I’ve started my New Year well. In my 2020 goals post a few weeks back I said I’d nicked an idea from a fellow blogger which was to complete at least one 100km ride every calendar month throughout the year. I’m pleased to say that last Sunday I bashed out my first one and I’m now planning number two for mid-Feb.
Last Sunday popped up on the calendar as an opportunity to get the ride done. I’d already planned a route out to some old favourite roads around Alfrick and Suckley round the back of Worcester then back via some roads I hadn’t ridden in a decade probably via Wichenford to Holt Fleet then back through the lanes skirting Droitwich.
The original plan was to get out the house for 8am but a spontaneous meet with friends in Brum for some ‘beers’ on Saturday afternoon meant a lie in and later start were necessary. After demolishing my breakfast and coffee I set out and immediately went off-route at the end of my road with the Garmin complaining loudly. I’d got it in my head I was heading down to Worcester via Hanbury when in fact I’d planned a route down Timberhonger to Droitwich. Opposite side of the M5 ffs. Pissed off with myself I just ignored the route and made my own way down Pikes Pool Lane and out into the lanes via The Gambolds and the sharp climb upto Hanbury Woods. The roads were carrying plenty of muck still and standing water but the headline was bloc headwind destroying any attempts to push on. As I meandered through the lanes I caught a couple of riders on the way to Tibberton and by the time I was crossing the M5 at Warndon the bitingly cold wind was just making it so, so hard. I was glad of the descent into Worcester for some respite. Through the City there were no dramas, traffic was light considering and I made it through St Johns with no real issue other than the shit road surface. As I got near the big roundabout on the Western bypass I used the cool little cycle path which was the old Bransford Rd and went under it and joined the quiet, residential road in Rushwick.
I apologise for the lack of photos. It was so cold and hard I just didn’t want to stop, even for a photo
Unfortunately the route to Alfrick and Suckley requires a little bit of riding on the Hereford Trunk road which despite being a short mile long section still feels intimidating. I couldn’t wait to get off it and when I got into the lanes towards Alfrick I was on the best part of the ride for me. Its a lumpy little loop with a grippy surface. Just hard going and a test but quiet and equally a beautiful part of the county. 2hrs in I finally began to turn out of the wind but that push you think you are going to get from a tail or cross-tailwind just didn’t really happen. As I made the turn back east towards the Hereford Road again (new road for me) I found a great little climb that drags up and hairpins over the top of a little hill and opens out into an incredible vista looking straight across to the Malvern Hills. (pic oppo missed!) The road was quite fast now back towards Worcester. Just that mile of trunk. I retraced back into Rushwick then bore left and crossed the A44 Leominster Rd direction Upper Broadheath for some more quiet but wide open roads. It made me think I should spend some more time on my bike over this way and do a bit more exploring. Into Wichenford and then out towards Holt Fleet I was on familiar roads now having raced them in TT’s and Road Races a decade ago.
The bridge crossing at Holt Fleet is always spectacle but the climb straight after is just a slog and nasty with cars queuing up behind revving and gagging to pass me as quick as they can. Half way up I turned left and literally got lost on roads I’d never seen before. The Garmin decided to go into power-save mode now and it seemed I was still making it up. I popped out by Ombersley Golf course and crossed the A449 and found a tiny little lane that luckily linked upto a more familiar one into Cutnall Green. Back on roads I know again. Still making it up as I go I meandered my way back to Timberhonger Lane and got a puncture as I climbed the final Hill with the big (Oak I think) tree at the top.
Even with the wind behind me my legs were complaining and I was cold, unable to get warm even through pedalling hard. I sneeky check of my Garmin revealed I’d done 104km. Repair sorted and distance achieved but I still had to get to Barnt Green to pick my car up I’d left the day before to get the train to Brum for the beers!
I got going again and the legs seemed a bit better. Happy to have had a rest I think. I cut through Sanders Park and went straight up the Birmingham Rd through town and rode straight out to Barnt Green over the Lickeys on my normal commute route up Brookhouse Road.
All done! Just over 4hrs for 113km. My legs were ok but I was really tired from trying to keep warm I think. In hindsight I was probably a little under dressed. I underestimated how cold it was and how biting and hard the wind was going to be.
A tough day at the office.
Bring on No#2 in Feb.