Sunday morning ride: better late than never

I was something like an hour into this morning's edition of Channel 4's Sunday Brunch when the horrible realisation that there was another two hours still to go suddenly took hold.

How could this be? Turns out, the show runs for three hours!

I immediately turned off the TV – not before hitting record: they were promising to do a special shepherd's pie later on – and hunted for my cycling gear.

I'd already scoffed a hearty breakfast of egg and bacon sandwiches that would ordinarily serve as a reward for an early morning stretch of the legs, so I decided to reverse the situation and head out on the road bike to work the sarnies off, instead.

Staring down the barrel of a washout of a bank holiday Monday, I was also spurred on by glimpses of sunshine and relatively low wind.


My route took me along my usual 25km circuit through Whaddon, Nash and Thornborough, but this morning I decided to break through the psychological barrier of the A422 and begin exploring the villages on the westward side of this usually busy road. Sunday morning traffic made this a breeze, and I was soon whizzing through Leckhampstead, Akeley, and on towards Lillingstone Lovell.


The secluded Chapel Lane which winds its way towards this quaintly-named hamlet was free of cars – which pleased me, as I'd spotted a pair of unexpected national speed limit signs either side of a road not wide enough for a single car to overtake me if it had needed to.

From there, a vast network of roads and lanes is available which wind through Wicken, Deanshanger, and many more surrounding villages. This is the kind of environment I've loved ever since getting comfortable riding on roads. It allows you to treat the country lanes as you would footpaths when out walking: picking and choosing routes based on the landmarks along the way. I often navigate with just a short list of village names, looking for the signposts at each junction. Other times, the trusty Ordnance Survey map comes out.


From the attractive little centres of Wicken and Deanshanger, modern roads slice up the lay of the land, but fortunately there's a neat little suspended, shared use pathway that goes right up and over the busy roundabout and drops you back into the lovely surroundings of Passenham, a tiny scattering of buildings including a pretty church, just the other side of Stony Stratford.

From there, I'm very much on the home straight. I could've gone in the opposite direction, doing another lap of my regular circuit, but I was just the right combination of satisfied and warmed up that I just fancied heading home, ending up with a decent 40km under my wheels.

Now, if only I'd done all this several hours earlier…!