September 4, 2012, by David Greenaway

The VC’s Life Cycle 2 Blog: Day 11 – Nottingham to Banbury

‘The day after the night before’ was not as subdued as I expected. After such an uplifting afternoon on University Park, waning enthusiasm could have been forgiven. But, there was none of that. Those staying at Cripps Hall, and a few that stayed at home, had a great breakfast (including the best porridge of the entire trip) and were ready to go on time.

We had two new leg riders, Andrew Leyshon, Head of our School of Geography, and Adam Tickell, PVC at Birmingham. Both are keen cyclists and went out with our front team of Andy, Gavin and Neville, as did Ahmad. Both Andy and Adam are geographers, but I am told this did little for way finding.

We had two mishaps today. The first on the way out of Nottingham, when a cyclist ran into Chris R. Happily neither riders nor bikes were damaged.

In the second, Steve fell over trying to avoid glass and landed on his shoulder on a kerb. He was about 30 miles from Banbury, but slowly made the miles in some pain. When he got to Banbury, the Support Team immediately took him to The Horton Hospital. After a thorough examination, the Doctor concluded there was no fracture and he had probably suffered a minor dislocation which had righted itself. He was in obvious discomfort but good spirits this evening.

I left University Park after Chris J, Karen, Kate, Mike, Penelope and Chris R. I had planned to pick them up quickly, but ended up chatting to a few colleagues before clearing the University. So it was Hathern before I saw them.

In the context of the ride it was a bit of a treat to leave from University Park and also to go through Sutton Bonington. It seemed odd riding around places that are so familiar from training rides.

Near Market Bosworth Mike diverted us to a tea shop he knew and loved, it turned out to have been converted into a holiday lodge. We pressed on and found the Sunflowers Garden Centre. As you can see from the picture, Mike was distraught at leading us so far off route and prostrated himself on the floor begging forgiveness. But Sunflowers was a terrific find. I had home-made vegetable lasagne and chips.

Karen, Kate, Penelope, Mike and Chris J got away first. Steve, who had been riding with Chris R, but joined us for lunch at Sunflowers, left with Nick and me. Steve insisted he had the best route on his dodgy Garmin, Nick and I followed. After about four miles, it became apparent this was a vehicular and not a cycle route and we were heading for the M69/M40. Nick and I bailed out and headed back to Hinckley, Steve stayed on his Garmin route.

We fiddled around a bit, as you do in towns, but stuck to the old fashioned method of looking at road signs and asking advice of locals. In Hinckley I asked one local, ‘do you know the way to Rugby?’ ‘No’, he replied, ‘I don’t mind if you interrupt me, how can I help you?’

Once clear of Rugby it is a fairly straight road through the attractive villages of Dunchurch and Southam. It is also very undulating. So the last 14 miles were quite a pull, up to around 650 feet, before dropping down in to Banbury.

Meanwhile, behind us Karen and her group stopped so she could straighten her socks (it is very important to be properly attired on the road). They got chatting to some nice employees of Severn Trent who asked about what they were doing and gave them a substantial donation.

Nick and I were low on fluids and six miles out emptied what remained in my bottles. I suggested that rather than the usual routine when we got in, we do some rapid rehydration, then reward ourselves with a cold pint. After all it had been a very hot day and we had pulled through 84 miles in good time. That was all the encouragement Nick needed. I struggled to stay with him over the final six miles. We were in before four, everyone else by five and Steve an hour later.

I know Banbury well, I used to live in Brackley and Evenley. It was the only time in my life I played cricket (for Evenley). I was pretty hopeless with bat and ball, but fast in the field and held catches. In a cup match against a village just outside Banbury and from a higher division, I was batting and thought we needed two to win. That would tie the scores and we had lost fewer wickets. I made good contact, could have run three, but just ran two. Wickets down did not count, so the match was tied and we lost the replay. Our Captain was very sympathetic: ‘check the rules bozo’ though he was not quite as concise as that.

Other team matters to report:

Further traffic violations I’m afraid, again involving red lights and again involving one of our Malaysian based riders. The defence offered was that it was ‘deep amber’ rather than red. Sorry my friend, in this country we only have green, amber and red. The offender now has a honking hippo fixed to his bike to remind him we do not have deep amber.

I have just heard of another possible violation, another repeat offender from our female riders. It will be checked out in the morning.

Accomplishment of the day: Steve grinding out 30 miles when injured.

Shock of the day: that also goes to Steve. This morning’s random search revealed a programme for Saturday’s Forest v Charlton match. Now we know why he wanted to divert there on Sunday.

Quote of the day: I called Sarah who runs my office. ‘Anything you need from me?’ ‘No’ she replied, ‘the University seems to be running quite well without you’. Thanks Sarah, I’ll try not to rush back.

Another 84 miles covered, making 839 in total. To my surprise we climbed almost 4,000 feet in rolling terrain. Chris R was first in and wins another yellow jersey.

Tomorrow we head to Winchester on what promises to be another hot day and will be joined by another leg rider, Doug Thomson.

Professor David Greenaway


Posted in Life Cycle 2