Blackmore Vale Cycling Club
Saturday 26 October 2019
Despite the forecast of high winds and heavy rain 6 riders and 1 in civvies arrived at the Udder farm shop for coffee. Myself, Charlie, Mary and Jenny were going on the ride while Jackie and Lorraine we’re heading back home before the rain got too heavy and Richard N was in his nice dry car. Due to the inclement weather I decided to change the route and take a shorter one via Semley. So the 4 of us set off in the rain to Stour Row then back to the A30 and across to Motcombe via Lox Lane. Up through Motcombe and across the A350 to Semley then made our way to Tisbury. We arrived at the Boot Inn dripping wet but received a warm welcome and hot coffee and were able to dry off by the fire. I was expecting Ken to join us for the ride back but given the weather conditions wasn’t surprised he’d found more pressing things to do. After a hearty lunch of soup, chips and Baguettes we managed to drag ourselves back out into the rain. Down the High Street then up the lane to Tuckingmill which was like riding through a river. Past Pythouse and back to Semley then up the long drag to Donhead St Mary and out to the A350 and into Shaftsbury where Mary and Jenny went their separate ways and Charlie and I headed towards Stour Row again and then went our own ways. Although the rain never stopped the whole ride and the wind was strong at times it was warm and quite a pleasant ride. After a nice hot shower and watching a great rugby match all was well with the world. Thanks to those who joined me.
Saturday 19 October 2019
The sun was shining this morning, and the forecast suggested that it could be a dry day -a complete contrast to last Saturday!
There was world cup rugby on the TV so I couldn’t leave until half time which left me running late. Fortunately I met the Gillingham Wheelers club ride at Lawn cross roads and was able to hitch a lift in the peloton through Mere and on to Zeals arriving at Stourhead in plenty of time.
11 of us left Stourhead -still in sunshine, with Keith and Ron planning to peal off the group within the first few miles. Our route north through Kilmington, down Druley Hill then up again to Upton Noble soon brought complaints about the hills, just as well this was a mystery tour and no one knew how many more hills there would be!
What goes down into Batcombe must go up -this time to Cranmore, but we weren’t stopping at the train station. After crossing the A361, Slait Hill took us north of Torr Quarry on a road none of us had cycled before, up to the Old Wells Road -which was a bit busier than I had anticipated. A few more ups and downs through Chantry and Whatley then up Egford Hill before swooping all the way down to the river level in Frome for lunch.
The Black Swan Café, where we stopped for lunch is part of the Black Swan Arts Centre and served some suitably “arty” food like “Peanut butter and banana on toast with dried rose petals and maple syrup” (which was delicious). Everyone was very impressed with the quality, quantity and value of their lunch, though we did choose to sit outside as there wasn’t room indoors for us all in one group.
The inevitable climb after lunch brought us out on the B3092 and the mystery continued as were took a sharp left into a housing estate! Swerving round the bollards at the end of the road brought us onto cycle route 24 which we followed all the way to Longleat despite the closed barriers and no entry signs.
At Longleat preparations for the Christmas lights display were well under way, but luckily cyclists are not allowed to stop and gaze so we pedaled up the main drive, past the Bath Arms and up some more to Maiden Bradley, Kilmington and Stourhead.
Thanks to all who joined me including Rodney and Sarah (who usually ride with WW or GDW), that’s Charlie, Mike, Nicky, Peter, Roger and Jill.
And thanks to the weather for being dry all day!
Saturday 12 October 2019
In the Rain
I will emphasise the rain…….it was constant. From the leaving home, to Sturminster, persistent heavy shower. Sturminster to Fontmell Magna slightly heavier rain with blobs and drips from the trees. Up to Ashmore more drizzly but in your face downhill to Charlton. Heavy spitting on to the Rising Sun. After lunch slighter spitting till the Donheads. Then to Semley and Motcombe heavy, relentless rain – the proper wetting soaking kind. Turnpike to Marnhull, heavy grey wet soaking rain. So now you can imagine the cycling conditions, the stalwart, brave co-riders can be revealed. Clingons at the start – Mike P off to get in the miles on B roads hoping to avoid tyre deflation situations. Lorraine, sensibly home to relax.
