Chalke & Cheese 200

Day and night, fast and slow! Beautiful valleys including the Chalke with the odd hill thrown in; plus Cheddar Gorge, maybe in the dark with its looming walls. Stunning views en route, you may just see The Needles…

Warmley, City of Bristol | Sat 13th Jan 2024 @ 07:00

WHEN: +iCal
Sat 13th January 2024
07:00 - 20:56
WHERE:
Warmley Station
Bristol And Bath Railway Path
Warmley, BS30 5JB
Validation:
BR
Chalke & Cheese 200 1
Award Distance:
200
Total Distance:
209km
Duration:
13h56
Speeds:
15-30kph
Climb:
2450m
AAA: 0.00
Rainbow Flat
Chalke & Cheese 200 3Enquiries
BRIEF:

Day and night, fast and slow! Beautiful valleys including the Chalke with the odd hill thrown in; plus Cheddar Gorge, maybe in the dark with its looming walls. Stunning views en route, you may just see The Needles…

Chalke & Cheese 200 is the early year 200 to do!

description:

Heading out from Warmley Station along the Bristol to Bath Railway Path and through the 2Tunnels under Combe Down you will make your way into Wiltshire and cruise down the amazing virtually traffic free Wylye Valley to Ginny’s, which the still operational GWR Wessex Main Line follows to the historic town of Wilton with its Italianate Church.

Hopping over to the Chalke Valley, named after a small tributary to the River Ebble emerging at Broad Chalke, you head towards Shaftesbury after a couple of climbs; the first onto Charlton Down on a section of old Roman road between Bath and Badbury Rings, here you may see on the horizon The Needles if a clear day. Descend the infamous Zig-Zag Hill to Shaftesbury.

Using predominantly B roads from now you head to Wells, here the road named Strawberry Way follows what was once the old Strawberry Line named after the local produce. Level riding through Somerset to Cheddar and its mighty Gorge, most likely in the dark with its looming rock faces, you ascend The Mendips to the Chew Valley and the arrivée at The Holybush Inn, Bridgeyate. 

Adam Watkins’ 2018
Adam Watkins’ 2019 – 2:50 my first randonnée on fixed 😀
2020 Fly through
Adam Wakins’ video – 2020. There I go, zig zagging away, just like Sagan…
Like or loath* it? Let others know.
*Whilst I like to think I can affect the weather alas that is beyond my control...

What others think.

Riding my limits rollercoaster

19th January 2020

Our modern lives are often dictated by convenience and instant gratification, I am rebelling against that. I do not want an easy life. I want a good life. I had entered an event with a hard time limit and made it harder for myself by taking sleeping gear around with me. I wanted to find my breaking point. Failure was the objective. This is not my first of these types of rides and it certainly won’t be my last.

My first destination was Bath to see my Brother and watch the film he starred* in and have a lovely lunch out with the parents. Much as cycling brings me lots of joy, the change is fantastic too, it makes you appreciate both sides all the more. My parents left for home, and I left my brother with his revision as I found myself the brilliant Bath to Bristol cycle path, the ferocious wolf moon rose to my right before a glowing sunset on my left.

*it was a cloudy night so the star wasn’t vizable but we knew.

I feel so lucky to have realised cycling for transport. My world grows as my mental restrictions are slowly stripped away and my limits flex. Yes cars are four times faster, yes you do not get wet in a box, but it is soulless transport. That entire half hour journey from A to B is dead time. Your world is just A and B, mine is everywhere in between. It is not just my legs that are active, all of my senses are hard at work. I get to experience the whoosh as the road arcs round a corner, the rise then fade of horse manure, subtle changes in humidity as I cross a bridge. I believe this connection is a significant factor in why I care so much about the climate.

Before leaving Bath I had been attempting to plan how to spend my evening, then after 20 minutes of browsing lists of the best pubs in the South West I realised this was not my style so promptly left without a plan. This plan always works, sure enough I spotted a sign to Bath Ales brewery among an industrial estate, tasty beers, interesting crowd, this was a jackpot.

