Tell the world that you’re winning

Yesterday @Skipinder wanted to know what everyone was doing for their Easter weekend.  I replied “Riding, what else are holidays for?”.  Well, ok, of the four days I’m only actually planning on riding for two of them, but still…

Today was a Somerset Cycling ride which fitted in perfectly with my plans.  It also had the advantage of not setting off until 11:00am so I didn’t have to get out of bed early, even taking into account the half hour it would take me to cycle to Mark to meet everyone.  Bonus!  Actually I allowed 45 minutes and it took me about 22 minutes, as I wasn’t hanging around.  Well who hangs around on the A38? ;).  I was early, but just in time to meet the BW being unloaded from his paternally chauffeured support vehicle, so at least I didn’t have to hang around on my own.

Somerset Cycling gather...

After a while there was eight of us, so more new faces for me.  Names aren’t my strong point so I hope I’ve gotten them right, and spelled them correctly.  I’m sure you’ll shout if I haven’t.  The first part of our route was on familiar territory, on some of my favourite bits of road.  Not a bad way to start a ride – sunshine, not much wind, and, in my not so humble opinion, some of the best parts of the Levels.  With added inconvenient cows for those who like that kind of thing and I know some of you do ;).

Michael and Mark level pegging it.

I mean look at it.  What’s not to love?  It was gorgeous out there, but not even half as warm as it looks.  I’d faffed and dithered and deliberated and changed a great deal this morning…and I am so glad I changed my s/s jersey for the l/s one – worn under winter  jersey with longs, overshoes, and mitts.  With over gloves and buffs and scarves to be taken on and off as necessary.  Which turned out to be at Mark once I’d warmed up, so I stuffed those bits in my saddle bag.  Other than that nothing changed I may have been a little over warm on a couple of the big hills, but that’s what zips are for.  If you wear layers you can take them off.  If you don’t, you can’t put on what you don’t have…and I think a couple of people were wishing they had an extra layer stashed away somewhere.  My overshoes don’t look like such a silly choice now, do they? ;).

Time for hills.  Namely Shapwick Hill and High Ham Hill.  Once I stopped trying to keep up with the boys I plodded my way up feeling pretty good about both.  Apparently it’s not a testicle race.  I pointed out that this was just as well as I wouldn’t qualify.  Having been told that my lack of ability was all in my mind I had to point out that it was my lack of testicles to which I was referring, which definitely is not all in my mind! *grin*.

I was really pleased with how I climbed High Ham, it definitely felt easier than the last time.  I bet not doing it in fog contributed to that.  Then I got to enjoy the descent too, which is the only reason going up is worth doing right?  I was starting to feel the need for coffee and a break, and wanted to get there, without really knowing where there was.  However we were delayed by the BW getting a puncture in Langport.  It would be him right?  Typically, being as organised as ever, he had neither a spare inner tube, nor patches, nor pump.  Very poor form I’m afraid.  This resulted in nearly everyone else trying to fix it for him and get us underway again, since even when he did have a go at re-inflating it himself it didn’t go well.  There was also a degree of (mostly) lighthearted ribbing going on…  I say mostly because he’s been riding long enough to know better and some of us know that!

BW trying...

The rest of us stood in the sun, as there were clearly enough chefs involved, and let them get on with it.  How many cyclists does it take to change an inner tube?…

Carlo flying the flag

Warren waiting.

Michael showing some leg.

Besides which it was quite a pretty place to stand and shoot the breeze actually, with pretty flowers ‘n all.

We did finally get underway, and there seemed to be a degree of sprinting for coffee.  I concentrated on trying to keep up with the three wheels in front for me, but after a while keeping up with half-wheeling triathletes got too much to me.  Given a wheel to hang on to and the tailwind, I think I did pretty well keeping up for as long as I did, but once the average got to 25mph+ it was time to admit defeat, and chill out until the following group had caught up.  Beats me why I didn’t stay with them in the first place, but I can honestly say it didn’t occur to me, and I didn’t realise that we weren’t all together until it was too late because I was too busy looking ahead rather than behind!  I’m sure it was good for me :).

