It’s an enormous sense of relief to see things are finally starting to head in the right direction, after what has been one of the most unusual chapters ever experienced in our lifetime. We are now enjoying more freedom to go out and about, which has meant we’ve been able to see our families and catch up with friends once again – it’s all been somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster! However, we are not out of the woods yet, and clearly have some way to go before ‘normal service’ is resumed. For the moment, we must stay alert and be vigilant to everything and everyone around us, to help protect ourselves, our loved ones, and the wonderful NHS.
You may recently have seen an article published by British Cycling, titled ‘The Way Forward‘; a detailed plan regarding the reintroduction of sanctioned club and group activity. The communication came much earlier than anticipated, and was released in response to the early announcement by the Government, which was originally due to be held on 4th July.
This subject matter dominated discussions at the Committees’ monthly Zoom meeting on Monday night, with various points raised for and against getting the Club programme moving again as soon as possible. After much consideration, it was decided that for the safety of our Club members, leisure rides and other group activities will continue to remain suspended whilst we look into effective ways to deliver social distance cycling safely and sufficiently.
Of course, this news may come as a disappointment to many of you, but if we could please ask you to bear with us for a while longer until a ‘one size fits all’ solution is established, we should hopefully be back up and running – albeit a revised version of previous club life – very soon.
During the latter part of Lockdown we were given the ‘green light’ to travel further afield, so many of us took full advantage to head off on an adventure somewhere other than cycling a loop of the local park, or doing the chaingang route again for the umpteenth time. Some members, like Sue Crane and Rachael Still for instance, took the opportunity to combine their longest day one-hundred mile ride to Chedworth with playing the Club’s Summer Solstice Bingo game, managing to complete their bingo card for a ‘full house’.
Club and Committee member, Jamie Brosch, chose to go ‘full adventurer’ and head off on a 4-day mini break. Here’s Jamie’s write up about his travels…
With Wales still in lockdown, I came up with this short tour to get ‘as far away from it all’, as I could, this side of the border, whilst cycling door to door. From Chippenham, loaded up with 32kg of bike and camping gear, I headed to Ross-on-Wye, picking up NCR 45 at Nailsworth and skirting round the west side of Gloucester.
Once the Cotswold escarpment had been negotiated, this mix of tracks and pavements is relatively gentle, if a little slow. After 61 miles and not far off 6,000 ft, I reached Ross to meet up with my sister, Julia, who was to join me for the next two days.
Our route via Hereford towards Hay-on-Wye was stunning but because I was determined to get off the beaten track, we were definitely going ‘across the grain’, with a fair bit of ‘gratuitous climbing’ and one or two non-existent tracks. The temperature reached 31C and the hills kept coming. At Bredwardine, a swim in the River Wye in full cycle gear provided welcome respite and 42 miles and 4,400 feet later, we camped in the shadow of the Black Mountains.
The following day we continued, across the grain, into The Olchon Valley, right under Offa’s Dyke and the border – a truly unspoilt area but certainly undulating. Down through Michaelchurch and Longtown, we then turned east through Pontrilas and St Weonards, back towards Ross.
From Ross, Julia headed back to the Midlands and I carried on south through the Forest of Dean. I had hoped to avoid the main roads and put my 2 inch tyres to good use on the network of forest tracks but progress was slow and late in the evening the roads emptied, allowing me to make good progress to a great camp spot, near St Briavels. I just got the tent up before the weather broke and the heavens opened.
The last day was as cold, wet and windy, as the first days had been hot and still but it was mostly downhill to Chepstow. The ride back from the bridge is a bit of a grind in the wet, on tired legs but it was well worth it for the amazing off-grid cycling it had allowed us access to.
Another Club member, Sheni Jiwa, well-known for his Audax and long distance rides, headed off on what he’s wittingly called the ‘Seas, Cheese and Strawberries’ ride, a 125-mile round trip taking him from his home in Biddestone to the seafront at Clevedon and back again, following some fantastic cycle and gravel paths along the way. Sheni wrote:
Decided to ride out to Clevedon and then back around the Mendips using the maximum amount of traffic free cycle paths. Managed 51km of traffic-free riding, 25% of my ride. Started with the Bath-Bristol cyclepath to Saltford, then the Avon Cycleway to Ashton Court. Out to Clevedon by lanes and then some coastal gravel paths.
