Tag Archives: stroud

Gary and Tom’s wet ride

Set of steps in Nailsworth
Steps for a future ride

This was my first outing on the bike for a few weeks. This was an advertised a ride for MBSwindon and I’d carried out a recce mission in January. This meant that I had committed to doing it.

Things weren’t looking so good two days before though – I gave myself food poisoning with a rotten tomato, had a very poor night’s sleep and felt very weak and tired.

Before that I’d been struck down with a severe cold for 4 days in January. I’d been just well enough to make the Croft Trail build day in the rain and cold. I’d returned to work the next week but not felt right and that wrote off the next weekend. I missed the MTBMeetup (Coedybrenin social ride via Twitter) and the Red Kite race. I had managed a short walk on the Sunday where I’d located some steps for a future ride near Nailsworth. Things had been looking better for the week before this ride.

After thoughts of cancelling or getting someone else to do it I decided to carry on anyway. I was desperate to start covering some distance again.

On the day I felt slightly weak but I could feel enough energy to carry me for a few hours. The weather definitely encouraged me. After weeks of rain the sky was dry.

Cows near Stroud

When I arrived at the start point I rode up the ramp to the car park expecting to see the usual sea of bikes and people. There was a very pleasant aroma from the burger van but no bikes. Then I spotted Gary Palmer unloading his bike.

We sat around for a bit, checked the Facebook event to see if we had the right start point (we had) or if anyone had left messages (they hadn’t). After ten minutes we decided that it was just the two of us then. In some ways this was good news: I had a whole host of new route options that I wanted to investigate, there was no pressure on pace and we could do a reasonably short ride (ha ha ha).

Suspicious van
Wanted for crimes against mountain bikes.

The route had the initial aim of reaching Tetbury by lunchtime but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to do the descent to the Weighbridge Inn (pie pub). Then we decided to check out some tracks near Minchinhampton. Then the track descent to Avening, only we had to pedal down all of it. It was very unlikely that we would be claiming any Strava honours on this trip.We ticked off another missing track coming out of Avening and then followed the old railway line into Tetbury.

Mountain bike descent near Weighbridge Inn near Nailsworth
Weighbridge Inn descent

Generally I had been feeling pretty good and the fitness was clearly still there. On the road section near Tetbury I noticed that I was weaker than normal. I’d also eaten very little which worried me. It hadn’t rained yet, which was great, but the wind was icy cold on my head.

The Garmin was showing 26km when we reached the bike jumble. I started to wonder if we could cover 50km if we kept going. After the tea stop we called round to see Pete at Veleton bikes for a cup of tea. He planted bad ideas about buying a new road bike.

Veleton Cycles in Tetbury
Pete at Veleton Cycles.
Big puddle on the Macmillan Way near Sapperton
Wet is it?

I warned Gary that is was uphill all of the way to Sapperton from Tetbury. I’d ridden a similar route in December and it had wrecked me because of that. This time we had a sea of soggy mud to contend with pretty much the whole way. Gary commented that is was heavy going. I felt the same. I just concentrated on regulating my power output to keep me feeling well and the distance just seemed to go by. At one point I followed the advice of a marathon runner and thought entirely about something else, in my case work. This helped more muddy tracks to pass by. I forced myself to drink and input some Mule bars and Carmans Muesli bars. These instantly lifted my energy levels.

We were both seriously fatigued in the muddy field past Frampton Mansell that required intense pedalling to make progress downhill. I felt that I was approaching a bonk moment. More Mule bars kept me going. I once again failed to find the correct route first time down through Cowcombe woods but we did have a giggle sliding around in the mud.

Stroudwater canal flood
Stroudwater canal.

The last leg of the ride was to follow the Stroudwater canal back to Stroud and then the old railway line to the start point. The canal was flooded in a few places. We watched a walker wade through a flood under a bridge before deciding that we would give it a go too.

When we reached Stroud I had the option of peeling off for home but decided to complete the circuit by riding to the start. Gary thanked me kindly for turning an easy ride into an epic and then I rode home.

