I had no intentions of going on this ride. In fact I set out to go for a bit of a spin on the road on my Genesis CDF. Yes, I was planning on avoiding the mud and opted for a cleaner ride and maybe just 10 miles or so before settling down for an afternoon of rugby.
The second “official” Calne MTB (local rides for local people) was a bit longer than we anticipated. Somehow my plan to ride a little further than the week before raised a 30km ride to approx 50km. While we enjoyed it and all learnt a little in terms of routes and locations – it was a bigger ride than some were prepared for. I spent some time this week planning a ride that would take us out of Calne and beyond the usual trails to show the guys some new places. A trusty map helps to find possible places to ride and a scan of Strava will quickly confirm if people are riding those locations and if they are popular.
My intention was to take us out of Calne and take in a bit of the ridgeway the other side of Avebury. This we did, and its amazing how people just follow and enjoy whats in front of them until it becomes too much. After the first 20km (ascending 200m) through Compton Bassett, Windmill Hill and then out of Avebury, hitting that wall came just over halfway through the ride for some. While there had a been a few chances to descend (Windmill Hill to Avebury for instance) it has mostly been a constant pedal and gradual incline, so after a bit of single track in Totterdown Wood and the speedy pedal through the field of threatening black cows it was only natural that everyone wanted to let go a little and speed off!
This meant we missed the descent through Lushill I was aiming for and took a second shorter but equally fun drop down a Strava segment called “Church Singletrack”. This was only a sub 1 minute drop down a nice bit of single track and a leafy lane that brought us out by a church in Rockley, but it was loads of fun.
What followed wasn’t much fun for those that weren’t keeping track of where we were. Its easy to enjoy going down hill but when you are 25km from home there’s still some climbing to come!
The long track from Rockley through Temple and back up to the Ridgeway was tough for a couple of the guys (4km and approx another 120m up). One stayed back to help motivate and the rest of us stopped within view at the top of the climb so they could see where the end was. A rest consuming some jelly babies and energy gels followed as we still had an hour or so to go.
Some web searching will join the words Temple and Rockley together and the word temple leads you to the Knights Templar soon enough and you will find that Rockley was actually a Preceptory of Knights Templar. I had to google that word – “a community of medieval Knights Templars”
A short section of the Ridgeway and across some fields presented us all with a bit of relief as we dropped back off the Ridgeway with home insight towards Winterbourne Monkton. Now all that was left was a mostly flat pedal back to Cherhill and tea and cake at the Divine Cafe.
Some highlights from the ride for me:
A decent bit of singletrack right next to a boring bit of singletrack that I have been riding for the last two years. And by right next to I mean about 6 feet away!
A planned but never ridden track from Windmill Hill to Averbury proved to be a welcome alternative route to the stretch of tarmac I usually ride.
Totterdown Wood, while being only a short section looks like it will be lots of fun in the dry weather.
“Church Singletrack” down to Rockley was short and sweet and while it wasn’t my planned descent it was loads of fun.
I think this route has to be ridden again soon as a training run for the SPAM Winter Challenge.
I failed to take any photographs on this ride so please forgive the lazy phone pictures of my OS map!
Exploration exploration exploration…
Regular readers – listen to me “regular readers” – regular readers of blog will know how much I love to ride local trails and explore.
I have been driving past the field that these stones are in for 7 years, but only today have I made the effort to go and explore and take a photo or two.
We have had some beautiful spring weather recently, cold mornings and bright blue skies. Apart from a bit of snow (a little odd for March) its been quite dry recently which means the local trails will be getting a little firmer under the tyres.
The picture above is of the Lansdowne Monument and the Cherhill white horse, some local landmarks and a great place to ride. From atop the hill you can see much of the surrounding countryside to survey your next ride.
The hills might not be mountains as such but there are some great little technical climbs dotted around in Compton Bassett and some half decent descents at Heddington and Roundway Hill. From my house I can do a 20 mile circular route that will take in most of the interesting local bits and provide me with a good work out.
Weather looks wet for the weekend but I need to get out regardless. And I will take some more pictures of the local trails soon.
So its Friday afternoon – pretty quiet in the office so a lot of time spent pondering on the weekends events ahead. So what’s in store this weekend?
1. A pretty big bike ride. Probably 4-5 hours or so in the saddle across Bronze Age Wiltshire taking in the sights of Silbury Hill, The Wansdyke and Avebury. Expect a blow by blow account and some photos. Fingers crossed for the weather.
2. Rugby – crunch match for Wales in Italy. Only a massive score will do in my opinion to gain control of the table.