From Oxford, I don’t often cycle south towards Wantage and Lambourne. The countryside is relatively flat and featureless. At this time of the year, it’s a long slog through empty fields, dotted with the odd tree. When you have the Chilterns and Cotswolds on your doorstep, you are spoilt for choice and hills. Also, cycling around north of Wantage, there are many stop and starts as you turn left, right, left e.t.c. When training, I like as much possible to have a quiet road, which is uninterrupted for as long as possible. I don’t like having to slow down at give way signs. Maybe its the psychology of being a timetriallist, where you always looking for an uninterrupted way to cycle 50 miles, with as fast turns as possible.
The most interesting thing about this part of the world, is the old English place names, Goosey, Charney Bassett, Uffington, Sparsholt Firs. There are even place names around here that J.R.R. Tolkien used in his Lord of the Rings, e.g. Buckland.
The one exception to the flat, featureless plans is the White Horse, which offers a steep climb (Dragon Hill Road), offering a great view over the Vale of White Horse plain.
Photo Michael Jefferies
I gave it a miss yesterday, the headwind was enough, without also adding a 17% gradient.
I tend to go to Lambourne, when there is a strong south-westerly wind. The logic is that you spend two hours crawling into the wind, but then can fly home.
Yesterday, was such a day. A strong south-westerley so I crawled along into the wind. 12 mph on the flat into the wind. It brought to mind the ‘Head Wind Championship’ they have in the Netherlands.’ The one cycling championship crazier than the hill climb championship. Eventually, I made it to Lambourne after two hours and an average speed of 14.5 mph. That is pretty slow going, though it was still good training. My power meter wasn’t working, but I’m estimating it was mostly a good 210 watts average.
From Lambourne, the B 4001 (Wantage Road) takes you up past the racehorse training grounds. It is a long drag. A couple of miles averaging just 2%, as you climb back on to the White Horse Ridgeway. After two hours of very slow cycling, you feel as though you are flying uphill, and you can spend the rest of your ride, watching your average speed go from the depths of 14mph towards the heady heights of 17mph. It was 60 miles, in about 3.5 hours. A good ride. Mostly base riding, with a little effort up from Lambourne.
The previous day I did some intervals around Brill and Oakley, so it has been a good week of training.