Rafe’s fish finger baguette looked nice, but I was more than satisfied with my cheese, tomato and red onion toastie and its accompanying salad at The New Inn, Waterley Bottom.
Washed down by a refreshingly cold pint my lunch was now sitting nicely in my belly, as was everyone’s, as we left Waterley Bottom (it’s not going to stop being funny) and headed up the steep climb to North Nibley for an amazing view and to look at the scary quarry drops. The climb was tough, as the legs had begun to stiffen while resting after the mornings portion of the ride.
Some fun was had in Sculpture Woods as a few of the “crazy gang” rode down a steep bomb hole to get some kicks with hopefully some video to match from Jonathan Proudman, before we rode to take in the amazing views of South Wales and the River Severn at Drakestone Point. From here we had some fun descending from Stinchcombe Hill into the trees for a steep ride that resulted in a few comedy moments and sketchy dismounts. If we could have got back up quick enough it was well worth another go, but we had lots more riding to do.
On to Millend Wood for some man-made obstacles in a trail cut by some locals in the hill side. Nice steep switchbacks and some jumps and drops to keep you on your toes. Great fun – this was turning out to be a fantastic route. Out from the trees we sped across the field and made our way to the pub for lunch.
After the quarry at North Nibley (Phil Allum did the drops by the way) we rode yet more wooded trails in Westridge and followed a trail back into Waterley Bottom, past the pub and into Dursley for a short road section before heading towards Cam. At Cam Peak there was a minor challenge of who could climb the highest – it was minor as only 3 of us had a go while a dozen others watched on wondering what on earth we were doing that for!
The Fairfield Climb (so its called on Strava) takes you sharply upto Cam Long Down, through some woods and opening out to reveal the sun, blue sky and the last piece of climbing for the day. Gary really did a great job with this ride; this is a beautiful spot to finish on and everyone dug in and made an effort to pedal up as much of the final hill as possible. The euphoria of making it to the top, taking in the views and rejoicing in the knowledge that this was the last our legs would have to work today was only spoilt by taking a seat on a thistle! I wasn’t the only one to do this.
Everyone had a great day from what I could tell and for me personally this was an ideal ride for a number of reasons: I enjoy a pedal but I also enjoy a play about – the opportunity to have a go on some drops, ride some switchbacks and get some speed up on the descents was reward for the climbs. I also felt that my fitness since the Mudtrek trip in March had improved and a week riding and climbing in the Alps had better conditioned me for climbing.
Back at The Old Crown Inn in Uley, bikes were packed, muddy clothes were changed and a few rounds were bought at the bar as we drank a beer or two, and congratulated Gary on a great ride.