The brewery closed early so I rolled myself to another pub. This is where I had a revelation, I am in my mid twenties. I have been trying to avoid this for ages, but it is so positive. What triggered this was me walking to the bar and ordering a second pizza instead of a pint. I have a job. The price of a pizza is not significant to me. I can do what I want, and that is pizzas over pints.

Audaxes are simple events, here is a route, go ride. The lack of structure and competition means that everyone is in it for themselves. They are doing it to do it, because it is difficult, because they love it. These people are some of the strongest endurance athletes I have ever met, but you wouldn’t realise for talking to them. The absence of racing keeps boastful egos away.

The start was back along the cycle path and the narrow nature of it forced us into a single file, reviving the decommissioned train. Rear lights pulsed at overlapping frequencies as shifting luminous clothing and reflective accents turned us into a kaleidoscope of forward motion. Individually we were drops, but together we formed a river, chaotically flowing around obstacles, forever onwards.

Being an old railway line we passed through a tunnel, then another never ending one that I’m convinced was a portal into Victorian times. My whispers of “this is so cool!” echoed to add to the absurdity of it as it kept on going. I refuse to look up the stats of how long it actually is, because dumb numbers cannot compare to “very”. When I emerged it was full blown daytime.

Sunrise is all too often just less black, the big moment of this morning was hours into the grey. I turned a corner and all of a sudden I saw blue! In isolation this was a subpar view, but to me, in that moment, it was exquisite. My imagination created a glowing warmth on my skin as the rays caught my face. I glided along for an entire 20 minutes before the drizzle hit, and it hit hard. The cafe was forever round the corner so no point stopping to put my coat on, only there was. I arrived a saturated, shivering mess. I have a top ten lifetime cuppas and this made a new entry as I squeezed warmth out of the mug and returned to reality.

Small talk was often complaints about the headwind, but I was loving the metrological might on display. I made a mental soundscape of all the different layers of wind I could hear. It rolled around inside my hood like a third lung, rustled through the leaves on the well kept bushes, whurred through my spokes, but most of all roared past my ears in spirals of raw power. This is not something to shut out, something to battle, this is something to be in awe of.

One of the extremely inaccessible things that I just can’t get enough of is that point of tired brain function that stops the adult voice from saying no that is silly. I spent the entire ride up Cheddar Gorge imagianing pocketting a rock and keeping it for a ridiculous situation. I needed to be asked for a block of cheese, then I would whip out this rock. Hilarious. I visualised myself in a supermarket, eating beans on toast, saving the day at the picnic… quality Bentertainment.

I had planned on sleeping in another ditch that night, but upon finishing the audax with beans still left in my metaphorical can, I decided to crack right on home. This entire journey felt like I was on the zoomy bit of rainbow road because that strong wind was now behind me. Directions were simple as it was late enough that the A roads were peaceful so I navigated by road signs. On reflection I was quite low on beans, just my beans-can-do attitude would not admit it.

Avatar for Ben
Ben

Response from Pedalution

Great write up Ben!

Fun ride

18th January 2020

Tough little effort for January and my first audax. Well organised and fun – i will be back for more…

Avatar for Richard
Richard

A wonderful winter ride.

18th January 2020

A winter ride that has everything, from tiny rural lanes to wide open vista’s ride it you will not regret it.

Avatar for Richard
Richard


Bookings aren't available; either I haven't opened entry yet or if after 11/01/24 then they have closed.


You are attending this event.

The following ride details are currently: Provisional - some details have been updated but some may still be pending.



