August 22, 2016, by David Greenaway
Nottingham Life Cycle 6 – Day 3 Exeter to Chippenham
The Rio Olympics are over, and what a stunning performance from Team GB, one we should all be proud of. The conclusion of the Games will leave a hole for many sports enthusiasts, but fear not, the LC6 Decomnium still has up to thirteen days to run.
Today was again tough: long, with 5,000+ feet of climbing, and the group I rode with did not get lunch until 1820, and reached our accommodation at 2030.
We left Exeter in two groups: Karen, Marion, Doug, Andy and Steve set off at 0800. Inevitably I had a blog to finish and post, and was late departing. The other seven waited until that was done and I rode the day with Nick, Susan, Sara, Kate, John and Stefano.
My group had some trouble getting out of Exeter (a bit like being in York). Once on the road, we enjoyed a speedy run through to Cullompton. Although still early we stopped for tea and coffee at Ye Olde Tea Shoppe; a bit of a throwback in so many ways (and the only place I have been where all of the wall hangings were framed jigsaw puzzles).
Having used time on that we decided to press on to Martock, rather than the suggested stop at the National Trust’s Barrington Court. It was a fine rolling run through the Blackstock Hills, and a stunning descent at Staple Hill just before Ilminster.
We arrived in Martock around 1345, went to the White Hart Hotel, ordered drinks, were presented with the menu boards, and duly ordered. Whilst waiting for our food, we were suddenly told the kitchen closed at 1400, and we could not have anything! This news was presented by a new member of the bar staff, and as we questioned it, the Manager got on with his paperwork. It was all clearly too much trouble. So, if you are in Martock, don’t be seduced by the marvellous self-assessment on their web page, give it a miss.
For the second day running we foraged in the van, and decided to press on to Frome. The A359 is another rolling road which takes you through the south Mendips, and a succession of picturesque Somerset towns and villages. Though as we progressed, the rain moved in again, and visibility deteriorated badly.
It was after 1800 when we reached Frome (a striking town which, if I remember correctly features prominently in Cider with Rosie). We needed to eat something substantial, and the welcome at the Old Bath Arms Hotel could not have been more of a contrast to the White Hart Hotel earlier in the day.
By the time we ate it was 1900, and there were still 20 miles to go to Chippenham. Evening was closing in, there were sharp descents to come in very wet conditions, so I agreed with Paul we should not take unnecessary risks, and call the van in between Frome and Chippenham. It was the right call. It means this group has to make up 12 miles over the coming days, a small price to pay.
The Gang of Five got their stops right: at Barrington Court, Sparkford and Frome and were in before dark.
What news on the Decomnium?
Well the third discipline took place today: the Cullompton Champions Challenge (or C3 for short). This is open to teams of seven, it starts in Exeter and finishes at Ye Olde Tea Shoppe in Cullompton. Fortunately I was part of a team of seven, and we made it. There were 35 points available for the C3. But, Kate has obviously been paying attention to Decomnium rules, and she played a joker, which means a whopping 70 points; 10 each for me, Kate, Sara, Susan, Nick, John and Stefano.
And there was more good news for Sara. After a Stewards Enquiry it was concluded that electronic gears save manual effort, but because decisions have to be made on activation, there is no reduction on mental stress, so five of Sara’s penalty points have been rescinded.
But that was not the end of the points for today. The judges allocated the Gang of Five 35 points for making it all the way through to Chippenham, so that’s seven each for Karen, Doug, Marion, Andy and Steve. Sadly, none of them thought to play a joker, so that was not doubled. Nonetheless, Super Sunday or what?
Our leader board now looks like this:
Everyone is now on the board, with the pre-competition favourites still propping everyone else up.
But as competition warms up, there are more allegations of malpractice swirling around. One relates to Susan’s Strava data; the other to John’s access to performance enhancing substances. Another Stewards Enquiry is under way.
The Support Team again get Team of the Day, for their uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time, so well done to Louise, Paul, Gary and Ian.
