Today was a good day to get out for a pre-tour bike ride. Unfortunately, the weather forecast was not 100% accurate, or at least I was being over optimistic! Heavy showers and a strong wind were not quite what I was expecting. It started out with cycling up to Treeborough to watch the hunter trials, as some friends were competing. There was a rather strong wind and standing around in only cycling shorts was not all that comfortable, although as Mel had driven up we could at least take shelter in the car and warm up with a coffee and burger. I set off and decided to take in Brompton Regis as I’d not cycled through there before, but not long into the ride and there was a torrential downpour including hailstones. I got soaked, despite trying to shelter under some trees with some horses.
I went on a little further to Pulham Mill, which has a tea rooms and decided to take shelter and warm up. Fortunately I was carrying my complete touring kit, so had some spare clothes to put on. I changed socks which were completely soaked, and put on a jumper to keep a bit warmer. I discovered that my rain coat is not completely waterproof – or at least the front pocket which contained the iPhone was a bit damp. No damage done, but need to remember not to keep the phone there during a downpour. All of the other kit stayed dry, so at least the panniers seem to be doing their job.
I continued on, and whilst cycling up past Frogwell, caught up with another cyclist who was walking up the hill. He’d stopped to take off his jacket and have a cigarette, which I thought rather sporting of him! Anyway, I said hello as I approached, and his accent revealed that he was not English. German in fact, from the old Eastern part near Chemnitz. So we had a good conversation about the weather and where we had travelled from. He had started the day in Tavistock, was only carrying a backpack, and was so slightly bemused why I had two panniers and a rackbag when I lived only 10 miles away. I explained that it was a trial run for the June trip, and he then understood. Anyway, we chatted for a while and then cycled together through Upton. He wanted to get to Watchet and find a B&B, and I suggested that this was probably Ok but he might not find somewhere without backtracking slightly to Minehead. So I had an idea – why not come and stay with me! He was quite surprised but I think glad that he would not have to cycle the extra distance and then still try to find a room. We called Mel to make sure it was ok and then he came back with us. We enjoyed a good chat over supper, a few beers and some wine. He was cycling around the south west for a week, and had already done about 300 miles. On a hired bike that had a disconcerting knock coming from the bottom bracket. I hope that held out until he got back to Bristol.
I think it added something to his trip, as although he had been staying at B&B’s he had not ventured out to a pub or anything, just eating sandwiches from petrol stations! I decided this would be a nice thing to do, in the hope that perhaps someone will take pity on Alan and I whilst we are in France and offer us free accommodation. What goes around, comes around as they say!
So here is a picture of Marcel (yes, I know its a French name) ready for the off this morning. I devised a route to Cheddar for him, taking in a gentle bit of the Quantocks and the coastline at Burnham, which he was keen to experience. I hope he had a pleasant and dry day today!