Day 21 – Crowcombe to Portishead (with Danny)Friday 16th March
With no warm up we were faced with Crowcombe Combe, 1200m with an average gradient of 15 percent and a max of 25 percent. I told Danny not to worry about me and to focus on getting himself and his now fully laden bike (he is kindly carrying some of my luggage) up the vertical wall with a couple of bends in front of us. It was relentless, when the first 23 percent section eased off to 20 percent I assume that it would remain at this however the gradient again rose for the final bend. When I got to the top Danny had already had time to rest but admitted that it was the closest he has ever come to walking up a hill!
Quantock common welcomed us at the top, an area of heathland lined by rolling hill and trees. To the right of the road everything stood as low lying silhouettes in the morning sun. The sheep seemed unbothered with our presence. We descended the other side to a network of country lanes which changed into cycle paths along the canal as we weaved our way around Bridgewater. At one point the cycle path crossed a railway footbridge, luckily I had Danny with me and we managed to carry my trike across.
The paths and tracks were muddy and flooded, the bottom of my seat and I were submerged a few times. The route followed national cycle route 3 then 33 and later 26, the pedestrianised sections were slow going trying to avoid puddles and potholes on the narrow paths, but we weren’t in a rush and it was much more pleasant than on the busy towns roads.
After coping with the rocks, gravel and large holes in our path we hit a smooth main road in Highbridge, within a couple of hundred meters my left front tyre was completely flat! I found a small shard of glass embedded in the tyre and changed the inner tube. The minute we finished it started raining so we found the nearest cafe for breakfast.
As we made ours way towards Western Super Mare we cycled along a coastline of caravan parks, some arcades and seaside shops all in hibernation for winter. Winding through these holiday resorts, around the rivers and streams was the best piece of tarmac I have ever cycled on in the UK, a small road quite a few miles long perfect for cyclists. And every local cyclist knows about this as we saw quite a few! If we had club rides here I would want to cycle on this road every time!
We reached the seafront at Western Super Mare, took a couple of photos with the pier in the background and continued on. We stopped for a drink and cake in Clevedon and then cycled up over the hill to Portishead. My Garmin stopped at 69 miles, I nearly cycled round the block for that extra one, but decided I had done enough for the day.
One of our fellow Wokingham Cycling Club members Richard Reynolds had kindly volunteered his mum Sheila to host us for the evening! And host us she has, we have been wined and dined, a delicious meal of salmon and fantastic company made for a great evening, after the Sloe Gin appeared were ready for bed!
Richard joined us for the evening and will be cycling with me tomorrow as I enter Wales! The point that means I have cycled around the whole of the South West of England! The hardest, hilliest part of the entire route!