Monthly Archives: May 2020

Ten Weeks After

Looks as though we’re keeping right up with government policy, with groups allowed to meet from next Monday. The plan is for those who want to buy coffee from the Stoke Row Village Shop and take it across the road to the Maharajah’s Well, where there are benches for suitable social distancing. Suggested target time is 10:15 – 10:30.

The ride turns off at the bottom of Witheridge Hill to take a mixture of bridleways and tarmac farm roads to Nettlebed. Beyond Nettlebed there is a restricted byway parallel to the B481 that is quite narrow, twisty and bumpy, but not as bumpy as the bridleway through the Swyncombe Estate. Both these off-road segments can be avoided by taking the B481.

Feel free to take a break for home once you know where you are if you want a shorter ride, or extend the ride through Wallingford and beyond if you want a longer one.

Nine Hills Results

Not being available to do the ride on Bank Holiday Monday, I did a version of it a day earlier.

I followed the route as far as the top of Burnt Hill, where I diverted to Hampstead Norreys and had my first coffee since before Lockdown. The lady who served me told me very firmly but politely that it was takeway only- I wasn’t even allowed to sit at a picnic table in the courtyard. So social distancing in the churchyard it was then.

I enjoyed Neville’s Easter Eggs, and even felt motivated to document some of them.


A magical ride over the Downs, a struggle up Streatley Hill but after Rotten Row I was flying.
– Isn’t that cheating? [Mick]


Headed out with Breeda at 6.30 am. Fine sunny ride to Stanford Dingley Some navigational difficulties there when we inadvertently climbed up to Chapel Row before we realised our mistake and turned back.


Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun! Met Ron outside Rotten Row and went as far as Upper Basildon with him.


Did the route this morning/afternoon (Monday). Very scenic and some roads I haven’t been down before. Like Alun & Breda I had navigation problems.

I had navigational problems and found myself in Southend (not Southend on Sea unfortunately!). The first time I’ve used Viewranger to navigate.


After a test ride on Sunday, felt OK for the hills (but with no quest for speed) A few aches, but otherwise strangely fit! And yet another beautiful day.


Lovely day, thanks for the route; Tom and I cycled to Stanford Dingley but avoided Streatley Hill and took a few short cuts including off road from Ashampstead towards Yattendon and back from near Bradfield to just before the long hill up to Captain’s Gorse, Upper Basildon (I’d always wondered about that bridge over the M4).
Met Phil near Rotten Row and Simon very public spiritedly strimming nettles on the path from near his house to the river bridge (he’d cycled the route previous day).

Thanks to you and Nev for a wonderful, intricately crafted route through villages and roads invented for the day. The mercifully brief Tutts Clump hill and wonderful countryside was a real treat and the mileage seemed at least double – but in a “I’m really enjoying this” way.

Sorry to keep missing the tutorials. My home study is progressing but very slowly.
Dist       25 mi
Time     2.10
Av Sp    11.8
Elev       1675

Eight Miles High Results

Having a go at being the earliest byrd perhaps, Neville started his ride at 05:12. He took a loop around the Ups and Downs to warm up before tackling Streatley Hill. His track shows a stop of 15 min at Hampstead Norreys Community Shop, for a socially-distanced coffee. There’s building work going on around the back.

With the aid of a few WhatsApps to and fro during the week, Nev and I had figured out how to get Buddy Beacon working, so I was able to track him. I left home at 09:12, hoping to catch him at The Bull; in practice we met on Streatley Bridge.

After a suitable socially-distanced chat I carried on up Streatley Hill and anticlockwise around the route to Peasmore, where the bench outside the church made for a great place for a snack stop. I had a quick chat to a cyclist who was doing around 30 mi from Newbury and back.

A few minutes after leaving Peasmore I met Chris coming the other way, so we stopped for an across-the-road chat.


Excellent ride, great to meet up again! I managed a shade under 12mph for my reverse trip, and can confirm that Applepie hill is much easier than Streatley!

