Tag Archives: burrington

Great Weston Ride 2017

A little while ago I did the Maratona dles Dolomites again. It did not go according to plan. And maybe I’ll write about that at some point, and put some photos up, or something. Or maybe I won’t. Suffice to say I couldn’t do what I wanted to because I was in far too much pain, and even my natural stubbornness can only get me so far… 

…but let’s move on, shall we?  On to this year’s Great Weston Ride which was, as this year continues on trend, a repeat.  In fact this year’s edition would be its 8th.  And my 8th too.  It’s traditional. Apparently I’m part of the furniture now ūüėČ

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So the event is a given, but the cast varies year on year.  Originally this was due to be Matt and I, with Alan, and it was billed as an easy have a nice day out, remember you’re riding with me and I’m crap, kind of a ride.  However some time not so long before the ride it turned out that James would be riding with us.  Young whipper snapper, whippet, race snake James…  Alan reassured me that this would make no difference, and things would proceed according to plan…

…which did not get off to a great start.  After the usual early start, Matt and I headed off to rendezvous with the lads in order to ride to the start as usual.  I’d assumed that we were meeting at the normal place, and hadn’t twigged that we weren’t.  (Never assume, it makes an ASS out of U and ME…right?)  So unsurprisingly they weren’t where we were when we were supposed to be, a little later than we’d intended on being there.  Too much faffing as ever…  And having presumed that, being all of 5 minutes late, we weren’t actually coming at all, Alan and James had headed off already.  Marvellous…  However a quick phone call ascertained the wheres and wherefores and whereabouts, and eventually we managed to join up on the road from Winscombe to Sandford.  Let’s get this show on the road then shall we?

Alan had mapped out a route, and plugged it into his gadget, so unlike in previous years, we managed to make it to HQ at Long Ashton Park and Ride without getting lost.  Well, if you don’t count the bit where Matt went flying on ahead on a downhill and missed the right turning onto the cycle path that we were supposed to take, and had to be hunted down ūüėČ  Other than that it was a fairly uneventful and pretty sociable ride.  As we rode through into Long Ashton, along with a fair few others, a great many other riders were going the other way, already on their way out.  It’s a good thing there wasn’t much traffic around to annoy at that time of the morning ūüôā

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The weather was passable, albeit rather more breezy than I’d have liked. We parked up outside the car park block building, and did the usual.  Which in my case involved rather a lot of queuing to get to use the Ladies.  This ride, being one for charity and of a length and format that makes it more open and welcome to all than your average sportive, attracts a mixed bunch of riders and has a better gender balance than usual too.  So 3 toilets (if you include the disabled one) and a lot of women in layers of kit and bib shorts?  Queuing ensued…  

That done, and it was time to go and register.  Organiser Darren was already on the front line, briefing batches of riders before letting them loose.  I found my queue, to sign the usual bit of paper, be presented with my bike number and cable ties, and told to help myself to 9Bars.  There was a bit of confusion with regards to Matt’s registration but we got that sorted, and picked up extra cable ties as we were at it.  Well they were skinny little ones, and I know from experience that those won’t go around my handlebars, but Matt informed me that if you string them together, it’s doable.  Not something I’ve tried before, but hey, it worked, even it did look a bit haphazard.  

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Alan and James were raring to go, and chomping at the bit which, I’m sorry to say, did not make me move any faster.  There was my bike to be loaded up and checked, another quick trip to the facilities and then finally, much to their relief, we were all joining the next batch to be briefed.  Darren can probably give that briefing in his sleep by now!  It didn’t take too long before we were set on our way, and everyone was hurtling off.  Which always makes me laugh, because all of 100 metres up the road, the traffic lights always grind everyone to a halt *grin*.  The second set do the same…  We managed to get split up a bit.  Alan must have got away and through the lights before they changed, and James wasn’t initially with us either.  

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We turned left to go through Long Ashton, rather than go straight on.  The standard and original route has been maintained through the years but there are several additional loops on the way that you can take should you wish, to add miles or metres climbed, or both.  Or neither if you’re me, because I’m all about tradition, remember?  Besides, what with my form and health being as it is these days, pushing it in any way is pretty much out of the question.  I know the basic route, I mostly like it, and knowing what I have to deal with helps me cope with it.  It’s a ride that breaks into nice chunks, and that makes it mentally and physically more manageable somehow?

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So, out through Long Ashton, and then under the A370 to take the rat run that is Barrow Gurney.  Except it isn’t so much these days, now that the South Bristol link road has been completed.  And, presumably in honour of the reduced through traffic flow, the route through has been resurfaced, and smoothed, and landscaped, and ok, there are still the obligatory speed bumps and traffic calming bits, but it was much nicer to cycle through than before.  Unlike the unavoidable drag up the A38 afterwards which was as unpleasant as always but is at least blessedly fairly short!  As the miles passes, what with traffic, of the two and four wheel variety, different riding styles, the need to change layers, faff or whatever, four regularly became two x two, and James and Alan got plenty of restorative rest waiting for us to catch them up and for us all to head off together again.  

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The next bit of the ride is my favourite bit of the whole thing.  Turn left, and head towards Chew Magna.  The road rolls a little bit, in a generally climbing way, before you get to hurtle along, downhill ish, flying past lots of other people and having whole heaps of fun.  And this year was no exception.  I still loved it ūüôā  All good things come to an end, and turning right at the roundabout here marked the end of the fly past, and set us heading South towards the Mendips.  What with the weather being currently fairly nice, quite a lot of people were taking the advantage of the lay-by where the route crossed the Chew Valley Lake to stop and/or regroup, and quite a few supporting families were cheering on their athletes as they arrived.  As we were currently pretty much together, we carried on past them.  

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The big challenge on today’s route is Burrington Combe, and to get there involves one of my least favourite patches of road from West Harptree, through Ubley and Blagdon.  It’s draggy, includes a fair few ups, and has one of those momentum sucking road surfaces.  Having said that, although I was having to do hills my way, i.e. at no speed at all as pushing hurts, it all went better than usual, and better than expected.  Provided I take it easy at such points, I seem to manage to plod my way up hills fairly successfully, and it went surprisingly well.  Matt stuck with me, while the boys did their thing, and before long we were all gathered together at the first stop at the bottom of the Combe.  This is a liquid & mechanical support stop only, but if you wanted anything else, including facilities that are rather more salubrious than the public toilets outside, then the Burrington Inn had it all.  Quite a few people were clearly planning on a longer stop than us, with friends and family joining them for refreshments inside and out.  James held on to my bike while I topped up my bottles and nipped inside to “freshen up”.  I’d have loved to purchase some fizzy orange, or some such, but there was quite a queue and I didn’t fancy joining it.  Such indulgence would have to wait until later…  

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I rejoined the boys, and the conversation headed off in a techy direction, with much discussion of gears and ratios and the like, so rather than fall asleep standing there, I took my leave and got myself a small head start. We’d agreed to meet up at the Two Trees junction at the top, and they were bound to get there before me however much of a lead I got, so it seemed to make sense.  And I enjoyed it.  Yes, Alan and James went past like I was treading water, and yes Matt caught me.  But I did good by my standards if not Strava’s.  I like Burrington Combe.  It’s my kind of long slow climb, and I didn’t even spend the entire time in bottom gear.  My oval chain rings come into their own on climbs like this and somehow make the whole thing feel smoother and more constant.  Even the last kicker of an up after the cattle grid at the top, which isn’t the end even if you really wish it was, wasn’t too bad.  Well, ok, it hurt, and made things hurt, but that’s nothing new and the legs thought it was ok ūüôā Having accepted how things are these days means I can just take a little of the pressure off myself and just get on with doing it?

