Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The longest ride for a while, for me.

The ride John & Richard took me on may have been the biggest that I had been on since N-Duro 1 almost two months ago - but it was nothing compared to what John (crazy guy that he is) completed a few days later. That is, 300 km+ solo during a 24 hour event - and to top it off on a singlespeed. It makes me tired just thinking about it - or perhaps that is just recovering from the first shift set starting the day after I got back. Either way, I can't quite face sorting over a thousand photos from the last six weeks in to some sort of highlight package that some one may be able to view some day with out getting completely bored. I'd much rather think about great rides in far off (& warmer) places...

Arriving in Taunton, it was pleasing to see Anna home & not off at work (almost everytime I visited in Mt Maunganui I was left wondering if John actually did have a wife or was just making it up - as Anna always seemed to be at work). Although that didn't last for long as Anna was soon off for her week of night shifts at the hospital - John & I took off for the a look around the Quantrocks (some hills close by). After following a car with a very flat tyre up the steep road, we discovered our first mistake as three mountain bikers tore past us down a hill - there was still plenty of light at 8.30 & we should have brought our bikes. Instead we wandered around looking across to Wales, finding previously ridden singletrack & John remarking how much faster it was on a bike - oh well, there was always tomorrow. We had to get back home to meet Richard (who I met last year when he came out to visit John in NZ) who was driving down from near Oxford for tomorrow's ride. There we discovered our second mistake, we didn't have house keys - off John went to the hospital while Richard & I unloaded & put our bikes together on the side of the street. To set the mountain-biking tone we watched The Collective's Seasons - great. I think I like mountain biking movies more when there is a small chance I could see myself riding the same trails without certain death being involved somewhere. Obviously, my life is just not all about big air.

A reasonably undisturbed sleep (except waking up at about 5.00 thinking I was at the beach thanks to the loud but geographically challenged seagulls - we were no where near the beach) & another cooked breakfast later, we were off to Minehead & Exmoor National Park. A little bit of road riding through the seaside town took us the quaint little village of Dunster; from there we were on to bridleways (quite steep climb to start with) and then riding along the top of a ridge. As John & Richard pointed out where we were going, I couldn't help thinking that it was an awful long way off & much further than I had ridden for a while. Just as well that the weather was a lot better than what they described last time - consequently, the icebreaker came off fairly early & the jacket stayed firmly (metaphorically speaking, that it could work its way out is never far from my mind) on the Camelbak. It sure is fun riding in different places - contrasting with my normal NZ riding, I could see a lot further, it was generally rockier & more attention was paid to wear the front wheel was going between those rocks.After a bit of ridge riding, it was down to the small village of Wootton Courtenay via a nice long chute that was filled with rocks & at these nice big corners that were naturally bermed. The rocks reminded me a bit of the 6 km downhill I went down in Pokhara, Nepal - only this time I was hoping that I wasn't going to go over the bars & split my chin open near the bottom. While I managed to avoid the endover, I did puncture a hundred metres from the end (it's always strangely satisfying to have a mechanical problem at the end of a sweet bit of track, as opposed to the start). This was a good spot for lunch & the necessary tube replacement.

Crossing through the village it was back to the bridleway, up on top of another ridge, along the ridge & we got to a point where the guys weren't sure which was the best way down. Thankfully, they chose a sweet descent & all smiles, we arrived at the turnaround point - Porlock (although the return was slightly more direct). It was off down some sealed lanes for a while to Bossington Green (nice steep climb here). On the way we had a photo stop as it looked English.After John made us ride through that stream for the photos, I had great delight in riding up behind much too fast & soaking him - of course, I had rather wet socks too, but it was worth it. Especially considering how far behind I was up the next hill. Just as well riding back along the moors towards Minehead there was one nice long fast downhill. And that was about the ride. Back to Taunton, where Andy (who I also met & rode with when he was out visiting & touring NZ last year) turned up for dinner (well cooked by John) & we settled down to watch Seasons again - I think I enjoyed it more that time, possibly because I'd just been out for a great ride.

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