This ride was running alongside a club members only ride in Wendover so we were expecting a smaller group to turn up hopefully making the ride a bit more streamlined… A group of 8 arrived in the car park in Watlington for our 10.00am start with 2 of our regular members attending and the rest of the group were new faces to the club. We had a quick brief to discuss the trail we were to ride, made sure everybody had enough food & water with them & checked out bikes over before we set off.
The route starts gently uphill as we make our way towards the M40 then into Aston Rowant woods continuing to climb. The route here is shaded and pretty grippy, just a little steep. The group had a bit of a breather at the top to ensure everybody was ready to continue. We made our way along a very short road section and onto a long, winding and narrow descent to Wellgrove Farm where we followed the bridleway alongside Commonhill Wood towards Northend. Our recent dry winter meant that the trails were running really quickly and we were making good progress so far! The first delay was purely down to an inquisitive sheep that’d jumped over his fence and got stuck in a hedge… After a bit of encouragement it did finally manage to make it’s way back into the flock so we set on our way again.
We followed the bridleway along the valley bottom before making our way up once again to Northend and along the road towards Christmas Common. We hit another nice descent that begins by flowing down the side of a field with large, loose, flints then drops into woodland following a narrow path, the descent had a total vertical drop of approx 115 metres from the road at Christmas Common and gave the group a great buzz as we flew through the forest! It’s not a steep descent but great fun pumping the natural rollers and snaking between the trees. The forest opens up at Whitepond Farm where we continued along the bridleway to the road and onto Pishil Church for a brew.
Hot drinks, flapjack and a great view greeted us at the church so we had a bit of a breather, checked out the new bikes that people had brought with them and had a good old chat.
Legs rested and bodies fuelled we made our way down hill really quickly, then uphill slowly before making our way to a really fast descent which saw one of our guys fall off, escaping only with a muddy arm and bruised pride. Once we’d regrouped and our brakes cooled down we started a steady ride up the last climb took us through woods to Chears Farm where half of the group had a quick ride to Cookley Green to get in another long fast descent down Devil’s Hill – which sadly meant repeating the last climb – and the other half of our group caught some sun! The descent down Devil’s Hill was a bit wetter at the bottom that it normally is, but everybody had a good time nonetheless.
The final section took us past Cookley Green and down the longest descent of the day onto the Ridgeway to Watlington. A small off at the top thanks to a boggy patch of mud covered in leaves was the only casualty – again only pride was bruised - during the final stages of the ride. This section starts off with a narrow entrance and widened up in the middle with some super smooth, flat-out sections leading into some long sweeping corners. This is one of my favourite descents in the area and I was really pleased that we managed to include it today!
The sun shone down throughout the day and it really did feel like spring has finally come! The map for this route is available below or on our trail guides page of the website in PDF version and GPS data is available as well.
Huge thanks to everybody who came out and made it a really fun day; looking forward to including it again.