  • Please flick through the following tabs fully and make any preparations before the event.
  • Route files & links will be found under the 'Route' tab.
  • The event/route specific information will be finalised usually the Monday before the event and you will get an email reminder 3 days prior from bookings-noreply@pedalution.co.uk - add it to your address book to save any disappointment.
  • Should you be unable to attend the event I have enabled cancellation from 'My Bookings'. This will aid me in keeping controls informed as to how many to expect and also reduce wastage when printing the brevet cards. Remember there is no option to refund or transfer if you are unable to attend.
  • You will receive your brevet card at the start. Should you start the ride and be unable to finish my phone number is within; please drop me a text with your full name to let me know you won't be finishing so volunteers and myself aren't waiting around longer than necessary at controls and the finish.
  • Please use 'Enquires' link above for any queries.

New to audax? Have a look at Audax UK's About for an overview & FAQs for commonly asked questions.

  • Until the route is finalised the interactive map above will give you an idea of where you are going.
  • It is advisable to study the route notes prior to the event for further details; especially if you are just using a GPX breadcrumb trail to navigate. These are also the 'cuesheet' within the RWGPS route; zoom the map to your desired level, click on a cue and it will focus the map at that cue.
  • Every effort is made to identify road closures before the event and provide alternatives where necessary; however I can not account for any emergency closures that are required.
  • A variety of surfaces may be encountered, some may be as smooth as a baby's bum, others potholed nightmares, or somewhere in between; if any unmetalled sections are used this will be noted in the Event Info above and now visible as 'unpaved' within RWGPS.
  • I do my utmost to select low traffic routes but there may be times busier sections are required.
  • Mudguards aren't mandatory but if you can fit them why wouldn't you?
  • I would always recommend a set of lights as you never know what could happen.
  • Similarly consider carrying 2 space blankets; they cost nothing, are tiny, and can keep you and an other warm should the unfortunate happen.
EXTRA DETAILS:

Notable points on the route:

  • 0-18km !!Pedestrians - Barriers - Bollards - Gates - Tunnels!! Predominently shared path on the B&B Railway Path & 2Tunnels - Be aware of other users at all times and give plenty of space to those oncoming. It isn't a race so take your time here so it is enjoyable for everyone.
  • 12-13km !!Narrow tow path - Footbridge dismount!! - as above - consider splitting off and using the alternative section available in the RWGPS event if you see everyone before you making a beeline to the end of the B&B.
  • 14km - Devonshire Tunnel is currently flooded at its entrance, it may or may not be open on Saturday. If it isn't (the gate will be locked) use either X.2 or X.3 (see below), both these turn off the 2 Tunnels path to the left immediately before Devonshire Tunnel.
  • 41km !!Curb - unmetalled section!! - after you cross the A350 onto the old road.
  • 73km !!Blind right!! - WILTON: LEFT @ T onto A30 $ TOWN CENTRE.
  • 150km !!Pedestrians!! - Shared path from Dulcot to Wells
  • 183km !!Steep descent - narrow bends!! - W. Harptree Hill: LEFT @ X $ W HARPTREE
  • As of Tues 9/1 there is standing water in many places particularily the Wylye & Chalke Valleys. All passable with care on the route check. Remember spare tubes, puncture kits etc as debris will have washed off on to the road.

Included with the RWGPS event & linked in the route are 3 extra sections:

  • X.1 - Avoids the towpath/footbridge bottle neck between the B&B Railway Path & 2 Tunnels; turning off the B&B earlier you use the A36 into Bath.
  • X.2 - Devonshire Tunnel Diversion - ALL ROAD - misses all tunnels - bit of a climb over the top.
  • X.3 - Devonshire Tunnel Diversion - 25m of muddy track - joins 2 Tunnels Greenway after Devonshire Tunnel for Combe Down Tunnel and cycle path to Midford - less climbing.
Route Files:
CSV

CSV route notes - these can be edited in any spreadsheet software.

PDF

PDF route notes - a version with maps is available in linked RWGPS route (no account necessary to use the official PDF - use 'More v') or the event.

GPX

GPX with control waypoints - if re-uploading to an online planner please make private so as not to confuse others in the future - use this tool to split at waypoints and/or simplify.