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As planned, after life had flattened out into a longer drag, James and Alan were waiting for us.  Time to eat, drink, discuss how the ‘race’ had gone (James won, quelle surprise), and then time to go and do a little of what I do best.  Yep, plenty of down and flat and flying across the top, almost chain gang stylee, doing what I can to make for what I can’t, and I definitely held my own and did my fair share.  The wind was fairly challenging up on the top here, which is often the case, and it did make some of it rather more of slog than we would have liked.  It was also rather damp up here, and with the damp and the wind and the elevation, it was distinctly chilly.  I’m not sure whether it was actually raining or whether we were just riding through a cloud though!

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Having been on top of the world for a while, it was time to head for the Levels.  We reached the junction with the main road, where the loop that takes in Cheddar Gorge had riders joining us from the right, and turned left to head for Priddy.  There’s a nasty narrow little steep kick out the village here, and just for once, and possibly the only time today, I was proper feeling it, and from behind Alan and James I got myself out of the saddle and kicked my way up and past them both…which came as a bit of surprise to everyone, including me.  Go me!  Sometimes #thisgirlcan *grin*.  

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Time to roll a little down some little country lanes to get us to the big descent, down Westbury Hill, or the Quarry Hill as it’s sometimes known around here.  Today was a day for being careful, what with it being damp under rubber, frequently gravelly and bendy, with plenty of riders around, and the possibility of vehicular traffic in either direction.  This didn’t mean a degree of controlled fun couldn’t be had, and having passed a more sensible Alan, I followed Matt down the hill.  At some point a car came the other way, and I can’t remember whether I was ahead of Matt at the time, or just didn’t notice from behind, but his life got a bit squirrely on a bend as we passed it, which was a bit hairy apparently!  Almost too close for comfort… Luckily that was all it was, and we all had our own version of fun getting to the bottom,  to the junction with the main road to Wells.  As ever, there were marshals making sure we all stopped there, and advising us of approaching traffic if necessary, which was much appreciated.  We regrouped briefly, before crossing over safely and finishing the last bit of the descent down into Rodney Stoke.  I managed not to drop & total my camera here this time around too!

Time for a bit of Level pegging.  Which came with an unexpected amusement factor.  The car not so far in front of us had realised she wasn’t going to be going anywhere fast, what with all the cyclists around, and overtaking being a tad tricky hereabouts, so she’d let her dog out the back to run along behind her slow progress.  Which is, I suppose, one way of walking the dog!  We overtook her, having a chat as we passed, obviously, because if we hadn’t I wouldn’t know what was going on, now would I?  It was fairly fast progress, and fairly sociable too, as we stuck together in a chatty group all the way along to the little kick up to Cocklake, from where we turned left to Wedmore.  

Wedmore was, as ever, a little tricky to negotiate.  Traffic, parked cars, cyclists, motorists with very important places to be, and the ever-present risk of being doored by someone not paying attention en route to the local gallery/boutique/pub…  SMIDSY…  I’m always careful here, and we were careful here today.  Having turned right, and with that main flashpoint behind us, it was time to head out into the countryside again, and head for the next stop, the proper food stop, at Hugh Sexey school in Blackford.  

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Which was, as usual, a sm√∂rg√•sbord.  Free drinks, of the hot and cold variety.  A wide range of cakes on sale inside, with bacon buttes on sale outside too.  Time to take a well-earned break then…  I topped up my bottles, and debated the merits of cake before deciding not to risk it – my insides were feeling delicate enough as it was on the pain front, and eating something that upset my IBS would definitely not help.  I grabbed some free squash though, I’m getting far better at hydrating these days.  While Matt joined the rather long queue for bacon butties, I nipped inside to use the dinky facilities, which always makes me smile.  Well, it is a First School, so everything is a little bit smaller scale…or seems that way anyway.  I took Matt’s place in the queue for a little while so that he could do the same, and once he was back I headed back out into the throng…where I found Alan and James chomping at the bit again, ready to head off.  Apparently they’d decided to do the next bit on their own and have a bit of a race to the finish.  And we were too slow for them, and wouldn’t mind being left to our own devices, would we?  Hm.  I may have been a bit under-amused.  Well, after all the promises that this was not what would happen?  I could have told you it would, but I’d chosen to believe the hype.  (More fool me, n’est-ce-pas?)  Rather than express my opinion on the subject vocally, I chose to wave them on their way, whilst taking a pew on the lawn near our stationed steeds, and waiting for Matt to rejoin me instead.  Well it’s not like I blamed them, but I did think we’d been doing ok, and I’d seemed to have been on the front for a fair bit of the group riding…*sulk*.

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So off they went, and back he came.  Given that it was indeed now just us two, we decided to chill out a bit…but not too much, because that would mean chilling out literally not figuratively, and although it was definitely brightening up now, it still wasn’t precisely warm.  So time to head off again then, with about 20 miles or so to go, and not much by way of lumps to deal with in those, which is always good!  The next stretch is a little bit rolling before hitting the flat straight bits around Mark.  Once more a little detour took us off the main, and very boring Mark to Highbridge road, which remains an improvement on the original route.  It avoids traffic and is far prettier.  Well it’s proper Levels and if you’re going to come and ride around here, that should be done ūüôā  Although this bit is flat and fast and I was feeling pretty good, Matt wasn’t doing so well.  I’d turn round to check he was behind me, and he wouldn’t be…so I’d wait for him to catch up and we’d be together again and then…we wouldn’t.  We arrived in Highbridge, and discovered that he’d had a slow puncture for a while, and riding on that lack of tyre pressure had a lot to answer for! We pulled off just before the traffic lights on the little railway bridge into town, and I took it easy while he very efficiently changed the inner tube and got everything back up to pressure and back up to speed!

