It was too wet to be summer. The unwavering rain and drizzle hung around telling stories of a cold November afternoon. It was far from that summer rain which can warm and cool all at the same time. In fact, it was fucking cold due to a horrible south-westerly wind, and a lack of waterproofs. We found ourselves in the unusual position of having just finished dinner, and still pedalling. An early dinner followed a late start, and as we found ourselves struggling on empty stomachs with 35km still to go, Taunton become an unprecedented evening meal pit-stop. Sexy fish finger sandwich for him, bacon and avocado salad for her. The food propelled us out of Tiverton, on on to the B3227 in all it's hilly and windy glory. Racing against the looming possibility of dark country lanes without bike lights, we eventually made it to tonights venue in this one-night-only pedal-powered tour of B&B cosiness, the village of Bampton, just north of Tiverton.
Our morning's departure from Bristol was a clumsy one. First waiting for the rain to stop, which it did, for 5mins, and then we lost the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and then we had to stop at the Ashton Gate bike shop for some spare inner tubes and a blast of air from a borrowed pump. Momentum finally got behind us, unlike the wind, and encouraged us on to Cheddar, for some local cheddar cheese on toast. The king of simplistic yet satisfying English brunch dishes.
From Cheddar we followed some pleasingly warmer gusts of air and dry spells through to Bridgwater. In search of a coffee and cake pit-stop, we found only The Four pub open. Due to the lack of milk, all hot drinks were off the menu, so Em downed an appletize while I negotiated the awkwardness of being English, being male, being under the age of 75, and yet ordering just a half pint of lager. My terrible choice seemed to be forgiven as the 'John O'Groats to Lands End, 2015' printed on my jersey, and my general lycra-clad demeanour sparked distracting conversations. The favourite of which involved an elderly Irish gentleman sympathetically referring to Emily and asking, "what does she make of such a trip?", I smiled and said it was all her idea, to which he responded by shouting loudly, "fuck off", and spitting on the floor.
You might have thought we'd have learnt by now, but evidently not. Regrettably, we chose to follow those periled little blue signs from Bridgwater to Taunton. National Route 33 proposed a direct route, and a scenic looking one at that, delicately poised alongside the canal. We've been asking a lot of our road bikes, the daily impression of being a touring bike, but asking them to be mountain bikes alongside the heavy gravel tow paths was a stretch too far. So, we re-joined the scenic but indirect B roads to Taunton. Hungry and thirsty, we stopped in Taunton and took delight in finding a restaurant which a) was willing to welcome two sweaty, damp, and Deep Heat smeared cyclists, and b) offered a sexed up fish finger sandwich on the menu. At least the stomach would be happy on the final stretch to Bampton.
The daily digits...
(cumulative grand total: 1341.4km)
5:59hrs pedal time
20.6km/h average speed
56.2km/h top speed
2245 calories done