Bristol to London on NCN4

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Gussio
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Bristol to London on NCN4

Postby Gussio » Thu Aug 01, 2013 09:44 am

Got a pass for the weekend and plan to ride from Bristol to London along NCN4 over 2 days, camping half way. I'll be using a Pompino (75GI) with rack and panniers, and standard road tyres. Plan on taking it easy and enjoying the scenery. This post probably belongs in touring, but I know that some of you live in Bristol and Reading so might be able to help with the following:

- Is the combination of fixed gear plus 28c Gatorskins a reasonable approach for NCN4, or should I look for a route along roads?
- Does anyone have a handy .gpx file for the route?
- Is it easy enough to pick up the track from Bristol Temple Meads station (I don't know the city at all)?

Thanks for any advice or thoughts that you might have.

mudcovered
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Re: Bristol to London on NCN4

Postby mudcovered » Thu Aug 01, 2013 10:00 am

Gussio wrote:Got a pass for the weekend and plan to ride from Bristol to London along NCN4 over 2 days, camping half way. I'll be using a Pompino (75GI) with rack and panniers, and standard road tyres. Plan on taking it easy and enjoying the scenery. This post probably belongs in touring, but I know that some of you live in Bristol and Reading so might be able to help with the following:

- Is the combination of fixed gear plus 28c Gatorskins a reasonable approach for NCN4, or should I look for a route along roads?

NCN 4 follows a canal towpath between Bath and Devizes. Its a dirt road surface with some big potholes and it can be quite swampy if it rains a lot (although the condition is reasonable at the moment).

NCN 4 starts to take a pretty wide detour towards the London end of the route. You can cut off a huge corner by cutting over to Slough and getting on the Grand Union Canal spur there. You can then take the canal towpath all the way into London (comes out by Paddington Station) if you want. I've done that before and the surface was similar in condition to the towpath between Bath and Devizes but that was quite a few years ago.

Gussio wrote:- Does anyone have a handy .gpx file for the route?

Sorry ride it by instinct at least for the section between Bristol and Devizes. ;)

Gussio wrote:- Is it easy enough to pick up the track from Bristol Temple Meads station (I don't know the city at all)?

Its not far but it took me quite a while to get the optimal route between the station and the cycle path head sorted out as the signposting is pants so I'd advise a googlemaps rece for that bit.

Mike

Gussio
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Re: Bristol to London on NCN4

Postby Gussio » Thu Aug 01, 2013 10:24 am

Thanks Mike - that is really helpful, and much appreciated. Sounds like if I can find the time (and mudguard clearance) then some CX tyres might be a good idea.

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rubertoe
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Re: Bristol to London on NCN4

Postby rubertoe » Thu Aug 01, 2013 10:42 am

Gussio wrote:Thanks Mike - that is really helpful, and much appreciated. Sounds like if I can find the time (and mudguard clearance) then some CX tyres might be a good idea.


I can do you a good deal on some never ridden Racing Ralphs...
"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."

PX Kaffenback 2 = Work Horse
B-Twin Alur 700 = Sundays and Hills

RobertSims
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Re: Bristol to London on NCN4

Postby RobertSims » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:40 am

I work by Temple Meads and trick is to go out the side exit of the station and NOT THE MAIN EXIT! If you are stood facing the main exit turn right and you'll see a smaller exit. Out there, down a bit of a slope, turn right into a car park with a massive circus tent thing in it, over a silver bridge and then follow the signs. You'll pick up the Bristol to Bath cycle path (my regular commute) which is smooth tarmac all the way to bath. Enjoy!
Triban 3

Gussio
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Re: Bristol to London on NCN4

Postby Gussio » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:45 am

Excellent insider knowledge - brilliant and thank you!

@rubbertoe - will tough it out with the Gatorskins this weekend, but am interested in the racing ralphs if they are 700c. Drop me a PM with how much you are looking for and we can haggle ;)

mudcovered
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Re: Bristol to London on NCN4

Postby mudcovered » Thu Aug 01, 2013 13:57 pm

Gussio wrote:Thanks Mike - that is really helpful, and much appreciated. Sounds like if I can find the time (and mudguard clearance) then some CX tyres might be a good idea.


