Thats Denmead to Weston Super Mare and back – 400k in all !
I finished my fourth at 0530 in the morning, the Denmead
to Weston Super Mare and back. I took advantage of the free campsite out
the back of the hall, which
enabled a leisurely 0800 start. I started the ride at the front of the
60+ field in the company of AUK big guns Chris Beynon and
Phil Chadwick, but the pace got a bit rich so I made excuses for a wee stop
and met the main field.
Once out of the Meon Valley we met Problem 1;
something that was to stay with us all the way to WSM; a strong
After the Amesbury control it was grit your teeth and head down across
Salisbury Plain and then, after the Frome control, over Mendip. I have
been visiting the caves of Mendip for many years, but it is only when
you ride a bike along these roads that you discover previously unknown
hills. The wind showed no signs of abating and even brought me to a
virtual stop down Cheddar Gorge (which was the scenic highlight of the day).
After that it was the long slog up to Shipham where I took
advantage of the tremendous Afterburn Cheddar (laced with chillies!)
and a half of local scrumpy from the farm shop.
Descending down towards Weston and the wind was still doing its
damndest. Weston is strange, very run-down but retains much of its
charm, a sort of Bath by the sea. It was at this stage that I found
Problem 2, getting enough food inside me; I simply had no appetite
despite my calorie meter on the bike computer reading over 4000. Seeing
of meat and two veg in a dingey seaside cafe made me feel decidely queasy.
was to continue all through the Somerset levels, past Glastonbury and
on to the next control near Wincanton. By now William, my ride mate for
the day and on a fixer, and I were having serious questions as to our
but being an out and back had no choice but to press on. Dave -El
Supremo- Hudson’s welcome roadside feeding station was advertised
sometime after Shaftesbury, a mother of a town up in the clouds that
saw liberal use of the triple. Sitting in Dave’s tent at 2335 came
Problem 3. On the previous 3 400’s I have managed with an extra shirt
and some arm-warmers but with the thermometer reading 42F (whatever
that means) I realised I was in for a rough night. Fortunately William
lent me his Gore-Tex, and even though the rest of me managed to keep
warm for the rest of the ride my knees never warmed up.
The last section was actually pretty good, nice empty mostly flat lanes
to Romsey, where I managed to force down some microwaved soup in the
24hr service station whilst sitting on a hard floor next to a draughty
cabinet full of beer (which was also closed just to rub it in!). From there
it was more or less a repeat of the
outward run, dropping down to the arctic Meon Valley before finishing
back at the hall. After I awoke from a well earned crash in the hall
(could not face climbing back into a cold tent at 0530) I saw many more dead
bodies who had arrived back after me.
Lessons learned :
Carry a kitchen sink
Force yourself to eat
Take two water bottles
(photo to follow)