Stroud Tetbury and Sapperton epic route mapGarmin claimed 65km but was missing a few when it couldn’t locate any satellites at the start. The Garmin website also seems incapable of working out my moving time properly but Strava has managed it.

Stats: 67km (estimated), moving time 5h20, av moving speed 12.1 km/h, 1990 KCal (and the rest).

Maps: gpxGarmin | Strava

It was a relief to be out on the bike again. I clearly didn’t learn my lesson regarding my lack of self control though. The reason I was ill was probably related to the lack of rest in the preceeding three months. Oh well, maybe I’ll learn soon.

Riding around Stroud

Wet trails in Stroud.
Weighbridge descent.

This was two days of riding around Stroud.

On the Friday evening I went on the Noah’s Ark shop ride. This took in some new trails which I realised were worth adding to a route I was planning for MBSwindon. Due to the boggy weather I rode home down the road and quite enjoyed it. This is possibly an early warning sign of something. On the Saturday I set out a bit late with a plan to ride the whole route I’d planned  for the club ride. It turned dark on me but luckily I had the lights. Then it rained a lot so I finished the ride off with another road ride.

On the Friday night there was a mist rising from the flooded Stroudwater canal which generated a threatening ambience as we picked our away along the off camber tow path.   The most interesting part was a drainage channel in the path that was completely filled with water. Luckily the riders at the front knew what was under the water.

The New Red Lion pub in Chalford
Pub stop.

We took the road from Daneway to a new trail gem for me. This was a fast track descent that’s a lot better in real life than the map suggests. A river had burst its banks so the track had also become a river for the climb back up. I realised later that I’d ridden this track in the opposite direction on the MBSwindon Bisley ride in 2011.

We followed some lanes and took the great descent from Frances Lynch back into the valley. Sam mentioned a pub stop so we called in to the New Red Lion for beer (or sparkling water) and I realised how cold my feet were. I finished with a blast back down the road home (because I live there).

On the Saturday I ticked off a few missing sections for my recce. I took the descent to the Weighbridge Inn near Nailsworth. The water had cleared a rocky path through the mud for most of the descent.

After the climb to Minchinhampton I wimped out of the steep grassy descent on the hillside near Burleigh. I could just see myself slipping and cartwheeling down the slope. I tried walking down it and realised that riding it would have been a very bad idea. I promised myself that I’d do it when it was dry. It’s always tricky when you are on your own. A fairly minor incident could turn very serious without help.

Steep bank.
I wimped out (obviously it looks a lot bigger in real life).

At Cowcombe wood I tried to replicate the route from my first visit there. Basically straight down, but on my previous visit I’d ended up mud slugging along some tracks instead. Back home later I overlayed 3gpx plots and concluded that I had finally found the correct route. It shows how when you follow people you never really take things in properly.

Steps near Chalford

I then followed a similar route to the Noah’s ride. I wanted photographic evidence to promote the ride. There was just enough light for this. At Bisley I decided to head for home straight down the road. This meant a fast road descent to Stroud. Not fast enough judging by Strava though. Blame the rain.

Steps near Stroudwater canal.
I rode these in the dark the first time.
Flooded canal.
Flooded canal.
  • Noah’s shop ride: Garmin | Strava | gpx 38km, 330m, 2h18m moving, 16.4 km/h, 1200KCal
  • Sat recce ride: Garmin | Strava | gpx 42km, 580m, 3h04m moving, 13.7 km/h, 1600KCal

Stroud mountain bike routes.

Another 100 mile weekend. Part 3 – Stroud mountain bike club ride.

Stroud mountain bike clubThis was ride number three on my 100 mile weekend. I’d covered 45km on Friday night, 61km on Saturday and was now finishing off on a ride round the local area with Stroud MBC. I hoped that the pace would be a bit slow; I was knackered after two tough rides.

The meeting point was the Ragged Cot pub near Minchinhampton. I set off late and only had half an hour to get there. I abandoned my scenic route and followed the obvious roads. That involved a big climb up from Stroud to Rodborough common. Luckily there was very little traffic around this early in the morning.

