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Tour of Wessex
Four intrepid Bedford Harriers set out to conquer the 330 odd mile, 3-day cycling challenge this year. The base of the cycle-fest is Somerton, Somerset, but the routes take in Wiltshire, Devon and Dorset too.
On day one Nora, Andy, John and I set off of the 105 mile route taking in the Cheddar Gorge, King Alfred's Hill and a number of unnamed but no less memorable inclines. The weather was great, despite the ever-present headwind and we all made reasonable time, with ample re-fuelling at the three organised food stations.
The weather forecast for day two was heavy, persistent rain, so we were all very cheered to wake up to only grey clouds and set off prepared to get drenched. This 118 mile route took us South to Lulworth on the coast and was a beautiful route with plenty of hills to tax tired legs from the day before. Once again we managed to stay dry for the whole ride and the heavy rain hit just as we sat in the finish marquee drinking a well-earned cuppa.
Day three was if anything even more scenic than the previous two, taking us North-West to the North Devon coast at Minehead, up Porlock Hill and back through Exmoor, 107 miles in theory. The Quantock's climb through tree-lined lanes, followed by Porlock Hill on the toll road, gave us plenty of height to test if our legs were still working, but the super-fast descents made up for the effort put in on the climbs. A truly great route, spoiled only by the distance, which was meant to be 107 miles, but stretched to nearer 113 by the time we made the finish line ... feeling like a very long extra 5 miles at the end of the last day.
Andy and Nora decided to forgo day 3, having finished the whole route last year, so just John and I picked up our finishers certificates and medals for the three days this time, feeling elated to have ridden so far and actually enjoyed it! A few sore bits to show for our efforts, but definitely a must-do event for anyone who enjoys a brilliantly organised, signed and supported sportive.