Riding away: London to Oxford

Yesterday was a weird day to be in the UK. As I had spent the previous evening glued to BBC coverage, refreshing news sites, and scrolling through Twitter as the EU Referendum results started rolling in, I was sleep deprived and shocked to wake up to the “out” decision. The dozens of conversations I had throughout the day, discussing what this would mean for the UK, and the number of empty desks at the office makes me wonder what the economic analysis would show if we looked at the impact of Brexit on productivity. Part of my reaction included in yesterday’s Stylist: Stylist article

IMG_2913After completing the tiniest amount of work, I decided that in spite of my high degree of sleep deprivation, decided to take my new friend Caley up on her offer to visit herin Oxford. That meant I had about 60 miles of pedalling to find some space from the Brexit commotion.

So, I saddled up my Cannondale and hopped on the tube to get a jumpstart on my journey out of London. Unfortunately, the car that I boarded for the 45 min trip was FILLED with excited 8-year-old school children. My kitty cap and I were wide-eyed and a bit distressed at the eruptions of screaming and non-stop high-pitched chatter. I honestly don’t know how teachers do it! Major respect for the primary teachers out there!

Needless to say, I was relieved to arrive in at the Uxbridge tube stop and hit the road.IMG_2930.JPG
In my prior journeys, I had added my destination to Google Maps and would rely on their cycling directions to get where I was going. As you may recall from this post, this approach doesn’t always go smoothly. Google seems to think that riding along motorways is an appropriate recommendation. My new approach was to look up a route that has been shared by another cyclist online, take note of the tiny towns that the route goes through, and use a step-wise approach to getting where I am going.uxbridgeg oxford

[If you want the more detailed view, you can see the route on my Mapmyrun page here: Uxbridge to Oxford route].

This approach worked like a charm! I ended up spending the next hours on charming country roads, including many quiet single-lane roads that are nestled beneath the delicate draping of the canopy of old trees. There were so many moments when I felt like I was riding in a movie – the afternoon sun filtering through the rich green leaves, lush forests of ferns bordering the pavement, interrupted by old stone walls, spectacular centuries-old buildings, or wide-open farmland. It was one of the most pleasant routes I have cycled to date in the UK.  IMG_2932.JPGOf course, there is always time for my favourite cycling snacks – a solid brick of tofu, fruit, and packets of baby food.

I was rolling along pretty smoothly, cruising down a single-lane road when suddenly the pavement stopped abruptly, replaced by a mess of thick mud. I looked closely at the route map, and google insisted that I should continue straight, that the “road” would continue.

IMG_2952.JPGThinking this might be a small section based on the recent flooding in the area, I pushed on. Unfortunately, after wading through this mud mess, the road stopped completely – replaced by a bridlepath and a field, appropriate only for those traveling by horseback. So back through the mud I tromped, my bike and body now covered with a thick layer of sticky mud. IMG_2970.JPGMy toes squidged with mud and water for the rest of my ride (so the next 4 hours), but that did not detract from the spectacular views that I rode by, particularly in the Chiltern hills – another AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). IMG_2960.JPGAs the light started to fade (along with the power on my iPhone), I started to despair that I would ever get to Oxford. IMG_2968.JPGAs I raced along, I saw a spectacular sunset, but just preserved the pictures in my brain. I arrived in Caley’s neighbourhood as my battery breathed its last, and I had to harass a few strangers to finish the last leg of this journey. A snack, a chat, and a hot shower later, I happily melted into the couch, completely exhausted, totally at peace.


Remember, this is all part of my “Pedalling for Mental Health” challenge, where I am hoping to raise money for mental health research. If you are able to support this great charity, please donate here!

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Today’s distance:  60miles/97km

Total miles logged: 462miles/741km

 

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