Ashbourne & The Mermaid Inn (DIY, 100km, 2AAA)

Having looked at the weather forecast it was clear that the day was going be very hot so rather than cooking on the road doing a 400km ride, I decided to do 100km ride instead. This ride is a variation on the Ashbourne Loop (please click here to see this blog). Rather than going directly to Ashbourne via Uttoxeter the route does a quick loop at the back of Lightwood taking in a small hill before descending into Forsbrook. The climb up through Devils Valley is a regular for me and it made a change climbing this in the dark.

The leg from Forsbrook through to Ashbourne is a new section for me and I suspect that during the day most of these roads are very busy. As I went along the country lanes there were lots of speed camera signs which suggests that traffic is often very quick on the roads. Once you’ve passed the JCB factory and start to climb out of Rocester village the road and views become much nicer and it’s not long before you arrive on Ashbourne. On the top road into Ashbourne, I encountered a teenager who had passed out in the middle road, there were two cars parked providing assistance. It turned out that a lad had drunk too much and his dad and brother had come to pick him up after a party he had attended during the night. A couple of miles later I came across a group of 20 teenagers all heading towards Ashbourne, clearly, these teenagers have been to the same party!

It was 5:55am and I was not expecting any shops to be open in Ashbourne but to my surprise the newsagent just after crossing the traffic lights by the entrance to Sainsbury’s was open so I popped in for a small bottle of water a chocolate bar. As I turned onto the main road which goes through Ashbourne it was clear that Ashbourne was having an event as there were flags and banners hanging from the buildings.

This next section which took me to Wetton village I’ve talked about this section in my related blog Ashbourne Loop please read that for details.

Arriving at the top of the climb at Bottomhouse represents the next leg of this modified route. I turned right and headed for Walsall which is a section of road I’ve done numerous times before. However, it is worth noting that these descents are fast and there is a lot of loose chippings and gravel on the corners so take your care. The turn off for my fourth and last big climb of the day quickly arrived and I was hoping that I would be able to make it to the top. I previously did this climb on a Peak Audax 100km ride and I walked most of it, this time I was able to cycle the full climb and although it was strenuous I did not feel at any time that I needed to get off my bike. This was fantastic as it demonstrated how far I have developed since last year.

Looking Towards The Roaches From The Small Wooden Bench by The Mermaid Inn

I pushed onto the Mermaid Inn and stopped at a small wooden bench at the top of the small climb, where I took a few photos and ate my chocolate bar from Ashbourne. The section from the wooden bench back to Froghall I knew was fairly quick although there were a couple of small hills how long the way. I actually managed to overtake another cyclist along the top road which is very rare for me as I am not a fast cyclist. I chose to stop at the Ipstones corner shop for a small 50p carton of milk and sat for 10 minutes in the sun taking the opportunity to send the wife a text message letting her know that I would be about one hour.

I dislike the leg back from Froghall to home as it takes you into and out of Cheadle which is very busy, narrow roads and very fast but it is the quickest way home. However, this is a great little route and if I start early in the morning again I will probably do this route but if I start later in the day I will do the Ashbourne Loop to avoid the traffic in the first 30km.