Its Mothering Sunday so Happy Mothers Day! I decided to do the mother of steep climbs today, with my first ascent of Bushcombe Lane on the outskirts of Bishops Cleeve. Here’s how it went.
Well the first thing to say is I obviously chose the wrong day this weekend. It was like Summer yesterday. Today was overcast with the sun coming through later but the bloody NE wind was a killer.
Sally came home at, well my clock said 5.45am. Grrrrrrr but I’d forgot the clocks had gone forward so it was an hour later. I’d planned to get up and go when she came home but the oversight and the fact I was knackered, I went back to sleep. I eventually rose at 8.30am (correct time), smashed some breakfast and coffee and got out the door about 9.30am. Some 2hrs later than I’d planned lol. It was cool but not frosty so I opted for jersey, arms, my favourite gilet, lightweight shorts, knees and oversocks rather than my winter boots.
Out the door I dropped down through Catshill and picked up the Stourbridge Road for a bit then I skirted town via Perryfields Lane and into Timberhonger destination Droitwich. The roads were very quiet. No cars but loads of runners. Its marathon season and you see it every year with runners banging the miles out. Its nice to see, shame it doesn’t carry on through the Summer.
The wind was obvious and despite getting a cross-tailwind it was strong enough to buffet me a bit and reminded me I’d be riding back into that in a couple of hrs. For the time being though, the ride out was pretty rapid. I hit Droitwich and again no cars so a quick flick left and right through the lights and I was on the drag up the Holloway and back out into lanes and more runners again heading my way. At Oddingley I rode my first new road with Church Lane as a cut through to Crowle. I’ve ridden every road around here except this one. I think I was lucky as a guy was throwing closed road signs on the back of his truck. Its great tarmac to the level crossing then the rest is a gravel ride. A pretty bad surface with a nasty steep little kicker at the end which opened the lungs.
I rolled through Crowle and then a suspicious white van pulled out behind and hovered behind me for a bit. A couple of looks back and it was about 20m behind me which made me think he was looking for somewhere to stop me if he was going to but he turned off so I was just been a drama queen. Into Broughton Hackett and I saw the first cyclists of the day and one took a very obvious, long look at my bike. He was riding a very nice Giant so I was probably unimpressed with mine but clearly the colour attracts attention.
More great lanes through White Ladies Aston (scene of some random Morris dancing one ride around Xmas some years ago) before crossing the A44 and back into more fab lanes through Besford and Defford.
As I turned for Strensham off the A4104 I was back onto new roads again. I love riding new roads and exploring. I stopped over the M5 to take a pic and pressed onto Twyning and then turned into a great little lane signposted as on the NCN.
The lanes from here all the way back to the A38 were fantastic. Quiet, a mostly good surface and you can stop and say high to a life-size rabbit!
I had to got through Tewkesbury so a couple of miles (and temporary lights) on the A38 were necessary. No floods today but so many cars in town. Its choked by them (..and on a Sunday!) not helped having the A38 running through it I guess. A pretty town though and the Abbey is quite special.
South of Tewkesbury, still on the A38 I turned left for Tredington and had my first dose of headwind. Woof! Left again and then back into more new roads and great lanes to Gotherington crossing the A435. I recommend these roads. Thankfully with Bushcombe Lane beckoning I got some respite with a right turn and a ride into Bishops Cleeve before left and left again onto Bushcombe Lane.
I’d planned to try and do some footage with my camera on the climb so I’d decided to just engage my lowest gear and twiddle up. The early part of the climb through the houses is pretty easy. Not too steep. You get another sign, a left hand bend and then the climb unleashes itself on you. Steep, then steeper, then pretty stupidly steep. I was grinding 34/32. It was so steep I was sat trying to film and pulling the front wheel off the road. At its worse it must be almost 30% before the road bends left and you can see a false flat at the top. Its not the top, it carries on but just an easier gradient. Its pretty brutal. Not the longest or steepest I’ve ever done but certainly right up there. The views at the top though, back across Cheltenham were stunning.
It was really windy on the short descent back to the main road before a left and a long, cold, windy descent back to Winchcombe.
I stopped in Winchcombe for a quick bite to eat. With 2hrs of headwind to battle, I didn’t fancy getting too cold so a bar, a gel and good slug of energy drink and I was off again out towards Sedgeberrow via Greet. The wind was pretty hard going. Gusty. I was glad I decided to take my guards off for the ride.
The road to Sedgeberrow was ok with trees on the right but as soon as it opened up it was like my brakes were engaged. I had to change down and pace myself so I didn’t blow up later.
I had to ride the awful A46 for a few metres to get across it before back into the lanes at Hinton-on-the Green. The drag up to Haselor Lane showed my legs were beginning to complain now after 3+hrs.
It was a familar route back now. A route I did loads when racing years ago. I’d quite often ride out or back this way to do a lap of Bredon Hill as training. Out of Fladbury and the climb up Fladbury Hill after the A44 proved I needed my last gel to get me home. I sucked the life out of it in seconds.
In Bishampton I was acknowledged again by some more cyclists who had stopped at the Village Store for refreshments. I was too tired and not keen on stopping now, I just wanted to get back. After the roller-coaster of a road back to Flyford Flavell there were a couple of customers sat outside the tearoom. The smell of bacon was torture. I dropped onto the A422 and after half a mile of that, it was left towards Bradley Green. Here it was a real hard headwind. A proper test of my mettle. I just ploughed on as best I could. A quick glance at my Garmin, I did the maths and I was on for 4.5 hrs so that gave me an impetus and something to aim for although I put the map back on so I wasn’t distracted and blew myself to bits trying to hold my average up. It was no easier when I got into the lanes after the Saltway so I’d resigned myself it was going to be a grovel all the way back from here.
Coalash Lane was the worst part of the ride. A brutal drag into the headwind which seemed to have doubled up for a laugh. My legs were nearly broken now. More short sharp climbs to sap the last traces of energy through the Gambolds and back up Pikes Pool Lane. I got a tiny bit of rest dropping out of Burcot then a right and back into the wind up Spirehouse Lane and Littleheath Lane. Luckily a left at the end of Littleheath gave me a crosswind home. I quick look at my clock and 4.5hrs was touch and go. I opened the taps up the drag to the Old Birmingham Rd and then a downhill finish for a few yards for 130km bang on 4hrs 30 mins.