Taunton Regional Group
Organisers Contact: Ian and Lisa Warren, Tel: 01823443889, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nigel and Mercedes organised the February ride where eleven tandems convened at Curry Rivel in Somerset. It felt like the first day of Spring since the clouds lifted and we were treated to blue sky for the duration of the ride.
We headed south through Ilminster to Perry's Cider Farm Cafe at Dowlish Wake for a coffee stop. This first ten mile section of the ride involved the Somerset levels with a couple of climbs at the end to make us feel like we had earned our coffee (and cake). Feeling replenished we followed unclassified roads through Dinnington, Hinton St George and Merriott. This quiet, almost traffic free route involved a little climbing but the altitude was maintained with spectacular views to our left of the Somerset levels . There was a short section of A road,which took us to Martock and the return leg north via Muchelney and past Thorney Lakes (site of 2015 tandem rally) back to Curry Rivel. An excellent lunch at Sandpits cafe then followed this most enjoyable thirty mile ride.
James and Liz organised the January Ride and they managed to get a report done in double-quick time – this is what they sent:
Such is the pressure of modern society that there was only ten minutes after the end of our tandem ride before the report had to be in. So to save time the report was written first and only needs minor adjustments.
Please use the Key Below:
A - Nice
B - A bit bumpy
C - Cold
D - Pretty hot
E - Coffee and cake
We met in Knightshayes near Tiverton for (E). The ride was attended by four singles and lots of tandems. At lunch there were 21 people, which was rather confusing as we should have had an even number of riders.
The ride to Bampton was (A) and (B) and (C). Lunch in The Swan was (A), (B), (C) where it should have been and (D) in the hot parts. After lunch we were a bit (C), so we danced the Hokey Cokey until we were (D) – that’s what it’s all about!
A short blast down the main road back to Knightshayes, (A) and not (B), for more (E) and the chance for a quick chat with our stokers, most of whom are - (D).
Apologies to the three, or was it four, who we temporarily mislaid.
A total of 36 people sat down for the Christmas meal at The Walnut Tree in North Petherton including original members of the Taunton group and newcomers too.
Our group is continuing to expand which means that we have a variety of starting places and routes and on this occasion we split into two groups to make life easier and avoid traffic mayhem.
The organisers, Ian and Lisa, led the first group and were helped by Peter and Rowena leading the second group. At the rear we had Nick and Rachel in charge of Elf and Safety.
Fancy dress was optional but the prize for the best dressed tandem went to Andy and Anita. A quiz followed the meal and the award of the trophy went to John and Judy, having attended the most rides during the year but several others were close.
We are pleased to have so many enthusiastic members and lots of rides are planned for 2017.
Nigel and Mercedes organised the November Taunton group ride which ventured into mid Devon. 10 tandems started at the excellent Mount Pleasant Inn at Nomansland (8 miles west of Tiverton). It was pretty cold and when the rain started it became even colder so we were keen to make a start and warm up.
The first leg of the journey took in the traditional Devon villages of Puddington, Black Dog and Morchard Bishop. The considerable height above sea level was maintained, with snow-capped Exmoor and Dartmoor clearly visible on either side. The route then dropped down to the Taw valley at Morchard Road onto the A377 which follows the river Taw all the way to Barnstaple. This road is now thankfully much quieter since the building of the North Devon Link Road. This open road gave us the opportunity to eat up about 7 or 8 miles at a reasonable pace. The trees in the heavily wooded valley still had remnants of autumn colours.
At Eggesford we turned right and encountered the only real long hill to Chawleigh. This isn't particularly steep and the route planner (me) was not aware of any negativity from the other riders about this hill. After Chawleigh the height is maintained along another unclassified but reasonably wide open road past Thelbridge Cross to Nomansland. The Mount Pleasant really did look after us and we had our own cosy dining room with a blazing log fire. Our very varied food requests were swiftly served.
It isn't always easy to have a circular route in Devon which doesn't involve perpetually gaining and then losing height. This route did this only once which hopefully means my fellow tandemers from the Taunton group will still speak to me
Nick and Rachel organised the October ride. Summer was still here when we left Taunton under cloudless blue sky. A gentle breeze from the South caressed our 9 tandems 1 solo semi recumbent and a one man and his dog up the gentle slopes of country lanes where birds chirruped and frolicked. We crossed the M5 with joy in our hearts that we were not stuck in cars zooming along, but out in the fresh air.
We had a great lunch at The George in Uffculme with candles and roses on the table.
Then it started raining. Just very heavily at first before getting worse. The only escape route in those conditions was the A38 back to Taunton. The joy in our hearts at not being in cars strangely faded to a distant memory.
We made it back without the use of snorkels but only just.
A long train of 11 tandems and 2 solos set off in the sunshine across the Somerset levels from Glastonbury to England's smallest city, Wells, where coffee was taken in the beautiful gardens of the Bishop's Palace. Onward the procession travelled along Wells High Street, providing free entertainment for the visitors, before leaving the city behind and climbing towards Wedmore. A steep descent from Mudgley Hill brought us down to the levels once more and a scenic, if bumpy, ride through Westhay Moor Nature Reserve. We lunched and relaxed in the sunshine at Doublegate Farm in the village of Godney before gradually trickling away for the last few miles return to Glastonbury or to head directly homewards for those lucky to live near enough to have left the car at home.
