August 22, 2016, by David Greenaway

Nottingham Life Cycle 6 – Day 3 Exeter to Chippenham

Picture 1 - Gang of SevenThe 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).

Picture 2 - Foraging in the VanHaving 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?

Picture 3 - Ye Olde Tea ShoppeWell 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:

David 39
Susan 27
John 20
Stefano 20
Karen 14
Marion 14
Kate 10
Nick 10
Andy 7
Steve 7
Sara 5
Doug -3
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.Picture 4 - An Unexpected Hurdle

Picture 5 - EwokSurprise 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 GreenawayPicture 6 - Gang of Five with Guests

Posted in Life Cycle 6