The challenge was simple –
THREE PINTS, THREE PUBS, ONE DAY.
As some who loves a good beer and a challenge, the #PintPilgrimage from Lucky Saint was right up my street. With a 200km training ride in the diary from Coach Pav it seemed like this was the perfect opportunity to enjoy some of the best of the Chilterns and surrounding areas. I roped in ride buddy Rob, who’s training for a London to Paris ride later in the year, and got to planning a route.
The first place to start with planning this route was to find out some pubs that have Lucky Saint on tap (find your local here – https://luckysaint.co/pages/lucky-saint-on-draught), which there are surprisingly quite a few outside of London which made my life pretty easy. I created an out and back loop on Komoot, going from High Wycombe, up to Oxford, down in to Reading and hitting the third pub in Windsor, before looping back to our start point.
Here’s how we got on.
From Wooburn Green we climbed out of Marlow to Freith and then climbed again up on to Bledlow Ridge, three punchy climbs within the first 20 miles made for a rude awakening to the ride. If the climbing wasn’t enough the weather decided to close in, with a thick mist and drizzlely rain damping our early eagerness. Still nothing like a fast descent to lift the mood, and going down Chinnor Hill certainly did that particularly as we coasted down on to drier clearer roads at the bottom.
After Thame we joined the hugely overgrown cycle path running along the main road, getting our hands and leg whipped by long grass and nettles. Sadly for Rob he managed to find a large piece grit to bury itself in his tyre as well. A quick tube change and we were off again, taking the back roads in to Oxford to drop in to Headingly from the North. You can’t go this way without stopping at the incredibly random and impressive Headington Shark. Escaping with limbs still in tact we made a few turns before arriving at pub number 1 – The Rusty Bicycle – around 9am. Sadly a little too early to get even an alcohol free beer.
Onwards, we headed South past the Kassam Stadium – home of Oxford United – and joined the A4074 towards Reading and our next pub. This section would probably be the one I’d change if I were to ride this route again – a fast, busy main road that gave us a few close passes at speed.
That said, we were able to zip along, taking stints pushing the pace while the other rested in the draft. While taking one of my stints, I heard a loud ping followed by a regular ticking noise. We pulled over on to a bridge to assess what the hell had happened and sadly I’ll broken a spoke on my rear wheel. I’d luckily got a bit of electrical tape holding my tube top bag on, so I was able to rip that off and tape the broken spoke to another to stop it rubbing or catching.
We gladly came off the A road just before Benson and roughly followed the Thames down from Wallingford, to Streatly and then making our last big climb of the day up to Whitchurch before gently rolled down in to Reading. Pub 2 – The Market House – was in the centre of town so pretty easy to find and we settled in for a well earned food break.
From Reading we headed out towards Wokingham, only to be caught out by a road closure in Emmsbrook – I normally carry on, you figure at least the pavement will be open for you to walk around, but no, not in this case. After doubling back we pushed on to Maidenhead via the pretty villages of Bray and Dorney Common, from which we could see Windsor Castle and know another pub and rest stop were within touching distance.
Navigating the inevitable weekend traffic in Windsor we made our way up past the Castle to pub 3 and our final stop – The Corner House. We couldn’t stop in Windsor and not get a bun from the Cinnamon Cafe…cycling fuel like no other they are.
From Windsor we headed south looping up through Wraysbury. Panic set in as we started hitting dual carriageways and signs for the M25, but thankfully we just skirted the junction and took a B road around the lakes – I wasn’t feeling being that cyclist on the news!! Tiredness and cramp were beginning to set in, a reminder how important eating and drinking enough is – we both had to make stops to give out calves a stretch and keep the legs turning. At Iver, we stopped for a quick photo and peak at Pinewood Studios – the scale of the place is mind blowing, but sadly you can’t see a lot other than some hangers and signs for what the studios are – like the 007 Stage.
From here it was easy riding back as we skirted Burnham Beeches, with a final short but fast descent down in to Wooburn Green, on which I figured I’d give it a bit of beans. I quickly regretted that, with all the rain of the past few days washing grit and crap all over the road making descending at speed pretty sketchy.
A cracking loop, a distance PB for Rob and a sense of satisfaction for me in that I was now beginning to build the endurance mileage back up again.
Lucky Saint is a 0.5% beer that gives you all the satisfaction of a truly great full strength beer, with none of the sacrifices that comes with alcohol. It’s a fairly new beer on the market, but in my opinion it’s punching hard and making a huge impact. Lucky Saint is made with a few but high quality ingredients with no additives, adjuncts or flavourings. They say it’s the brewing process that makes them so different and why it doesn’t taste like other alcohol-free beers – leaving the beer unfiltered, with that 0.5% is what gives it the body and great flavour.
You can grab a bottle from your local high street supermarket or get it on draught in a growing number of pubs around the UK.
As someone who trains hard, being able to relax with a cold beer after a session on the bike without sacrificing my performance the next day is frankly the best of both worlds!