A bright late August day but with a nagging NW wind greeted 7 riders for the start at the Town Hall (or should it be City Hall now?). A loop via Pleshy and Onslow Green took us to Felsted and then by our normal route to the Blue Egg for elevenses.
Only three of us went on to lunch at Kedington just over the Suffolk border. The Barnadiston Arms is an archetypal village pub, so few of which have survived the emergence of ‘gastro’ pubs. We loved it! The group next to us playing cribbage were having a great time and the repartee in the bar was highly entertaining.
We took an enjoyable route on quiet lanes on our way to Rayne station for threeses, and with the wind now mostly behind us we made good time. We reached Chelmsford at about 5.15 having covered about 69 miles.
Here is a link to my Strava record: http://www.strava.com/activities/187938598
I haven’t written a report for this ride, but the track as far as Matching green is shown in the link below. For some reason Strava stopped working there. The total distance was actually 117Km
This report was written by Delia following her magnificent achievement in completing this ride:
I got to the Olympic Park in plenty of time to start “loading” for my 8.05am start time and found out that the route had been shortened to avoid the Leith Hill/Box Hill loop. Once on the road it became obvious that the organisers had made the right call. But to satisfy honour, I now have no option but to put my name in the hat to do (hopefully) the full 100 miles next year – ballot opens on 18th August.
I stopped worrying about a decent time when I got stuck in Richmond Park behind a crash – I could see the ambulance lights in the distance. We were waiting and then walking for quite a while in torrential rain so I got rather chilly and decided not to take any risks once we got underway again. There was a lot of flooding around the Ripley area so it was single file through the highest point in the road in quite a few places and burst water mains sending rivers of water across our path! I think the late starters got the worst of the flooding as it had accumulated by the time we came through. According to the official website, my time for the 86 miles was 06:50:25, which can only be described as exceptionally safe and steady!
- Riding on closed roads, especially turning into the Mall from Trafalgar Square and riding up towards Buckingham Palace – quite an emotional moment.
- Seeing the pros at the only point the two rides crossed (in Kingston upon Thames) – what were the chances of that?! The riders were flat out, heads down and working hard, but the team cars gave us some encouraging hoots.
- The support from locals, charity teams, and marshalls in truly awful weather.
- Not having to deal with a puncture – I felt very lucky as there were so many. My Continental Gatorskins did a good job!
- My favourite quote from a fellow participant: “It was a triathlon – a swim, a bike ride, and I ran to pick up my kit bag!”
- Hearing afterwards that one participant raising money for charity had died from a cardiac arrest (age just 36) at Newlands Corner: https://www.justgiving.com/Kris-Cook/
- Remnants of Hurricane Bertha, particularly flooding and some nasty cross-winds.
- Shortened route – a strange mix of disappointment and relief.
- The very early alarm call.
It is fair to say I could not have attempted this ride without the time spent with the CTC Chelmsford City Group over the last year – thank you! Over the next few weeks I will be taking a break from cycling to get “walking fit” for a holiday to the Dolomites in early September. Hope to see you again for some rides in the Autumn.
I’d done the Exodus five times before, but this year was different with the starting point being moved from Bristol to Bath. The other difference was that ex tropical storm Bertha was approaching from the west!
My cousin Richard met me at Bath station and we teamed up by chance with Mick from Yorkshire for some pre-ride nutrition at the former Green Park station. After registering with one of the brilliant organisers of this event “Wavy Davy” we set off at about 8.20pm in mainly dry but cloudy weather. A highlight of the first stage to Cheddar is the old railway tunnels on the Sustrans route out of the city. These save a huge climb, are well surfaced and lit, albeit fairly dimly.
Entering the “Two Tunnels”
The stretch to Cheddar is quite lumpy, the biggest lump being the Mendip Hills! The dreadful weather forecast had goaded me into taking a lot of gear and my bike felt very heavy on these ascents.
Tea and Cakes courtesy of Cheddar Scouts and Guides
At Cheddar the excellent local scouts and guides provided very welcome tea and cakes. These were so good that my cousin didn’t want to leave, although we knew the real reason was the pouring rain which had started outside. Mick and I however wanted to keep going so we got very wet for the next 15 miles or so across the Somerset levels, which are not level at all having some steepish climbs to the ridges cross them.
Sadly for the volunteers at Fivehead we were keen to keep going and missed the half-way feeding station there. At Pitminster we had a very brief stop for refuelling from the stock we were carrying before tackling Blagdon Hill and the long stretch into the wind across the top of the Blackdowns. It was a great relief to reach the Luppitt Common tea stop manned by volunteers who cannot be praised highly enough. Coming out in the middle of a foul night to do this shows fantastic dedication. Here the wind was screeching through the trees and the torrential rain associated with the arrival of Bertha really took hold.
Luppitt Common tea stop
The next 25 miles to Exmouth was truly horrendous and I prefer not to think about it. Arriving there at 7.20am was a huge relief and we were both shattered. The sea was as turbulent as I ever recall seeing it at Exmouth and never was a breakfast in the sea front cafe more welcome after this 102 mile ride.
Mick and his family kindly gave me a lift back to Exeter with my bike. I was so glad not to have to cycle this additional stretch to catch my train home.
Here is a link to Mick’s Strava record: http://www.strava.com/activities/178711194