The best one yet

I dedicate this post to Liv, she inspired me to write it today

I’ve done a month of lockdown now. A week on holiday, 3 weeks here. My routine is solid with regular rides to keep me sane. There has been some good weather recently too and the roads and trails have dried out which make venturing offroad more inviting.

As I left my fat, 38mm gravel tyres on my bike, my morning rides have inevitably involved some offroad riding. I’ve been up and around the Lickey Hills but I have favoured the canal a bit more to be honest. I usually ride down through town and pick up the canal on the other side and ride back up part of the Tardebigge Flight which is a tasty set of short, sharp inclines enabling a decent workout. Today though was different. Yesterday, I went out earlier and did a longer loop. I preferred it. No need to ride again after work at night as I’ve been doing (naughty boy) to mimic my commutes to/from work. I was up for it again today, helped by Sally getting up for work at 5.45am. This time I decided I was going to Clent and back.

I did my normal downhill start through Catshill. I was on my way and hadn’t even got a route in my head so it was make it up as I go along. I decided to head out into the lanes and climb up to Fairfield via Swan Lane which has a bit of a nasty kicker at the top. The road surface was shocking last time I rode. Ideal for a gravel bike but alas it had been repaired so reasonably smooth now. I was blowing at the top. The 6 degs fresh air and the incline waking me up for the rest of the ride. I decided to very briefly jump on the A491 which is normally a motorway but eerily silent (and safe) this morning. Quickly off and into the lanes again descending to Belbroughton. Quiet again, I rode out of the village and began the slog upto Clent Village and then a right and the start of the first real climb to the very top top and highest point of Clent, the four stones. The road is pretty shallow for a couple of hundred metres, you round a bend and it begins to kick up until you get to the Fountain pub. A left here and you’re on a seriously steep dead end road, circa 20%+. When the road runs out it kicks up steeper again on the gravel path to the top before it eases off a bit and you slog it out to the top. Its a nasty bar steward to be honest.

Four stones, Clent. I wish I could lose that in weight though

I stopped and took a couple of photos (and for a breather!). The first one from the stones looked out across Stourbridge. The weather was just sublime. It was quiet, the odd person was walking their dog, I saw walkers, runners. It was just nice. I then rode a few yards and took another pic facing back towards Bromsgrove before a very steep descent back to St Kenelms Pass, the road that climbs over the hills and sits bang in the middle between this hill and Walton Hill my next conquest. I was on it.

Bromsgrove is there somewhere

I crossed the road and rode up to the car park which had been taped off. Still cars driving and parking up though. I took the main bridleway to the top. Nowhere near as bad as the Four Stones climb. Walton Hill has a triangulation point on top but I didn’t stop I dropped off the other side down the cobbled, bricked, concreted, broken access road that leads to a house on the top. A nice descent now for a bit on the road. I could have gone home done but my tail was up. I wanted more elevation. So next, Winwood Heath Road. A tasty piece of tarmac that local cycling clubs run their hill climb races on. When your young, fit and fast you can sprint up it in 4 mins, today it was low n slow. 30/32 engaged and I just span up it as easy as I could admiring the bluebells out in the woods either side. I topped out and rolled over Romsley Hill past the water tower and then across to Dayhouse Bank, across the M5 and into the Waseley Hills car park. More drivers parked up here too. I checked my time and I worked out I didn’t have time for these hills so I rode down a great little gravel path back towards Rubery. I love a new trail. I turned into an estate road and got the ‘magic the beans’ sign off a driver for having the audacity to make him slow down. They still exist. Into the ghost town that was Rubery high street I rode between the shops and found the park at the back which took me straight up to Beacon Hill for my final fling with gravity. No time to offroad the climb so it was another first gear tap out. I turned into Monument Lane at the top to see if there were any drivers in the car park there too (Lickey Hills). Of course there were.

Time to go home now for a shower but then I passed the Lickey Hills monument or obelisk hidden away behind the trees. I’ve never been up to it before so I decided to check it out. Its real big and a shame its so hidden away. Lovely shaded spot.

The Obelisk/Monument commemorates the 6th Earl of Plymouth, who created the Worcestershire Yeomanry volunteer regiment of cavalry, which fought in the Napoleonic Wars.

Time was getting on so it was out onto the Brum road for fast descent back home, a hot shower and a bucket of coffee.

Hands down the most enjoyable lockdown ride yet.

…and why did I dedicate this post to Liv? Well she went for a run today. But Liv doesn’t  normally run and she has found the adjustment to working from home quite difficult like a lot of us. She’s tried to help herself today and she came back buzzed, feeling amazing. The endorphins us fitty bum bums know about and it reminded me why I ride my bike and do exercise. Its a drug. So thanks Liv, I’m very proud of you and that really cheered me up today x

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