25th April 2017
The weather forecast for Sunday was looking good after a chilly start. I was looking forward to the event as the route was a good one, nice distance and also I was to meet the replacement for Dave for my upcoming Manche to Med ride through France. I had agreed to meet Peter at the start with the intention of getting to know each other – this worked well!
I decided to drive over to Langport park there and cycle up the long hill to High Ham for the start, 3.6 miles seemed a nice distance to warm up and at the end of the day it was 3.6 miles down hill!!
I parked in the car park next to the church, unloaded my bike, gear sorted, shorts, short sleeved helly vest, short sleeve jersey with arm warmers and windproof gilet, I had fingerless mits, my hands were cold!!! Riding to the start.
It was a lovely ride up the hill, I arrived at the event headquarters in good time, tea and toast was offered and gladly accepted. There was a large group of the Wheelers already there, they had cycled over from home 20 miles! So by the end of the day they will have cycled over 100 miles, respect to them!
I finally met up with Peter, joining me on the M toM , shaking hands and initial chat before we set off on the Audax. There was over 100 in our group setting off for a descent down to Langport, 100 riders had already gone at 8:30, so a good turn out for the event. It was still chilly for the descent and stayed that way across the levels past Muchelney Abbey through Kingsbury Episcopi, Shepton Beauchamp before starting the climb up to Windwhistle.
The sun was now out, and as we approached Dowlish Wake at the bottom of the Cudworth climb, a long climb steep in places that exited near the golf course at the top of Windwhistle hill, Peter and I had a slight problem here , he stopped a ta junction, I cycled past, he didn’t notice and we had some confusion waiting for each other .
It was a long descent down to Forde Abbey, and when we arrived the sun was now gaining warmth, a beautiful spot, coffee and a time for a snack. The next stage of the event was to be ‘lumpy’ climbs and descents over to Sherborne. As we climbed over to Cheddington and Winyards Gap it was warm, the hedgerows were full of wild garlic and blue bells, the woods at Winyards were a blue sheen very beautiful, filling the air with a lovely scent. The long descent on good roads to Halstock was enjoyable, Peter and I were now on our own, coming across small groups occasionally. The route passed a very calm Sutton Bingham Reservoir, the drinking water for Yeovil, a short steep climb before the busy villages of Bradford Abbas etc. we were now close to Sherborne the second checkpoint and the second Abbey [hence the title Merry Monk] the checkpoint was in the middle of the town, so lots of traffic after the quiet roads out in the country.
We checked in and as the café was very busy we were able to get a cup of tea from Waitrose next to the café, it was hot as we sat in the sunshine with our sandwich lunch, lots of bikes stacked in the courtyard, and clearly we weren’t the last to arrive! 74 km covered so far. Peter and I had chatted as we cycled, comparing our preparation for the M to M.
The sun was now fully out, cotton wool clouds as we cycled out from Sherborne, a long busy uphill to the Somerset border [we were currently in Dorset] before we returned back to the quiet lanes onto Yeovilton. We were now on our return back to High Ham, after Yeovilton we went through Ilchester back on to the busy A road , lots of traffic again, the road now rolling but with a good surface, I was thankful when we turned off as we had also been cycling into a head wind, back to the lanes to Somerton, some beautiful country side and great cycling. We had managed most of the route to follow the route on the Garmin GPS rather than keep looking at turn by turn written instructions. I was still feeling good even though we had covered well over 50 miles.
The last few miles before the final climb back up to High Ham were nice and steady riding, quiet lanes, blossom out on the fruit trees. There was a final sting in the tail with the steep climb up to the event HQ – 66.9 miles covered a great day out and good to meet my riding colleague for M to M. The hall had a great spread of food, donations to ‘Air Ambulance’ I helped myself to a bowl of trifle and a piece of fruit cake with of course tea!
I said cheerio to Peter to meet again at the Portsmouth ferry terminal! I cycled back down the hill to my car, a lovely descent, at a good speed, I still felt I had some energy left, but was glad I didn’t have to ride that extra 20 miles home!
A fantastic day out, a well organised event, one for the calendar in the future. 66.9 miles Audax and 7 miles to and from car, 74miles total.
Monday [yesterday] I had to visit a couple of school crossing controls for their yearly check. I drove to the first one in the morning as it was 12 miles away, and I had to recover from the day before! But the afternoon visit I managed to cycle over , the temperature was now quite chilly, so back to windproof and three-quarter tights. I went over Winsham on the way out and back through Haselbury Plucknett, Hinton St George, a lovely ride and another 27 miles covered, 104 miles in two days, so a good start in my build up for M to M.
Forecast for the week is to get colder again so back to winter gear, mudguards etc.
New shorts, new tyres are on order and this week I will fit my new cassette and chain to prepare my bike for M to M. I only have one more bikeabilty course in May.