Struggle in the Cotswolds

27/28 September 2008

Team Leader

John

Cycling Team

K1, K2, Dave, Frank

Non-cycling London-based consultant

G len

‘Struggle’ – some definitions

fight: make a strenuous or labored effort;  to exert strenuous effort against opposition;  an energetic attempt to achieve something;  clamber: climb awkwardly, as if by scrambling;  strenuous effort;

So, John was forecasting a personal struggle – this struggle included zipping up every hill unchallenged and taking the Mike role for a storming lead-out over the last five miles that had a number of the peloton in serious trouble – the final Saturday sprint was a formality.  Oh, how I would love this kind of struggle!

The Joy of the Cotswolds

They’re easy to get to, the cycling is scenic and challenging, and there are a number of good pubs en route.  Furthermore, if you choose the correct weekend, after some early mist you get blue skies and warm sun – one week later it’s gales and buckets of rain.  The Cotswolds – an excellent choice for the autumn ride.

Navigation

The only problem occurred at the start when John, confused by the two Ks, failed to locate either K’s house and had to be ‘talked in’.  The remainder of the cycle navigation relied on a conventional paper map, with an added bonus that it resided in John’s back pocket, necessitating frequent stops much appreciated by the genuine strugglers.

Day One Tour

Once the early mist cleared this was an excellent ride with a sunny pub garden for lunch.  The weekend’s sole ‘mechanical’ was a malfunctioning speedo due to your reporter’s inability to install the front wheel the correct way round.  The afternoon tea stop demonstrated the Cotswold’s ability to match London prices; a cup of hot water and a tea-bag – that’ll be £2 please guv’.  A 48 mile spin.

Evening Entertainment

The Reay brothers were billeted in The Oddfellows Arms and this hostelry provided the evening’s base.  A couple of beers to celebrate a quite excellent world championship women’s road race won by Nicole Cooke and then a venture out to a real ale pub with a notoriously grumpy landlord, who turned out to be grumpy.  Not trusting his food, we then returned to the Oddfellows for dinner.  After dinner some action is required to fend off drowsiness, so a pub with dartboard is the bee’s knees; in this case the pub actually was the Bee’s Knees!  As noted in previous reports the standard of darts was quite appalling; Frank, after no practice for a year and playing with borrowed arrows, was easily the best player.  The invite to return to the Oddfellows for a nightcap was politely declined by the B and B Team; there was a hope that the Reays’ nightcap would turn into a serious session, but their Sunday form indicated otherwise.  Fortunately Dave’s plan for an 8am breakfast (why?) was changed to a much more civilised 9am.

Day Two Tour

For the lazy pedaller a cycle along the river valley sounds the McCoy; mainly flat with the occasional five foot climb.  Unfortunately this particular Cotswold river ride involved multiple crossings of the river and a continuous series of short steep climbs and descents; K2, with a lack of low gears, spent considerable time out of the saddle, but heroically avoided any walking.  The descents were pretty dodgy in the dry – probably best avoided in the wet.  It has to be admitted that the scenery was excellent, a fine reward for the effort.  The lunchtime pub was really something special; a traditional Cotswold inn with no doubt an expensive interior redecoration in the Camden wine bar style.  It must be to provide a welcome for the metropolitan second home owners.  The final sprint was hotly contested with one minor problem – there did not appear to be a finishing line.  38 miles of reasonably tough terrain.

The Journey Home

Another bonus of the Cotswolds – despite traffic jams, a relatively short journey, getting home in the light….and with the roof down - it feels a bit like cycling, but doesn’t require any pedalling!