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Bath, Glastonbury, Bridgwater, The Quantocks – Friday 26th May, 2017

June 11, 2017

I think it was Fred Titmuss who said that to break one collarbone may be regarded as misfortune, but to break two looks like carelessness.   Unfortunately, Steve managed that in 2016, and his second clavicle fracture in 12 months is the main reason it’s been a year since the last leg of the tour.

Nevertheless, we embark upon an epic journey of some 183 miles in four days.  Things get off to a disappointing start as Steve is yet again thwarted by anti-cycling railway officialdom, this time in London, and is prevented from boarding his train to Bristol (where I’m due to meet him for the start), for “not being 15 minutes early”. When he arrives half an hour later than scheduled, having also been forced to buy another ticket for the next train, we’re both furious at his treatment at the hands of GWR.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Steve then  realises he’s  left his Garmin charger at home (which we rely on for route navigation), but a quick stop at the extremely friendly and helpful Bristol Cycle Shack soon solves this, giving us a cable for free. Our  faith in human nature restored, we begin our journey to Bath, along the pleasant Bristol and Bath Railway Path, a route we’d highly recommend, especially the dark tunnels, at the end of which there is light.

Once in Bath we turn back on ourselves slightly and head towards Glastonbury via Wells. Unfortunately we’re only as far as the Mendips when the scale of the task ahead becomes apparent. It’s a long hard drag of an incline up a busy A-road, with the bank holiday weekend getaway gathering pace. Not only that, but the impact of Steve’s most recent crash is starting to tell. The traffic,  and speed of cycling downhill (useful to carry one up the next ascent as far as possible), have become an issue for him psychologically. Frankly, I think he’s got the cycling version of the yips, and it’s going to take more than some overlap grips to solve it. At least we’re blessed with beautiful weather.

In Wells, we begin a regular series of route adjustments to keep on the gentler back roads where possible.  Nice as the little yellow roads on the OS maps are, they present a fiendishly difficult navigational challenge and we soon lose each other until we’re reunited after a couple of phone calls.  Overall, however, it’s a picturesque and leisurely ride as the Mendips give way to flat marshland, punctuated by Glastonbury Tor on a lone hill in the distance.

You call it Glasto

It’s then on through similar terrain towards Bridgwater, before we check out the Quantocks. They’re far from the largest range of hills around, and are best described as a short, sharp shock after a good few hours on the flat.   With the terrain getting tougher and blood sugar levels dropping we make good use of the Lamb Inn in Spaxton.

The Quantocks are certainly a beautiful place to be, especially cycling west  when the evening sun goes down, and it’s a glorious descent into Williton, where we’re mightily relieved that there’s a good curry house open late.

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