This is really late! I got so behind with my posts that eventually I accepted that I’d have to write about the final three rides, together with any addition pensées, once I got back to London. So here we are, on September 2, with me racking my brain trying to remember what happened on the last three days of the ride.
By day 13 we are getting close, and everyone, even my bike, is beginning to realise that there are but three days to go (it has a few creaks that it didn’t have before). There are senses of expectation, of tiredness, of ennui, of disappointment, of anxiety, and of the challenges of the return to normal life (whatever that is, these days). There was also a sense that Les and I looked like Jake and Elwood out of the Blues Bothers.
So it was that we set off. I had popped into a nearby Tesco to buy a couple of energy bars and some Savlon to treat a rather painful toenail injury (don’t ask) but even so I was first out of the blocks today, heading along a sun-dappled lane towards a pretty steep climb into the Quantock Hills, just west of Bridgwater. The climb was almost five miles, and it was not much fun immediately after breakfast, but it’s good to get some ascending out of the way as soon as possible, and I knew that what was left in terms of low-gear stuff for the day was just the final ascent into Whiddon Down.
Naturally enough, and what with there being a hill, my lead didn’t last long, and I was soon caught by Amardeep, Carl, Jamie, John and Les. I took the opportunity to take photos of some of them, and to check out the landscape, too.
The hill was followed by an amazing descent that I remembered in the other direction from four years ago (this was a really hard climb in the LEJOG direction!). The base of the hill took us over a bridge past Bishops Lydeard station, which I also remember from four years ago.
For some reason I can’t t remember anything about our coffee stop, but lunch was at Crediton, and we gathered in the town square looking for somewhere to eat. Alas, there wasn’t much, and in the end John and I had a piece of cake and coffee, which rather repeated (I assume) what we had at our earlier coffee break. As we set off I remember putting on my helmet and placing my (spare pair) of sunglasses in a plant pot for safe keeping while I did all the other things you do before you set off on a ride. Needless to say I forgot them. That’s two pairs of glasses lost now!
It was a relatively short day, and the end of the ride marked our approach to Dartmoor (see the map below). The climb into Whiddon Down wasn’t as steep as I feared, and it wasn’t long before we rolled towards the Travelodge. The great thing about this hotel was that we could take our bikes into our rooms, and I was really pleased to take the opportunity to clean my machine up a bit. We had been given strict instructions by Rob not to take our bikes into the shower, so I resisted this temptation, but I did get through quite a lot of loo roll in getting rid of most of the accumulated mud and grime. The hotel was a Travelodge, with all that implies decor-wise, but it did have a rather nice retro bottle-opener attached to the desk (see below).
For dinner we went to a pub a couple of hundred yards down the road. I can say confidently that it was the slowest service I have ever experienced. We sat down just after 6:30, and I was still waiting for something to eat at 8:15. And I had to eat that quickly, because I had a phone call at 8:30. Oh well! At least there was a fan in my room to dry my clothes, and I was able to prepare myself in good time for the rigours of the 14th day, which looks like a tough one. At least, however, there’ll be no more washing of clothes. I can easily survive on what I have.
Statistics: I did 55.6 miles and climbed 5,715 feet, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t too bad. Here is a map and the elevation profile to show the two big hills of the day
My moving time was five hours and twelve minutes, and my weighted average power was 116 Watts (quite a lot compared with other days—must have been those hills). Average speed was 10.9 mph (hills again) and maximum 33.0 mph. I used 1,736 calories.