Sometimes, when I’m planning a ride, it feels a bit like I’m giving myself a gift. I don’t know why, maybe it’s the preparation, or the anticipation, or both, or neither. But it’s a nice feeling 🙂 It may not be everyone’s idea of “me time” but it works for me. I had decided, with sunny skies forecast, and time to spare, I would treat myself to a longer ride than usual, and duly plotted a 50 miles ish route on Bikely last night.
I got up this morning, had my traditional cycling breakfast, and headed out fairly early so as to avoid the heat later in the day. It was, as predicted, sunny, but to start out with there was a veil of clouds helping keep things a little cooler, and the wind was mostly more of a cooling breeze than a wind. Nice 🙂 Although I had a long one planned, I decided not to do too much sitting back and enjoying the ride, so first off I attacked the hill past the Webbington. My next hill was at Brent Knoll. As I started to ascend I was sure there was a car behind me, so I looked back, looked forward…and discovered I had veered slightly too far to the left and was now cycling through the edge of the hedge… It was a bit hairy for a minute there…I extricated myself, but not before a protracted period of nettle self-flagellation. I was so distracted by the firing of pain receptors down my left hand side that I was at the top, looking for dock leaves, before I knew it! Not a tactic I’d recommend mind…
From there it was back across to Mark Causeway via Dutch Road which was, miraculously, a road I have never cycled down before – and there can’t be many of those left around here! Is it Dutch because it’s flat and there are rhynes and streams all around, or is there some better reason I wonder? Are there links between Somerset and Holland? And while we’re at it, why are there so many place in WSM with Madeira in the title? What’s that all about?
Where were we? Ah yes. From there it was a long flat fast session heading south, through East Huntspill, before the climb up Woolavington Hill. I took the left turn at the top onto Sustrans Route 3 to take me through the very pretty, and undoubtedly expensive villages on the way to Shapwick. The road was closed at Edington but, as I was hoping, this didn’t effect me. I checked with one of the guys working there to see if I’d be able to get through, and he said he reckoned so, especially as I was on the best form of transport going. I have to say that today I agreed with him. And I do like it when unexpected people are nice to cyclists 🙂
As I was admiring the view from the ridge on my way Shapwick, where you can see the Mendips from end to end, with Glastonbury Tor looking all scenic ahead, a fighter jet zoomed past over head. I spent a little while trying to figure out who was having more fun – him or me? OK, so I can’t do mach whatever, but I bet we were both grinning, and my sun tan is going to be way better, albeit localised and stripey 😉
Then it was through Shapwick, down via Ashcott to Glastonbury, and along the main road to Wells. Somewhat bizarrely Wells Reclamation yard has a a full size rusty metal copy of Rodin’s The Thinker by the gates. Like, who orders one of those in the first place, and who then decides to get rid of it? Sadly I don’t think it’s going to fit in my garden…
By the time I took a break on the grass on Cathedral Green, I’d done 35 miles at 16.3mph. I admired the facade, munched Lucozade jelly beans, and contemplated my near future. You see I’d been planning to go home via Wookey Hole, Rodney Stoke, Cocklake and Cheddar, which would have brought me at at over 50 miles. But I’d had a random thought last night, and, maybe it was sunstroke, but I thought I could put a cherry on top of my gift. Or a bow, if you’d prefer me not to mix metaphors. So I did. I cycled all the way out of Wells on the A39, up Bristol Hill.
I’ve only ever done it once before, and I remember feeling distinctly nauseous by the time I reached the top. Not today. Today it was fine. In fact it was nicely sheltered, with a cool breeze to keep my temperature down, and it was verging on pleasant. It doesn’t half go on a long way though! And not far from the top a Graham Sweeting lorry (I’ve had problems with these before) came past so close that I could have reached in, leaned over, and punched the driver for being a prat, if I was tall enough. I swear my heart stopped briefly…
I stopped in the layby at the top, in the shade, to regain my equilibrium and to drink. And of course to congratulate myself on a job well done. My average speed had only dropped to 15.3mph and it taken me about 16 minutes, which I was pretty chuffed with. I headed for home via Priddy and down through the Gorge which, as with the rest of the ride, I handled better than I sometimes do. The car behind me maintained a respectful distance, and there was also a shortage of grockles to avoid, whilst the wind was blowing up the Gorge helping with the whole natural braking thing. Nigh on perfect conditions really 🙂
Cycling time: 3:07:10
Distance: 49.85 miles
Avs: 15.9 mph
ODO: 4811 miles
It was a day for butterflies, for avoiding beetles crossing the road, for the scent of honeysuckle, and for grinning at other cyclists. Especially the one I met twice *grin*.
I thought I’d traded miles for hill, but as you can see, it turned out to be nigh on 50 miles anyway. And I dragged my average speed back up on the way home too, which is nice. Mind you, If I was GB, and paying attention, I’d have gone up the bypass and back in to town that way to make up the numbers 😉 I’m definitely a better, and faster, cyclist when I’m being abstemious. It’s nice to know that this month’s detox has some positive effects. And I’ve got time for a few more lovely rides before I fall off the wagon…*grin*.