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Audax 200k to Stratford

Sunday, 8 August 2021 - 7:50am

A 200 km DIY audax from Oxford to Stratford-upon-Avon using Sustrans routes where possible and attempting to get the majority of climbing over before the legs are too tired. You do not need to be a Audax UK member to join the ride, but if you want audax validation then you will need audax membership. It is definitely not a race but there is a time limit of 13.5 hours for completing the ride (including all café stops).

Ride report

Six of us met at Broad Street in trepidation about the day ahead, hoping that the forecast wind and rain would not be as bad as predicted. We picked up Daisy at Eynsham and Jon set a consistent and fast pace along the Windrush valley to Burford, then through the Barringtons and Sherborne to our first control at Northleach at about 54km. Jon’s pacesetting had got us to the village square for coffee at least 20 minutes ahead of schedule. We tucked into coffee and various types of savoury turnover while Budgen provided a good supply of bananas. We stood in the square to eat and made use of the excellent public toilets, although there seemed to be some confusion since there was a man in the ladies and a very confused lady in the gents.

We set off again knowing that we were ahead of time and our next stop would be Stratford sometime after 2.00pm for lunch. The wind was strong and we hoped that at some point it would be a tail wind in compensation for battling the headwind. We travelled mainly north through pretty villages. My heart sunk as I saw signs to Winchcombe, hoping that I had not routed us up a hill I had encountered on another audax and particularly disliked. Fortunately, we skirted above Winchcombe and had a fabulous view of it as we sailed on past without encountering that particular hill. We parted ways with Daisy near here as he had decided that he did not want to do the full route. We then turned into the picturesque village of Snowshill but a sharp hill then ensued, made worse by a junction half way up. We stopped briefly in Chipping Camden for a photo opportunity.

We travelled along a disused railway as we approached Stratford but cut off to approach by road in order to avoid the one way system. We had planned to have lunch in Sheep Street, but it was extremely busy and the Forties Tea Room had a queue extending out onto the street. We were hungry and did not want to lose the time advantage we had gained so made a quick decision to continue on along the route a little further to the old railway carriage where Jon had taken a ride a couple of weeks ago. We sat outside hoping the parasol would keep the worst of the rain off our tasty lunch.

We set off again encouraged that we already had more than 120km under our belts and that our next stop was now less than 50km away and we were still ahead of time. As we travelled on, the villages had a slightly different character being built from ironstone which is much darker than that further south. Jon warned us of the hill at Traitor’s Ford but I still managed to be in the wrong gear and Camera John avoided any incorrect gear problem by cycling straight through the water with his waterproof socks on.

After the route had been approved by James and lodged with Audax UK (although I was the only audax member and the only one wanting to have audax validation of my ride) Jon, who lives only a stone’s throw from the final control of a garage stop in Bloxham, offered to provide us with homemade cakes and cheese scones with lashings of hot tea if we made a brief detour to his cottage. How could we refuse – garage? Home baked cheese scone?

Once we reached Jon’s the weather seemed to improve. We sat at his picnic table and scoffed his baking. We were all tired now but we only had another 39 km to go and the evening sun shone on us.

We made it back to Broad Street with a few minutes to spare on the estimated time and an hour before the audax time limit cut off and a ride of 210km confirmed on our GPS machines. We celebrated our achievement with a pint of lime and soda and a packet of crisps.

The map is an embedded link from Ride with GPS. You can zoom in to see the route in as much detail as you like. For example, you can zoom in (using the + sign) to see exactly where the start is. If you'd like to see the distances, go to the Ride with GPS website by clicking on 'View Full Version' (top left of map).

Ride leaders

Role Name

Full ride leader

Ride venues and times

Venue Time Notes


Broad Street, Oxford 7:50am

In time for a prompt start at 8am


(To be arranged) 10:40am

In Northleach at 54k


(To be arranged) 2:30pm

Sheep Str in Stratford at 117k


(To be arranged) 5:50pm

In Bloxham at 168k


Oxford area 8:30pm

With 1 hour to spare 🙂

All of the times (apart from the start time) are approximate only, as weather or punctures may affect them.

Ride options and attendance

Ride option Distance Pace Attendees

Full ride

207km 20kph

Part of ride

126km 20kph

The pace listed above is the average pace we do, so in general when cycling along the flat we will go a bit faster than the average pace. Please be aware of this if you are wondering whether you will be able to keep up on the ride.

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