Picked up the Strawberry Line from Yatton to Cheddar via the Shute Shelve Tunnel, stopping for lunch in Axbridge. Found some car keys on the road near Cheddar which I reunited with the owner in Wells. After climbing over the Mendips I picked up the Colliers Way to Radstock and then the Greenway to Wellow and Midford. Finally I dropped down through Monkton Combe to join the Kennet & Avon canal towpath to Bradford-on-Avon. Feeling very pleased with this and was able to finish a bit stronger this time.
Well done to everyone who has managed a longer ride over the past couple of months, it’s always good to stretch the legs!
New Adventures (pending approval*)
Subject to a Coronavirus risk assessment, and whatever final decisions are made by the Club with regards to ‘ride rules’, we wanted to tell you about a new event (hopefully) coming to the programme. This incredible 5-day ‘Wheelers Tour of Wales’ is the brainchild of Audax connoisseurs, Sheni Jiwa and Dylan Spencer, so you already know it’s going to be something special! Sheni has asked us to advertise the event in advance so he can get a feel from members if its of any interest. If it already sounds like your kind of thing, then read on…
Wheelers Tour of Wales 26-30th August
With most of our summer holiday cycling plans scuppered this year we are very excited to announce a little plan we are hatching for a 5 day grand tour of Wales. We are going to ride all the way from Chippenham across the full length of Wales to briefly cross the Menai Bridge onto the island of Anglesey and back home again! The ride is 440 miles in total, there and back, with each days riding between 80 – 100 miles. We will mostly follow the route of the Bryan Chapman Memorial Audax, the classic Welsh end-to-end. Our plan is to ride a leisurely touring pace on each of our 5 days, with regular café stops, finishing in good time to enjoy the evenings, with dinner at a local pub or restaurant and a post-ride recovery drink or two.
Highlights will include riding through Hafren Forest, the climb over the Machynlleth mountain road, crossing the rickety old railway bridge at Barmouth and up the coast road through Harlech with views of Snowdon in the distance. The long and steady climb over Llanberris Pass is sure to test us all, before we enjoy the flowing descent and ride over the Menai Bridge for a spot of lunch before making the turn for home.
This will be a totally unsupported tour. You will need to to carry everything you need and be mechanically self-reliant. Pack up your saddlebags or “bikepacks” for 5 days of touring the fabulous Welsh mountains, valleys and coast roads! We’ll set off from Chippenham on Wednesday 26th August and stop each night in a town where we’ll book into hotels, B&Bs or hostels. Everyone is expected to make their own accommodation booking, but we’ll coordinate and share details of where we are all staying each night. Group sizes will be limited to 6 similar paced riders and we’ll be observing social distancing rules at all times on and off the bikes, including any different rules that may apply in Wales. We’ll arrive back in Chippenham on Sunday 30thAugust, with a bank holiday the next day to rest, recover and share stories.
If you’re interested in joining us please contact Sheni to find out more via firstname.lastname@example.org
You can take a peek at an early version of the route here:
*Please note this event is yet to be fully sanctioned by the Club; once risk assessments have been completed and we’re happy rides such as this are safe for members to participate, details will be published in the ‘Our News’ section of the website.
Club Route Library
In last months news, we mentioned we would be opening up the Club’s route archives so they are more accessible. Sheni has been working hard to complete the task and can now confirm a new version is available at https://www.chippenhamwheelers.org/club-activities/club-route-library/
After several months of virtual activities and Zoom meet-ups taking place, Youth coaching has now been paused. Our younger members have enjoyed some gruelling strength and conditioning classes and sweaty turbo sessions hosted by Martin and Simon. They can now look ahead to getting out on the tarmac, with organised coaching sessions at Castle Combe circuit. More info to follow.
