Wessex chattering teeth
The start was delayed until 7.30am as the tent housing the timing equipment had blown down.
but needless to say trying to organise cyclists is a bit like herding cats and we started in whichever group we fancied, eager to get pedalling.The route was flat and fast for the first 25-30 miles — and then we hit the Quantocks. More rolling fast roads and some nice little lanes swept us along to Dunkery Beacon which was steep but not as bad as the first hill.I had jokingly said I’d been thinking of putting a 27 on my triple. It did occur to me, as we muscled our bikes heroically upwards, that to the casual observer we must have looked rather silly. The fast roads were great for getting the miles in but there weren’t as many attractive lanes as on days one and two. I had not bargained for another five or six miles and was riding on my own at that point — although the motorbike riders did wave cheerily before speeding off on their comfy big bikes.We had a rather misty view of the Cerne Abbas Giant (which was a big tick off my list of things to see) but I never noticed the sea through the unfaltering rain.The climbs were steadier than Saturday’s, but the twisty, leaf-littered descents were a bit hairy in the wet and we all had to renew our brake blocks when we got back to camp.There was a real mix of bikes too from the nondescript to the rather flashy (and in my opinion rather ridiculous for the event) full-aero time trial machines.
Signage was excellent (although a few people went astray, due perhaps to a particular local who thought it amusing to remove the signs) and there was great motorbike support from the National Escort Group who carried cheery grins, spare tubes and mechanical know-how.
There was a real diversity of riders and plenty of women taking part.
Many were triathletes using the weekend as training for Ironman competition and were riding very strongly.
With 325 miles of riding over three days, was set to be a challenge even in good weather.
The weather forecast as of Friday lunchtime predicted torrential rain and howling winds. As it turned out the event was one of the best I’ve entered and I enjoyed (almost) every mile.
There are quicker and easier ways up a hill — walking for one! The three main climbs were brutally steep and, to cap it all, the route turned out to be more than 130 miles of riding instead of the promised 125. When I reached the finish line, in nine and a half hours, I added up the figures for the weekend and discovered I’d ridden for 24 of the previous 58 hours. All in all the Tour of Wessex is a fantastic event. JUST as the Tour of Wessex is well organised on the road, so too does it have a particularly informative website. Not only will you find details about the routes and how to register, you can also discover more about the local area, read training advice, find nearby accommodation, and even order commemorative T-shirts.