Day 3 : Cricklade to Bristol

69.7km in 3hrs 58min moving giving rolling average speed of 17.9km/hr (shame, it was 18.0 at the bottom of the Bristol Railway cycle path). Depart at 08:55 and arrive at 13:35 so 4hrs 40min total. Rain for first 20km then grey with occasional patches of light refreshing drizzle. Not cold.

Breakfast in the rain

Last night had quite a good curry in Cricklade. After a really nice bath at the hotel I felt up to riding down into town and the hill back up again seemed like nothing. (unladen and fresh legs). Hotel room was really good, much better than the White Hart with good secure dry place to leave the bike. Breakfast was also excellent.
Well so far 21km to Malmesbury in the rain. Set off 08:55 with everything bagged up in plastic in the panniers and handlebar bag. Cape on flapping in the wind. Persistent rain. Slight headwind. At least it’s not cold like late November in France.

Initially along the main road as the only route out but mercifully light traffic and what there was was respectful. After 3km or so Ms Osm took us off onto quiet lanes where the rain seemed lighter.

Countryside now definitely rolling rather than undulating, ie more and steeper hills.  Less cereals, more woods and grazing. Rain now a light drizzle occasionally easing to spitting but never sure enough to divest. Would have been a lovely ride if not for the Cape and all that implies.

Reached Malmesbury at 10:03 and found the ideal cafe where I am writing this and eating a most delicious freshly made flapjack thing with an Americano grande.

Coffee and flapjack
Still warm from the oven Mmmmmm ?

Left the cafe to find the rain had stopped so didn’t cape up. Countryside back to undulating rather than rolling. Good progress until after about 10km Ms Osm decided to try it on again and sent me up a muddy after the rain farm track only suitable for horses. I told her firmly I wasn’t having that and went back a km to find a proper route.

Over the M4 and on towards Pucklechurch. Gently rising Lane, basically straight and always up. Only about 1 in 50 average (gained 65m vertical in 3.5km) but no relief and wind on the port bow. What a drag.

Reached the crest of the ridge above Pucklechurch (I think it’s the bottom end of the Cotswolds) to find the drop down was 1 in 7 (that’s about 15% for the decimalised) and highly technical as they say in Le Tour coverage, being twisty, potholed, and overhung by trees shedding debris. So no relief after the drag up.

From the top of the ridge I could see Bristol shrouded in rain so it was a question of whether I’d get to the start of the Avon cycle path before it.

In the event there was a light drizzle in Pucklechurch where I paused to eat a banana in a convenient bus-shelter, but not enough to make it worth caping up. Once on the path progress was much better (it’s basically downhill from there) and the railway path not busy thanks to the weather so I flew down into Bristol with the average speed picking up.

Home for the night. After a shower and some dry clothes feeling much better – reckon I could do another 30km before 6pm with no trouble.

What’s that you say Grrroger?

On the other hand there are good reasons to rest here awhile.

Tomorrow either Glastonbury or South of Taunton depending how David is fixed for a visit.