Tuesday, May 30, 2000
Cirencester to Bath
Today is another cool day. At least it is sunny. With short exceptions, we had continually worn our cycling jackets since we had started this trip. Heading south from Cirencester through a maze of quiet country roads, we stopped often to refer to our map to help guide us to the B4040 and then to Malmesbury.
We found it interesting to see phone booths located on quite country roads - perhaps a throwback to the days when not everyone had their own phones. Upon entering Malmesbury Kevin experienced his one and only flat of the trip (at least while riding). We stopped, changed the tube and then walked 50 yards to a very conveniently located gas station to pump-up the tire. We took advantage of the air pump and topped up our tires. At this point, Kevin noticed that my rear tire was feathering in several locations. I had neglected to inspect my tires prior to departure and this oversight in basic bicycle maintenance would come back to bite me. After leaving Malmesbury we ventured back into another maze of country roads heading for Castle Combe. After several quick map referencing stops we cycled under the busy M4 motorway and had our lunch break just outside of Castle Combe.
The Cotswold village of Castle Combe lies at the bottom of a steep sided valley. This quaint "wool" town has gained stature as the "prettiest village in England." We toured the village, inspected the church graveyard (which appears quite haunted due to the tombstones, which appear ready to fall over), admired the hotel grounds and crossed the quaint stone bridge. Now the hard part - cycle out of Castle Combe
With a steady pace we tackled the tree-lined valley wall and in a few minutes emerged from the valley. Now we were once again on our way to Bath. The gently rolling countryside of the Thames River valley was now behind us. Hills grew larger and steeper. We crossed the A420 at The Shoe and the upcoming hill did Tom in. Half way up he dismounted and walked up the remainder of the steep incline. Out of sympathy (or so he said), Kevin also dismounted. It was the only hill in England where he did this, finding out it was just as easy to slowly grind up in his lowest gear. After a few more kilometers we made an exhilarating descent into Batheaston. Kevin reached a top speed of 70 kph, whereas I gave my brakes a workout and descended at a slower speed. We now joined the heavy Bath traffic and cycled our way into the centre of Bath. Once cleaned up at our B&B (Avoca, 16 Newbridge Road, Bath BA1 3JX), we toured some of the Bath sites: the Royal Crescent, The Circus, Pultenay Bridge and the Roman Baths.
I had arranged to meet with a couple from Bristol, Ela and Jitu in the evening. Ela and Jitu had been visiting with their family in London Ontario for Christmas and it was great to reconnect with them. We had a very enjoyable, but much too short visit in the Abbey Courtyard.
Daily Distance 67.3 K, Time: 3 hours, 31 minutes, Average 19.3 kph.
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