Monthly Archives: March 2020

Monday’s Exercise

The results are in (or they should be). In no particular order, this is how people got on with the Tour des Clumps yesterday. Once again Alun gets kudos as the only person to submit a photo, even if the location is not strictly on the route 😉

Andrew and Tom

Short cold ride with Tom anti-clockwise round the Tour des Clumps route. Met Neville and then Phil coming the other way, unfortunately after cycling cautiously for his whole life, Tom decided to go for it big time down the slope towards Ipsden post office (yes, the narrow, steep one with no visibility, gravel everywhere and on this occasion also damp). Cue a moving car at the bottom and then of all things a cyclist coming the other way and Tom exits the road into a field at impressive speed and with a lot of choice language. He was fine and after finding and refitting the rear derailleur shifter, so was his bike. Called it a day after that and did the Cwizz in the warm with Google and paper maps…



I got as far as the A4130 then the drizzle started, so I abandoned ‘Le Tour’ and headed up to Nuffield and home via Furniture Hill – 16 miles instead of 33. Brixton Hill is a popular segment (and the Gromils did it on the 9th March which now seems like an age ago), this time I achieved almost my slowest time ever


I had the brilliant idea of going round the wrong way in the hope of spying a Gromil at a safe 2m distance. Sadly no Gromils encountered and with the clumps always on my right and all quiz questions backwards, I’m hoping the quiz will be cancelled and results will be based on earlier quiz results at Christmas, possibly moderated by the exam boards? I gather Chris knew all the answers from his armchair so at least a stewards enquiry?

The route was absolutely wonderful – very flat, no traffic and only light rain once – not as pretty as last week but no Bix Hill to spoil the day.


Dear all, Breeda and l completed the entire ride of 55km this morning over 4 hrs from 10.45am. Wind was very cold. Came across Ron in South Moreton. He rode as far as Clifton Hampden before heading back to Didcot. Had some trouble finding the bridge over the bypass in Dorchester and initially turned left instead of right after crossing bypass so ended up in Berinsfield so had to turn back to Drayton St L. Otherwise no problems. Stopped outside Dorchester Abbey for photo but sadly no picnic. Hope you enjoyed your rides.


This must have been my shortest Gromil ride of the year. Cold, with a nasty northerly wind. As I went up Icknield Road I saw another cyclist in front, who turned out to be Phil when I eventually caught up with him. Coming down the hill it started to rain a bit, so I wimped out at the Lonely Crossroads and returned home via South Stoke. According to ViewRanger I only managed 8 mph downhill, slower than on the flat!. However I did manage to ride the whole route on Saturday to take photos. There’s still time to enter the Clumps Cwizz, which closes on Wednesday. Results and virtually no prizes via Zoom on Thursday.

Looks like Chris did the Tour d’Oxford rather than the Tour des Clumps

I got home before the showers,
and managed to average 12.3mph!
Stainless Moulton wasn’t handling quite right, I found some play in rear wheel bearings, which I’m about to fix.
Lots of vans out today…

Hi Gromils,
I hope you enjoyed yesterdays ride.
I started from Blewbury and rode up to Long Wittenham and then Clifton
Hampden. I deviated and visited Little Wittenham to get a better view of
the clumps.
On the way back, I cycled through Cholsey then followed Papist Way down to
the river by the Cholsey Marsh nature reserve. Then back to Blewbury.
Not much traffic, but rather a lot of fast vans!
All the best,


Here is my modified route and stats. I went out today (Tuesday). Good weather apart from headwind. Bumped into Nev doing the anti-clockwise direction – pleasant surprise. Haven’t looked at the cwizz yet – suspect I’ll do dreadfully. See you at the Zoom coffee meeting .

Clumps Cwizz

To exercise the grey matter as well as your legs, here’s a little quiz. 15 questions, 16 images, all taken in the order the route was ridden. Click on the thumbnail to see the full picture and the question. Answers to Steve by Wednesday please.

No guarantee of a prize, but can anyone beat Neville the Cwizz Whizz? You don’t have to have ridden the route to answer the questions, so distant members can also enter. You’ll find it very useful to refer to ViewRanger and/or an OS map.

There’s a downloadable PDF if you feel the need to print and carry a reference copy with you.

Visiting Mother Dunch

Week 2 of Lockdown, and we’re still allowed out once a day for exercise on foot or by bike. I suggest doing this one by bike. It’s the Tour des Clumps, a local Gromils classic, with an almost continuous but ever-changing view of our local landmark in this post-industrial (ie Didcot PS) world:

It’s what counts as a flat ride in these parts, having officially only 34 ft/mi of ascent, compared to 67 for last week’s ride (your Garmin data may vary).

Currently the forecast for Monday does not look too promising, and is likely to feature a NNE wind. I recommend riding the route anti-clockwise, so you get the best advantage of the wind across the Thame plain and along the Roman road between the Moretons. To reverse a route in ViewRanger, click on the menu and select Reverse Route before starting to follow it.

We’ve often in the past taken a shortcut across the Pooh Sticks bridge at Day’s Lock, but the A415 through Buscot should be nice and quiet (on the route as mapped). You could even take a short-cut crossing the A4074 at Berinsfield, missing out Dorchester completely – there’s certainly not much point in going to Lily’s Tea Room and back.

Like last week, send in your match day reports, stats and photos via WhatsApp, email or just via a comment below (Comments don’t appear immediately, as I have to verify they are not spam).

