Fri, 08 Jun 2001
Glastonbury to Lynbridge // at 23:59
Trip total: ??km
A long ride, with some amazing hills. I discovered that gradients of 1:4 are scary downhill, and nearly impossible to ride uphill.
Leaving Glastonbury I got a little bit lost, heading north-west instead of west I'd turned off the A39 somewhere near Northove, desperate to get off the A road, and added a few more miles onto the route. Part of the problem was getting breakfast. Nothing seemed to open in Glastonbury before noon, I managed to find a bakery and a couple of buns, but all the shops and cafés seem to be for the tourist crowd and don't open until noon. Eventually I found myself back on the B31351, so continued along it to a turn off that headed back south, crossed the A39 near Ashcott, then headed west along the back-lanes.
Bridgwater was a bit of a nightmare to navigate, it was market day and the place was packed. I finally managed to get out and onto the A39, not that it was pleasant. A nasty shock being on an A road; not much wider than the lanes, but a lot more traffic. Once I turned off back into the lanes I quickly needed the granny gear, but the chain still kept jamming. Judicious applications of lube and swear words seemed to make it better, which is good, since the climb up through the Qantock Hills would have been impossible otherwise. Very steep descents into Stogumber, then I got lost somewhere at an unsigned corner and had to backtrack. At Washford I rejoined the A39 and A-road traffic to Minehead, then sat in the sun in the town square and ate a sticky bun, glad to be out of the wind.
From Minehead the only option is along the A39, until I reached Porlock, where cyclists are allowed to use the private toll road. It's a 6km climb up through the woods, spinning along in granny gear at about 10km/hr with magnificent views out to sea. The toll-keeper at the top just waived me through, I think the 50p bicycle toll is reserved for people who drive their bikes out here on the roof of their Range-rovers and ride up from the village.
Then it was back onto the A39, rolling ups and downs across the wind-swept moors. I found a mobile phone sitting at the side of the road, it made me laugh that in the supposed desolation of the moors people could lose their mobile phones.
The hills down to Lynmouth are amazing, 1:4 gradient, holding the brakes hard on most of the way down. Then when I got down to the town I found it was exactly the same going back out! With the short wheelbase and weight of the panniers I found it completely unridable, the bike was wheel-standing and threatening to flip right over, so I ended up walking most of the way up to Lynbridge.
Changed into clean clothes and walked down to Lynton on very rubbery legs, most of the village was shut, but I did get to ride on the vertical railway down to Lynmouth. Its a marvellous piece of Victorian engineering, water from the river fills a tank under the railway cart at the top, then the weight forces this car down while a chain pulls the other car up to the top. The drivers regulate the amount of water in the tanks to cater for the weight of passengers, and its been running like this for the last hundred years.
A filling pub meal of baked potato and salad, thankfully with none of the evil salad cream that the pubs seem so fond of, a quick pint and I was home and in bed, exhausted, by 9:30pm.