Once I was on the top of the common then my average speed picked up considerably and I reckoned I could make it there on time. I’d underestimated the extra hills on the top of Minchinhampton common so had to work a bit hard. I made it to the pub at three minutes past nine which was pretty good in my opinion. I’d never been on a Sunday ride with Stroud MBC before so I didn’t know if they would set off a 9am exactly or whether that was a loose target time. Turns out that it was the latter.

Selsley common mountain biking.

We set off at about 9:15am, following a route to Avening and up to Chavenage. On the first steep hill I was a bit faster than two riders but slower than one of the others who turned out to be a roadie. However, on the flat roads the pace was really high. I was experiencing that hateful situation where the bikes in front started to pull away ever so slightly so I had to turn up the effort by 5% and keep it there.

Garden of a hoarder.
We have a hoarder.

The route to Kingscote ticked off a missing piece of bridleway for me (a section I’d missed on the recce ride two weeks previously). I’d describe it as muddy.

From Kingscote we followed a new section of singletrack, climbed up past the barn and had another tiring road section to Nympsfield. Then we looped along the edge of the woods to Sesley common, a section I’d used on the Nailsworth It ride.

At this point someone said “so you’re probably going to nip back home now Tom” since we were nearby. The temptation was there but I had my target to meet so I stayed with the ride back to the finish via the cycle path to Nailsworth and the road climb up to Minchinhampton.

With the club ride done I took an easy ride back home with lanes along the edge of the common. I snuck in a descent down from the Winstones factory.

After spending the whole day talking about steps I found myself a new set on the route home. They’re not that steep but in a slightly damp condition and with a continuous curve they were quite entertaining.

Steps near Stroud

The route was 60km, 570m, 2100 Calories according to Garmin | Gpx.

Stroud Mountain Bike club route map

Weekend summary

Friday Saturday Sunday Total Previous
Garmin connect Garmin Garmin Garmin  3 3
Gpx gpx gpx gpx  3 3
Distance (km) 45 61.2 60.5 166.7 168
Moving time (hh:mm) 2:47 4:11 4:27 11:25 12:23
Elevation (Garmin corrected) (m) 590 726 570 1886 1687
Calories (Garmin guess) 1710 2170 2090 5970 5600
Av moving speed (km/h) 16.1 14.6 15.9  14.6 13.6
Max speed (km/h) 50.7 60.3 47.1  –

Local riding (for local people)

Riding some steps near Stroud
Steps on the Nailsworth It ride

This was a weekend of local riding. I looked at the map and realised that the area right outside my door was local so it would probably be ideal. I easily rack up 20 thousand miles per annum driving places and a lot of that is MTB related. I’ve been to all three corners of the isles and abroad to search out trails.

I’ve always been aware that there are some great trails much closer to home: Dursely, North Nibley, Randwick, Painswick and Cranham are all well known mountain biking areas. The time had come to  reduce the hours sat in the car and replace them with pedal pushing. This is part of my plan to develop my stamina – hours spent in the saddle.

The previous weekend I’d set the ball rolling with a 70km door to window ride with Gary Palmer (of local cycling group Dirty Saddles). This was a route recce for a future MBSwindon club ride . It was Gary who invented several local rides for the club such as the Painful Painswick trip and the Uley Novice Friendly ride. For more route ideas see the recent Nailsworth It ride and more in the collection of Cotswold rides.

North Nibley jump
Local trails the previous weekend


Stroudwater canal at nightOn Friday I cycled to local shop Noah’s Ark for a guided ride. Six of us went off on a sociable and quite speedy trip round sneaky local trails. Rather conveniently this included some areas that I had been studying closely on the map recently, particularly the bridleway and descent to Chalford from Minchinhampton. This was also the first time I’d followed the Stroudwater canal path all the way from Chalford to Stroud. I found that there’s a good set of steps at the end of the old railway line Rodborough. 


On Saturday I set off at at 9am to ride from the valley up to Standish car park to meet up with MBSwindon for “Gary’s Randwick Roller Coaster”. The previous Saturday had been plain cold all day. This week a warm glow was radiating from the sun and was available whenever out of the shadows. This gave me some insight into the mind of a cat.

