What a day - 26 hours!
I already mentioned the highlights being Cheddar Gorge and getting into Weston-super-Mare. Going down Cheddar Gorge brought similar emotions to reaching Whitstable on a FNRttC last year, with that beautiful sunrise. There was a group of Minis parked in one of the bays. Had to take a picture for Sarah of course. The owners scuttled away from their cars, I can only think because they were eating pizzas out of carboard boxed and didn't want that to spoil the picture!
It was great to have Urban_Biker and Chillmoister as companions again. Even the full set of the Faccombe Four appeared, with LEE and keeks joining us for parts of the ride. As always, I am very grateful for their support. Although we don't ride together the whole of the time, you do have the feeling that you are in this together.
Urban_biker very kindly put up two tents in his back garden for Chillmoister and I, to have a kip at the end of the ride. I tiptoed around wondering which tent Chillmoister was in - didn't hear any snoring as promised, and was lucky to find the first one I tried empty. I unzipped as quietly as one can! Tried to muffle my gargling cough which had developed all of a sudden. You've guessed it already of course, he wasn't there, but had already gone home.
Other things of note:
Headwind: 200kms of it, all the way to Weston-super-Mare, 17kph had been the forecast.
Spoke: back wheel spoke broke (when/where was this Chillmoister?), fortunately the wheel stayed true enough.
Mileometer: stopped working, making navigation more difficult. Had lots of navigation doubts in those deep, dark hours I talked about. Used the iPhone mapping on many occassions.
Wildlife: oystercatchers heard over Frome, lots and lots of tawny owls calling - lovely. Also lots of spring nectar smells, probably hawthorne.
The Oxford Corner Restaurant: was a great, friendly place to have a meal of baked beans on toast and chips in portions none of us could finish. The staff were not at all stirred by the fact we cycled from Portsmouth, probably because it is a regular stop for Denmead 400 audaxers . I'm puzzled though why giving an 'audax receipt' was still not part of the routine.
Swarm: while at the restaurant, Sarah called to say there was a swarm happening on the allotment. Briefly I thought she was joking, because we always say that the bees wait till I've gone out cycling. But no, there is photographic evidence even! I'll check the hives at the weekend, but I would be very, very surprised if the swarm was from one of our hives.
The Bear and Ragged Staff: what does the pub name mean? Maybe this link provides some answers : clicky.
Meim ... please skip this paragraph and go to next ...
RTA (road traffic accident): after Salisbury plains when relieved to have got to the next T junction, and me being ahead of Chillmoister and Urban_biker for the one time, I stop, lean my bike against a post ready to have a little break, when I hear the unmistakeable sound of a car on car collision. I look around and saw a car tumbling down the slope. The atmosphere changes, cars stop, people get out and help the man and women out of the crashed car, alive. Soon after Chillmoister and Urban_biker catch up with me, I was pleased to see them.
... maybe skip this one too ...
Hallucinations: had three types of hallucinations
- roundabouts and T-junctions: in stage 6, 19 out of 29 instructions were roundabouts or TJ's. No wonder I started to see them everywhere. Especially in trees.
- people waiting to wave at me only to morph into postboxes or hedges as I get nearer.
- and the spookiest of all are the shadows, because shadows move. They are like giant cranes, like giant arcade pick a toy grippers, ready, waiting to pick you up as you move beneath them. I imagined being picked up and being dropped somewhere ... at the finish.