Saturday, October 10

Bike ride into the Cotswolds

This was last Friday, a lovely day weather wise - indeed all last week was lovely and I definitely wanted to get out for a decent ride while the weather was still good.

First this: The other day Husband made me watch ("Have you got two minutes?" is his favourite phrase...) a video on YouTube of Michael MacIntyre explaining how long it takes to get out the door with young children. It is SO accurate and very funny (but don't let that put you off having children!) and I couldn't help but be reminded of it when I was getting ready to go out for this ride. Going out on a bike takes longer to get ready for than going out in a car.There are so many things to think about - food to take, what coat/s to wear, which shoes to wear (different in winter and summer for me), have I got my phone (I'm not a mobile phone person and so it doesn't matter usually but I do like to have it on bike rides), have I got my two water bottles which I put in the fridge earlier, have I got my Garmin, which panniers shall I put what in, have I got my trouser legs sorted out......... Having said all that, it's definitely worth it!

Whenever I read other people's accounts of bike trips I am always interested in what they wore and what they ate (read my hero Josie Dew's books! she eats a massive amount!) as well as what bike they've got, so here is precisely that. The forecast was for chilly and foggy first, then warm and sunny later, so this was what I started out wearing.

[My gear - I only have a few bits of specifically cycling gear. I am trying to build up a bit more of a collection. It's the colder weather that's more of a problem. Jeans for instance, are OK for my usual 5 1/2 mile ride into town for shopping but not so comfortable, or warm enough, for longer rides. Hopefully this autumn I will be able to buy some more cycling specific legwear].

On top:

Baselayer of merino wool, long sleeved (Vulpine, about £35 I think) bought in sale last year
Cotton jumper (£1 in charity shop)
Softshell jacket (bought in one of Aldi's special cycling clothing sales this year, £20 - more on Aldi clothing in a future post)
Dare2b very lightweight windproof (Halford's, £25 down from £30. More on that in future post too).
Bontrager Profila Race Windshell Gloves (about £30 I think, from local bike shop, pretty pleased with these though have not tried them out in REALLY cold weather)

Bottom half (don't laugh): 

Craghopper's zip off trousers (brilliant buy from charity shop, new, £6.75,                                             very comfortable for cycling in).
Vulpine padded merino boyshort (£45 this year, never thought I'd be comfortable in "padding" but these are very comfy and fit well. It was a toss up at the time between these and some Corinne Dennis ones (which I'd still like to try).
Merrell Bare Access Arc shoes (bought in sale in Blacks last year, about half price I think, £35ish, very comfortable).
Short cotton socks (Sainsbury's if you must know, £2 for three pairs!)
Home made trouser straps made from leftovers of Vulpine musette bag (see this post on converting a musette bag to a bar bag)

This was the food I took: 

Cheese (in the foil)
Fruit and nut mix
Two apples
Nairns cheesey oatcakes
Snicker's bar (my chocolate fix, but with nuts in so more filling, to possibly prevent me buying cake later)
A tuna meal thing (pictured later on)
And two bottles of water

I normally eat sandwiches in the middle of the day but I find that they sit too heavily in my stomach on bike rides so I don't take them. But I'm still working on this subject - would different bread or different fillings (I usually have cheese) be better I wonder?

I always prefer to set off soon after breakfast, but as I had had stuff to do earlier I didn't set off until 10.45, and I think that this late start, despite having had coffee and a biscuit since then, and a handful of fruit and nuts, and some water, was the cause of my having to stop after a mere 4 miles, as I was already lacking in energy. This seems to happen to me sometimes even when I have eaten recently. When I stopped to cross the A420 (horrible!!) near Faringdon,  I ate and drank again and was then OK. In Faringdon I noticed that one of the charity shops had bikes outside so couldn't resist going to have a look. One was a bit pricey at £40 I thought, and oddly not all of them were for sale.

I considered buying this for use on the journey - could I carry it on the bike? Or should I just continue my usual practice of going behind a hedge? Hedges won the day. Simpler, and less weight on the bike.

I then left Faringdon and cycled out on the Clanfield road, turning left towards Langford but stopped for lunch not far from Grafton. The sun had come out soon after I left home so I had by now removed the two coats. This is my bike; it's about 18 years old, steel, not the original handlebars - replaced the beautiful rather swept back ones for Thorn Comfort bars which I am very pleased with. 

This is the tuna thing I mentioned in my food list. This one is actually from Lidl, and cost £1.50, but I first discovered this sort of thing when I bought a John West version - normal price in Sainsbury's or Waitrose £2 (my two local supermarkets) but you can sometimes get them two for £3. They are very tasty, the ingredients are fairly wholesome and they are not stodgy. I really like them for eating on bike rides. They seem to give me the necessary calories without being stodgy. They come with a plastic fork (which I take home and save in my tub of "things that might come in useful one day"). Husband likes these meals for paragliding (there, that's given away his hobby...).