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Not that speed is something you can really do in Highbridge, or on the roads out though Burnham-on-Sea and out to Berrow.  Too much traffic and too many obstacles, though the views of the beach and the Severn river at Burnham somewhat make up for this.  It was still a relief when we finally got to stop playing with the traffic and turn right, off the main road, and hit the quieter lanes that head towards Lympsham, with about 10 miles to go, as a very lovely sign confirmed.  It is nice to count down ūüôā  Well, ok, it was sort of quieter.  After a nice quiet straight patch, we joined the road that takes tourists to and from their caravan sites around Brean.  It’s narrow and wiggly and the surface is atrocious, so sticking to the LHS to let cars past often isn’t an option…not if you want to stay on your bike, and/or avoid pinch punctures.  We were as courteous as possible however, and waved cars past when we could, and went as fast as we could in between times so as not to be too much of a hindrance.  Traffic can’t go that fast around here thanks to those roads either, so it worked out just about ok.  

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The miles were ticking by now, and I was still feeling perky.  Even having been re-inflated Matt was flagging a bit, but we really didn’t have far to go now.  Down the lovely straight bit alongside the railway line, with the sun pretty much shining now.  Then the usual wait to turn left onto the fairly busy A370 before the detour through Uphill to get us to the final finishing straight along Weston Super Mare’s sea front.  It wasn’t so much of a sprint this year, though we did try.  It’s not easy with the number of traffic lights along here that have a tendency to stop play!  And then there we were, pulling off the road, onto the lawns, going over the Finish Line pretty much together, and another Great Weston Ride was done ūüôā

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We were presented with our medals which, if they fitted my frame, could have been nicely fitted to the front of my bike, such was their design this year.  I grabbed a bottle of water too, and had a quick chat with Darren who was lurking around keeping everything under control.  I also got to meet rider No 1 – which is a privilege he has due to the sheer amount of money he has raised over the years for the Great Weston Ride’s charity – Prostate Cancer UK.  Chatting done, we headed off in search of Alan and James, who were to be found taking it easy on the grass not far from the bar, clearly having been there for ever.  Well they’d already had their free food and the odd pint…and having gotten in that bit earlier (a considerable bit clearly…), they hadn’t had to queue much for either.  The queue for the bar was, luckily, not insurmountable.  The same cannot be said for the food queue…which we ended up leaving until considerably later.  Better to be sat chilling with your mates and drinking the odd cold one that standing up on your own for hours doing neither right?  Sadly all they had left by way of lager was Fosters…ick!…but needs must.  Don’t worry, it won’t be becoming a habit!  Matt had to resort to drinking cider…which really isn’t his thing either.

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So there we sat, and chatted, and debriefed.  At some point later on food was finally acquired and consumed and very nice it was too.  More lager (if you can call it that) was consumed.  And after a while Alan and James headed off back to his place a couple of miles down the road where James was parked.  And a while after that I prevailed upon eldest to come and pick us up, since riding home had never really been on the cards, and staying on the lawns in the sun for an extra pint really was ūüôā 

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Great Weston ride 2018 done.  How was it?  As lovely as ever really.  Sure we were slow.  And things were sometimes fairly painful.  But that’s normal these days, and Matt’s support and my drugs get me through that.  All that not withstanding, it went well, and we had a good day out.  It might have been a different case had it not brightened up in time for the apr√®s ride to be so nice.  And the queues at the food stop and at the end weren’t great, with the latter being way beyond not great.  But that’s the kind of feedback they take on board every year and every year it gets a little bit better.  Since I really enjoy it, and I’m part of the furniture, barring unforeseen circumstances, it’s safe to assume I’ll be back there in 2019.  Maybe even 2020. I reckon 10 times in a row would be pretty cool ūüôā

 

Great Weston Ride 2016

The Great Weston Ride is a tradition. ¬†Sure, some of the variables, and the players, change year on year. ¬†But apparently my attendance is a constant. ¬†2016 was the 7th GWR and, just as with the previous 6, I was there. ¬†Which apparently makes me unique. ¬†Go me. ¬†Like we didn’t know that I’m “unique”, and probably “special” and other such terms ūüėČ

This time my merry band, we three, were myself, Alan, and Clayton. ¬†Well, that’s how things started out… ¬† Anyway Clayton, having moved away and no longer being quite as local, rocked up to park his car at my place around 6:20 ish. ¬†And after very little faffing – yes that can be done – we headed up the road to meet Alan at Shute Shelve. ¬†It was grey, but humid, and though the arm warmers, knee warmers and base layer were to stay¬†on a while, the gilet came off there and then. ¬†In that today’s event is usually a ride of three halves, the first half is the ride into Bristol, to the Long Ashton Park ‘n Ride. ¬†Last year, without¬†Guy¬†to guide us, Clayton and I got lost, and added a good few miles to the route in. ¬†This year, thanks to Strava, I pointed Alan at the route we took in 2014, when we didn’t get lost, and he downloaded it. ¬†So it was a sociable, uneventful, ¬†20 miles or so that got us to HQ on schedule or thereabouts. ¬†And not getting lost was a huge improvement! ¬†We were still there well before the 8:00am start so, though not the first there, that’ll do right?

Start registration

First things first – the toilets of course! ¬†There were the usual inside the building ones, and some extra portable toilets outside. ¬†I opted for inside, before heading outside to registration. ¬†Which was a bit confusing. ¬†When it was busy, I imagine it made sense. ¬†Find the queue that led from your surname letter and follow it all the way to the desks. ¬†Except there weren’t any queues, and there were no letters on the desks, and quite a few of us queued our way to the front in what we hoped was the right place only to be told we needed to move one queue to the left or right! ¬†Still, the free coffee being given away to those waiting near the front by¬†Truestart helped ease my suffering somewhat ūüėČ ¬†Once finally in the right place, I was given my bike number and cable ties, and a free¬†9Bar, and sent happily on my way.

rider groups explaining signage

There were a lot of riders milling around, and I was trying to keep an eye out for James, who might have been joining us, but I never did see him – not before, during, or after! ¬†I did however bump into organiser Darren, which was nice since by now we’re practically mates ūüėČ ¬†We had a bit of a chat, before he headed off to the front line to do his duty, and I headed back to Alan and Clayton for a little more faffing. ¬†Well Clayton’s front mech was playing up…or something like that anyway. ¬†I’m not that techy remember? ¬†The queues for the mechanics were fairly long though, so he decided to leave it in the hands of the gods and see what happened en route…

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We joined the massing hordes and slowly shuffled our way towards the start line, a process that was gradually sorted into more organised batches. ¬†Eventually it was our turn to reach the front line, after the photographer had immortalised Clayton and I, to be given one of Darren’s briefings – which he can probably recite in his sleep by now. ¬†We were warned about the narrow gravelly road after Priddy, and the nasty gravelly descent to Westbury,¬†reminded that it wasn’t a race (a warning without which no¬†sportive would be complete), and let go on our way. ¬†There’s never any point hurtling off though, though some people do, as there are two sets of traffic lights, that will inevitably be red at the wrong time, to negotiate before you can get going on your way proper.

