17 November 2009

Exmoor is a Bas%$rd!

Dear all

Chris & I drove to Neals in the early hours of Sunday morning & this trip alone should have acted as a warning for me not to go!! The weather when I left home was horrendous; I like to feel that I am a confident driver (The Commissioner has sent me on several driving courses!), I've never seen surface water like it. I aquaplaned about a dozen times & the car behind me 'dosey-doe' on the road, did a 360 spin & ended up on the hard shoulder. Things were that bad I slowed down to 70mph!!

We got to Neal & I had told him that I wanted to practice hills. He didn't disappoint me. We left his & strayed out onto the outskirts of Exmoor, where we climbed for ever & never seemed to stop! We finally levelled out & it was an excellent ride. Day 2 was a completely different kettle of fish!

Day 1!

We drove to Dunster & left the car. The first 17 miles were uphill & took about 2 & a half hours to climb. The wind & rain was in our faces & it was relentless. It was energy sapping & demoralising. When we finally reached the top of Exmoor the strong wind & rain got stronger & it was truly miserable. The decent off the moor, was eventful. Chris had his first puncture, which we mended OK. We then arrived at the part the locals call Little Switzerland.......... It was awful. The road reached 29% in places, which was too steep for me. Chris managed (just) to do it & chapeau to him!! The descent was a scary affair. Descending some 1500ft at speed over a road surface covered in wet leaves. It was like cycling over wet paper -mache. I locked both wheels up a number of times & my brake blocks are now shot. How can you cycle a circular route & always seem to be into a head wind & going uphill??

Day 2

To put into some perspective how hard these 2 days were, when we go out cycling over almost any terrain, we average between 13 & 15 mph. Day 1 was 9.4 mph & day 2 was 7.3!!

Day 3 was a different ride, we left the road bikes at Neals & went out on our mountain bikes. Neal was setting the pace at the front when his chain snapped as he was standing out of the saddle. It's wrong to laugh at another's misfortune, but he landed rather abruptly on his love spuds & let out a high pitched scream that only dogs could hear. We managed to mend his chain (not his wedding vegetables) We limped him back home & had a stab at the local hill leading to the Monument. The daily download doesn't do it justice, it was 31% at the top. I stopped because my glasses were just covered in sweat to take them off & couldn't get going again up the hill, I had to cycle across the road to get some momentum going before I could turn to do the hill!! I was glad to finish it at the top

Day 3 (Mountain bikes & a sedate pace as our legs were shot!)

The climb to the Monument, the other didn't do the steepness justice!!

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