Reports reached King’s Square that a sports rider had punctured on the way in, so the sports ride waited for him, and were last to leave Gloucester. This led to a bit of congestion on Nut Hill as they passed the Captain’s Group, and again on Buckholt Road, where they passed the B group, who had in turn previously passed the Captain’s group. Perhaps we need we will try a different departure order!
A stiff headwind on the exposed sections along the tops, and some lovely, sheltered valleys took riders along lanes to Calmsden. The lane that crossed the Frome from Miserden resembled a river. Our resident ornithologist built on her reputation by adding a pair of Red Kites to the Heron she spotted last week. The Coln valley was as beautiful as always, and the tailwind into Northleach very welcome.
At coffee some had the largest slice of cake imaginable, which they may have regretted on Compton Rise. Others enjoyed their bacon baps, despite arguments over whether bacon was better crispy or soft. The crocodile spring in Compton Abdale, which usually has a steady flow, was gushing as if attached to a fire hose, confirming that the water table in the Cotswolds is unusually high after what is on track to be the wettest May since records began.
The club ‘B’ ride experienced a particularly hilly route led by Alastair Goldie. Nut Hill was perfectly acceptable as a route to the top of the Cotswolds. From here we continued up to Birdlip and the old A417, making the crossing of the main road with some difficulty. The descent to Cowley was scenic but had to be taken with care. The next climb, a gentle affair, took us to Upper Coberley for another tricky and slow descent to the steep climb of Taylor’s Hill. The road appears to have been abandoned by the County Council with limited tarmac remaining we gave it a ‘fail’. There may have been one or two reduced to walking here…
A swift descent to Withington followed. Checking the time, it was found to be approaching 11am and with three climbs to go before Northleach, an alternative venue was required. Thanks to Neville, we continued up and out of the village to Casey Compton, along the fabulous Coln valley to take a dead end right turn to Chedworth Roman Villa – and café. Perfect. Perhaps they knew that the Old Prison’s kitchen shut at 11:30 to prepare for the lunch session? Whilst the cakes might not have been quite as awesome as the one illustrated above, the welcome was warm with an excellent range of refreshments at reasonable prices, so we tucked in. Service was swift – we may have been lucky!
The return route was back to Withington, up and down the roller-coast road to cross the A436 above Andoversford, followed by a rapid descent to Lower Dowdeswell and a sprint along the A40, through Charlton Kings and playing with the SW corner of Cheltenham (hats off to the President for navigation of this section), Cold Pool Lane and Churchdown for lunch at the Old Elm: arriving five minutes ahead of the rain, which settled in for the rest of the day. Timing is everything.