September 7, 2011, by Andrew Burden
The VC’s blog: JoGLE Day 12: Shepton Mallett to Exeter
I have posted an additional photo today. Some younger readers are probably wondering whether a penny farthing is a new super fast road bike, made of ultra light composites. No, it is not. In fact it is an ancestor of today’s road bikes. A photo of the very one which zipped past Chris J shows its aerodynamic properties to the full.
This morning we set off from Shepton Mallett in a 3-2-6 formation. First out were Chris R, Alan and David W, followed by Neville and Steve. I set out with Nick, Karen, Kate, Andy and Chris J and we were waved off by Susan, who was taking some time out in Bath.
Eight or so miles into the ride we were greeted by Kate’s Dad at Glastonbury Tor. He lives locally and it was very nice that he took time to cheer us on.
The weather forecast promised it would be grim, and conditions did not disappoint. We faced a persistent and strong headwind, with powerful gusts, occasionally complemented with driving rain. At least it was pretty flat for the first half of the ride as we crossed the Somerset Levels.
Taunton’s toilet facilities posed a bit of a problem, the door did not lock. Kate stood guard and as you can see from the photo, did so very effectively. In fact, so effectively that some team members believe she must have a part-time job somewhere as a bouncer.
Beyond Taunton, we more or less tracked the M5. There was quite a lot of up and down for the remainder of the ride. However, despite the headwind it was not as arduous as the Cotswolds and Mendips yesterday. We took a second stop at ‘The Old Well’ tea shop just before Willand. Very good cakes (Andy had three) and excellent tea.
The front two of the first group rode through without a break. Since it was a fairly straight route Alan did not get lost today and was in Exeter by 1400, even earlier than Chris R shortly. My group was last in at 1650.
It was good to be in a bit earlier and get an extra hour or so at the end of the day. It is amazing how little down time there is and the calls on that time: washing and drying our kit; preparing for the next day; eating; scanning emails and so on.
Tonight we are staying at Holland Hall at the University of Exeter, which we organised through my counterpart, Sir Steve Smith. It is about as high as you can get on Exeter’s campus, which means fine views. It also meant today’s ride had a real sting in the tail; it was quite a climb from the valley.
Today we rode for 65 miles, bringing our cumulative total to 890 miles. Everyone is expecting tomorrow to be our toughest day due to the combination of distance, persistent climbing and forecast headwinds. I can’t imagine it being tougher than day 3, but we shall see.
Good wins for England and Scotland tonight, though the real action was at the table football, where Ed and I thumped Simon and Paul.
September 6th 2011