Wednesday, 17 July 2019

I found Nempnet Thrubwell - I think! 41

Monday 15th, I did an easy circuit around Banwell and Puxton as a wind down to the previous day's exertion of the GWR.  A lovely  afternoon, quite sunny, and it was a pleasure to be out bimbling along some country lanes. Covered a fraction over 20 miles on that one.
The following day, the Tuesday, was Old Gits Day but I had to decline as a heart scan seemed a tad more important.  To compensate for not being out with the lads I went on a mission to find Nempnett Thrubwell a small hamlet on the northern side of the Mendips.  The name has fascinated me for a couple of years and it has eluded me till now because there are some serious 'inclines' around that area. To prepare for the challenge it was vitally necessary to call in at the Mother Hen Tea Room for tea and cake.

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Leaving the Mother Hen at Wrington it was almost a 600' climb through the village of Redhill to get to the northern most slope of the Mendips.  On the way up the long incline stopped to take the below photo of the Mendips in the distance.


About 5/6 miles further on I came to Nempnet Thrubwell, but weird, you wouldn't know it was there. There is a maze of lanes around the place but no sort of heart, or village centre.  I may have missed something but never came across a pub, church, shop or other community building. Loads of very nice houses with very nice cars in the drive but all spaced really far apart. Never saw anybody either.  Carried on to the next village, Utley which had much more of a village feel about it as the below shows.  The telephone box has been adapted as a book lending centre.


From there got back onto the main road for Weston.  Passed by the Rickford Chapel just outside Blagdon, this was a 19th century Methodist chapel but is now a Masonic Lodge. A very photogenic spot.


Got back to Weston after 41 miles.A good ride that was, could not have accomplished it on a normal bike.  Must come back and explore Nempnet Thrumpton again.

Monday, 15 July 2019

The Great Western Ride III. 63

I never thought I would do this event again, but thanks to Sparky, it was relatively easy and completed it, along with 5 other Old Gits, in a reasonable time , in excellent weather and with battery to spare!  Below shows the route from Bristol, transversing the mendips and down onto the Somerset Levels back to Weston via Burnham on Sea.  Just below the map is the ride profile, rather lumpy at the start and flat for the second half.
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The day started with a lift (£15, cheap at half the price)) in a coach, with Sparky travelling in the back of an old Luton Van. Rather undignified I thought.  At the start of the event at the Long Ashton Car Park met up with the other OGs and waited to be released onto the public roads.  We set off in batches of about 50 after a short route guide talk from a Marshall.
I wasn't too sure how Sparky's battery would cope with a 60 mile trek so the first 20 miles were treated rather conservatively and I did more pedaling than I would have liked.  That paid off though, because when The 'big one' arrived, Burrington Combe, there was still well over 3/5 power left.  No problem climbing up that one so the worst of the route was over. A hairy drop down onto the levels and through Wedmore for a well earned break at the Hugh Sexey school at Blackmore.  This is some of us enjoying a bacon bap and a cup of tea before starting the last, very flat, leg.
Going through Burnham on Sea we cycled past one of our favourite summer watering holes, Lizzie's Breakfast in Apex Park.  Could not resist stopping there for another cuppa.  The below was taken by one of Lizzie's little helpers.  From there back to Weston was into a bit of a headwind but there was plenty left in Sparky to cope with that.
Here we are just at the finish line, taking up all the road for good effect in case Sky Sports news were waiting for us.  They weren't!
And a group photo, after the medal presentation, minus one Old Git who had gone off doing extras, like taking in Cheddar Gorge as an 'add on'.   The final mileage at the finish was 57.4 but, not content with that, I took the long way home to make the final mileage for the day 63.1, the longest distance covered in one outing.
Completed the 63 miles and still had a bit left in the battery.  If nothing else, the GWR has demonstrated the capabilities and capacity of the power supply.  Need not have been concerned about its longevity after all.  One negative aspect of the day was that Sparky lost the left hand handlebar plug that holds the bar tape on.  I suspect it is in the back of that old Luton van.

Friday, 12 July 2019

An easy one before GWR. 33

Out with the 'Friday Riders' for an easy morning going down to Burnham.  All our 'training' is done now and this is the last outing before the GWR (Great Weston Ride) on Sunday.  No hills today, no rush, but the headwind on the return leg was a bit of a spoiler. Although six Old Gits are doing the GWR it was pleasing to see 11 members turned out today. There was a bit of a mechanical with a slow puncture but that got sorted OK.  We headed south from Weston and went across the Somerset Levels, through Lympsham, Mark and over to West Huntspill.

Carrying on through Highbridge, we ended up at Lizzie's Breakfast, a little diner in the corner of Apex Park.  Whilst ordering our tea and bread pudding  we noticed they have introduced a loyalty card, 10 visits = a free cup of tea. The amount of times I call there, that is a must have.  The remainder of the ride back to Weston was through Berrow and the nature reserve at Uphill, it was slightly against the wind but no real problem.  Finished on just under 34 miles, well pleased with that and looking forward to Sunday's GWR

Thursday, 11 July 2019

A trip from Leamington to Draycote Water. 31

Up in Leamington for a couple of days and met up with Graham for a ride out. We made contact with an old colleague of ours, Steve, and decided to go out to Draycote Water near Rugby.  Not a bad day at all, a slight westerly wind blew us over that way and perhaps that may influence the journey back to Leamington. For the first time in two weeks, had to resort to my old bike as the problems with transporting 'Sparky' about by car has not been resolved yet. Certainly found a big difference up some of the hills but overall it was good to be back on the old Specialized machine.