There’s been plenty of activity happening virtually over the past few months, here’s an update from our Racing Secretary…
During the early days of lockdown the club ran a series of time trials on the RGT virtual world platform where we (Simon) uploaded the relevant GPX file to the system and we raced on a course with the same profile as our own favourites. Although at times we did experience some interesting landscapes and the wireframe world rendered with trees growing out of the tarmac, or loop backs where the file may not have been perfect. One of the issues though was that RGT did not support time trials and therefore we had to run our own count down to start and do time keepers math on the final result. We also tried joining the Newbury Velo Wednesday night time trial on Zwift which had a better set up for start but a much less personal feel with 100’s of riders.
Then BC South introduced its virtual series of Local Interclub Zwift Races (LIZR) which was initially focussed on the SW region or we just didn’t get the invite. Here is a link to one of the first series of races where they had over 200 riders https://www.facebook.com/groups/britishcyclingsouth/permalink/2821337017949321/. Chippenham Wheelers really didn’t get involved till the second series of LIZR events and your usual suspects – Simon Cox, Mike Gibbons and Owen Burgess (our Cat A’s) and Martin Priestly, James Ecclestone and Paul Winchcombe (our Cat B’s) were soon taking part in their category races on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
You may wonder how a road race runs on Zwift, surely you just set your power number and ride? Well, no. Zwift allows drafting, bike choices and some events have in game assists such as “Featherweight” (always useful on that 5% climb); so tactics do have a real place – sit in the bunch, fall back and attack; wait till 400 m to go and attack; wait for the downhill and use your weight and attack; bury yourself up hill ready to attack at the top; lose concentration, drop your water bottle, suffer a mechanical (computer freeze / Wi-Fi drop out) and all is lost you are out the back and in a world of pain.
We soon discovered that 2 nights a week was as much as our bodies could take and the Wednesday night time trial faded away as legs gave up. However, as soon as we took this collective decision the LIZR introduced Team Time Trials using the WTRL (World Tactical Racing Leagues) events – this was another way of inflicting pain on the Cat B’s who were now team time trialing with the A’s, rather than racing in their own categories. So each week it became – which Pen are we in, what is our coffee class, can Paul actually enter us into correct “class” which was governed by the number of riders in each team / category and then the magic “time off set”.
As Zwift in WTRL didn’t support team starts we had to be in our Pen by a given time and then wait for our “time off set” before starting, sitting on your turbo for 11 minutes or more (watching it go to sleep, lose connection) was unnerving but with FaceBook messenger and voice chat we were able to start as a team and then settle into grunts, groans and heavy breathing with the occasional words of encouragement or even tactics as we overtook other teams (or were overtaken ourselves). It is fair to say that we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and FTP numbers climbed. We are all looking forward to seeing if all that hard work translates into good times on the road as racing restarts.
Oh how did we do, well given we never had more than 6 and usually only 4 or 5 riders we did come 18th overall but one week we only had one rider, and consistency of attendance in a 9 race series does pay dividends. Simon was 20th overall but missed 2 races so would definitely have been higher, Mike was 22nd, Owen only rode one LIZR event, while Paul was 25th in B’s and James 39th and Martin was missing (as he didn’t put (CDW) after his name so Felix didn’t know he was one of ours). In the Team Time Trial series we were 15th. There is talk of a Winter Series, so watch this space.
In an earlier update from our Racing Secretary, CTT announced Club Time Trials could begin from 4th July, this was subsequently reviewed and a postponement was made pending further guidance. Since this announcement, you will be pleased to hear that CTT have now given final approval on the resumption of Time Trials, so the first Club Evening Time Trial will now be on Wednesday 15th July.
For more information and full details from Paul Winchcombe click here
Full guidance can be found on the Club website and all those who intend to participate in Time Trials must read them in full including the COVID-19 Risk Assessment.
West DC National 100 – Sunday 16th August
Help required in the form of volunteers for the above event, please contact Paul for more details at email@example.com
Our next meeting is due to be held in August, if you’d like to add something to the Agenda email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a cycling-based story you would like to share with members email email@example.com
And that’s your news for July. Whatever and wherever you ride, ride safe and remember to follow social distancing guidelines.