The Glastonbury 100 Miler is organised by Ian Hennessey. He describes it as an Audax event from Honiton to Glastonbury and back. A straightforward, early season leg stretcher.
The unprecedented amount of rainfall this winter has led to extensive flooding on the Somerset Levels. Ian had checked the route several times and, as a lot of it was under (deep) water, serious modifications had been made. At all times Ian was confident he could find a 100 mile route that would involve a visit to Glastonbury.
A couple of days before the event, Ian posted that the event limit had been reached with 65 entries. At this point Ian was still checking the route but remained confident that the modified route would be ‘mostly free of water‘. At this point it also became evident that Sunday 16th February would be a dry day with sunshine and light winds. After the continuous storms that have swept through the South West, this was quite remarkable.
Sunday 16th February did break with a bright blue sky and sunshine. The clear sky overnight, however, had allowed temperatures to drop, so there was a risk of some ice on the roads. 51 riders registered in Honiton ready to start riding at 08:30.
There was the usual pre-event faff with plenty of banter about water wings and pedalos.
Ian made a further last minute modification to the early part of the route to avoid a low lying area of lanes which were likely to be icy. All riders were briefed on the possibility of ice.
As Audax rides are not competitive, and times and finishing order do not get recorded, the start of such events is very informal and the riders set off in a casual manner at around 08:30.
The early stages climb out of Honiton on the A30 before heading north on the B3170. It was here we kept on the B3170 rather then going down into the lanes in the Yarty Valley. At Shires Farm my GPS chirped that we were back on course. Steve, my cycling buddy has good local knowledge and at this point warned me to be ready for ice as the lanes were in the shade and he had known them to be icy before. He wasn’t wrong. As we turned the corner to go down through the woods at Staple Common we immediately saw that riders ahead had problems. We gradually slowed down to avoid a skid. At least one person had fallen and luckily had escaped with road rash and bruising. He looked quite shaken.
We walked for a few hundred metres. The road was very slippery with water running over ice. Onwards to the first control at North Curry. Ian passed us going in the opposite direction in his car. We were later to learn that he was going to retrieve the bike of another person who had fallen on the ice and had been taken to hospital by ambulance.
After North Curry we were on the main A378 which follows a ridge of higher ground above the flooded Sedge Moor to Langport and then up to High Ham. All around us there were extensive floods. The route across Kings Sedge Moor was above water but only just.
After crossing the A39 at Pedwell the route continued North through Wedmore and on to Cheddar where there was a congregation of Audax riders outside the Tesco Express eating and drinking and mostly forgetting to obtain a receipt as proof of passage!
Back to Westhay and then to Glastonbury on the B3151. It was a great pity we could not cycle across the lovely Godney Moor but the whole area was just a huge expanse of water. Steve and I were able to jump on the back of a ‘train’ as we headed into Glastonbury with the Tor showing the way.
Heaphy’s Cafe was working hard to meet the demands of the cyclists in Glastonbury
and once replete we were back onto the A39 through Street. At some traffic lights my Garmin 800 jumped off my handlebars. I didn’t realise until 2km down the road at Walton when I glanced down to check the turning. I zoomed back to the lights where I guessed I had knocked it off and it was there in the road – remarkably unscathed! Steve had taken the opportunity to bask in the afternoon sun but we were soon on our way again and back through the floods across Kings Sedge Moor
and up the steep hill to High Ham. There is a lovely bench outside the Church in High Ham and we took 10 minutes out to enjoy the afternoon sun and have a little rest after the exertion of the hill.
The route proceeded through Langport crossing the swollen River Parrett before heading south from Curry Rivel towards Ilminster. In Hambridge there was an Information Control asking how many miles to Fivehead.
We continued to Broadwey and the steep hill over the Blackdowns. This was soon dealt with and the reward is a far reaching view in all directions with the familiar hills of West Dorset showing up well in the profile to the east.
It was starting to get a bit chilly and the afternoon was drawing to a close as we hurtled down the A30 to cross the Yarty. We relished the last climb up the other side (slowly) knowing we were in the closing stages of this ride. The last few kilometres are routed off the main road towards Cotleigh. It is tempting to carry on straight down the A30 but we took the lanes and enjoyed the quiet return to Honiton.
At the Arrive, Ian’s kitchen was full of cyclists who had completed the Glastonbury 100 Miler.
Food was plentiful and well received. It was very nice to sit down in the warmth with a cup of tea and listen to other rider’s tales from the day.
Thanks to everyone involved for organising and running the event. Best wishes to those who fell, for a speedy recovery.