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Rob and Sally organised the January ride for the Taunton Group where a last minute surge in numbers saw eight tandems and one solo gather in the centre of Wiveliscombe on a chilly but dry morning. Fortified with coffee from the White Hart pub we set off on a circular route which we had described as ‘undulating’. We completed twenty miles on quiet roads and back lanes with approximately 500m of climb passing through Ford, Pitsford Hill, Ash Priors, Halse, Oake, Nynehead, Langford Budville and then back to Wiveliscombe. Ian and Lisa well and truly christened their clean shiny new tandem on the muddy lanes but at least no one accidentally went off route into the farmyard which has a mud and slurry lake about a foot deep, as Rob and I had done when planning the route a couple of weeks ago.
The views on this route are beautiful and the verges and hedgerows at this time of year festooned with snowdrops. We saw pheasants, free range chickens, the usual farm livestock and even alpacas. There were even moments when the clouds gave way to patches of blue sky although the sun remained elusive.
We returned to the White Hart for lunch where we were also joined by Rex and Hannah. The White Hart catered excellently for our large group although there was some haggling over dessert when there were only six portions of apple and blackberry crumble left and ten people wanted them (me included). I kept my head down and fortunately there were more gallant people than I who gracefully made other choices. I was glad because the crumble was superb!
Chris and Chris organised the August ride for the Taunton and West Country Groups where 14 tandems and 2 solos assembled at The George Hotel in Castle Cary on a warm and overcast Saturday. Members Carol & Tim and Mandy & Mike were making their first foray into Group rides.
After pre-ride coffee and cakes we followed the South Somerset Cycle Route south out of town and through charming villages such as North Cadbury, South Cadbury (past the site of the Iron Age hill fort, Cadbury Castle) Corton Denham, Sandford Orcas and Trent.
Splendid “sheep dog” work was done by Malcolm to gather up strays that missed one of the many twists and turns.
Lunch was taken at The Lamb&Lark @ Limington and both very good service and meals were fully appreciated.
Following lunch a gentle return through Kingsdon and Babcary to Castle Cary completed the 35 miles of occasional undulations.
Afternoon tea and cakes were enjoyed by several at The George once more and an enjoyable event was concluded without any mishaps.
Richard and Michelle organised the February ride for the Taunton Group. The route that was planned took into account that it would probably be cold and icy or wet and miserable. It was in fact a perfect spring like day. The skylarks were singing and there were snowdrops in abundance.
11 tandems left Hestercombe and set off on a route that circumnavigated part of Taunton. We were pleased to have Neil and Bridget from the West Country group join us although trying to keep up with them up the few hills was difficult! Trish and Paul left us near Trull and the remaining 10 tandems headed to the Cross Keys Pub for lunch. Finding a venue suitable for large numbers is becoming increasingly difficult but they put us in the Conservatory which we had to ourselves – perfect!
The ride back to Hestercombe was short - just as well after all the roast dinners that had been consumed!
It was good to see Grace back on the bike after an enforced rest from cycling and to catch up with tandem friends
James and Andy organised the October ride for the Taunton Group which trialled a different way of leading a route.
As the group has become bigger it has brought obvious social advantages, but some problems as well. If 24 people turn up at a cafe and ask for double shot flat whites with skinny almond milk and sprinkles, basically the rest of the day is a right off. Add on a puncture or two and someone missing a turning and it becomes tricky for the organiser and frustrating for everyone else.
So October’s route from Bovey Tracey to Moretonhampstead and back was really simple; almost everyone could self-navigate, cycle at their own speed, arrive at the cafes in their own time and the organisers rode at the back to sweep up any problems. So because we were ready for problems…..there weren’t any. And we had great weather, autumn leaves, super company and the best cycling cafe in the west.
Altogether a good day out!!