drag up the A38 Chew Valley Lake

There are lots of options to the route these days. ¬†You can add various loops – all or none of them as you wish, to add more miles, more climbing, or both. ¬†Blue signs for extras, yellow for basic. ¬†Being a traditionalist and having always done the basic route, as it was, so shall it¬†always be, and none of those extra options were for me. ¬†So instead of heading straight on and straight up, we were for the lanes of Long Ashton and beyond to Barrow Gurney. ¬†Retracing our steps from¬†the way in, as it happens, but that didn’t last too long. ¬†Cycling through the narrow traffic calmed Barrow Gurney rat run is far more fun than driving through it and luckily when our slowly stretching out batch went through it, there weren’t too many cars there to wish we weren’t there…

dragging from Ubley time for the first food stop

It was still grey, and humid, and threatening a little damp, but I was warm. ¬†A little too warm. ¬†So before we hit the A38 we stopped so that I could stash knee warmers and arm warmers away, which was a huge improvement. ¬†Mind you it didn’t make the slow slog up that A38 any more pleasant, but it’s pretty unavoidable and it didn’t take too long. ¬†A bit longer than usual though, as the traffic meant there was no over-taking slower cyclists and it was just a long linear orderly queue slowly progressing up the road until we could escape by turning left!

water only cars queuing for the Combe

After a bit of dragging up in steps, which slowed me at least down a bit, came the lovely long flying section towards Chew Magna that I enjoy every year. ¬†In fact I probably enjoy it even more because I know it’s there so I can make sure to do it properly fast, I know where I can overtake people, and I know that it goes on a while;¬†so I know that the people I’ve overtaken aren’t going to be laughing their arses off¬†when 30 seconds later if the road goes up and they go straight back past me! ūüėČ ¬†All good things come to an end though, and there’s a little bit of up and down to do to get out the other side and down the long straight past the very pretty Chew Valley Lake. ¬†Man it’s pretty around here. ¬†It’s so easy to be blas√© about it when you live here, and it’s worth taking time to remember that I live in a very lovely part of the world. ¬†You should come and do the Great Weston Ride and see for yourself ūüėČ

starting Burrington Combe near the top of the Combe

Right. ¬†Past the lakes, and the ducks, and the people feeding the ducks. ¬†Time for one of my least favourite parts of the ride – the draggy section along the A368 from West Harptree to…well we’ll get to that in a minute. ¬†This bit is slow. ¬†Sure, there are some nice down bits in it, but there are a lot of up bits. ¬†And they’re draggy, the road surface is that thick porridgy stuff, there’s traffic, and they go on a while. ¬†Nowt for it but to sit back and get on with it. ¬†Plod, plod, plod…in the grey, and occasional drizzle… ¬†Clayton was struggling a bit behind me, I wasn’t flying, and Alan was having lots of fun getting behind us both on the down bits, and then hurtling past us, out of the saddle, and making it look easy on the ups, so as to wait for us somewhere convenient after whichever¬†up it was was over. ¬†Well he was having fun, it was making me laugh, and hey, the miles passed…

murky Mendips ready to descend

Which brings us to where we were going to…Burrington Combe. ¬†Which is today’s big climb. ¬†Turn left off the A368, and there’s barely time before it starts for a sigh of relief. ¬†Or to catch your breath. ¬†Well, there kinda is, because the first refreshment stop is at the bottom. ¬†This stop seems to vary year on year. ¬†Judging by the moaning of other riders around me, they were expecting a food stop. ¬†To be fair,¬†it is only a refreshment stop, and it is only 20 miles in, so a full on food stop really¬†isn’t required anyway. ¬†I thought I remembered there being more in previous years…but my memory isn’t what it was (and it was never good), I’ve done a lot of events that kinda blur into one, and it’s been pointed out to me that I’m wrong about that. ¬†This time there were just two barrels of water – there wasn’t even energy drink, though I think there had been earlier, judging by the tubs in the rubbish bin next to them. ¬†Since all I need is water, and I don’t eat anyway, I wasn’t bothered…but that’s really not the point is it?

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Having got off the bike, I realised my balance had gone again (I’m starting to be more aware of the signs these days) and I was feeling a bit woozy/weird again. ¬†Not great. ¬†Time for this break to be a little longer than usual. ¬† Toilet facilities were available, by arrangement, in the¬†Burrington Inn, and when I headed off to use them, I realised they were also open and serving tea, coffee, and the like to a couple of riders as I walked past. ¬†Which I would have known if I’d paid clearer attention to the pre-ride information. ¬†So as I walked back I joined them. ¬†No fizzy orange…but they did have Appletiser, and I figured that would do. ¬†Fizzy sugary re-hydrating goodness ūüôā

Truestart lady bacon roll posse

I slowly wove my way back through all the riders milling around to rejoin Clayton and Alan…and it turned out Clayton had had it. ¬†After the ride in, and the extra 20 miles now done on top of that, he was well past his longest ride to date post knee surgery, and not having a good time of it. ¬†We spent a little time figuring out the flattest easiest route he could take back to my place and then he’d gone…leaving Alan and I to head off up the Combe together. ¬†I’ve no idea how many times Alan and I have cycled up here together, but it’s a lot! ¬†According to Strava, I’ve been up it 34 times myself, and I was cycling up it well before Strava came along.

me at second food stop not in a car on the motorway

But I like it. ¬†It’s long. ¬†It’s pretty. ¬†It’s got harder bits and easier bits. ¬†Even though I wasn’t feeling top notch, I was happy to pootle along my way and enjoy it. ¬†In fact it actually felt really good, even if Alan still had to wait for me at the top ūüėČ ¬†Sadly the top of the Mendips was not at its best today. ¬†In fact it was pretty much in a cloud. ¬†Grey, drizzly, a tad chilly, and devoid of the usual views. ¬†Not somewhere we wanted to hang around much, and definitely not a day for adding the next extra section in. ¬†Which, if you were interested, took you across to Charterhouse, down Shipham Hill and back up Cheddar Gorge. ¬†Probably lovely, especially if you don’t have Cheddar Gorge on your doorstep, and want to challenge yourself a bit. ¬†But tradition, remember?

getting sunnier Burnham on Sea

So instead we hurtled across the flattish top to Priddy. ¬†I realised I was heading for that falling asleep on the bike thing again, so I warned Alan, and told him to talk to me to keep me focussed and awake. ¬†He made some sarky comment about wasn’t it normally me that does all the talking… ¬†I think we’ll have to agree to disagree here… ūüėČ ¬†So we chatted, and pedalled, and got to Priddy where the nasty gravelly¬†road out the other side¬†was exactly as forewarned, and also a bit tricky as it includes a nasty short, steep, and narrow up. ¬†Tricky because it’s steep and unexpected, and trickier to negotiate when there are a few riders around, of varying abilities, all trying to get up it at the same time. ¬†Alan and I got out of the saddle, and pushed¬†up around them all – politely I hasten to add – just to get it out of the way.

