A couple of weeks ago whilst watching one of the Spring Classic’s I wondered if it was possible to create a local route along the same lines; combining road with some pave (mild off road suitable on a road bike).
The main hurdle was going to be identifying suitable off road sections. I know of the North Bucks way but only a small section is suitable as it changes from farm track to farmer’s field. The most obvious choice was the section of Route 51 between Bletchley and Winslow. Having never ridden it before I asked around and the general consensus was that it would be suitable on my weapon of choice (cx bike fitted with road tyres (Conti Gatorskins)) providing it was dry.
I had a look on the Sustrans website and noticed that there was potentially a further section running from Cranfield to Marston Moretaine that could could be incorporated into the route, getting from Cranfield across to Bletchley would provide the distance. I set about plotting the route and decided that I’d make the road sections as hilly as possible. Once plotted I downloaded to my Garmin and chose a date for the ride; Wednesday 3rd April.
Setting off around 8.30am on what was another chilly day, although the sun was shining which took the edge off of the 1 deg temperature. The first road section was around 7 miles and included the climb up to Cranfield, during which I was riding in to a tough headwind. A fast descent greeted me for the first off road section after which I tentatively made my way along the trail which included sections of loose stone. All too quickly I was back on the road for a quick loop around Marston Moretaine before retracing my steps along the off road section back to Cranfield. The descent from earlier made a nice climb out, about 9% and rising around 200ft.
Back on the road I made my way towards Aspley Guise. I’d plotted the route to include as many hills as possible so after nipping through Aspley I went past Woburn Golf Club, through Lt Brickhill, Gt Brickhill and Stoke Hammond. The final road section before re-joining Route 51 took me through Newton Longville and a small part of Bletchley. Now 30 miles in I was greeted by dry trails, just the odd section of sliming surface. With the wind behind me it was effortless chipping along at 20mph, dodging the holes in the trail adding to the enjoyment.
The off road sections were linked by a few quiet lanes and after around 5 miles I’d reached Winslow. A quick loop around Winslow and back off road towards Bletchley. I was once again riding into the wind, explaining the earlier fast pace along the same trail. Back in Bletchley I made my way through Fenny Straford, on to Simpson and home. 48 Miles in total, the inclusion of the off road sections certainly took their toll, I felt much more tired than I would have done on a 48 mile road ride.
This is definitely a route I’ll be tackling again. I wouldn’t fancy it in the wet and I’m sure the lack of wind would only add to the enjoyment.