Well I would be if it wasn’t for my bike and/or the gym. Weeks on end of sh*tty weather, short dark days, long dark nights. A combination of school holidays, time off in lieu, leftover leave, all meaning that we’re all here, all the time. If you hadn’t gathered already, this is not my favourite time of the year…
Luckily today I got to escape for a couple of hours. The planets aligned in my favour, the heavens held off for a while (mostly), the decks cleared and an over-caffeinated me was out and underway around 10:30am. Having found a couple of hours free, but not having had the time to plan a route, I conducted an exhaustive survey of the household, and 2 out of 3 family members who expressed a preference told me to go up the Gorge. It’s just possible they don’t like me very much… 😉 Anyway, who am I to argue? Besides I quite like routes that I make up as I go along, and I quite like hills, and the Gorge seemed like a good start.
Did I mention that I have another new Rapha jersey? No? How very remiss of me *grin*. Well I do. Once more my Condor contact has come up trumps. When a nearly new Rapha Condor Sharp winter jersey was looking for a home at a significantly reduced price, she tweeted me, and I snapped it up. 🙂 I am so predictable! It arrived yesterday and let’s be honest, I’ve been dying to try it out ever since. It’s half way between winter jacket and long sleeve jersey. Since weather underground informed me that it was around 10C out there, so therefore not freezing, I figured I could layer up but not need my winter jacket, so that’s just what I did. Layers – namely long sleeve base layer, long sleeve ACG jersey, and fab new jersey on top. Layers, longs, buffs, overshoes, gloves…but not thermal longs, which is great because I hate bulk around my knees.
Back to the hills. Which is why I brought the jersey up. You see, I frequently see real Rapha team guys going either up or down the Gorge, so I’m thinking that being relegated to being on my back may mean that this was the slowest a piece of Rapha team kit has ever been up the Gorge *grin*. You know the “all the gear no idea” thing? I’m kinda hoping having all this fab gear will lead to a little of the idea rubbing off on me ;). The jersey was certainly very comfortable, and warm, and pretty windproof. It’s even got clever zip vents on the sides that you can open when getting too hot going up hill, and close when you’re on top of the Mendips and it’s back to chilly again. How cool is that? It’s also got an amazing array of assorted pockets that I have yet to work out.
So I went up the Gorge, briefly greeting KG who was coincidentally sorting out the outside of his shop as I passed. It went pretty well, not too much like hard work, and once past the worst of it, pretty easy really. Considering that my un-strapped and un-drugged knee had been twingeing from the get go I was expecting grief from it which I didn’t get. I do wish it was predictable *sigh*.
Right. Top of the Gorge. Where now? Well, my current favourite descent over that end of the world is down through West Horrington, so I went straight over the top of the Mendips to get there, via some the nice straight (ish) swoopy road, some very lovely views, and some cows. Cows would appear to be becoming a feature around here…
At the Ploughboy Inn crossroads, I turned right to go up the A39 towards the aerial. Just up here is the Romulus and Remus monument that I’ve mentioned before but haven’t shown you so, because I’m nice like that, I stopped and took a photo or two for you. I would explain it for you, but I don’t need too – read the photo yourself :).
Time to get going again, and across the muddy shortcut to get to my eagerly anticipated descent, which was just as enjoyable as I was hoping it would be. Gotta love a good downhill :D. I pootled my way cautiously through the Christmas-addled shoppers in Wells and out on the Burcott road. Muddy down there too, which slows a girl down, and mud is the real reason I’d been sticking to more major roads. I got back on to the Wedmore road, and extremely familiar territory and engaged cruise mode. Coming back was most definitely into whatever wind there was, and the Buff went back up over the chin. If I hadn’t been pushing it a little I’d have been a bit chilly, so I took the hill up out of Wedmore to get warm again, and went past the golf course just to get myself to another lovely down – Weare Hill. Whilst up on the top, by Ashton Windmill, the rain started…
…but luckily it wasn’t heavy and I was very near home by now, so I kinda ignored it, unlike the horse box which overtook me too close, and then made me slow down at the bottom of the hill. No ignoring something that size. *grrr*. And that was that really. The usual traffic avoiding wiggle through Cross, up the hill, and then down through town the fun way. Yes – downhill at speed :).
Cycling time: 2:10:48 hrs
Distance: 34.02 miles.
Avs: 15.5 mph
ODO: 11375 miles
This was not a deconstructed ride, it was a constructive one. My legs felt good, I did the odd hill, and I got a few more winter miles under the belt at a time of year when riding opportunities are scarce, when belts have a tendency to slip a hole or two so there’s a distinct call for damage limitation, and when a couple of hours of me-time is to be grabbed with both hands. Maybe that’s why I’m smiling :).