playing with the traffic in Burnham my SAS leadout crew

Actually you could avoid the Priddy bit altogether, by taking a right turn earlier on…but I guess it’s included to show off Priddy, or add miles, or something… ¬†Anyway ahead lay the descent we’d also been warned about, down Westbury Hill to Rodney Stoke. ¬†It being a bit damp, and having been warned, we took it really easy down the descent. ¬†Which was a bit annoying because it’s a very nice down, and also because it turns out my brakes were squealing, and now was not a good time to stop and find out why! ¬†Still, braking was kind of essential, as there are bends, and there was traffic of both sorts, and gravel near the bottom, and today caution was a very good thing. ¬†Someone should possibly have mentioned that to the eejot who flew past Alan on the way down, and got dangerously in the way from time to time…

medal presentation arriving at the end

A nice friendly marshal was making sure we all stopped at the bottom of the descent, and didn’t end up playing with the traffic on the A371 (which is the main road from Cheddar to Wells). ¬†Once crossed, the down continues, as did the eejot…who kept stopping and waiting for some reason, and then flying past us inconveniently… ¬†Anyway moving on, we moved on. ¬†On across the distinctly warmer Levels, which are, unsurprisingly flat. ¬†And familiar. ¬†And fast. ¬†And fairly fun, now that I was a bit more awake. ¬†On to Wedmore, dodging roadworks and traffic. ¬†It’s always a bit interesting going through the town, with parked cars, and shoppers, and so forth. ¬†But once out the other side, after a fast flying bit, with some peloton larks, we reached the second food stop at Hugh Sexey’s school. ¬†And if you were disappointed by the first stop, this one is always more than worth waiting for. ¬†There was an amazing range of cakes, as ever, at ¬£2 for a slice + tea/coffee/squash. ¬†There was even gluten free cake! ¬†And outside there were bacon rolls and the like, which I gather were very lovely. ¬†Even I had cake! ¬†Well, I figured the woozy needed feeding to make it go away. ¬†And if that didn’t work, a couple more shots of that free Truestart coffee should do the job ūüėČ ¬†Plenty of time and space to hang out, chill out, eat, drink, and get it together again.

Clayton and I Darren in charge

So. ¬†20 miles to go. ¬†No big hills. ¬†Sun coming out. ¬†There’s only one way to do that, right? ¬†Yep – time to sprint for the finish, in juvenile racing stylee. ¬†Aided and abetted by the SAS team. ¬†No, not that SASthis one…but they were still quite fast! ¬†Fast enough to tag on the back of as we headed out again, towards Mark. ¬†We were kinda hoping that saw us set for the rest of the ride¬†but no such luck, someone lost their bottle. ¬†Sorry, a bottle. ¬†And they all stopped to salvage it and regroup so we had to carry on regardless. ¬†Thanks to long term road works on the Mark Causeway, even the traditional route had a little detour today. ¬†It may have added the odd mile, but it took us around some of the nice flat quiet straight country lanes around here and, was to my mind, an improvement on the usual head down into the wind slog of previous years! ¬†Mind you…there was still a headwind!

We pushed on, trying to keep the speed up, with the odd glance behind to see if the team had caught us yet… ¬†All that racing along in ever improving weather meant I was getting pretty hot¬†now – how novel is that? ¬†Before long we were back onto the usual route and the joys of Highbridge and Burnham on Sea. ¬†Town roads and traffic – not all that appealing, even in the sunshine. ¬†As we waiting at the traffic lights to turn right and along the Burnham sea front, we were rejoined by the SAS team (far far later than expected!), and a fair few others, which meant negotiating the sea front was a bit tricky, as it gets busy, and ‘they’ really don’t seem to like cyclists much around there… ¬†Well, sunshine brings out the tourist…and the sun was out, and so were they. ¬†Lots of us and lots of them was not a great combo.

queuing for yummy food massage crew

The less than fun continued out the other side and northwards until finally, at Berrow, we got to turn off the main road and stop playing with traffic. ¬†I managed to jump onto the SAS band wagon as they set off, but Alan wasn’t so lucky. ¬†I couldn’t bring myself to drop off the back though, and I figured life would bring us back together soon enough. ¬†I do SO¬†love fast group riding, especially when I’m on form enough to hold my own, if not sit on the front . ¬†As we went on, even that group started to fragment a bit – with a faster few heading off and a few off us dropping back – not by much but with an ever growing gap. ¬†I still had enough wheels to chase though. ¬†The wiggles towards Lympsham can be fun, but are less so sometimes…as the SAS guy who was currently with me accidentally overcooked it on a corner, lost his back wheel on some¬†gravel and ended up on’t wrong side of the road, and in the oncoming traffic… ¬†Luckily the only injury was to his pride, and the drivers’ blood pressures…they were less than impressed. ¬†That was close…!

chilling out post ride Alan

Onwards, still in one piece, we started chatting for a bit as, as it happens, he’s one of my readers, and really hadn’t wanted me to see that! ¬†Hi there… ūüėČ ¬†Hey, at least I’m not embarrassing you by name, right? ¬†As we were chatting, Alan came from behind and blasted off into the distance. ¬†Since my current companion needed to rejoin his mates, I left him to it and hurtled off after Alan. ¬†And if it hadn’t been for the pesky junction with the A370 I’d have caught him too! ¬†As it was I was left just racing the clock to get to the Finish as fast as possible. ¬†Up the main road drag, left and through Uphill, out t’otherside, to hurtle along the Weston Super Mare seafront, and, to the sound of cowbells and applause, pull up on to the lawns and go under the Finish arch. ¬†Man I love riding fast! ¬†The sun was shining, I was probably grinning like a loon, and my 7th Great Weston Ride was done.

medals for all

I collected my medal and food token and a much needed bottle of water, and bumped into Darren just the other side, who was waiting to welcome people in and also keep an eye on everything I expect. ¬†We chatted for a bit, and I passed on some feedback, and¬†he made the photographer take my photo too, which I doubt was a good look – what with the whole hot and sweaty thing! ¬†I took my leave, before¬†finding Alan unsurprisingly somewhere near the bar, having already collected his burger. ¬†Just as well he had…the queues later were impressive and probably a tad annoying… ¬†He headed to the bar for the pair of us in gentlemanly fashion and I put the bike and me down on the grass, to chill out in the sunshine for a while. ¬†I’m glad the whole ride wasn’t in weather like what we now had, but for us it had worked out perfectly. ¬†Reasonable to ride in, then lovely to relax in ūüôā

We hung out for a bit, debriefing as you do, and then Matt arrived to join us,¬†eat my free burger (never likely to agree with me, but best not wasted), hang out for while, and then take me home. Yes, I had a lift home. ¬†I know, I know. ¬†Ok so it’s traditional to also ride home afterwards but hey…some traditions have to be broken…especially if you’re me. ¬†I’m trying not to push my boundaries too far, and pace myself (see, I did listen to what of the clinical pain psychologist said). ¬†So rather than risking falling asleep on the bike, to minimise post-ride consequences, and with Matt around for the weekend, I’d decided weeks ago that that part of tradition at least would have to bite the dust. ¬†And with no Clayton now, and Alan only having a couple of miles to go back to Lympsham, I’d have been doing it on my own anyway. ¬†So….after a couple of¬†pints of lager, chatting & laughing in the sun, my bike and I were in the van and we were heading for home. ¬†I¬†pretty much had an absolute blast ūüôā ¬†See you next year Darren?

