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Combining Motorbike Touring with Training

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lechlade

Nice morning for a quick spin!

Seemed like a nice morning. Sun is out, sky is blue and birds are tweeting – annoyingly so! Sat at home in my loft office birds, sparrows, pigeons, starlings, jackdaws, blackbirds and so on, are literally inches above me. So I decided to get out there and make some noise of my own.

A familiar route, but a nice one all the same. Fast flowing bends with some nice long straight bits, broken up by the occasional village. The source of the Thames at Kemble was flowing which is a nice change to see – often it dries up so you have to imagine there is a river here!

Couple of deer grazing in adjacent fields and lots of country smells to take in!

Fresh ride that woke me up that’s for sure. This is the great thing about working from home, you can pop out when you like!

 

I do use the bike to get to the office on, but I do also enjoy getting out on it as often as I can – like a drug in many ways, once you are hooked, that’s it!  The route home tends to be far longer than really is necessary 🙂

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Wantage – the “Great” ride!

Richard G and I decided to take the scenic route to Wantage via the Uffington White Horse and return through Faringdon, Lechlade and Fairford. What a great ride it turned into. A huge variety of difficult bends alongside some fantastic countryside vistas passing through some quintessential English villages that could so easily have been painted by Constable along the way!

Leaving Cricklade, we headed south along the A419 to the Common Head roundabout where we took the first left to Wanborough. Lower Wanborough has a fine selection of decent village hostelries offering plenty of choices of good beer and food. However, we weren’t stopping so headed straight on through up Pack Hill crossing at the Callas Hill and High Street cross roads heading out to Wantage.

Hinton Parva was the first village we went through. Rather than taking the short cut via the Water Garden we took the long route which was very pleasant indeed. Winding through the village provided a short taster of what was to come further along the way.

Next came Bishopstone. This is probably my favourite village along our route which is due to the large duck-pond in the centre (apparently no funding from central government here!).

This road also forms part of the Icknield Way which is an ancient track connecting Norfolk to Wiltshire and is reputed to be one of the oldest roads in Great Britain. It may have been named after the Iceni tribe – (Queen Boadicea).

Through Bishopstone, Ashbury and finally nearing Uffington, we turned right up to the White Horse Hill car park for a pit-stop and for me to remove one layer from my jacket as it was a rather warm day.

The Uffington White Horse is a Bronze age (between 800BC and 100AD) carving into the chalk hills. It is more of a symbolic horse and there has been speculation as to what it might really have been; though a horse is what it has been known as since around the 11th Century. Surrounding the hill-top is an Iron Age fort. Nearby is Dragon Hill, where St George, as legend has it, slayed the dragon; the blood that dripped can still be seen carved into the chalk mound. A short walk from here gets you to Waylands Smithy burial mound built in the shape of a cross around 3700BC, which is long before Christ was born!

Turning right from White Horse Hill we burbled onto Wantage which is only a short distance of 5 miles or so away.

Wantage is a small market town in the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire and is also the birthplace of King Alfred in 849. It has a pleasant market square which is accessible to cars and motorbikes alike. There are plenty of shops and places to have a snack or drink at here. Leaving the market square and heading in the direction of Grove, we passed by a water powered mill which I believe dates to around the late 18th Century.

Heading to Grove, home of the F1 racing team Williams, we then started looking for signs to Kingston Baguize or Faringdon, and again we flowed through some very quaint Oxfordshire villages with watermills and streams. We should have looked at the map as we aimed for Kingston Bagpuize as a way to get to the A420, but missed it. Instead from Grove, we went via Denchworth, through to Charney Bassett – from there, not too sure how we got to the A420 – but then, never mind! It was worth a detour to see some very pretty Oxfordshire villages!

Onto the A420 we headed to Faringdon where we then went through to Lechlade and onto Fairford. From there to Marston Meysey and then to Cirencester. We blasted home, only at 70mph of course, on the A419 back to Cricklade. Total trip around 65miles or so; we were certainly riding for a good couple of hours.

Northleach – for an evening ride

Northleach – for a pleasant evening ride out (apart from that rain shower!) – 48 miles or so.

Decided to have a burble on KES this evening. Thought we’d do a run up the Fosse Way to Northleach and back via Burford and Lechlade.

Northleach was once an important wool town of the area standing just off the crossroads of the old Roman road, the Fosse Way. Its Church of St Peter & St Paul’s will prove this with its collection of memorial brasses. The town itself is very traditional in it’s appearance with honey coloured Cotswold stone in abundance.

This route also provided me with some great long sweeping bends and a mix of small single lane riding. Challenging in many ways as I’m trying to ride correctly whilst admiring the scenery which two activities are not necessarily compatible.

Leaving Cricklade, we used the A419 to the Cirencester junction with the A429 (Fosse Way).

Turning right at the roundabout, then straight over at the next, and taking the left at the lights, we started a nice ride on the Fosse Way. Being a Roman road, this was nice and straight for the most part with some hidden dips – so be careful when overtaking. 9 miles later, we turned right at lights into Northleach.

This was my first time in Northleach and I can’t understand why I have never been here before. I was pleasantly surprised at how pretty Northleach was. The high street turned into a typical Cotswold main square. So much so I think I will have to bring the other Gentlemen Bikers here, Richard W and Richard G, very soon for a cuppa tea when we are en-route on one of our longer rides together.

Burbling through Northleach and following signs to Aldsworth, this turned into a “follow your nose” trip as the signs were not always obvious to me anyway. Luckily, following signs for Burford got us to Aldsworth, and then meandering through some little country lanes we ended up on the right road.

At the top of Burford, unfortunately we didn’t go through this pretty Cotsowld town, turned right to take the road to Lechlade. En-route we passed one of my favourite places, Cotswold Wildlife Park – I’ve been coming here since we moved to the area back in 1974! I now bring my children here at least once a year – whether they like it or not.

Then from Lechlade we headed towards Fairford along a nice road, then turned right at the petrol station along one of my least favourite local roads, due to its condition which is a shame as it passes through some very pleasant villages, to the A419 for a short stretch back to Cricklade.

All in all a rather nice evening jaunt with KES.

The route I used – Cricklade, Northleach, Aldsworth, Burford, Lechlade, Kempsford, Cricklade. There is plenty of opportunity to “go wrong” on this route so unless you are short of time, allow yourself to “go wrong” and take some side roads or lanes – just to see what is down there.

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