Going the Social Distance

So a total of seven Gromils managed some bike-related exercise yesterday, without coming into contact with each other. For the benefit of future social historians (as if), this was the first day all schools were closed, and the day before the evening when prime minister Boris Johnson gave his “Stay at home, this is a national emergency” address to the nation on TV.

As luck would have it, our virtual Monday ride was already following the allowed rules for exercise – one trip outside the house, either alone or with a family member, staying at least 2m away from anyone else. On my ride I didn’t even get within less than 3m, the closest being oncoming cyclists on singletrack roads.

However only three intrepid souls managed the full route…

Alun went off in the opposite direction with Breeda, but gets extra kudos for the picture of the day

Hi all. Didn’t ride to the Barn but did a round trip ride of 55 km to Newbury with Breeda via Upper Bas, Yattendon, HN, Path to Hermitage, Oare and back gate Vodafone where selfie above taken. No cafe but picnic chocolate raisins and water. Some similarity with last week’s ride but nevertheless enjoyable. Alun

Andrew had the bright idea of doing half the distance, but with two people, and posted their stats.

Managed a later ride with Tom, the Turville route as far as Grundon turning and then Benson and Crowmarsh – ~20 miles by which time Tom was getting unhappy. Alun; you and Breda were riding down Elvendon Road as we came down Icknield…

Chris did two routes, though not both on the same day and neither going through Goring

Saturday: I’ve just done a ‘Gromilly’ ride to Ewelme (takeout coffee) via Culhan & Dorchester, then back via Wallingford, Blewbury & Harwell village, 37 miles at 11.5 mph average (on fast Moulton) Plenty of cyclists out (roadies too close, as always…) and the usual m/c crowd at H café! Big pizza tonight to avoid weight loss, rest day tomorrow…

Monday: I’m just back from my double marathon ride, 52 miles to Baydon over the Downs and return along the Vale. Roads not as quiet as expected re. cars & vans, but few cyclists or walkers. More headwind than anticipated in the vale!

Mick was one who followed the whole route and posted his stats

Bix hill is evil – I walked a bit. I did get talking to a bloke called Andy at the Barn cafe on an electric bike. Used to work in the film industry. The bench is conveniently over 2m wide. Thanks for the route. Brilliant day

Simon followed the whole route, as far as we or he knows:
I must have gone wrong – didn’t notice any road closures! Many thanks for an absolutely stunning route apart from Bix Hill.
Sad about the barn – no-one there in the sunshine and no cake left by Nev

Neville was the first to do the route, evidenced by a photo from Turville Heath at 10:30

As expected…
Here are my stats, they do include riding to the station at the start/end (as that is what Viewranger expected)

One road was supposedly closed, bit of a flood on another but otherwise it was very quiet, reckon I saw about 10 cyclists, 20 cars, 20 walkers and a dozen dogs. Swyncombe and Bix were just as steep as they usually are.

Steve would have followed the whole route, but for an unfortunate mechanical. But he did take a few pictures. Read on…

Lovely day for a virtual Gromils ride. Strange not to see any of the old Didcot Power Station now, but at least we’ll always have The Clumps.
I thought it would be a good opportunity to practise using my selfie stick. The first attempt shows that I need the practice.
Better luck second time.
Didn’t see Mr Toad (or Ratty and Badger)
Snack time at the Turvile Heath bus shelter. Here’s to absent friends.
Comunity spirit at Turville Heath. I guess the lecture at the R&R Museum won’t be happening.
Here’s the one Simon missed – the alleged road closure at Southend. The Thames Water crew fixing a broken main gave me a thumbs-up as I edged past them.
Not all went according to plan. Just after leaving the Nettlebed estate I made a U turn to take a closer look at a notice about bluebells in the woodland. I turned too tightly, the frontier wheel slid our and I ended up on the ground. Minor damage to pride, but no injuries. When I lifted the bike up, therefore was a tinkling noise as some shiny bits fell onto the tarmac. These turned out to be the tension shackle, and the tension pin in two bits.
Tool roll to the rescued. One zip tie was enough to hold the leather part of the saddle in place, though my weight was being taken by the metal rails beneath. Rideable, but not comfortable, so I needed to take the shortest way home from here.
Stopped outside Stoke Row shop to eavesdrop on their WiFi and send home my revised ETA. The shop was open, with sensible precautions. From a safe distance they told me they are thinking of closing earlier in the afternoons (eg 2pm).
…and finally the stats. Looks like coming home via Stoke Row saved me a mile or two. The average speed might have been a little higher were it not for so many photographs.

Our First Virtual Ride

So exercise is good, both for physical health and mental health. Both British Cycling and Cycling UK (CTC) recommend it (they would, wouldn’t they?) and give some guidelines for safe riding in the Coronavirus world.

Although we’re advised not to ride together, it doesn’t mean we can’t do the same rides, so Nev and I agreed it might be an idea to publish a classic route that we can each do, then share our stats/stories photos. with luck I may even have enough routes stored to last until the end of lockdown.

Here’s a good one to start with. I don’t know if The Barn is actually open to visitors. You could still sit outside at one of their picnic tables – a safe distance from anyone else who’s there, obviously – or just ride straight past and save a quarter of mile off your journey.

If you don’t already have the ViewRanger app, you can download it for free from Google/Apple.

You can add your comments on the ride below. They may not appear immediately, as I think they have to be moderated (=approved) first by me, to avoid spam. If you have images, send them to me direct and I’ll post them, as we don’t have a slick way of doing that year. As it’s Pothole Week, we could even have a Best Pothole Picture competition.