All Saints Church, Martock

By the way Martock is very pretty.  I don’t get down that far very often as it’s too far away for the average training ride, and it makes a nice change to cycle around a new area. Very picturesque.  I may check it out in greater, and slower, detail sometime.

So.  Coffee.  Or not.  Oops.  It’s Good Friday and…well…not everywhere is open.  Apparently they do really good cake if you ever do get there and they’re open though.  Bit of a b*gger though…as by then I was counting on a coffee for a bit of a lift.  It kind knocked me off balance mentally a bit though – there was this idea of what the ride was in my head, and then it wasn’t, and I didn’t know if I was ready for more of the same without a break.  Seeing that others were eating however reminded me that I could do the same and I resorted to Lucozade jellybeans, washed them down with some Nuun (in fruit punch flavour for a change, because I’m trying variety) and hoped that that would do the job.

Turned away at the gate.

Hm.  What to do.  8 cyclists.  At least 8 opinions right?  Having already cycled past Sweets we knew it was open so it became the logical choice, as well as being on the way back.  How to get there?  Well before we really reached a consensus on that, we were heading off again, and very soon 8 became 2, 3, and 3.   Michael and Warren unintentionally went a different way, Wayne and Andy disappeared off into the sunset, which just left the BW, Coxy, and me making our way back.  I was flagging a bit what with the inevitable sapping headwind and the fact that I didn’t really know where I was.  Being in the middle of nowhere, not really knowing where you’re going, somehow makes it feel harder and take longer.  We stopped briefly in Somerton, which I do at least recognise, in case anyone needed the last opportunity to grab get anything from a shop before Sweets.

Carlo the gregarious was actually collared by family who saw him outside and had to go in for a chat, which is the real reason he was in the chippy…but I do think it makes for an amusing photo *grin*.

Apparently I should have recognised the next section of the route from the Cheddar Cyclosportive but clearly last time I did that I can’t have been paying attention.  It wasn’t until we came out on the road on the other side of High Ham Hill that I finally knew where I was and got my mojo back again.  Amazing how much better I felt knowing where I was going!  I even quite enjoyed the slow climb up Pedwell Hill, and Coxy dropped back to keep me company – he makes a great broom wagon *grin*.  I was just enjoying the fact that I could climb a hill in a whole variety of gears, as if this had been last Sunday I’d have been walking!  Always good to take a moment to be grateful for what you have.

BW and Coxy going up in the world.

Once over the main road, there’s this funny house perched on the crest of the hill.  I wonder about the oddly out of place glazing every time I drive past.  Weird isn’t it?  The views back towards home are pretty good though :).

the view from Shapwick Hill.

Now my legs really could sense coffee, and it was time to get there as quickly as possible, knowing that there was no more climbing between me and there.  I did my bit at the front as best I could, though apparently I make a lousy windbreak.  Hey, it may not be a traditional compliment but I’ll take it 😉 *grin*.

Finally Sweets.  Where the other groups awaited us, sat outside in the sunshine.  Not that we stayed outside for long – it still wasn’t quite warm enough – and we took refuge inside.



Wayne clearly thinks Michael is a very funny man... 😀

Having not been eating chips, even though appearances were to the contrary, you should see Carlo’s chocolate cake!

Carlo's chocolate cake

Coxy seemed to be taking cake quite seriously too…

Fruit cake this time I think...

BW managed chocolate cake and hot chocolate and yet again I have no idea how he does it!  I stuck to coffee (like I have a choice) because I needed the caffeine fix to get me back on the bike and home again, which involved going up and over Mudgeley Hill, on which I was delighted not to be caught, and then the usual Wedmore road.   Whatever was in the chocolate cake clearly works because, after we joined up again in Wedmore, Carlo was off!  Which made my favourite straight more interesting – wheel sucking whilst still pushing to keep up!  Hard work, but good in a masochistic way :).  Time to take myself off down the bypass and home.

Cycling time: 3:38:57 hrs
Distance: 62.33 miles
AVS: 17.1 mph.
ODO: 12955 miles

That was a mighty fine way to spend a Good Friday.  Bl**dy hard work, but then sometimes that’s not a bad thing.  Keeping up with these guys ain’t easy!  So if it was a good Good Friday does that make it a Great Friday? 😉  Certainly makes it a fast one! *grin*