Cycling time: 3:38
Distance: 56.6 miles
Avs: 15.5 mph

post ride refreshment Me at the Finish

Great Weston Ride 2015

I could tell you about the ride I did with Alan¬†on Wednesday that didn’t go according to plan¬†because rain stopped play. ¬†I could also tell you about the solitary seaside loop I did yesterday. ¬†But you don’t want to know about those. ¬†You want to know about the Great Weston Ride that I did last Sunday, right? ¬†Which is by way of being a rhetorical question, because I’m going to tell you about it regardless of your response. ¬†Every English woman must do her duty¬†ūüėČ

Right then. ¬†Welcome to the Great Weston Ride. ¬†My sixth I believe. ¬†And since it was also its sixth, that means I’ve done ’em all. ¬†It is by way of being a tradition, which has several elements to it, though not all of them were present this time around.

First of all, for starters,¬†we, whoever we are, ride from our various homes to the start. ¬†This is usually Guy, sometimes Clayton, and always me. ¬†Sadly Guy was unable to join us this year, having worn himself out on yet another long audax the day before. ¬†When shall we three meet again? ¬†Next year maybe? ¬†So then there were two. ¬†Clayton and I met a little before¬†7:00am at Shute Shelve, as ever, and headed off, minus our usual guiding light…which probably explains why, in the absence of his commuting expertise, we managed to get somewhat lost and turn an 18 mile route into a 22 mile route. ¬†But hey, the roads were quiet, it was dry and mild, and we still got to where we had to be in time, mainly because that little before 7:00am had given us a little leeway!

alphabet queue registration

And where did we have to be? ¬†Why Long Ashton Park & Ride of course. ¬†For the second element, the main course, the main event, the GWR itself. ¬†I think in previous years we’ve aimed to get there earlier, this time around it was already busy, full of riders and families and cars and bikes. ¬†Alan was due to meet us there, but as there was as yet no sign of him, we headed off to sign in. ¬†On my way I bumped into Andy and his mates James and Lee, who’d also done the Ride Like A Pro the day before, which was nice – always good to see a friendly face or three!¬† The alphabetised queues for registration were clearly marked, but for some reason mine seemed to be the longest, and queuing took quite a while. ¬†Clayton had it much easier! ¬†As I stood there on my own, slowly shuffling forwards, one of the guys popped over to say that if I was riding on my own I was more than welcome to join them, though I seriously doubt I’d have been¬†able to keep up with ’em. ¬†Luckily, thanks to the company I was already keeping, I didn’t need to find that out for sure! ¬†It was a very nice gesture though – thanks guys ūüôā

Finally it was my turn at the front, and I was given my number, two (rather short) cable ties, and a card with contact details, told to help myself to free 9Bars, and sent on my way. ¬†I found my way back to Clayton, fiddled the number on to the bike, and joined the queue for the Ladies – which just goes to show that there were quite a lot of women riders for a change ūüôā ¬†By the time I emerged again we still hadn’t located Alan, who was failing to answer his ‘phone, but luckily I spotted him loitering with intent, and hailed him over. ¬†Voice like a parade ground sergeant me ūüėČ ¬†Right then, back to being three, if not the same three as usual, right?

Let’s make a little detour here. ¬†Although the GWR is, as we have established, a tradition, this year’s route could be different. ¬†I say could be, not would be, because although the usual 56 mile route remained, the organisers (hi Darren!) had added three optional little detours¬†to it to add both miles and hills. ¬†I’d like to say I was dying to try them out, chomping at the bit, etc…but you know what? ¬†I’m essentially lazy *grin*. ¬†However if I wasn’t local and didn’t know all the extra bits already I probably would have done. ¬†Or not ūüėČ ¬†My real excuse du jour? ¬†Tradition is tradition, tradition is not to be messed with, and the traditional route is 56 miles ūüôā

start line rider briefing

Right then. ¬†Route decided upon. ¬†Time to join the groups lining up for the start. ¬†The two motorcycle medics were watching on as Darren gave us our rider briefing, showed us the signage, and told us to be careful going down the hill after Priddy. ¬†After six years he can probably recite it in his sleep ūüėČ ¬†So, forewarned and forearmed, off we went. ¬†I know better than to hurtle off though, you always get instantly stopped by the traffic lights at the entrance and then another set after that before you get to head off through Long Ashton – and this year was no exception ūüôā

Wasn’t I here yesterday? ¬†Ah yes, so I was. ¬†D√©ja v√Ļ! ¬†This time we may have been going a little slower though – it’s not a race, right? ¬†The road through Long Ashton rolls a bit, has lots of parked cars, and a seriously dubious road surface. ¬†However the section afterwards is lovely fast and flat, so we got to overtake a fair few, which is always fun. ¬†Which is also something that happened on and off ¬†all day. ¬†This is more of a charity ride than a sportive, there’s no timing, and there’s a whole range of riders out there to enjoy the day out, not just the usual race snakes and testosterone fuelled pelotons. ¬†Which apart from meaning I can overtake folk also means it’s got a really nice friendly atmosphere. ¬†People chat en passant, families wait by the side of the road to cheer on¬†their rider(s); it’s all quite refreshing ūüôā

Where to go from here? ¬†Through Barrow Gurney where we stopped briefly to stash layers and lost Clayton who was ahead and didn’t realise we¬†were no longer behind him, and out t’other side. ¬† Then up to the traffic lights and then up, literally, the A38, briefly. ¬†Not briefly enough really as it’s a fast road, and the traffic using it desperately has to be somewhere else and has to go past you at speed to get there. ¬†OK, so we weren’t on it for long at all, distance wise, but the drag up made it take longer than it would have done otherwise, overtaking slower riders was tricky, and it was nice¬†to turn left off it and head east through Winford. ¬†Admittedly this was also nice because I knew the next section, all bar a couple of little ups, was downhill and fun, and it was and it was ūüôā