Now the serious part, Charlie, Ron, Mary and her pal Lynne joined me on this rain sodden adventure. Inevitably Mary, Lynne and Ron escaped up the Fontmell Mountain, while Charlie, gentleman that he, is accompanied me struggling puffing and finally having to walk. At this point I grizzled to myself, what was I doing! Was this necessary? I vowed that at the top I would chicken out and miss the Ashmore loop. Well I didn’t, on account of Mary, encouraging me to persevere. The descent from Ashmore was exhilarating, channels of rain water finding the shortest way across the road, flooding, spray from fast cars, spiralling up and over us. After Charlton Lynne took us, near the pub, to see magnificent Suffolk Punches, 13 of them, a real treat! Arriving at Ludwell two unexpected visitors with broad smiles cheered us up! Jenny and Roger came to join in our lunch. The food was like the Curate’s egg: paninis, sandwiches and jackets were great and good value, but Mary’s soup was delicate and pretty, i.e. small. As we left, once again I was tempted to chicken out: I nearly went straight home, but Mary and Lynne were going to do my whole route and the rain was less heavy, so I went on. Within a few minutes it was the wrong decision, heavy – the heaviest all day, rain poured onto us. Lynne and Mary peeled off in Motcombe, Charlie and I continued splashing on to East Stour, Stour Row, Todber and Marnhull. Just over 40 miles in the worst conditions I have ridden in for ages. However as I missed all my cycling this week, and will next week too, I had to go….especially with the responsibility of leading. Now, home, dry, full of dinner, I will admit I am so pleased I went, perversely, in retrospect, I actually enjoyed my day out!
Saturday 5 October 2019
We’re having a competition this year – it’s called SWAP YOUR RIDE. The leader with the most swaps gets a prize – yet to be determined. Richard the cake is already in the lead as he was too weak to lead today’s outing!
Ron and I agreed to modify the route somewhat as we felt that Castle Cary to Wells would not attract a large following at this time of year, hence the aforementioned ride.
- 11 bikers arrived at Orchard Park
- 2 of these were ‘cling ons’ – Lorraine was set to visit Robin and Sally. Richard had taken 3 hours to cycle from home (must truly be ill) and would return to Wincanton before midnight!
- The 9 adventurers were Ron, Jill, Mary, Roger, Ed, Ken, Martin, Paul and TCP
- We set off after the standard official photo shoot – taken by an unsuspecting member of the public when Lorraine – bless her – shoved her mobile into his hands and told him to point it at us.
- Ron was now our ‘front man’ and so we all followed him unquestioningly with me bringing up the rear as Tail end Charlie
- A preponderance of long black leggings was in evidence this morning, indicative of cooler weather to come – it is October after all.
- Jill was sporting her RAPHA leggings, a few pence less than the Empire State Building – she was disappointed however that this manufacturer had no plans to bring out the ¾ length option.
- Mary was competing with Jill with her flashy new resplendent pink jersey long sleeved top. What next – pink Hair??
- As we passed Shearwater, Ron decided to take a wrong (as it turned out) turn – 2 short steep hills bringing the sound of crunching low gears. He eventually shepherded us into the car park of Crockerton Garden Centre – bang on time.
- The food was excellent, affordable and served promptly. We had chose either soup, toasted sandwiches, or paninis. The soups were worth a special mention as they came with a mountainous chunk of brown bread!
- Time to go now, left on the main road for 1 mile then right to the Deverills.
- There were a few moans as we approached Mere DOWN, climbing the UP section of 2 miles then at last swooping down the run into Mere then left on the back road towards Motcombe.
- Somehow we lost Mary on the way, but She’s tough and knows her way around.
- Martin and Ken took a right turn towards Gillingham – Ken had parked his Jeep there – he was on his own today as Caroline was bell ringing for a wedding – bringing another £40 into the household coffers – enough for a 10 minute flight in their lovely super new ultralight aircraft.