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Going through Birdinbury we decided to use the disused railway line  having debated the possible problems we may come across ie. nettles, brambles or bad road surface.  We risked it to avoid a stiff climb and it wasn't a problem at all. Met a chap on the track travelling from Market Harbourough to Warwick on the last leg of a camping trip out to Norfolk.  We wished him well as he cycled off into the distance with panniers either side of his bike bigger than he was!
After we negotiated the old railway line we came out in the village of Draycote, a pretty village full of a lot of very well kept large houses, (they will not be so pretty if the reservoir overflows) and eventually on to the side of the reservoir itself.  Saw some little grebes, or were they big grebes, and a messy flock of Canada geese making a mess of the road.  Stopped then for tea and cake (thanks Steve) and sat out on the balcony admiring the view.


Left the cafe and headed into the slight breeze back to Leamington.  Went through Kites Hardwick, Long Itchington and Radford Semele.  Steve peeled off to head home to Southam via the Welsh Road and I bid farewell to Graham on the outskirts of Leamington.  Did 31 miles today, a little more than was intended with the Great Western Ride coming up in a couple of days.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Last 'training ride' before GWR. 43

With the GWR ( Great Western Ride) looming in about 9 days time, the Old Git 'Friday Riders' thought it would be prudent to have a last concerted effort to get in shape and ride up Burrington Combe, one of the segments of the GWR.  It was a perfect day for riding so five of us set off to take the challenge.  Unfortunately, out of the five, I was the only one scheduled to do the event, the rest of the contenders were committed elsewhere.  And, with me riding Sparky, did I really need it?

Four of us met in Weston, and as we were cycling very close to Colin's place on the way to Burrington, he very kindly offered us tea and cake before attempting the climb. About 14 miles in, we found his place and sampled a delicious coffee cake made by his good lady.Whilst devouring that we discussed the ills of the world, including Brexit!  The five of us then set off to scale the 2 mile, 800' climb to the top of Burrington Combe where we had a few minutes rest.  Personally, on Sparky, it was relatively easy but I take my hat off to two of the five.  One is in his early 80s and another has a very heavy, bog standard, mountain bike.  Those two did really well, hats off to them.  I was surprised that I only used the lowest level of assistance available.  Just hope the battery lasts out on the day, it is a 60 mile event!

Cheddar Gorge

After riding across the top of the Mendips for two or three miles we took a turning off to Cheddar Gorge.  A fairly thrilling, brake assisted, descent into the Gorge watching out for wandering sheep and ramblers. At 25-30mph, best not crash into any of them.  Into the touristy section of Cheddar just had to stop for another cuppa.  A passing waitress took the picture which shows from l to r  Colin (tea provider) Big Al of mountain bike fame, Jim, Phil ( another one to raise your hat to) and myself.  

We carried on after that through Axbridge to the Strawberry Line, Shute Shelve tunnel, and back to Weston via Puxton.  Clocked up 43 miles today on a very enjoyable ride out with the 'lads'.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Brockley and Goblin Combe. 34

Another nice sunny day, not too windy, ideal for a bit of climbing.   Haven't been out this way before, heading east towards Bristol.  Went out through Congresbury and Cleeve on the A370, not the best of roads but has to be travelled, no other way to get to Brackley Combe without a long way round Clevedon.   The climb up to the top, where the airport is, (a climb of 600') is best shown on the ride profile below the map.

Giant watering can.

Have often passed this garden centre in the car and made a mental note to 'capture' it some day, that day has arrived.  This road has a few climbs in it which I have avoided till now but 'Sparky' has made these much easier.

On the runway

At the top of the Brockley Combe the road goes around the edge of Bristol Airport and there were several aircraft near to the perimeter fence waiting to take off.  A bit. weird riding down the road travelling faster than an aircraft.  Combe by the way is a 'steep narrow valley'.

After the airport went down the other side of the hill down Goblin Combe into Wrington where I just had to call into the Mother Hen cafe for tea and a cookie. Back to Weston then via Churchill and Banwell to complete the 34 mile trip.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Over the Windy Hills. 20

Funny old weather we experience in the UK.  Roasting a couple of days ago, a strong westerly wind today that lowered the temperature by about 15 degrees. Still, nice to get out though.  Did a 20 mile circuit on 'Sparky' including some 'pimples' I would not normally try.  The map below includes below it, a profile of the ride indicating the hills. The climbing today was 968 feet.

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Heading back to Weston ignored the Road Closed sign ( It wasn't. They workmen had all gone home ) and went through Thatcher's country, the big cider maker around here. Can't see any signs of apples on the trees yet. There is always a danger a late frost gets the blossom, time will tell.


Used the electric a fair bit on the way back mostly because of the strong headwind. Very useful having a battery I have to say.  This ride would have been a real struggle with the old bike.