Chew Valley 1 Chew Valley 2

I appear to have forgotten to mention that despite the relative warmth and sunshine, it was still really windy out there. ¬†When isn’t it these days? ¬†And of course it was a headwind. ¬†*sigh*. ¬†This became even more apparently heading¬†south across the valley and past Chew Valley Lake. ¬†Pretty yes, but pretty hard work! ¬†Somewhere around here we passed Clayton waiting by a gate, and stopped to pick him up – he’d thought he was following Alan the entire time, even though his ‘Alan’ had different kit and a different bike! ūüėČ

first water stop

Time to head for the big climb of the day. ¬†I’m not a fan of the stretch of the road going from Compton Martin to Blagdon. ¬†It’s more up than down, with a couple of nasty draggy ups, and that slow sort of big grain porridgy road surface. ¬†Having said that, I’ve definitely struggled more with it on other rides than I did today. ¬†Although we split up from time to time, going up inevitably, we re-grouped on the downs and flats, i.e. the bits I can do! ūüėČ ¬†Those weren’t the ups of the day though. ¬†Nah. ¬†Today’s big climb was Burrington Combe, not to be tackled however until we’d stopped at the water stop at the bottom and had a bit of a regroup and refresh first. ¬†I wasn’t in any rush to get up it, and when it came to it, I didn’t rush getting up it either – unlike Alan and Clayton who left me in their wakes so as to wait for me at the top. ¬†I still got to overtake some though, and I quite enjoyed pottering up there again. ¬†I might have been faster without the wind all day, and without the day before’s miles in my legs, but I was feeling ok, and that was fine by me ūüôā

cattle grid Burrington Combe

Big climb done. ¬†Time to play with the wind across the top of the Mendips, and have a bit of fun doing some speed. ¬†I like it up there, even today when it got a bit cloudy and drizzled briefly¬†ūüôā ¬†I also like the descent to Westbury sub Mendip. ¬†Well, I usually do. ¬†I like it less when surrounded by lots of other riders who don’t know it as well as I do. ¬†It’s fairly steep, narrow in places, wiggly…and there’s often traffic of the motor vehicle variety going both up and down. ¬†Which it’s another good reason, if one were needed,¬†why¬†it was good that the earlier drizzle was only brief and didn’t turn into rain – it’s proper ‘oribble in the wet! ¬†I’ve been known to kick ass going down here on a good day, but not today. ¬†Today I actually practiced some restraint. ¬†Which is just as well as near the bottom on a narrow wiggly section, at speed, we had to squeak past a Land Rover coming the other way. ¬†There’s no way we’d have been able to stop…just as well we didn’t have to!

we stop for traffic lights

After a bit more restrained fun we reached the junction at the bottom where the marshal duly assisted us all across the main road when it was safe to do so. ¬†A bit more down brought us to Rodney Stoke where, later in the day, various f√™te type things were due to be happening and we’d been asked to roll through it in neutralised zone fashion. ¬†We were there well in advance of those but we still did as we were told, before heading across the flat back country lanes to Cocklake. ¬†We do what we’re told you know. ¬†We even stopped for traffic lights ‘n everything ūüėČ

cakes cup cakes

We were fairly motivated by now, because the infamous food stop is at Wedmore, just a couple of miles down the road. ¬†And it was just as good as ever. ¬†Free coffee/tea/squash, and with a large range of cakes on offer, as well as bacon rolls. ¬†Not free but not expensive either, and although I don’t do eating, Alan and Clayton do. ¬†A large slice of sticky chocolate cake and a generous bacon roll respectively, both of which were apparently lovely ūüôā ¬†The only fly in the ointment was the wasp that wouldn’t leave my squash alone! ¬†So I dumped both and headed to the school toilets, which always make me giggle because they’re ickle for ickle people *grin*.

grill tent bacon roll time

We couldn’t stand around eating all day though. ¬†Time to get going, with 18 miles or so to go and no big hills. ¬†As we headed down the ‘mother-in-law’ road from Wedmore to Highbridge (so-called because it goes on and on…) the sun came properly back out again too. ¬†Well the sun should always shine at the seaside right? ¬†Which, with Highbridge, Burnham-on-Sea, and Weston-super-Mare ahead of us, is where the rest of the ride was. ¬†Burnham wasn’t as busy as usual which was a blessing. ¬†As we passed what passes for the pier, a large group of ladies and daughters applauded me. ¬†Yes, just me, I was a way back from the boys at this point trying to take photos. ¬†I think it was a female solidarity thing – and very smile inducing it was too ūüôā ¬†By now the wind, which had been more¬†southerly than westerly, could have been expected to be behind us and helpful and blissful and….nah, don’t be daft…it had veered around to be properly westerly and no use to man nor beast! ¬†T’was ever the way…*grin*.

Burnham on Sea

We stuck together for the last flat section, took turns at the front, and dragged our average speed up a bit while enjoying the sunshine. ¬†Past the 10 miles to go sign, the 5 miles to go…up the A38, through Uphill, and then we were on the final stretch down the main seafront to the Finish on the lawns there. ¬†There was a lovely¬†reception awaiting us as we crossed the line, complete with applause and cowbells, and smiley faced girls handing out medals and food tokens. ¬†Told you it was friendly, right? ¬†Once again the Great Weston Ride¬†was done ūüôā

Cycling time: 3:42
Distance: 55.9 miles
Avg: 15.1 mph
ODO: 10493.3 miles

Alan Clayton

Time for some R’n’R then. ¬†Those food tokens entitled you to a free burger/sausage/falafel wrap from The Cowshed. ¬†But who eats first? ¬†Priorities…! ¬†Clayton disappeared like a shot towards the beer tent as I had a brief chat to Darren, and¬†I joined him just in time to be presented with a pint of cold lager – bliss ūüôā ¬†Alan went off in search of their food, and I made some small boy’s day by giving him my token and thus a free burger. ¬†Positive karma has to be a good thing ūüôā ¬†We all sat on the lawn in the sun, played the debrief game, and drank that positively lovely lager, surrounded by lots of others doing the same. ¬†The boys had a couple of pints or three, I stuck to just 1 and 1/2 before we headed off for the ride home, even given considerable peer pressure!…

just rewards

…which I possibly paid for. ¬†This was the final element, dessert presumably, aka riding back home again. ¬†Damn that tradition stuff! ¬†OK, so it was only 10 miles back for me, and actually this¬†probably had more to do with two days’ riding in a row and not having eaten enough, but I felt properly and increasingly weird on the way back. ¬†I’m very glad it wasn’t any further! ¬†I was very pleased to get home, get off the bike, and spend some serious sofa time so as to get it together enough to have a shower. ¬†I know, girly lightweight ūüėČ ¬†Still, two¬†lovely days out on the bike…there are definitely worse ways to spend a weekend ūüôā

 

 

Over the hills and far away

Apparently Wednesday is back to meaning hills again. ¬†Well for this week anyway – I gather Alan has mad TT plans for future Wednesdays. ¬†Each to their own, √† chacun son go√Ľt, etc. ¬†Believe it or not, I think I probably prefer hills…

busy Burrington Combe

We did¬†a 35 mile 3 hill loop – Shipham Hill, Burrington Combe, and Old Bristol Hill – the various lumps being joined up by a fair amount of blatting around on the top of the Mendips where the wind was. ¬†Where the wind usually is. ¬†But since it was also warm and sunny and both my arms and legs were out, you won’t hear me complaining. ¬†I’m sure that makes a nice change for you all ūüėČ

