I had signed up for one of the Sunday rides on offer yesterday at CTC South Bucks’ “Nearly Golden Beeches Weekend” based at St Leonards near Tring. And an adventurous day it was!
I’d thought that travel from Northampton to Tring would be straightforward on London Midland and had studied the printed timetable. Going south would be on one train; coming north at the end would be two trains with a change at Milton Keynes. Then I checked London Midland’s website on Saturday. No trains out of Northampton on Sunday; a replacement coach service instead. I decided to swap Galaxy for Brompton to make the coach journeys hassle free.
Ought I to change my choice of ride? I’d signed up for the longest of the three rides at 47 miles. I contemplated the medium ride – 36 miles but advertised as “hilly”. Forty-seven miles on the Brompton it would be! To get to the coach at Northampton Station meant leaving in the dark and so lights and a hi-viz waistcoat it was.
Then, leaving Tring Station in plenty of time to get to St Leonards, I had a puncture just one mile in. Now changing Brompton tyres and tubes is not straightforward. Even for the front wheel, I need to carry the manual with me as everything has to be undone in a particular order and replaced in exactly the reverse way. Thanks goodness it wasn’t the rear wheel! And, of course, the smaller the wheel, the more difficult to lever off a tyre.
Anyway, one of the advantages of sticking to the 47-mile route was that I’d planned to ride to St Leonard’s pretty much along the way the ride would leave (South Bucks send route cards out in advance) so that I would, if necessary, be able to meet the riders on the way. I have to tell you that the climb west from Tring Station is an early morning wake up call! However, when I saw the group approach, I did an about-turn and joined them. We went at quite a pace and I thought it was really hilly, especially for a Brommie. God knows how “hilly” the 36-mile route would have been.
After a little while, the eighteen riders broke into two groups: a fast and a not-so-fast. Six of us made up the “not-so-fast” group and, to be honest, the hill-climbing was a treat because of the vistas we viewed. Many people will know the Chilterns escarpment at Whipsnade which gave us our best view north. Indeed, I was convinced the route was just going up and down the escarpment all the time. We had late elevenses at Stockgrove Country Park and I felt refreshed. Refreshment grew to pleasure when we turned off the road to pedal for several flat miles along the Grand Union Canal towpath. Our leader promised us a steep climb away from the canal, a descent into Tring and a steep climb to the finish.
I was dreaming of the descent into Tring and saying my farewells there. Why should I want to put my body through a second ascent of my early morning climb? Then the dream improved. Just before the promised steep climb away from the canal, a sign on the towpath indicated Leighton Buzzard Station! Why go on to Tring? I made my farewells then and there. Indeed, less that five minutes later I was on the platform at Leighton Buzzard!
The route is here. I did take a camera but had not the time nor energy to use it.
Resolutions: (1) to sign up for the whole of the Golden Beeches weekend next year, and (2) to take my Galaxy!