Today saw the 2nd Annual Gillingham and District Wheelers Freeze-a-thon, or 50 mile reliability ride, take place starting at 9:30 from Orchard Park garden centre car park. Despite dire predictions of another Sunday of heinously low temperatures a hardy bunch of over 20 riders (the fame/notoriety of this ride is growing!!) turned out, including 1 brave soul on a MTB (kudos) and set out almost in 1 huge peleton, which stayed together until a couple of miles short of the Mere junction. Then a smaller group broke away, ahh shades of Tour De Dorset ?? glory, eventually seeing 8 riders descending Druly Hill into Bruton.
Of course the obligatory ice patches on the hill made their appearance and slowed the brakes off, full pelt descent, but no reports so far of anyone coming a cropper so GDW 1, Ice 0.
After the stomach churning ascent out of Bruton that all GDW Time Triallers love to hate the riders turned on the B3081 towards Hunter’s Lodge, or at least some did and some didn’t, but these little scoundrels were picked up after a descent through Wincanton and the turn towards Buckhorn Weston and on to a very welcome pitstop at Chez Barfoot, who fed and watered all with glorious bacon and cheese toasted sandwiches, soup and multiple cups of tea and coffee.
After a few minutes respite and everyone accounted for, including our intrepid MTBer, the group struck out for the epic second half taking in the delights of the Stour 10 mile TT course. But we had to get to the starting point first so it was up Hartmoor Hill and along to Fifehead Magdalen, then the brisk climb into Marnhull before descending back towards Todber and attacking the course with gusto and a following wind, which unfortunately became a head wind as we turned back towards Gillingham, via Guys Marsh. The descent of the B3092 from East Stour was a welcome finish to the ride before rolling gently back into Orchard Park for a replenishing snack of tea and cake.
The weather even played its part with a balmy 6 degrees C reported by one of those gadgety people who have a bike computer with more features than the Apollo Command Module.
I hope all riders enjoyed the day and a very big thanks to Si Barfoot for the mid-ride food and beverages and to James Chant for organising and publicising the event.
On the strength of this great flood of talent GDW are now looking at a 100 miler, the infamous Century Ride !!!, which we hope to advertise soon, Intention is to utilise a route from ‘Hank’ which will go from Gillingham out to Bridgewater and back, via Glastonbury, Somerset levels then back through Somerton, the Cadburys and then the great Stour 10 course, just to get that few extra miles in the legs. To use a phrase from Father Ted “ah go on”, you know you want to do it. Please those that would like to ride this, around end of Feb beginning of March please let me know so we can gauge interest, use dlawsgdw at googlemail dot com, replacing the ‘at’ and ‘dot’ of course.
Nice ride and thanks again to all, hope you enjoyed it 🙂 Daryol