RWGPS Links:
Event

RWGPS Event - at least a free account needed but you will get full premium features, including offline maps & voice nav for the app, regardless of your subscription level. To sync to your device (Wahoo, Garmin Edge) you need to join this first.

Route

RWGPS Route - no account needed but you will lack a few advanced features such as early turn warnings.

See the RWGPS App for my tips to use your phone for navigation and maximising battery life.

Troubleshooting:
  • Can't copy the RWGPS route to your account? I have disabled this so should any changes be necessary there is the one correct version.
  • I do not provide technical services for your device having never used anything other than the RWGPS app.
  • Can't add it to Garmin Connect? It isn't an activity. Transfer it to your Garmin via USB.
  • Can't send to your device? Join the RWGPS event.
EXTRA DETAILS:

Start: Brevet cards can be collected from just inside the cafe garden on left from about 06:30.

Finish: Hollybush Inn - please do not park at the pub in the morning.

Start:

Please arrive at least 10 minutes before the depart time to collect your brevet card.

Warmley Station - opens new tab for map.
Bristol And Bath Railway Path, Warmley, City of Bristol, BS30 5JB

Access:

Parking:
On street near by - Please do not use the car park next to the start. This is 2hrs max and actively enforced. Surrounding streets in the immediate vicinity are residents only, further out no restrictions.
Alternatives:

  • Lyde Green P&R is free to use but has opening/closing times though ungated; check link for restrictions. Directions here.
  • Bristol Parkway Main Car Park for long term parking and follow directions for 'train access' above.
  • Please do not use Bitton Station; this is intended for those using the railway path recreationally not for all day parking.
  • If the Hollybush Inn is being used as the finish please do not use their car park.

Food & Drink:
Food & Drinks available.
The cafe will usually be open 45mins before the start time for tea & coffee and breakfast rolls. Arrive early to avoid disappointment.
Unless specified otherwise above.

Accommodation:
There is a Travelodge & Premier Inn just to the north at Emersons Green. See here for more. The YHA is in central Bristol and about 30mins cycle using the Bristol and Bath Railway Path.

Finish:

Hollybush Inn - opens new tab for map & a few details.

Route Controls:

  • @0km | DEPART: WARMLEY - Waiting Room | 07:00
  • @55km | CONTROL: BOYTON - Ginnys Cafe @ The Ginger Piggery | 08:50-10:40
  • @73km | INFO: WILTON - On left opp Italianate CH & traffic island. See brevet card
  • @83km | CONTROL: BROAD CHALKE [FREE] - Village Stores - collect receipt | 09:48-12:36
  • @165km | CONTROL: WEDMORE [FREE] - Village Stores on left @ Church St jnc - colelct receipt | 12:30-18:00
  • @209km | ARRIVEE: BRIDGEYATE - Hollybush Inn | 13:58-20:56

CASH is best at controls as connection speeds for card machines aren't great in the sticks and often are the cause of any queue.

Ginny's:

  • Egg bap £3.75
  • Mushroom bap £3.75
  • Bacon bap £4.25
  • Sausage bap £5.25
  • Bacon and egg bap £4.75
  • Sausage and egg bap £5.75
  • Bacon sausage and egg bap £6.75
  • Bacon sausage egg mushroom wrap £8.25
  • Veggie/vegan sausage option

Chalke Valley Stores - either relax in the old chapel with a hot brew and cake or grab and go from the shop.

The section from Broad Chalke to Wedmore is a long slog in the winter. There are various cafes and shops in Shaftesbury and a Budgens about half way at Bruton which is a popular intermediary stop.

Wedmore Stores - a hot food cabinet for sausage rolls, pasties, pies etc along with hot drinks and all the usual shop stuff.

