear wheel. In fact, I think I’ve got one in the garage… don’t think it’s a light one though. Hmmm.
Another trail brought me down to somewhere near Coberley and from there I climbed up the back of Leckhampton Hill, before riding across the top along Proflex Alley and then dropping down the zig-zags. Whilst up there I ran into some of the usual suspects – Stu, Anton, Gary, Aaron, Rich and co.
You did all that, on one cog? You effing mentalist!. They’re probably right. Damn good fun either way. From there it was a blast back across town and home, where I collapsed in a heap. My legs hurt now.
By the way, the Crud Catcher is a fantastic invention. Nicely done Mr Tomkins. SPDs and riding glasses next for me I think. Whaddayamean I should get some gears!? PAH!