The thought receptacle

Stephen's mental dustbin

Sun, 20 Mar 2011

The long road home... from Swindon

On my return from a trip way out west (meaning Wales), I decided to pass on the delights of Didcot and instead cycle home from Swindon.

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I was a bit unconvinced when starting this trip. I was somewhat underslept and hungover, and it was already approaching 3pm when I got going. I was travelling without a spare tube, unusually, and although I had earlier reckoned that this was a “safe” ride because you're never more than five miles from a railway, I had been forgetting that there are (since 1964) no intermediate stations between Swindon and Didcot, making the railway of no use.

I shouldn't have feared. It took me what seemed like an age to get out of Swindon, but once I did, this became easily the best ride of the year so far. The roads were miraculously quiet, and the villages unfailingly picturesque. It helped of course that the weather was gloriously sunny, wind-free and, owing to the later start time, blessed with that warm late-afternoon light.

Quite a bit of the route is on B-roads, but these were all no busier than a quiet unclassified road (that is, not busy at all), at least on this one Sunday afternoon. The route cris-crosses the A420 in two places---on near Watchfield nearer Swindon, the other near Pusey nearer Oxford---and the difference in traffic level was remarkable. I romped straight across the first time, with almost no traffic in sight, whereas the second time I was waiting for over a minute (along with two cars) at the T-junction for a gap in a neverending stream of traffic heading towards Oxford. Clearly, the residents of Oxford like to spend their weekends, erm, somewhere in the Oxfordshire--Wiltshire borders.

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