Today's ride was the first challenging one of the year. Apart from the watery ride we did a few weeks ago to Bath and back via the Two Tunnels. That could be a film, like the Two Towers, only underground and less exciting.
A funny shaped route, comprising two flat bits, across the moors twice to get to the Quantocks. As painful as it sounds. Various pick-up points included the New Inn at Cross, from where I took these pictures of the sunrise, one of those occasions for being in just the right point at the right time.
I had lured out a big crowd with the temptation of climbing Crowcombe Hill. Of course those who know what that means were easily persuaded not to do it, and those that didn't were easily persuaded at the conversation in the Pines Café at the top of Enmore Hill. Itself a difficult climb. We had already lost Adrian, Jeanie and Mark to a flatter route out of Bridgwater by then, but we were still six-strong with Trevor, Russell, Martyn, Peter and James all showing good form both on and off the bike.
Particularly James. But then he is the best climber in our group, and still benefiting from that youthful circulation that allows him to wear practically no clothes whatever the temperature and still feel warm. Whilst the rest of us used our bulky layers as an excuse for huffing and puffing, James wearing the Winter equivalent of a thong, (shirt, baselayer, shorts, gilet and leg-warmers) made it look effortless. Unfortunately I think his youth, physique (turn sideways and he is invisible) and undoubted talent has more to do with it.
Once re-fuelled we decided to descend to Bishop's Lydeard. But not before an elderly gentleman, not much older than Trevor it has to be said, decided to display his near-passing skills by Peter, Trevor and me, in his red BMW, on the 17% slopes of a gravel-strewn and 90-degree bend-infested Cothelstone Hill. Oblivious best describes it rather than malicious.
His progress, and ours, was brought to a sudden halt by the presence of a large puddle stretching around a corner. Undaunted I decided to test the waters, quickly finding the my shoes, ankles and lower calves under water. Keep pedalling was the only way to avoid both retracing my steps, and possibly a very wet dismount. Unfortunately by the time I was on firm ground, I was out of sight of my comrades.
Thankfully they decided to follow, as they did with a slightly smaller puddle later, which I suspect was the cause of Peter's puncture in Bishop's Lydeard. How many mend does it take? Well in this case it was Trevor's long thin one, rather than my short fat one, that did the trick and after an age, we were on our way again.
After a loop on an almost dry main road, it was up and over the hills again, before heading for North Petherton down the slopes that look out over the flooded levels. These pictures don't do it justice, it really does look like an inland sea.
Heading for home now through the lovely picturesque town of Bridgwater, over the hill at Woolavington and back home, shedding riders to their homes as I went.
A great day, still very wet on almost all roads, very, very cold in the shade, but we were blessed today with bucket-loads of sunshine and even more good humour and bonhomie. And you know how much I like that.
And if you are in need of the urge to fight back a bit, feeling a little battered or worn down, then this is for you. Get well soon and if you can't dance, then just tap along with your fist.