This weekends ride took us out to Henley on what turned out to be a very bright and warm day. Unfortunately for me I hadn’t looked at the forecasted weather for the day so turned up to our meeting point in arm and leg warmers looking a bit silly, however, the leg warmers were quickly removed. In most cases it’s a better idea to over-dress than under-dress, and on this occasion I had definitely over-dressed Once the leggings were gone I was able to enjoy the first ride of the year with the legs out! Note to self: work on that tan. Once we set off the groups, medium and fast paced, split and began their journeys for the day with around 10 of us in the fast group.
Getting out of Aylesbury means going down one of my least favourite roads due to the fact that the road is very long and flat which means the pace lifts very quickly and me being dropped. So to find myself second from the front of the group going down this road was somewhat of a shock and when I took lead the only thing I could do was turn the cranks as fast as I could and wait for the inevitable, the rest of the group flying by. Thankfully I managed to keep the pace high at the front before being dropping back to 4th position, happy with my work and amazed I hadn’t been left behind.
The ride then took us through some of the smaller villages, still at a high pace until we reached Aston Hill, which is another of my favourite climbs to take on as well as being a regular on the rides. The climb itself is close to 2 miles long at 4.4% taking us through a dense woodlands area that provides some shelter from the sun which on a day like this is very helpful. About 4 of us went up the climb ahead of the rest. Once we were at the top it was a short wait for the rest and we were back under way. What goes up must come down and we were about to be coming down taking us all the way into Henley. Unfortunately no ride goes by without some issues and this time it was 2 quick punctures that held us up. The roads themselves were full of other cyclists out, keen to take advantage of the sun.
On a sunny and warm day, you would expect a town like Henley to be extremely busy and when we had arrived we found that to be the case. We found a cafe down on the water front next to the rowing museum, and so had everyone else apparently. We all sat down and enjoyed a coffee in the sun for half an hour or so. On our way out we quickly hit another issue, a pot hole, and everyone knows what potholes mean… punctures. Another quick fix and we were heading back in the right direction mostly retracing out steps on the roads that we came out on.
Again I found myself at the front of the group on the way back through an area called Christmas common. Unsurprisingly someone was cashing in on the name by setting up a Christmas tree farm, if that isn’t the best way to take advantage of a name like that I don’t know what is. Anyway this is a cycling blog not Christmas tree blog! This stretch of road leads onto Aston hill which was mentioned earlier therefore I could put in a big effort on the front and then have a rest on the descent down so I did just that, 22 miles per hour for a mile and a half isn’t bad going for me but definitely tiring. By the time we came to the descent I had dropped off the front to let someone else take over so I could enjoy the fast descent down. Again the rest of the ride took us down the same roads as we had come up and my legs were starting to feel it, but for the final time of the day a puncture stuck meaning we had another quick stop at the side of the road to recover some energy. The final push for home began as by this point we had been riding for around four hours in the sun but all in all, despite the punctures the ride was a very good one and much better than riding in the non stop rain and wind that we’ve been having for the last few months.