I’ve not been able to get the usual miles in this week, for a multitude of reasons, none of which I really need to bore you with, and some of which are due to the weather for Wednesday’s Exmoor Beast preview trip which resulted in far less riding than planned! But when it came to today, with the sun finally shining, and a clearly defined time slot that needed filling, today was definitely a riding day. No more excuses! I’ve done a lot of riding around here lately, around the flats mostly, and to be honest, I’m a little bored with it. Last night, I decided I wanted to spend some time on top of the Mendips and, with wine fuelled ambition, I plotted myself a route which involved doing the long climb up from Westbury. This morning, in the light of day, and with the wine aftermath, I decided I’d rather get up there an easier way which, and I know this may sound weird, meant going up Cheddar Gorge. So I moved dots around on garmin connect, tweaked the route accordingly, checked it was all still going to fit with the schedule, and set off to do it.
It was mild, and the forecast was good, so I decided the time had come to christen one of my new jerseys, this time from veloist.cc, not least because at the Tour of the Cotswolds on Sunday I’ll be probably wearing Cyclosport kit so today it was important to wear kit that I wouldn’t need to wash and get dry before then. Yes I’m lazy *grin*. I think it’s safe to say I don’t have a shortage of kit these days, but it is kinda nice to have a whole range of options open to me. I can pick and choose depending on my mood. And co-ordinate, and mix and match, and… Clearly this does mean faffing takes even longer… 😉
I discovered Bella was nearly dead, having left the cable plugged in apparently drained her even though it shouldn’t, so I bunged her on emergency charge while I got ready. I can’t ride without stats right? How am I ever going to check my performance on Strava without a gadget? And how could there ever be any point pitting myself against a climb without being able to prove how well I did or didn’t do? I know…sad isn’t it? ;).
9:05am, having been delayed by 5 minutes by a particularly annoying email, and with Bella up to 25%, it was time to get out there. It’s so nice, and so unusual, to head out in just jersey and shorts. I had a gilet and armwarmers in the saddle bag just in case but I knew that even if I was chilly when I set out, which I wasn’t, the Gorge would soon take care of that. Which it did.
Actually the Gorge was lovely, scenically at least. Quiet, green, and yet to be grockle filled as it would appear they rise late around here. Well, they are on holiday right? And I certainly wasn’t complaining.
I was trying not to hang around, but not to push so hard as to end up throwing up at the top which I gather some people do. Where’s the fun in that? Besides which there were photos to take and goats (yes, I know they’re sheep) to dodge, and cars to not annoy too much. Oh, and to warn not to overtake me because if they did they’d hit a goat (ok, ok, a sheep). I’m very courteous like that ;).
I did the best I could without overdoing it – using my new tactic of higher cadence in a lower gear if I can’t push a bigger gear, which seems to be working out alright for me. I have definitely found the Gorge harder than I did today though I’m hard pushed to explain why it wasn’t that way, what with the wine after effects I mentioned earlier. I think I was back to being solar powered – it’s the only possible explanation :).
See, look how happy I was to have survived? Actually I was testing out my new camera‘s supposed anti-shake abilities (or optical image stabilizer if you want to get all technical) and as it turns out it’s pretty good at it. I really wasn’t expecting the new toy to be better than the old one. I only replaced the old one because the lens was scratched and the lens cover didn’t always completely open, which was getting to be a tad irritating. I’d have replaced it with exactly the same model if it was still available, but it wasn’t. And I merely mention all this so you don’t just think I’ve been gratuitously buying fancy new gadgets for the sake of it. OK, I do do that. But not this time *grin*. So it turns out I have a new, functioning camera that, as an unexpected bonus, also takes better photos. Win win :).
The top of the Mendips was as lovely as I could have hoped for. I put my head down and headed along the top and then through Priddy. The green looked fairly churned up when we went through there on the Great Weston Ride and clearly it wasn’t looking much better today, which is presumably why they’ve cancelled the Sheep Fair. Amazing isn’t it? The fair has been held every year since 1348 (apart from 2001 and 2007 which were cancelled due to foot-and-mouth disease)…yet this year it’s cancelled due to too much rain. Has it really never been that wet before? Really? Or are we just more health and safety conscious? More cautious? Ok, so sheep (goat?) fairs aren’t my bag, but it does seem like a shame… There just seems to be this tendency these days to say “We can’t…” or “We’d better not…” rather than “We can…”. Where’s the PMA gone?
