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