Road Ride – Coventry to Towcester

I did two rides today – a short one to visit my mother (4.5 miles) and a longer one down to visit my younger sister in Towcester (38.5 miles).

First things first… I rode up to ma's granny flat to spend a few hours with her. We had a good chat and I looked at some old family photographs, but soon it was time to be getting ready for the second ride of the day. I got back on the bike and whizzed back to my other sister's house. I like this concept of travelling by bike, as opposed to just going round in circles for the sake of exercise and sight-seeing. The round trip to the flat on the bus would cost about £2.80 and take about 80 minutes. Walking briskly both ways would take about the same time but I'd be a bit sweaty when I arrived. By bike I can get there in 11 or 12 minutes and get back in 7 or 8 (it's slightly uphill on the outward journey). Mind you, it won't be such a nice ride in the winter when it might be cold, dark and wet!

I'm doing the Shakespeare 100 ride tomorrow from Stratford-upon-Avon and I need to be at the start at about 07:45. My sister is driving me there and I didn't want her to have to drive to Coventry first to get me so I thought I'd cycle down to her house today. I did the trip on my singlespeed bike last year when I was having a few problems with a dodgy right leg (I'd ‘pulled' something in the Kirklees Sportive that spring). I'd been slightly surprised to encounter a couple of stiffish little hills, somehow believing that Northamptonshire is completely flat – it isn't! It's not super-hilly, but I was sore and overweight and needed more gears. This time, I had them!

It was a lovely sunny afternoon, though there was a stiff, swirling breeze which made going a little harder than anticipated. Still, this is by no means a testing route. I'd got it programmed into my Garmin Etrex GPS, so navigation wasn't a problem. The traffic wasn't too bad because I'd deliberately kept away from main roads wherever possible.

My route: Coventry, Stoneleigh, (nearly to) Bubbenhall, Weston-under-Wetherley, Long Itchington, Stockton, Napton-on-the-hill, Priors Marston, Charwelton, Preston Capes, Maidford, Blakesley, Greens Norton, Towcester.

The steep little lane out of the village of Priors Marston had nearly defeated me and my sore leg on the singlespeed bike last year. With my Basso's Yorkshire climbing gears and two good legs this time, it was no problem. I like the views from the top of the hill. It's only about 150 feet above the surrounding countryside, but that is flat so you can see for miles. Not something I'm used to these days because where I normally ride/walk, there are always hills in the way.

Rural view from hill above Priors Marston
Rural view from hill above Priors Marston

I'm also not used to arable farm land these days. Most of the open countryside round where I live in Yorkshire is grazing for game birds, sheep or cattle.

Fields and communications towers near Priors Marston
Fields and communications towers near Priors Marston

I didn't bust a gut to get to my destination in a hurry. I had plenty of time and wanted to preserve my legs for tomorrow's century ride. And so it was that I turned up at my sister's house just over 2.5 hours after setting off. The door was opened by my brother-in-law's brother. He expressed shock that I'd ridden ‘that far' and was even more surprised when my sister pointed out that (a) I wasn't the slightest bit tired and (b) I was doing 100 miles tomorrow! He started to explain that it was all very well for young guys like me to ‘cycle such huge distances' but wait until I get to his age. Turns out that he is only 3 weeks older than me – ho ho! Use it or Lose it folks! 😉

The thing is – I sometimes ride with people up to 35 years older than me, and they are usually fitter and faster than me. I think many people have no conception of how good they could feel if only they learned how to look after themselves, and made the effort to exercise and eat sensibly…

Anyway – I'm feeling good for tomorrow, and the forecast isn't bad – bring it on!

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