- Ron took the remaining 6 of us back via Duncliffe Wood then right to Todber where Paul and Ron said their goodbyes, the rest of us heading for Marnhull and Stalbridge.
The first ride of the club’s new year and no rain like last weeks deluge in Yorkshire and the south. I managed 55 miles on a trouble free day, apart from Ed’s rear wheel keeping us all awake with its irritating squelch all day!
Thanks to Ron for his pathfinder role today and to the rest of you for the pleasant banter. As Jill says in her fine report, club rides keep us together.
Saturday 28 September 2019
Three Pubs and a Puncture
Six riders (Mary, Paul, Martin T, Charlie, Ron and I) and two non-riders (Lorraine and Richard) met at Dike’s Café for coffee prior to leaving on the ride to Tolpuddle.
The weather was bright but with a strong westerly breeze which Paul reminded us that had been in his face all the way on his ride in from home. That said the forecast was predicting rain and strong winds for later in the afternoon so I planned a direct route for our ride home from lunch to ensure we all arrived home dry.
We set off via Stourton and Bishops Caundle, King’s Stag to Hazel Bury Bryan before taking the easier route to Ansty Cross. From there we traversed along the top of the ridge line taking in some stunning views before the long downhill run into Milborne St Andrew. Then on to cross the A35 and turned into the strengthening wind towards Tolpuddle arriving at the Martyrs Inn on the dot at 12:30.
It was at this point my well laid plan started to go wrong. The pub had only one Chef available and a large party booked in although their web site states they don’t take bookings and were unable to accommodate us. So after some discussion we set for Athelhampton House café some two miles down the road when contrary to the forecast it started to rain quite heavily but it was just a passing shower and soon abated. On arrival at Athelhampton House we were met at the entrance by a large wedding party so that venue was out. Plan three; we would head on to the Blue Vinny pub again a couple of miles down the road in Puddletown. On arrival the omens were not good the car park was full and the place was packed. A quick enquiry at the bar confirmed that they were only serving booked customers. So plan four, a ride of three miles to our lunch venue of a couple of weeks previously, The Oak pub at Dewlish.
Shortly before arriving at Dewlish there was the familiar cry from the rear of the peloton “Puncture”. At this point Ron decided to carry on directly home having no confidence that he was ever going to get fed. While Charlie repaired his puncture I pressed on to recce the pub and finally I found a venue that was prepared to feed us.
After a very good lunch with quick service we set off for Ansty Cross once more where Charlie left us, taking the easy route home while us four remaining riders set of over Bulbarrow to Okeford Fitzpaine and Hammoon where Paul left us for his short ride home. That left Martin, Mary and I to ride on under darkening skies to Todber were we split to go our separate ways.
I am glad I decided to take the direct route after lunch as the skies opened shortly after I arrived home.
I did 96.4km (59.6miles) and climbed 1098m (3602ft)
Saturday 21 September 2019
Expectaions for yet another fine sunny day were high as we set off from Dikes along the A357 heading towards Stock Park and King’s Stag. There was only a moderate breeze, yet unfortunately it was blowing from the SE which meant a head wind for the first half of the ride. My peloton consisted of 5 intrepid riders;
Martin, Alan, Ken (first half only, Caroline to complete) & Charlie. Earlier in the week I had an enjoyable ride checking out my proposed route, the weather again was excellent. We continued on through the ‘Piddles’ and on through Puddletown where we forked left onto Milom Lane heading towards Tincelton.
At his point we crossed a small stone bridge over the River Frome, which basically was a marker for the rest of our ride to Wareham as our route followed the river all the way through to the Quay side in Wareham. Moreton was our next village of interest, for me, it usually is the Tea Rooms that I visit here, although I guess the burial place of Lawrence of Arabia and the etched windows in the village church create the main interest. The villages of Wool & Stoborough completed our route to our lunch stop at Wareham Quay where we refuelled and watered at ‘The Quay Inn’. Caroline joined us for lunch , unfortunately she was unable to join us for the remainder of the ride.
