Past Ride

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Sun Jul 21st 2013
20th Anniversary Regular Wantage Ride 3*
Steve Swanton
Start Time:
9:30 am
Start Location:
The very first ride organised for 'Wantage Cyclists' was on Sunday 18 July 1993, the first of a series of monthly 'day' rides on the third Sunday of the month. When Wantage CTC was formed in March 1994, this became our Regular Wantage ride, a cornerstone of our club programme ever since. So this ride is planned to be a little bit special...

A classic touring ride into the Cotswolds for lunch in Burford and the option of a tea stop in Uffington on the way back. Just over 63 miles (100km) at a steady pace of 12-13mph. The route out is relatively flat with a few climbs on the return, when Plan A is to follow the Oxfordshire Cycleway (with options to shorten the route depending on the temperatures). We'll visit the twin churches of Eastleach, and to cool us down, an oft-frequented ford...

Lunch will be taken at the Royal Oak in Burford one of the pubs that's served us very well as a lunch stop over 20 years.
Amanda Seddon
Andy Pixton
Ashley Brown
Barry Gills
Cathy Brown
Derek Boutle
Des Higgs
Katherine Boyce
Mark Austin
Mila Yearley
Steve Swanton
Riders = 11

white cloudsunny
This was one of those rides (and there have been a few this summer) that will linger long in the memory. Not just for marking the 20th Anniversary of our very first Sunday ride, but a real tour through some of my favourite lanes with lovely scenery and a great group of people.

After the heat of the previous week, it was refreshingly overcast and cool as 11 riders gathered beneath King Alfred’s statue. Out through Grove and Denchworth, we were quickly into the narrow lanes that were to be a feature day. Park Lane, Stanford, Hatford and then up over the Hideaway to Littleworth, we were soon enjoying the long straight descent into the Thames valley at Thrupp. Once over Radcot bridge we were in the Cotswolds and after a stretch of A-road to Clanfield we soon turned off onto the (un-)gated single-track road towards Broadwell. Here we first encountered a lorry (?) and then a lady on a skittish horse (who caused us to stop rather suddenly) and finally a 4x4 on what is usually one of the quietest roads in the county.. But this was by far the busiest lane all day and from then until lunch we hardly saw a car.

We continued on the flat through Filkins and on to Eastleach, where after nearly two hours of riding we stopped for a breather and to look at the twin churches and Keble bridge. The ride from here to lunch was more undulating, and the road from Eastleach towards Burford (with a short 1in 5) was even new to me. As we descended into Little Barrington, Ashley and Cathy flashed past on their tandem but fortunately heard the instruction to turn right – and only overshot the turn by 50 yards or so. There were tantalising glimpses of the Windrush valley and the spire of Burford church through the trees as we took the lovely undulating, narrow “middle road” towards Burford. Soon we were sweeping past the Old Brewery down towards the main street, past the church and up to the Royal Oak.

We sat out in the courtyard and as we were settling the sun finally broke through (as forecast) and it soon became decidedly hot. Food as always was excellent; the home-made pie of the day (it’s a real pie encased in pastry) is thoroughly recommended, even if it was too much to eat on a cycle ride!

Everyone seemed happy to stick with Plan A, so we continued along the Windrush to Swinbrook to join the Oxfordshire Cycleway, which we followed for most of the route to Uffington. Having crossed the A40, we turned right towards Shilton and descended to the ford in the heart of the village. After the heatwave there was barely 3 inches of water, but only the leader enjoyed splashing through.

We climbed out of the village and then on through Kencot, Broadwell, Langford and Little Faringdon to cross the Thames by St. John’s lock just east of Lechlade. As we cycled beside the Thames there was a great din overhead and the red arrows appeared above the trees accompanying a large military transporter plane (I’m told it was an Airbus A400M ’Atlas’ ) heading towards Fairford. A magnificent sight.

Turning off the A417 just before Buscot, we then started climbing out of the Thames valley and up into the Vale, the ridge of Coleshill looming ahead. While the contenders for King of the Mountains, sped away, some of us took it more leisurely, regrouping in welcome shade at the top. The first climb had taken its toll and there was less energy on display on the second up past Badbury clumps. After catching our breath, we could enjoy the descent into Great Coxwell passing the Great Barn. The small climb from Little Coxwell was soon crested and there was a lovely cool descent through the trees down into Fernham. Soon we were in Uffington and a very welcome stop for tea and cakes at St Mary’s church.

Former Wantage stalwarts Pat, Sue, Rex and Theresa arrived a little later and there was time for a chat before we headed our separate ways. With riders peeling off at various points on the way back, the ride ended in Grove after about 107km and a thoroughly enjoyable day. Thanks to everyone for your company. Great to meet Ashley and Cathy on their first Sunday ride with us, having cycled out from Oxford.
Finally, congratulations to Pat on completing the London-Edinburgh-London (1400km over 5 days) solo the previous day.
107.00 km (66.49 mi)
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Start Locations
Wantage Market Place
Old Mill Hall, Grove
1* - Suitable for irregular, social, beginner or family riders, pace will match the slower riders. Not hilly or long. Expect rides up to 3 hours. Gentle exercise.
2* - Suitable for regular riders who prefer to cover some distance but at a more relaxed pace. Likely to be half-day rides. Solid exercise.
3* - Suitable for experienced riders, may be hilly, long, quick, or any combination! Likely to be half or full-day rides. Challenging exercise.
4* - Suitable for athletic riders who can ride safely above the 3* standard. Quick rides for the fit.
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