I forgot to add that I ride that towpath on 28C Conti GP 4 seasons so its not exactly impassible. It will just require slightly more care if there is a lot of rain.

Mike

Gussio
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Re: Bristol to London on NCN4

Postby Gussio » Thu Aug 01, 2013 14:37 pm

Thanks again Mike. My "work" day has consisted of plotting a gpx route and booking up campsites. Roll on the weekend (which will hopefully be sunny!). Will let you know how I get on.

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redvee
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Re: Bristol to London on NCN4

Postby redvee » Thu Aug 01, 2013 23:43 pm

RobertSims wrote:I work by Temple Meads and trick is to go out the side exit of the station and NOT THE MAIN EXIT! If you are stood facing the main exit turn right and you'll see a smaller exit. Out there, down a bit of a slope, turn right into a car park with a massive circus tent thing in it, over a silver bridge and then follow the signs. You'll pick up the Bristol to Bath cycle path (my regular commute) which is smooth tarmac all the way to bath. Enjoy!


Don't forget to stop for the touristy Gromit photocall too :lol:

mroli
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Re: Bristol to London on NCN4

Postby mroli » Fri Aug 02, 2013 10:56 am

My missus and her 2 mates did it over 3 days last year: Image for some photos. They used the same tyre combo so you should be fine.

There is a bit of road, some dedicated cycle tarmac, a lot of decent tow path, some patchy tow path and a little bit of grass riding - I think Conti 28s are a good compromise (possibly the Vittoria Randoneur 32s that Ugo loves would be ideal).

Have an amazing time - it is a fun ride - we did it on a tandem on 25c tyres, fully laden about 4 years ago. Ended up in the canal once, got fed up round Reading with having to unload and reload the bike so we could lift it up over the scooter barriers, but had a fantastic trip. Lots of pubs etc on the way where you can eat.

She has a GPX file for the route somewhere that I can find if you need it - her Strava links are here:

Day 1: p1http://app.strava.com/activities/23512945 p2 http://app.strava.com/activities/23512940
Day 2: http://app.strava.com/activities/23512949
Day 3: http://app.strava.com/activities/23512947

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redvee
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Re: Bristol to London on NCN4

Postby redvee » Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:55 am

mroli wrote:She has a GPX file for the route somewhere that I can find if you need it - her Strava links are here:

Day 1: p1http://app.strava.com/activities/23512945 p2 http://app.strava.com/activities/23512940
Day 2: http://app.strava.com/activities/23512949
Day 3: http://app.strava.com/activities/23512947


I can download the GPX files courtesy of my Strava premium priviliges if needs be.

Gussio
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Re: Bristol to London on NCN4

Postby Gussio » Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:38 am

Have to say that the weekend beat all my expectations - what a fantastic route! Thanks for all the pointers above. I also did it over 3 days (Friday evening (55km), long day Saturday (145km) and Sunday morning (60km)). With the exception of 5 miles either side of Reading and a bit through Staines, where I got lost, the trip was excellent. Glad that I stuck with the gatorskins - there is enough tarmacked surface to make it worth while, and the unsealed tracks were generally in pretty good order. Just one puncture, from an inch-long thorn. This was the first time that I have tried touring on a fixed gear and it was surprisingly excellent - gave plenty of control on the off-road sections and, with the exception of some of the steeper "hills" in Wiltshire, never felt too troublesome with a load on the back. In fact, the extra weight seemed help with forward momentum, or is that just my imagination? There was a tailwind for the whole trip, which helps, and pretty much constant sun.

Camped at two of the friendliest campsites you could hope for, near Melksham and Bray. Nice warm shower at the end of each day and restorative cups of tea lying in the evening sunshine. What's not to like?

Highlight on the bike was the probably the quiet country lanes between Devizes and Hungerford early on Saturday morning. Saw perhaps 5 cars for whole section. Off the bike, just as I had finished setting up camp in Melksham and a couple walked past, she said to him "That's the way to do it". Quite.

mudcovered
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Re: Bristol to London on NCN4

Postby mudcovered » Mon Aug 05, 2013 13:45 pm

Glad you enjoyed it. I'm more one for restorative pints of beer though. :D

Mike


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