Monday, 25 April 2011

Banbury with the Browns - going North

Who needs gels when you have quality street?
"Are you up for an adventure Egglet?" Sarah B asked me last week, knowing full well that I would be. This one would entail a trip up to Banbury on the bikes, an evening of compulsory wine drinking in compression tights with Mr and Mrs B and a cycle back the next day. Ideal for me as that would make for two long rides that I didn't have to think up a route for.

We set off from Salisbury in high spirits but quickly realised that we were battling a stiff northerly breeze and that it was going to be a tough ride up. There would be only one thing for it: many, many carbohydrates. Luckily for me Sarah was carrying enough food to feed a small army both of us and was keen to ditch some weight. I was happy to help.

We decided to take the scenic route and discovered some really fantastic country roads in Northern Wiltshire. It was whilst on this journey of discovery that we noticed how enormous Wiltshire actually is. It took us FOREVER to find our way out of this ever-expanding and inescapable county (which Sarah - in some carb-overloaded delirium - put down to Wiltshire-based aliens and something about corn circles and coming in the night and moving county border signs). We cheered heartily as we hit Berkshire and meandered into the Cotswolds.

Sarah was happy to finally hit some downhill
The first 50 miles of our adventure had been hilly to say the least. There had been some spectacular and speedy descents but to get to them we had done a lot of slogging and grinding upwards. Imagine our delight when we hit Oxfordshire and everything suddenly became much more horizontal. After a can of coke and a caffeine gel I was raring to go and tried to up the pace to make the most out of the flat roads.

Just out of Wantage I noticed a cyclist way up ahead, without even noticing what I was doing I had started to chase him. A few minutes later and Sarah, who had been watching her speedometer, busted me. I think that she secretly wanted to catch him as well though so I tried to up the pace a bit more. As we got closer I realised there was actually two cyclists, even better. I kept pushing and when we had almost reached them I heard the seal of approval from behind me "Go on, take them". We powered up, taking them on the uphill and trying to look as casual as possible as we shot past them. The best bit about this was that as we passed and did the whole polite cyclist saying hello thing, the blokes we passed didn't say hello back, they just said "Ohhh noooo" and were clearly completely gutted to have been overtaken by two girls. Brilliant.

After this big exertion the last 20 miles were tough again. We were both obviously a bit tired and had hit the 'end phase' of the long cycling day (more on this in the next installment) where you just get your head down and push on through, knowing you don't have far to go.

We finally arrived and were greeted with pink champagne to celebrate Easter/cycling achievements. A quick shower and I felt like a whole new person. I squeezed my throbbing limbs into my compression tights and enjoyed a hearty and delicious dinner of healthy spaghetti bolognese courtesy of Mrs B.

A combination of a big cycling day and Mr B topping up my glass enthusiastically meant that by half nine I was absolutely wiped out and ready to hit the sack. A good rest was needed to be ready for the journey back!

Find our route here

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