Gary and the MBSwindon crew
Painswick Beacon MTB
Painswick Beacon

See the ride report on MBSwindon for details of what we got up to.

My extended route for the day consisted of:

  • Riding to the car park.
  • Riding half way back to where I’d just come from.
  • Doing the rest of the club ride.
  • Repeating the second half of the ride to show James and friends the route back to Painswick.
  • Doing the steep drops off Painswick beacon and returning via an alternative route*.
  • Checking out a bomb hole near Edge.
  • Riding home via some steps at Ebley.
  • Adding 11km on the cycle path to ensure I covered more distance than James (who rode from Cheltenham). It worked – I covered 70.00km versus his 66km.

*this started out as “you’re on your own so don’t do anything too dangerous” and then turned into “what the heck?”.

Overall these are all great natural trails with a range of entertaining features such as drops, a smattering of jumps and some big, optional ramps.

Standish sunset
View from Standish woods


MTB yoga
Mid ride yoga?

I spent the morning time wasting on Twitter and Facebook. It was 12:30pm by the time I set out on the bike. I think I was tired. I’d drawn a 55km route on Bikehike the previous evening. This combined a few well known sections with a whole load of new bridleways. I really wanted to see what the woods at Sapperton might hold in terms of sneaky trails.

I carried a good pace along the cycle path to Nailsworth and made short work of the climb up into the woods. As I pedalled through sticky mud I decided that I definitely felt a bit tired. The frequency of my stops and the amount of food that I was eating at each stop confirmed this.

It’s great when you’re out riding and even a fairly tame looking bridleway turns out to be fun to ride. Sometimes it’s just about being out there and enjoying the situation rather than looking for technical features. I’m always a little wary when on my own anyway – I’ve seen people break collar bones with innocuous looking falls.

Autumn leaves
Leaves and stuff on a bridleway

The bridleways up beyond Avening sapped my energy. It was a combination of a long and gradual climb and a sticky surface. I’d had a funny feeling when looking at the maps that the woods over the railway tunnel might offer a route to Sapperton. This turned out to be correct, with a range of paths leading past the tunnel air vents. It looked like the railway builders had dumped a load of their spoil in the woods too. I considered riding a steep rock ramp down to the track but decided against it. I almost fell off the rocks when my shoes slipped on the gravel. So maybe that was an omen.

Stroud valleys in the dusk.I had a good look round the woods at Sapperton but failed to find anything of great interest. I did see a lot of signs explaining that Lord Bathhurst was a very nice chap and welcomed walkers and horse riders between 9am and 5pm. I need to find out what the status is for bridleways through the woods.

It was mid afternoon by now and the light had started to fade since 2:30pm. Luckily I had my lights with me and these were soon needed.

I followed a great bridleway from Frampton Mansell towards Chalford and repeated the Friday night descent down to Chalford and on to the canal footpath. I approached the end of the ride with 51km showing on the Garmin and decided that 60.00km was necessary. I did a bonus loop round from Ryeford to Ebley and a trip to the steps for a moody night shot. This took several attempts. All good practice.

Mountain biking down steps in the dark.

After this I was very clear that my priority was to have some rest. The bike was given a quick wash and then I went inside to edit photos, maps, eat lentils and do some recovery yoga.

Overall that was a great weekend of riding and there’s still more that I need to explore. The stats below estimate that I used 5,600 KCal over the weekend. That’s over 2 day’s worth of extra energy to cover the riding. Maybe that’s why I feel quite hungry today.

Map showing 168 km of riding in the Stroud area

Friday Saturday Sunday Total
Garmin connect Garmin Garmin Garmin  3
Gpx gpx gpx gpx  3
Distance (km) 38 70 60 168
Moving time (hh:mm) 2:36 5:19 4:27  12:23
Elevation (Garmin corrected) (m) 333 894 460 1687
Calories (Garmin guess) 1100 2600 1900 5600
Av moving speed (km/h) 15.5 13.2 13.5  13.6
Max speed (km/h) 46.2 50.6 47.7  –