Anyway. Back at the ranch, I was heading for one of my favourite descents, which meant doing the long and lovely stretch over to the Wells-Bristol road. Just look at it… I was on top of the world in many ways :).
I hate to say it again, but just look at this. A beautiful straight long road (to ruin?) heading endlessly away from me, undulating in the sunshine… Nowhere else to be, nothing else to be doing, just being where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there. Sometimes life is very simple and simple pleasures are the best. Peace out… :).
Me, my wonderful bike, and my new jersey, all very happy together :). I should mention that one of the nicest thing about the new jersey is that it’s that bit longer than some and that, combined with a good gripper strip, means it sits nice and low on my back and doesn’t ride up, unlike some of my other jerseys. I should also mention that anyone who suggests that they ride up because I’m too big for them will be unceremoniously unfollowed and/or unfriended, so tread carefully! 😉 *grin*.
All good things come to an end they say…but this t-junction was actually just an interruption. And a sign. I’m not quite sure why they bothered with the new sign. Or, if the new sign was so essential, why they didn’t take away the old sign. Or maybe these directions are so important that they wanted to be doubly sure you go the right way?
My way was the right way. As opposed to the left way ;). I climbed up the main road towards the aerial, but rather than take that way down to Wells, lovely though it is, I gambled on it having been dry enough recently for the zig zag to the Horrington descent to be clean enough to be passable, which paid off. Not only was the road ok, but it afforded me some gorgeous views of places where the weather was clearly not so nice.
I tried to ignore the fact that that nasty weather, which can be seen raining in the distance, was also being nasty precisely where I was heading…since let’s face it, it’s not like I could do anything about it, and what’s a little more rain these days? Before I turned right once more, for my well-earned treat, I happened across this sign, which led to this…
Q: where do fish that are feeling a bit flat go?
Hey if they can make soul/sole puns, I can make crap jokes! *grin* It’s an interesting mix of signs, as they’re clearly all considered to be related…! I didn’t hang around to muse too much on that, although there’s probably a shooting fish in a barrel joke to be made, as there was fun to be had. Oh, and it so was 🙂 So much fun. Ok, not the fastest, but I didn’t do a whole heap of braking, and I found a really good position hunkered down on the bike which had my weight exactly where I was happy with it and which I will be using again. So yes – definitely fun 🙂
Down and down and down and into Wells. I’d heard of the Swans of Wells but hadn’t really given them much thought. However it turns out that if you’re in Wells you really can’t miss them. I snapped three of them, saw a further two, and was seriously tempted to go in search of more…but then I realised I could easily be swanning around there all day (yes, I know, it doesn’t get any better) and that actually I was supposed to be riding home!
Thankfully the weather that I had been headed towards had headed elsewhere, so I headed out of Wells along the Burcott road as usual, and as planned…only to discover that after Fenny Castle the road was allegedly closed. Now it’s rare that a road is closed enough to prevent cyclists getting through, but I decided that maybe I didn’t want to find out if that was the case this time. So something very strange and unusual and rare and virtually unprecedented in recent times happened…
I turned right and…I RODE DOWN A NEW ROAD!!!!! Not only that, I rode up a NEW HILL! Ok, not a massive hill, but a reasonably steep, muddy, country one. Callow Hill, apparently. Interesting name. I am no longer a callow youth (sorry!), and I don’t have the legs they do, but I made it up it ok, scaring several felines playing cat chess as I went past the various farmyards on the way. I wasn’t entirely sure where I was going, and it did wiggle, but thanks to my Mum, I am genetically blessed with an extraordinarily good sense of direction, and before long I’d made my way back to the Wells-Wedmore road which was incredibly familiar by contrast. Time to hurtle home in the usual fashion then. I tried to go as fast as I could down the Wedmore straight but it’s hard to get those top speeds all on your own. Still, it was kinda fun trying :).
Cycling time: 1:55:28 hrs
Distance: 32.32 miles
Avs: 16.8 mph.
ODO: 14959 miles
According to Strava, my time up the Cheddar Gorge segment was a PB by nearly 2 minutes! If I’d been a mere 13 seconds faster I’d be QOM too! I totally wasn’t expecting that :D. Ok, so I’m still miles slower than the faster men, but hey, I’m not daft enough to think I can compare with the likes of them. At least Bella held it together long enough to record my ride, though I nearly lost it all by plugging her in here before I’d saved things properly. Luckily Bella is cleverer than I am, and also retains memory better than I do, so I know what I did! *grin*. It was a good ride, and I feel all the better for it :).