Richard Heald reports:
This Sunday saw the third running of the club’s summer solstice(ish) 100 mile off road ride. With a ride of this length there’s always a destination in mind – this year it was a section of the Viking Way round Belvoir Castle near Grantham, also aptly taking in a section of the Jubilee Way too, all planned courtesy of Adrian whilst locked up during covid isolation.
6.30 saw a group of hardy, (or foolish), riders meet on Great Bowden green. The route took more familiar lanes and tracks north through the Langtons, Stonton Wyville, Noseley and Rolleston heading to the hills north of the A47. From there it was up to Tilton-on-the -Hill and a fantastic photo opportunity at the trig point at Borough-on-the-Hill hill fort, (everywhere round here seems to be called on the Hill!!). We were now into less familiar territory but the lanes, tracks and trails were great – the odd bit of surface damage from 4x4s, but that all adds to the experience. After a few ups and downs and some great gravel tracks, the route looped round Belvoir Castle and we arrived at a much needed first food stop: tasty breakfast cobs and coffee all round from the café soon to be featured in Kev’s upcoming book – A Cycling Guide to Sausages.
Refuelled and ready to go, we hit the Grantham canal for a bit, used our bikes as shields to get past a rather angry swan, before heading towards the Viking Way. There were a couple of really tough climbs up from the canal – one particularly steep and rocky with a tricky layer of mud that will stay in the memory for some time. The Viking Way was great – no gates, nice and flowing and the odd puddle to avoid which provided a great opportunity to catch my breath. From there it was off towards our next food stop at Wymondham Windmill, across a couple of bridleways that the farmer had kindly ploughed since we did the reccie just to add a bit more pain to the legs. Cake and coffee at the windmill café then onwards and downwards toward Cottesmore and Rutland. A great descent down road and gravel saw us hit the familiar sight of Rutland water where Lee led the way round, just because he had a bell to warn the numerous walkers, nothing to do with us all sheltering from the headwind on his back wheel!
After a quick round of 99s from the ice cream van (cheers Andy), it was up from Rutland water, down to the railway crossing, up the off road climb the other side, round Uppingham and over to Eyebrook Reservoir. We could see it this time (last year’s 100 miler it was shrouded in fog) then it was the fast road descent towards Stockerston, resting the legs before the final tough off road climb from Stockerton towards Blaston. We all cleared it on our bikes (admittedly some quicker than others), but after the best part of 100 miles in the legs by this point, I was super chuffed. Rattle down to Blaston on the bridleway, Green Lane, final bit of off road then on to Welham Lane for the push home tucked in as tightly as I could.
And that’s me quite literally done – 166k/100m and 1,900m/6,200ft climbing in a riding time of about 8.5 hours, perfect weather, brilliant route, fab company, all in it was a brutally epic day out. Until next year…