Newbury Road Club Autumn away weekend took us to Somerset, the Levels, Quantock Hills and the famous Cheddar Gorge! This year we stayed at the Premier Inn in Bridgwater, ideally located to explore the countryside, the villages and towns – oh and hills!
The first rides started after lunch on Saturday, at the Compass Inn, close to the Hotel. Blue and Green rides making their way out of the town via the canal and across the levels to Cheddar. Unfortunately, whilst we had had warning that the Gorge was closed, we were determined to see if the road was still open to cyclists, even on foot. However, as the first group approached the foothills the signs were making it clear that it was closed to cyclists as well! There is always light at the end of the tunnel, or in our case cream tea in a cafe! So the argument over whether its cream then jam or jam then cream on the fruit scones ensued; but was never resolved.
The giants with their cheese grater had left deposits of rocks on the roads up the Gorge which would make the ride precarious to say the least, so turning back was a wise decision.
On the Sunday the Green riders were in true sightseeing mode as they explored Glastonbury. Access to get close to the Tor was difficult due to “traffic flow” issues, so as in all instances, the best remedy is to make a beeline to a great coffee stop!
The Blue Sunday ride can only be described as tough! The morning coffee stop was in an old Mill which was being restored and was covered in extensive scaffolding – will be worth a visit again when complete. A great find by Nicky M. After which the climbing became serious. Hitting climbs that are over 3km in length with average gradients of nearly 8% (according to Garmin) doesn’t really reflect just how hard some of the climbs in the Quantocks are. Hats off to all the riders. At this point a couple of the team on electric bikes were beginning to get 'range anxiety', with more tough climbs expected after lunch! However, we all returned to the Hotel in one piece, and the electric brigade had 10% left, so perfect judgement.
The Red riders struck for the coast on Saturday with a hilly ride to Watchet and a cheeky climb up the infamous Crowcombe Combe on the return leg. The Reds were similarly jinxed by the Cheddar closure on Sunday, especially as it meant a lung-busting 26% Draycott Steep as the alternative ascent. Coffee was certainly well-earned in wonderful Wells.
Many of us stayed over the Sunday evening and went to the Compass again for dinner. It was clear that riders had had a great couple of days, challenging rides, good company and plenty of food! And to round it all off, a few of us even managed a short ride on the Monday morning before battling with the M5 on the way home.
May I take the opportunity to thank the ride leaders and planners, and of course the wonderful riders of the Newbury Road Club who made this another memorable weekend! (Yes, I am planning the next one!)
Note from Editor: As always, NRC is hugely grateful to Dave and Lynn Portwood for the time they put into planning these weekends for us all, and to those who help by plotting and leading fantastic routes. A big thank you!
Fancy joining us next time? Look out for away-days, drive 'n ride events and weekends away in the calendar, or in the Club ride app Spond.