This event is long standing in the Audax Calendar and is organised by Ian Hennessey. Ian varies the route from year to year. This year he also varied the date, moving it about 6 weeks later in the year to try to avoid floods on the levels and frost on the roads. Last year’s February date encountered both.
This ride is purely for fun. There are no points to be had for distance or elevation and the ride does not count towards qualification for any other event (PBP). The field seemed to be predominately made up of folk on road bikes – sans mudguards and luggage – and almost everyone was wearing a helmet. There were even 5 women riding!
April 5th 2015 – Easter Sunday – promised to be dry, frost free with light winds and even some sunshine. It had been a drier than average winter and there had been very little flooding on the levels, so Ian had no restrictions on the route and no last minute modifications to make.
About 40 riders left Honiton at 08:30 and headed out along the A30 for a few kilometres before turning off to Upottery and headed for the first control at North Curry Community Coffee shop.
Ian and Elspeth were sitting outside in the sunshine – signing the Brevet cards.
From North Curry we had a wonderful ride across the Levels. Last year all these roads were underwater but today all was dry with wonderful displays of spring flowers everywhere. There was evidence of a new flood defence wall being built along the River Parrett near Burrow Bridge. We made very good progress along the quiet lanes and enjoyed the unique environment of the Somerset Levels.
We had a few miles on the A38 before turning down through Axbridge to note an information control and then continued to Wedmore, before heading once more across the levels along Pangborough Drove through Godney towards Glastonbury.
We stopped at Glastonbury. It was lunch time and we reckoned we had earned some proper food.
Suitably fuelled we followed the route along the A39, passing the Clarks shopping outlet village – very busy with people not having nearly as much fun as we were having. More quiet lanes followed as we made quick progress to High Ham. Slower progress was made up Ham Hill but the gentle descent towards Langport was good fun. We enjoyed the dry road to Muchelney. Rumour has it that in 2014, Audax riders had to be rescued here after attempting to cycle along the flooded road.
The final control was the Duke of York pub at Shepton Beauchamp. All that remained was to bypass Ilminster – and climb up and over the Blackdowns. The sting in the tail of this ride is the Yarcombe Hill climb. With 160 kilometres in the legs this feels a little cruel but eventually the top is reached and after that it is a fairly straightforward easy return to the Arrive at Honiton.
Ian and Elspeth were there to welcome the returning riders with cups of tea and Ian’s excellent veggie stew.