My next stop was where I was aiming for - the Cotswold Woollen Weavers at Filkins. I've been here before but knew I'd enjoy another visit. And they've got the all-important-to-cyclists cafe. If you like wool - and this is Wool Week! - this is a lovely place to visit, if only just to eye up lots of wool blankets, throws, Baavets, and racks and racks of beautiful clothing. They have a museum too and generally lots of stuff to do with sheep in the Cotswolds. There are also bargains to be had in the shape of bags of offcuts, ends of rolls, and some fantastic HUGE bags of buttons, of the sort you'd put on woolly clothing, for £5 and £8. I didn't buy any of these as I have so many buttons in boxes and tins and more boxes.....

Wool duvets are definitely warmer than down ones (which was what we had before we got our wool one). Best duvet we've ever had, and the only one where we don't need extra layers on top (our bedrooms are unheated. I always say this makes for hardy children). (Our duvet didn't come from here though.) I think their only disadvantage is that they are very heavy to lift so changing the cover, or putting them outside to air, is tricky if you are a weak and feeble woman.....(Shakespeare I believe, another Elizabeth speaking).

Lovely cushions.

Shelves full of blankets!

Bargains to be had.

This is the garden where I sat and had my pot of tea (I did resist the cake, but only because it was too soon after lunch...). A forager's paradise! The three apple trees were loaded and I picked some for the journey home (I already had some as you know but I do like to sample different varieties). I wondered if they were all going to go to waste, but then spotted a box of giveaways, so that was good. I do wonder why anyone actually buys apples at this time of year when there are so many to be had for free if only you look.

Filkins isn't far from RAF Brize Norton and I saw Hercules aeroplanes circling round overhead and very low about every 10 minutes, and some other white ones (husband says Boeings of some sort. Is he right?). Practising I believe. Must take quite a lot of practice to fly one of those.....

This is a place called Shire Gate, which is self explanatory when you see that the gate (not in the picture) parallel to the road must once have been meant to go across the road to the white gatepost. Obviously the locals from each county once wanted to keep each other out. Or at least to make them have to open a gate to get in to their neighbouring county. Fortunately it was open for this Oxfordshire-but-born-in-Hampshire lass to get in to Gloucestershire. And here I ate apple in Oxfordshire (to the right) and cheese in Gloucestershire (to the left) and the latter benefitted from the apple core from the Filkins (Oxfordshire) garden, which I chucked in the hedge without finishing it as it wasn't as nice as the ones I had brought with me.

I then cycled on towards Eastleach and then to Southrop (stopped to eat half the Snickers bar) thinking I would take a slightly different route back to Faringdon, but in the end I went back the same way as time was getting on and I know what I'm like - I go too far and then realize that actually I have got a long way to go to get home before dark... Especially on a day like today when the weather was about as perfect as it could be for cycling and the temptation is to just ride on and on.

I stopped for a rest, and more food and water, at Grafton, on a bench, in the shade, as I had actually got quite hot being in the sun all day, despite it being October. A postman emptying the nearby postbox said "You're sat in the shade!" as if I shouldn't be. I said "Yes but I've been in the sun all day!" That seemed to satisfy him.

On a slightly different note, in my opinion the Cotswold villages are extremely pretty, full of small cottages that I look at and think "Ooh I could happily live in that!" but...... actually I wouldn't like it at all because to be honest a lot of these villages seem dead, lifeless. If there is life it's well hidden. One of the joys of cycling (and walking) to me is getting chatting to people and I saw no-one today to have that spur of the moment sort of chat with. On with the journey home..........

This is the bridge over the Thames at Radcot. There's a dog in the river which jumped in to chase ducks. He wasn't successful.

And here is the last picture, which I knew you'd love to see which is why I saved it till last.
In the car park adjoining the campsite. Picturesque isn't it?

"On the way back" I had an earworm, which was from the song Day Trip to Bangor by Debbie Cook (I had to google to find out who wrote it but one should give credit where credit's due)

   "But on the way back I cuddled with Jack and we opened a bottle of cider
     Singing a few of our favourite songs as the wheels went around."

I was annoyed with myself for not having asked in the cafe if they would fill up my water bottle, so after slogging up the hill into Faringdon I had to pay a whole POUND for a 500ML bottle of water there. I got home before dark, despite it taking me 5 MINUTES to get back across the A420. Rush hour. 

My trip was about 38 miles - a good length for a day, not too long, but long enough. (And I can't get the font to go back to the right size and now I've got the earworm again.)

My next post will probably be about the wool jumper I have chopped down the front to make a zip up mid-layer for future colder bike rides.

Hope you enjoyed this and that you too have got the earworm. Let me know.



  1. Very cool blog! Most important things before going on a ride are food and the Garmin ;)

    1. And probably water........Welcome to my blog, AS!

  2. I love your post and the blog:)


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