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Tuesday, August 01, 2017

July 8th: Worcester to Winchcombe

After the crazy random elevation changes and single-track unpaved bike path of the previous day, I was delighted to discover that the bike path through Worcester used the old towpath along the Worcester-Birmingham Canal. These bike paths, while narrow and with several bridge traversals that required me to duck, never had insane grade changes, and were quiet and calm on a Saturday morning.
After reluctantly leaving the canal path, we stopped at the edge of Worcester where there was a nice playground which unfortunately did not have a zipline. It was also lonely and deserted on a Saturday morning, so Bowen didn't actually want to spend too much time there.

The actual on-road riding was on fairly small roads with relatively little traffic, taking us through towns such as Elmley Castle that while having signs for the castle didn't actually grant us any views of it! In the town of Pershore, we stopped to try to find a replacement sweat band, but couldn't find any. Near Ashton Under Hill, a group of cyclists caught us, including a girl on a trailer bike towed by her dad who was riding a bicycle with an electric assist. Bowen immediately sped up, which automatically meant that we had to ride with them and ignore our GPS route.
They were headed to a cafe in Winchcombe, so we joined them on a rolling hills ride. They had to slow down for us a bit, but they were very friendly and told us about the steam railway in Winchcombe which Bowen was sure to be interested in. This turned out to be the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway, which was apparently the longest steam railway in England.  After lunch, I went to the hardware store and bought a tea-towel, intending to cut it up so that I could have a sweat band. It was big enough that I could make several! We were too early to check-in to the AirBnB, but Carol was nice enough to leave our bike and bags with them and even drove us to the station so we wouldn't miss the next train!
The steam train was pretty fun, including a stop where they had signal boxes which Bowen was happy to pull to make the flags move. We also got to ride in a rail car where you could see the driver steer the car. When the driver hit the end of the track, he'd actually remove the control sticks and move them to the opposite end of the car to start driving back!
That night, Bowen wanted duck again. After consulting with our hostess, I determined that the local Chinese restaurant would be terrible, so we went down to the high end supermarket and bought pre-marinated duck to bake in the AirBnB oven. We ate well, and it was fairly cheap, so it was a win-win all around.

The next day was a Sunday, which meant that we shouldn't have trouble finding lodging provided we exited the Costwolds. But to make sure, I sent several inquiries to a few AirBnB locations, and checked for alternatives in case we couldn't make Oxford. We had more choices than we needed, so I decided to make our decision after we got over the first several hills of the day to see how we felt the next day.

That evening, Carol gave us various children's books for Bowen to read. To my surprise, he picked the kids' abridged version of The Secret Garden and made me read it to him in one sitting before going to sleep.

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