By Robin Steward.
Since planning this ride I’d had concerns that it would be nothing but a mud bath with driving wind and rain making it a difficult slog. Well, I needn’t have worried: the best kind of winter had finally arrived with crisp snow and a sunny blue sky.
Despite the mercury being entrenched well below zero, 10 of us set off from the Croft Trail for a tough 33 mile route that would take us to Wroughton, Barbury, Marlborough, Ramsbury, Aldbourne and back to Swindon. Check out the route here: OS Map | Garmin connect | GPX.
Riding in these conditions really does make a change and is well worth the numb fingers and toes! The landscape looks so different and striking; the reassuring crunch of a tyre through crisp snow so much more pleasurable than a slosh through the usual Winter Ridgeway gloop.
That said, the riding was still tough. The ground, being frozen, was very unforgiving and concentration was needed to direct the front wheel along the easiest and safest path. The final section of the ride was over Sugar Hill from Aldbourne to Liddington. This is a very draggy, rolling climb at the best of times but the snow, frozen soil and tired legs turned it into a painful slog.
We were all glad to roll into Croft car park feeling thoroughly spent but as a roadie friend of mine says… ‘Winter miles = Summer smiles’.