Did the route this morning which was very enjoyable. Along the way I met Alun, Breda and Chris as well as cycling with Ron from Compton to Hermitage.

I drove to Compton then followed the route. It was good to meet Phil along the way, and to be able to cycle with him for part of the route. After Hampstead Norreys I completed the circle back to Compton. We met Chris along the way.

Lovely ride to and from Peasemore with Breeda in glorious sunshine. Also the most sociable in recent times meeting Phil near top of Streatley Hill and then Mick and Chris at Peasemore.

Social distancing while admiring Chris’s Moulton (photo by Mick).


Also bumped into Alun & Breeda and Chris

Another wonderful ride in glorious sunshine that has greatly enhanced my local geography and the need for the magic cream.

Dist                     30.19
Time                   2.32
Av Sp                  12.0
Elev Gain            1,700

Sorry, photo from weeks ago near Cuddesdon – NHS balls up!

Did an off-road version of this with Tom today as far as East Ilsley via the Ridgeway in lovely weather. Included off-road south from East Ilsley towards Hampstead Norreys but chickened out in the middle of nowhere when signs only seemed to want to show a route back towards Compton; a bad move as the shop in Compton was closed…

Eight Miles High

It’s not quite as high as that, but you can still swoosh like a byrd down some of the long descents on this ride. You get the payback in early, by starting up Streatley Hill, which should still be reasonably quiet. Alternatively you could take the back way round, up through Stichens Green.

Peasmore is not somewhere we often go, usually bypassing it or whizzing straight through en route to Saddleback. It has a suitably-placed bench outside the church (strangely absent on Google Street View), possibly long enough for two people to sit 2m apart until a third person arrives and the first one has to leave. In theory we could have a serial Gromil meeting.

This week’s quiz has no particular relation to Peasmore, or even Gromils in general, other than that the answers all involve places in the local area most (if not all) of us have been to. Answers to Steve please.

Seventh Sojourn Results


Here are the figures for my Gromil ride on Friday, a mix of the two Britwell routes.
Alas, a puncture – my 5th of the year.


I rode the Britwell off-road option today (Saturday), fabulous weather and another splendid route, thanks Nev! I didn’t know of the sunken lane near Nuffield…

I did the Britwell Hill on road route yesterday (Sunday). Cool and windy but not as bad as today.

I did the off-road on Sunday morning, while it was still moderately warm. The on-road route Monday morning was very bracing, with the stiff northerly wind.

Not much room for social distancing on the bridleway near Ipsden; better to stick to the wide (?) open road.


Breeda and l did the on road Britwell Hill ride this morning (Monday). Fine sunny weather but cold strong winds gave an added challenge.


View from our walk.


Many thanks Steve and Neville for three (THREE!!) absolutely fantastic rides this week.
Water hazards, tree roots, tree roots, stunning, stunning scenery and a big hill twice.

Attached photo: – Full PPE at New Barn Farm

Stats according to Messrs Garmin:

                            Britwell Road     Big Loop             Britwell off-road

Dist                      27.67                   46.06                   31.09

Time                     2.42                     3.50                     3.02                    

AvSp                     12.9                     12.4                     10.2

Elev Gain            1145                    1822                    1596

Lovely morning (Tuesday) – not too windy and I managed to cycle all the way up Britwell Hill

Ewelme Church – last resting place of Alice Chaucer and Jerome K Jerome

Britwell Hill – doesn’t look so bad from the top!

Took advantage of better weather on Tuesday and did short ride of the bottom half of the off-road figure of eight route with Tom. I really didn’t know much about Swan’s Way but we’ve now done two local parts recently and its really nice; I believe the whole 65 miles towards Aylesbury and Milton Keynes is Bridleway so unlike the Ridgeway in that direction, it can be cycled.

Seventh Sojourn

We approach the seventh week of lockdown not knowing the extent to which restrictions on travel will be eased, or even when. Life is certainly Strange at the moment.