We have two Quotes of the Day:
First: The Gang of Five trying to find a tea shop in a village, question a local, who says ‘No tea shops open on a Sunday, but you can get coffee in the Spar’. Steve’s response was ‘What’s a Spar?’ Steve, you need to get into Manchester, it is not far from Cheshire.
Second, at the Old Bath Arms Hotel in Frome we had a complete change of clothing. Among the items I gave to Paul to go back to the van was a tub of my Assos cream. Stefano to Paul: ‘Put some Tabasco in that, it might help him go faster’. Very helpful Stefano.
Confrontation of the Day: Karen had to negotiate an unexpected barrier coming down a Somerset hill.
Surprise of the Day: we ran into an Ewok in Frome.
Day 3 Life Cycle miles were ridden for Ann Hall, who Kate met at University and has been friends with since; and Peggy Horner, nominated by Ambrose Kirkland.
We had four visitors yesterday. Helen Bowen and her husband Dominic met the Gang of Five; and Susan’s friends Mike and Sarah (both Nottingham alumni) met us for dinner.
So 237 miles completed, and fund raising continues, including on the road. Thank you for all your support, and thank you for your comments on my blog (which I understand has not been entirely straightforward to access, but that should be fixed today).
Professor Sir David Greenaway
Well done for surviving the weather. Hopefully today should be better for you all. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow evening, especially Steve. Proud of you all. xxx
As ever a delight to read your stories of the road, sounds like this year both weather and route are perhaps your most challenging yet. It is great that you are all digging deep and looking out for one another. Chapeau
PEDAL< EAT< SLEEP<REPEAT
Well done on another good day of cycling – here’s hoping that today’s weather (and the terrain) is kinder to you!
Great reading Dad, is it any surprise you’re topping the leader board when the incentive of a Cafe Nero cappuccino was your carrot on day 1?! Glad to hear you’re all managing safely in such adverse weather too. Fingers crossed for any more wind to be of the tail variety and I don’t mean Tabasco fuelled assos…is that Steve working to the philosophy of improvise, adapt, overcome? Keep pedaling and look forward to hearing how today went.
Always an entertaining read. Overcoming the disappointment of lunch finishing at 14.00 with no sign of compassion by the manager and maintaining resilience in the face of cycling-induced hunger deserves congratulations.. And surely additional bonus points for the gang of five and group of seven C3 winners alike?! Tabasco in the assos sounds painful! Good luck with the next leg. X
Well done everyone on coping with the bad weather – I hope that it improves. I’m glad you’re squeezing water out of your shorts in the approved manner. Thinking of you all.
Looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow evening and riding on Wednesday – I promise not to say anything like ” you all look a bit tired” or ” the weather’s not bad, what were you all moaning about ?” or ” can you help me out of this hedge?”
Sounds like a frustrating day in many respects, especially lunch. Evie has been doing her bit for LC6 by wearing a support shirt over her pushchair – I think she was going faster than you by the sound of things! As ever your blog is truly entertaining David, hope you are managing to get some sleep between riding, blogging and fixing the Decomnium results ( just like when we play upwords). I love your quotes so here’s a profound message from Desmond Tutu to cheer you on your way,
“Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring” – Desmond Tutu
See you all tomorrow. Susan X
I second what Stuart said, Cafe Nero is excellent motivation! You are all doing a fantastic job, in tough conditions at times. Such a worthy cause, we are all so very proud! We look forward to seeing the pink panthers at the life cycle community day! For now, ‘Go, Go, Go!’ Love from G, D and E xx
Wow! That really was a tough day. Such staying power and effort on every team member’s part…. Considerably more than Nick Miles’ wife and friends who saw the first 5 in ….. And then disappeared off for an evening meal together (!) Glad to hear you all got safely in.
Keep on keeping on. Julie X
Well I read with considerable insight the way the rules of the game are successfully manipulated by one with influence and power. Your conditions and the route are undoubtedly challenging strong winds are only comfortable when they are on your tail and it sounds that this has not always been true. The weather looking forwards is likely to be kinder. I salute you all, keep giving of your best, read the rules in advance and rotate the judges I would say. As for the riders you are heroes in my view to take this massive challenge and make light of it.