The retun route North from Wareham headed towards Moreton & through Sturminster Marshall and on to Blandford where we stopped for refreshments at the Co Op Café; we said our goodbyes to Alan here as he decided to continue without stopping.
Completing the ride we cycled on along the North Dorset Trailway to Shillingstone, Manston and finally Stalbridge. I developed a slow annoying puncture in my rear wheel along the trailway, yet was able to limp home with the help of Charlie’s pump.
The stats for the route starting from Stalbridge was: – distance: 110k(68 miles); Ascent: 887m; Riding time: 4hrs 59 mins.
Saturday 14 September 2019
Idyllic mornings are rare, however we had one – azure blue cloudless sky, gentle heat from the sun, no wind. Sometimes cycling can be perfect, it certainly was today. The Flying geese café farmyard is made for mornings like this, coffee and delicious cakes in the sun with a view across the Blackmore Vale. Roger attracted 9 of us here for the start. Less than a mile after starting though, a car drew close by, with Ken in it – hoping to join us. A short delay to park and retrieve the bike and we were 10. Swooping down and round to Mappowder, swallows were clustering on telegraph wires, blackberries and rosehips decorating the hedges, it was such a perfect morning. Rolling up and down we went through Plush, down to Piddletrenthide, sharp left up and on to the top of the world, before the drop to Cheselbourne. Ron said cheerio, as we all continued with more up and down to lunch at Dewlish. Lunch was taken outside, good value, large portions and perfect for hungry cyclists. Conversation homed in on the latest progress of Ken and Caroline’s plane and other aeronautical subjects from G force, through model plane flying and pilot training in simulators. However it all had to end, sun cream applied, we set off on an uphill drag eventually arriving at Ansty. Here we viewed the interesting sight of about 20 Huskie dogs, complete with harness, on a Club walk with their owners – several offers to pull us up the next hill!
Next the care, friendship and loyalty of our Club was demonstrated. There had been a quiet concern brewing about Ken finding his car, so abruptly abandoned in Hazelbury Bryan, which as everyone knows is a labyrinth of lanes with tiny named hamlets. Chairman Paul nobly volunteered to accompany Ken, smirking as he knew he could avoid Roger’s next treat for us to climb up to Bulbarrow. We said goodbye and climbed – with yours truly the back marker – living up to my status. We thought it was over by the mast, but no, Roger decided a lesser known, steep downhill, veering east might be a good change, and it went up and down again of course. Panoramic views though made it all worthwhile, cycling in Dorset can be so rewarding on days like this. Eventually we swooped down, into Sturminster and said our goodbyes. Roger gave us a grand day out, 45 miles is respectable with the climbing, and some will have done more.
So thanks Roger from, Jill, Jackie, Martin, Ron, Paul, Dave, David, Charlie, Ken.
Jill Halton(for Roger Halton as he knows I like writing the report?)
Saturday 7 September 2019
Something of the autumnal about this, 17 members and friends gathered for coffee in the sunshine. With about 1200 years of life’s experience between them, care was taken to stay out of the cooling breeze from the North.
13 set off on the ride, no room for tridecaphobia, Ron promised to go home before lunch. NCN 26 would take us to Glastonbury. Riding along Kennard road it was apparent that the camping and caravan fraternity were as enthusiastic about the outdoor life as ever. On through the gap in the hedge, passing the Abbey Tea Rooms on this occasion we turned left into the precinct. Pedestrian or not? That is the question! No matter cos this is not a bicycle but a walking aid with wheels set to a different plan.
Heading north around the Godney’s it did not require the assistance of a weather man, as the Minstrel put it, to know which way the wind blows, it’s just a feature of cycling on the levels. We cycled on past Double Gates to rendezvous with Ed’s brother at our lunch stop Sweets Tea Rooms. “Apple Pie and Custard”!! You can keep your energy gels this is real cycling fuel.
Having read of the joys of cycling in the Telegraph supplement Ed’s brother appeared to have designs on becoming a MAMIL!! Too late, we are now entering the GOMIL phase. You may transpose the O and G if desired. Four headed off for prior engagements. Agreeable lunch taken, no queue, medicament administered the remaining eight chose the Bittern Trail for the return journey. Suitable for road bikes exclaims the brochure, “Oh fortunate bicycle,” we know that it’s really the track bed immortalized by Betjeman ‘s Branch Line (see You Tube).