Old Bristol Hill

And when¬†the hurly-burly was done, and the battle was not lost but won*, we settled down outside The Oakhouse to bask in our glory. ¬†Well in the sun anyway ūüėČ ¬†I could have had coffee. ¬†Alan did. ¬†But hey, it’s half term, it was my day off, the sun was shining (as I believe I may have mentioned one too many times now), so I opted for something a little more refreshing instead¬†*grin*. ¬†I admire Alan’s willpower in not joining me…such restraint! ūüėČ

Cycling time: 2:20
Distance: 34.9 miles
Avg: 15.0 mph
ODO: 9574.6 miles

It all went a lot better than I was expecting; for some reason my PMA has been¬†AWOL for the last week or so. ¬†And you know what? ¬†It was my fastest time up Old Bristol Hill ever! ¬†Looks like I earnt that gratuitous pint after all ūüėČ

post ride refreshment*And yes, I’m misquoting deliberately ūüôā

 

Too many people take second best

Ok, I’m lying. Of course it doesn’t have to be perfect. ¬†What’s perfect anyway? ¬†And good enough is frequently good enough ūüôā

Today was about checking the legs were ok before the Black Rat this weekend. ¬†Ok, I’m lying. ¬†Again. ¬†It was actually about seeing if I could go up a hill without another meltdown. ¬†In the company of Alan once again, who will also be with me on Sunday. ¬†We actually had¬†sunshine, warmth, and no wind. ¬†No word of a lie. ¬†Yes, I know, miracles do happen! ūüėČ

sunny Burrington Combe

And¬†as it turns out, that hill? ¬†Yes I could. ¬†Burrington Combe. ¬†Again with the not a lie ūüėČ ¬†Best time up it in a year as it happens. ¬†Not just this year. ¬†A year. ¬†Good enough ūüėČ ¬†And I wasn’t pushing it, because I’m still too scared to do that. ¬†But clearly there’s some form lurking somewhere there, when everything else is under control. ¬†And having earnt some fun, Longbottom and Shipham were an absolute blast. So t’was short but sweet¬†as rides go, but well worth it on the PMA front ūüôā

Cycling time: 1:16
Distance: 18.9 miles
Avg: 14.8 mph
ODO: 9313.1 miles

Alan behind me

 

Give up yourself unto the moment

col

See this? ¬†Ok, it’s not an official Col sign. But it’ll do me ūüôā ¬†This year’s mental century block had nothing on my enduring Draycott Steep block. ¬†I’ve never made it up. ¬†Ever. ¬†And I’ve been riding a while now. ¬†To be fair I’ve not tried that many times. ¬†Two or three maybe, and I’ve always had to stop and walk, even if that was sometimes wet road/traffic induced. ¬†Nonetheless I’ve¬†never done it. ¬†And, due to my dismal prior performance, I wasn’t entirely sure I ever would/could, which is why I’ve been avoiding it. ¬†But Alan and I have been meaning to try it again for a while. ¬†It was supposed to be today. ¬†But last night, with the possibility that he’d have a hangover (he didn’t) and that I’d have earache (I did) I was half expecting us to change our minds about attempting it today. ¬†Well we didn’t.

It didn’t necessarily feel like a wise decision. ¬†It felt even less wise when, after we stopped post warm-up loop to stash gilets, I coughed my guts up again – this cold is taking a while to clear! ¬†But I did want to do it. ¬†Or at least try to. ¬†We have a habit of doing hills well together, though not actually together as it were. ¬†I don’t know if I’d ever summon up the motivation to try¬†it on my own. ¬†And I know I wouldn’t want to try¬†it following the usual race snake suspects, who’d be leaving me in their depressing wake. ¬†So I guess it was kind of now or never?

Steep behind

The time was now. ¬†It seemed as good a time as any. ¬†You’d be hard pushed to find a better day to do it too. ¬†OK, so we were in pre-sunshine mist. ¬†But it was dry. ¬†The road was re-surfaced a while back. ¬†It was warm enough. ¬†And barring the odd considerate vehicle, it was quiet. ¬†There was no pressure. ¬†And…? ¬†Yep, I made it up. ¬†All the way up. ¬†In one go. ¬†It’s long and it’s steep and it’s long and it’s steep! ¬†I’d say it nearly killed me, but that would be a tad unnecessarily over-dramatic. ¬†It wasn’t quite that bad, but it was bl**dy hard work. ¬†Alan had had to take a break near the end of the steepest bit, heart rate you know, but that was probably because he didn’t know the worst was nearly over whereas I did, so I could push on knowing that. ¬†To be fair, I just thought he was waiting for me! ¬†The higher we got, the sunnier it got, in serendipitously symbolic fashion. ¬†And after quite a while, for the first time ever, I conquered Draycott Steep. ¬†See this smiley face? ¬†Well, ok, you can’t, but even now I’m still mad happy about it ūüėÄ

And we didn’t leave it at that which, had I been feeling truly rubbish at the top, had been mooted as an option. ¬†But since the sun was out, and the worst was done, it seemed rude not to bathe in the glory for a while. ¬†So we went across the top of the Mendips to Burrington Combe, so I could enjoy a good down. ¬†And then up through Rowberrow so I could enjoy going down Shipham Hill. ¬†I nailed the ups, and I nailed the downs. ¬†It turned out to be a pretty awesome ride ūüôā

Cycling time: 1:52
Distance: 26.8 miles
Avg: 14.3 mph
ODO: 8877.8 miles

OK, so since Alan had had to stop, and the Steep took his zing away for the rest of the ride, he probably doesn’t agree with me. ¬†But I had a great ride, and I couldn’t have done it without him. ¬†Thanks mate! ¬†We sat in the sunny Square for coffee and cake afterwards, and I did my best not to crow too much. ¬†Although I skipped the coffee and went with the more celebratory instead. ¬†Well, it is my day off ūüėČ ¬†Woo hoo – I made it up Draycott Steep!!!

earned

If forever never comes

After a long, late, very enjoyable Friday night at my folks’ place, which involved a serious degree of self-medication as the pain level was rocketing, Saturday morning didn’t really happen. ¬†I pretty much slept through it! ¬†Which since I had a whole empty weekend to fill, neatly took care of a good few of those hours ūüėČ ¬†And besides which, sleep is good right? ¬†It was clearly what my body needed, which is often how it reacts to dealing with the pain anyway. ¬†So, no harm done.

However I didn’t want to waste the day entirely, and I was feeling somewhat better (mornings tend to be better than later in the day) so I took myself off walking again once my caffeine levels were topped up. ¬†I walked all around Burrington Combe, which I pretty much had to myself, and made it snow. ¬†Which was novel *grin*. ¬†It was hilly and muddy and cold and damp but none of those things all the time. ¬†And I sat on top of the rocks at the highest point¬†and admired the views, rocking the windswept look, and loved it. ¬†All of it ūüôā

mossy stream muddy path stream

stark trees it snowed views beyond

jagged edge outcrop perspective

Walking time: 1:19
Distance: 3.5 miles

combe selfie