Past Ride

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Sun May 31st 2015
Wallingford 50 2*
Steve Swanton
Start Time:
10:00 am
Start Location:
Wallingford Market Place
A ride of just over 50 miles heading south from Wallingford, using some of the route from last year's Century Ride (some in the opposite direction). This is a ride I'm leading for the CTC Wallingford group; Wantage members would be most welcome to join us.

The route will first climb into the Chilterns from Ewelme, pass through Checkendon and Woodcote before we drop down to the Thames at Whitchurch.

After crossing the new toll bridge to Pangbourne, we will continue up the scenic Pang Valley to Bucklebury and on to Cold Ash for lunch at The Spotted Dog. We'll return via Frilsham, Hampsted Norreys and Aldworth descending Streatley Hill and returning to Wallingford from Goring via Ipsden.

The ride will be taken at a steady touring pace of about 12mph; but be prepared for some hills. The ride is at the top end of the 2* rating and would suit those who are comfortable on a 2* Saturday ride and who fancy an all-day ride.

There is free parking on a Sunday in the Goldsmith's Lane car park (OX10 0DS).
The prospects were not looking good as I drove over to Wallingford in the rain. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a largish group of familiar faces sheltering under the town hall. We were 12 in all, mostly from the Wantage group but also Dave from Oxford City, Patrick from Wallingford and newcomer Kinnari (in training for LEJOG). By the time we set off over the bridge to Crowmarsh and past the sad, burnt-out remains of the SODC offices, the rain had stopped. At Ewelme, a few of us even shed cagoules in preparation of the climb up Swyncombe hill, our biggest hill of the day. Everyone climbed well and after a brief rest to take in the view, we were soon enjoying the flatter riding through the Chiltern woodlands.

We stopped briefly by the green in Woodcote, before continuing through Crays Pond and on to Whitchurch, for the swift and steep (20%) descent down to the Thames. Once over the new toll bridge, we were in Pangbourne, where we said goodbye to Patrick who had an alternative appointment for lunch.

We climbed out of Pangbourne on the Upper Basildon road before turning into Bere Court Lane to take us along the Pang valley. After a few ups and downs initially, the route settles into a very pleasant lane with hedges on either side and views across the valley on either side. We turned south through Stanford Dingley and after crossing the river turned right towards Chapel Row. This lane has a sting in its tail with a short but sharpish climb up on to Bucklebury Common.

Having caught our breath, it was but a simple manner to follow the Common road continue through Upper Bucklebury and then the Ridge on to Cold Ash and lunch – or so I thought. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten that the Ridge turned off the main Upper Bucklebury-Thatcham road... After an unexpected amount of descent, we arrived at a roundabout just outside Thatcham. Woops. The bad news was that we had a rather long climb back up to lunch. We continued around the Thatcham ring road, before climbing back up to Cold Ash and a well-earned break. Thanks to Richard for confirming the shortest route there by GPS.

The service at the Spotted Dog was good; food and drink arrived promptly and in good quantities. Worth using again if coming this way.

The shorter return leg started through pretty heathland with some superb rhododendrons in full bloom. We soon descended to the Pang again at Frilsham and continued up the valley to Hampsted Norreys. Just beyond HN we had our penultimate climb of the day on the small lane up to Four Points. This was where my legs regretted the extra climb before lunch.... Having regrouped and rested at the top we continued thorugh Aldworth to reach our second big descent of the day – Streatley hill. Within a minute we were all down safely and grinning.

We re-crossed the Thames into Goring and then turned left into Thames Street to take the back roads through the village to avoid the busy B-road. We emerged at the foot of the Elvendon road and soon turned off left towards Ipsden. This lane gives wonderful views across the Vale and the feet of the Chilterns, although it does have some ups and downs. Showery skies ahead of us and a strong side breeze reminded us how lucky we had been to have a dry and sheltered ride.

The final drama of the day occurred on (what Robin aptly calls) the Ipsden roller coaster, where a sharp descent is followed by an even sharper climb. An oncoming car checked our descents, and amidst the grind of changing gears, snap! Des’s chain broke. Fortunately, Richard and Robin were on hand to help shorten and re-join it and we were soon able to continue, enjoying the last few miles amid sunshine.

We were back in Wallingford at 5pm, after a very satisfying and enjoyable ride. Thanks everyone for your company for being prepared to brave the elements, and not complaining about that extra hill! Thanks too to Robin for sweeping.

The stats below are from Richard P.
83.52 km (51.90 mi)
Ride Details:
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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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