Declining the invitation to a Vintage rally we pressed on turning south to Street, Baltonsborough, and at last some hills to The Lydfords. A favorite place, West Lydford, where despite the recent pollution alerts on Somerset’s rivers, bright young things still leap from the bridge and swim in the river. To complete the day there’s the sound of leather on willow, the Lydford cricketers are home.
Having safely crossed the railway track under Richard’s guidance!! It was back to Haynes for afternoon tea. Notable were the sideways glances and half smiles, in envy or sympathy from the gathered glums on our arrival.
Without doubt the rising popularity of cycling whether Legtronic or Electrically assisted must be a good thing. Not so sure about the Porky Pies on Strava concerning the weight, watts and calories which seem to be in reverse proportion to the Pork Pies consumed resulting in some not so “fortunate bicycles”, apologies to Myfanwy.
Thank you all, for once again making it a grand day out.
Richard N, Lorraine, Roger, Charlie, Ed, Ben, Ron, Geoff, Martin, Jackie
Dave M, Phil, Arthur, Martin T and John B.
Saturday 31 August 2019
Two groups left Orchard Park; Richard led Lorraine and Roger on the shorter ride out along the Nadder Valley and returning along the Chalke valley; my ride took the group over into the Wylye Valley.
Joining me were Jill, Jackie, Martin, Paul, Charlie, Ron, Mike and Ed. Our route took us out to Lawn Crossroads, towards Motcombe and through Semley, then approaching Tisbury we spotted a group of three riders ahead -Richard and taken one of his cunning short cuts and got ahead of us!
A tailwind helped push us along the Nadder Valley and we turned sharp left into the very pretty village of Teffont Evias with it’s amazing hedge! Then the climbing started up and over Wylye Down, a road with 360 degree views. Through more pretty villages with a distinctive checkerboard style of building with stone and flints as the rain just about held off.
Lunch was at Café Blend where we were made very welcome. The food was fairly basic but served very quickly and with a smile so we were soon back on our bikes. 10 minuets later the rain started! Waterproofs were donned and we sheltered under the trees until the heaviest of the rain had passed and by the time we got over into the Chalke Valley our waterproofs were dry.
The ride along the valley was into a head wind but the uncut hedges helped shelter us and we made good progress by cycling in a tight group.
We arrived in Shaftesbury to find that Richard’s group had got there first (again) but at least they hadn’t eaten all the cake, my apple flapjack went down well then everyone was left to find there own way home -downhill all the way!
Saturday 24 August 2019
Ten riders met at Oliver’s Coffee House in Sherborne: Mary, Richard Nicholl, Major Dave, Ed, Charlie, Jill and Roger, Ron, Geoff Cook and myself. Geoff had set off at 7.30am and ridden 30 miles from Wells, putting the rest of us to shame.
Jill and Roger left to ride back to Henstridge for the ‘Wings and Wheels’ show – closet petrolheads!! The rest headed north via Sandford Orcas and Corton Denham to South Cadbury, then on to Sparkford, Lovington and Baltonsborough. We thought Richard had dropped behind but he had found a shortcut somewhere around South Cadbury and appeared in front of the group on the road to South Barrow, and took some catching….
Unfortunately then Geoff informed me that he’d already ridden my route in reverse to get to Sherborne that morning. Sorry Geoff!
We made good time and arrived at Glastonbury at around 12.45 after 26 miles from Sherborne. The Abbey Tea Rooms was the lunch venue and was so reasonably priced that even Richard couldn’t complain, especially since he wasn’t there!
Geoff headed home from Glasto and the return trip was shorter, via Butleigh, Keinton Mandeville (eventually, after a wrong turn back to Baltonsborough), South Barrow and Sparkford, with an afternoon tea stop at Rose’s café, from where I headed home.
A hot day, 27°C forecast and it felt like it.
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