This is what 'audax' is all about. Travelling between controls to collect proof of passage (PoP) to prove you have cycled the distance. The above controls are found in your brevet card, the route notes, as POIs with the route, and waypoints with the GPX. Your brevet card it to be filled out as you progress around the route. PoP is obtained in several ways. It is highly recommended you carry a pen or pencil to fill your brevet card as you go; if it is a long event numbering any receipts to correspond with the control number will save you time later, then keeping them in order is next level!

Types of control:
  • CONTROL - a place or venue where you obtain PoP which can be done in several ways. You will be able to get food and/or drink, also WC will be available.
    • Manned - a volunteer or venue member of staff will stamp your card providing PoP. All controls are thus unless specified as...
    • Free - you must obtain PoP from that place that has a time and date, usually a receipt from a cafe, shop or ATM.
  • INFO - a question found in your brevet card that is relevent to the location needs to be answered and recorded.
  • CHECKPOINT - similar to a control but there may not be any facilities present.
  • SECRET - now that would be telling wouldn't it!
USING YOUR PHONE & RWGPS APP:

I use the RWGPS app on my phone to navigate audax events by using spoken cues, I also use it to route check and proof my route notes. This IMHO is the best of all worlds. I don't need to look at a screen (but I can check if I want), I get clear directions when needed (you may need to get used to my shorthand which gets spoken as such), I get a warning if I'm off route, the battery lasts a lot longer than constantly using the screen; especially nowadays as phone batteries are getting bigger plus many are able to rapid charge in a short amount of time. All you need is a good case and mount for inclement weather.

  • Install the app.
  • Join the event.
  • Go to the route.
  • Send to device.
  • Open app and confirm download.
  • In settings (exact location varies depending on iOS or Android) to optomise for best battery use:
    • Logging - adjust interval: every 10s is best for the battery, logs your ride but won't get you any KOMs; every 1s uses 10x more battery power to write data but may get you a KOM if you pedal quick.
    • Navigation - Spoken alerts ON | Off-course alerts ON | others at your discretion.
    • Handlebar mode ENABLED - this will keep RWGPS above any screen lock so you can recall it if needed by pressing power button or similar.
    • Handlebar mode - Screen OFF for cues | Proximity Wake OFF (otherwise changes in light will turn the screen on) | Keep screen on NEVER.
    • Offline mode ENABLED - when you start riding.
  • Better still use flight/aeroplane mode whilst riding.
  • You can adjust the text-speech settings via your phone settings; the type of voice, playback speed etc.

Most of the battery drain on a phone is from the screen. By using voice commands you eliminate this but can still view the map if needs be. The second biggest drain whilst cycling is the phone itself searching for a signal as you move between cell towers; putting the phone into flight/aeroplane mode whilst moving solves this problem; you can easily turn data back on to #tag that #CAKE at the next stop!

ANDROID:

Make sure battery optimisation is turned off otherwise Android will recognise RWGPS as an excessive battery drain and can limit its functionality. This will be particularily evident if you stop for a bit without GPS signal then continue; the app will appear to be functioning correctly but Android will limit it and data can be lost from the stop point until the app is restarted. There may be a similar feature in iOS.

  • Settings >Apps.
  • Find RWGPS and expand Advanced >Battery.
  • If it says optomised then select and wait for all apps to load.
  • Make sure the apps displayed are 'All apps', find RWGPS and select.
  • Select 'Don't optimise'. Exit settings.

You have agreed to and declared that at the time of the ride...

  • You have no symptoms relating to COVID-19.
  • That you are not self-isolating.
  • That you are not required to quarantine during the period of the event.
  • That no local or other regulations prohibit you from attending this event.
  • You agree that if you develop any such symptoms before the event you will not attend.
  • You agree that if I develop any such symptoms immediately after the event I shall inform the organiser.

Please follow any wishes of private establishments en route. I highly recommend carrying a mask/buff/scarf etc for the simple act of covering your face if needed when indoors. Any specifics requested by controls will be noted in the control tab.

Audax UK's current policy can be found here.