On the menu this week we have both on-route and off-road routes to our local ski jump, aka Britwell Hill. For anyone who’s yearning for a longer ride, while still remaining a socially-responsible distance from Goring in case of breakdown, there is La Grande Boucle de Goring Gap.

There’s a special picture and music quiz this week, courtesy of Neville. Answer sheet is below. Send your answers to Neville for scoring. Good luck.

Bonus question (from Steve): Which re-release overshadowed both Isn’t Life Strange and I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band) Apologies to Simon, who’s probably too young to remember the hits of 1972?

Essential Reading Results

Lots of variety, both in terms of times and routes. Neville was the first to get started, on Friday, though he did miss a turn or two, but reprised some old quiz photos.



Cycled to Mackney Island today! (Saturday). What is locally known as Mackney Island is on fact a small village south of Brightwell cum Sotwell surrounded by streams, making it technically an island!

Monday I cycled from Blewbury to N Stoke then up to Well Place, then home. Beautiful sunny ride 24 miles.

I did the route on Saturday and was surprised it included a road I have never been down before.


Thanks Steve for the joy of two rides this week. How spoilt we were.

My data as follows:

Boxford Alps (Sat)          Essential Reading (Sun)

Dist:      36.86mi                             25.6mi

Time:    3.12                                   2.02      

AvSp     11.5mph                           12.5mph

Elev G   2766ft                                1,324ft.

The Bagnor Valley and the Alps was absolutely delightful and well worth the ‘hilly’ bits. Essential Reading was also great but I took issue with the ‘Easy’ epithet when coming down Berins Hill my brakes completely failed! Thankfully my cycle shoes provided just enough drag to stop at the bottom and the ride was long enough after that to regain some composure. I ordered new disc pads immediately followed by a very strong drink.


Sunday I drove to Streatley to ride the Boxford route, on a rather cool and cloudy day. Did it anticlockwise, which meant straight up the hill! And I’d forgotten Frilsham’s also uphill.
Pleasantly scenic route anyhow.


Thanks for the route, lovely ride with Tom today (Monday) which we completed this time (with a couple of minor diversions to reduce main roads mileage). BT Openreach had closed the road near the old Cross Lanes orchard but no problem for cyclists.

Regarding the quiz this week, some great entries but none with full marks yet. By the way with one exception, each clue is a specific landmark, so I think answering Goring for the “GOR” clue would get 0.25 of a mark. New (and updated) entries up to Thursday Zoom call…


Alternative Monday exercise. Plan to cycle tomorrow.

Breeda and l did the ride this morning. Very pleasant but busy leaving Reading on B481. Gravel Hill is a great way to avoid riding through the worst parts of Caversham and potentially part of a new route to Henley.


Bluebell walk


Like Andrew and Tom I came across the road closure at Cross Lanes, but snuck past without any problem. Gravel Hill no longer lives up to the first part of its name, with a nice smooth tarmac surface. The hill was just as bad as ever though.

Just after Ipsden church I heard what sounded like a small bang, followed by quiet tinkling. When I investigated by getting off and spinning the wheels, I found one of the rear spokes had broken – drive side, of course. No problem riding home the rest of the way once I’d removed the tinkly bit, then it was Tuesday afternoon’s job to fit a spare. Thanks Chris for the spare.

Essential Reading

Now We Are Six

We celebrate the sixth week of Lockdown with a suggestion for a ride (23 mi) that doesn’t get further than 8 miles from Goring at any point, just in case you need to walk back.

This week’s quiz is from Andrew:

Bonus quiz question (from Steve): Who famously played the saxophone solo on Steeleye Span’s wonderful Now We Are Six album, and what was the title of the track? There’s a clue on the gnome page.

We also have another couple of suggestions on offer, in case you want cycling exercise more than once a week – you could consider these as the B rides. (No promises that next week there’ll be seven B rides for seven brothers).

This is the route Phil took to Bradfield and Basildon. (We can’t embed it in the web page, as it’s a third-party route)

Below is my route to the Bagnor Valley and Boxford Alps