The ride was organised and occasionally led by John and Judy. 26 mainly level miles along quiet lanes, a shaded former railway line, city streets and one very one rough track. A couple of hills sneaked in just to prove Somerset isn't entirely flat and help our Devon members feel at home.
Richard and Michelle organised the August Taunton Group ride. Despite the forecast for showers and strong winds, 4 and a half tandems braved the weather for a West Somerset ride. We met in Minehead and after visiting the harbour, looking lovely with the tide in and hanging baskets in bloom, we headed through Dunster and along the undulating back lanes to Porlock. The rain really set in after James decided to take off his waterproof jacket! - And was with us for the rest of the morning ride. The ride to Porlock Weir was a very wet affair so we quickly headed back to Porlock for lunch at the Ship. It was a unanimous decision not to attempt Porlock Hill (not that it was on the planned route) but instead cut the proposed route short and headed back to Minehead via Bossington and Allerford. The rain stopped briefly for a photo shot in Bossington before the wind assisted ascent followed by a long decent back to Minehead for a cream tea at Richard and Michelle's.
Not many miles but a sociable and enjoyable ride.
Ian & Lisa organised the July Taunton Group ride and eight tandems met at the leaders house in Creech St Michael. A slight mechanical problem was not the best start but it gave the men a chance to suck air between their teeth.
As usual, 13 bend hill was the first challenge (clue’s in the name) and then we had to make up lost time and get to coffee at Langport. Malcolm and Grace joined us here as did James and Sarah and their baby Matilda. This gave Lisa the chance to show off their second granddaughter.
It wasn’t too far to lunch at Kingsbury Episcopi and we had the steep hill out of Langport under the Hanging Chapel which will be remembered by those who attended last year’s rally at Thorney Lakes.
Karl and Lisa joined us for lunch. They were unable to ride as their new tandem, bought for the International Rally, had been written off during a charity ride recently. We were very pleased to see them and wish them a speedy recovery.
Although it was very hot, Ian decided to add a few more miles so that we were ready for tea and cakes in the garden at home.
Mark and Liz organised the June Taunton Group ride and eight tandems and one solo met at Woodbury village hall car park. We road near Exeter airport, crossed the “blue” cycle bridge over the M5, through Pinhoe and then Poltimore village to the National trust property, Killerton - the old home of the Devon Ackland family.
Killerton is a good coffee (or lunch) stop and we can vouch for their tasty cheese scones. Had we more time, we could have explored the grounds including the” bear house” (sadly a bear was kept here once), ice house and lovely gardens .
Devon drizzle turned to rain during the coffee stop and our circular route took us back through Broadclyst, Dog village and into the back of Clyst St Mary and then to Topsham. It is almost unbelievable to think this estuary town was once the 10th major port in the country and built 3 ships to sail against the Armada. We had lunch at ”Route 2“ in Topsham, a cycle café –efficient and accommodating - they had plenty of space for so many tandems .
We cycled down the Strand with houses with Dutch gables to see the filling Exe estuary at the start of the so called “goat walk”, before crossing the new cycle/pedestrian bridge over the river Clyst to join the Exe estuary trail. This is largely wooden boardwalk to Lympstone and then rode cross country back to Woodbury. Two of the eight tandems joined us while on holiday in Devon - our bonus. The East Devon route, largely off main roads was appreciated and despite the drizzle, spirits remained high.
Steve and Maggie led the Taunton Group Tandem Club ride on Sunday 22 May. It was lucky that this month’s ride was the Sunday as the weather on the Saturday was rather inclement. We had a few showers but mostly the weather was kind to us.
After coffee in the craft centre in Bovey Tracey, where the women admired the exhibits and the men held on firmly to their wallets, nine tandems and one solo set off. This included some welcome new faces which helped to lower the average age of the group!!!!
With the smell of the wild garlic in our nostrils we headed off up the Teign Valley towards Dunsford. With a regroup at Steps Bridge the climbing to Moretonhampstead started. Reaching a height of 300 meters it tested the muscles(and the lungs) but also offered fantastic panoramic views.
Lunch in the cycle friendly Central Cafe in Moreton offered a well-earned rest but also excellent food.
The ride back to Bovey was through the lanes via Lustleigh with a few nasty little climbs on the way. The scenery of the woods, the rocks, and the bluebells was very pretty.
A long downhill took us back to Bovey for a well-earned cup of tea. A challenging ride that seemed to be enjoyed by all.
The wheels on the bike go round and round etc.
James and Andy organised and led the nice varied ride on 16th April with six and a half tandems, two walkers and two dogs. Probably like everyone else, I researched this ride in January when the weather was awful and all the paths were muddy. At that time three miles was exhausting, so a 25 mile ride seemed almost unachievable. However come the day, it was sunny and dry and we all shot round the route in no time. However…..at the end was an optional hill from hell! Being as we’d all had a nice time till then, the hill from hell became obligatory. Amazingly most people cycled all the way up. Not me - I felt the leader had a responsibility to make sure everyone at the back was OK, so I walked.
I should add the walkers joined us at the pub with dogs for lunch. Not dogs for lunch, at lunchtime with dogs - sounds better I think. They walked the lovely if rather pointless Tiverton Canal which goes from Tiverton east to…..well nowhere really.
Peter and Rowena led the Taunton Group Tandem Club ‘Fairtrade Ride’ on Saturday 19 March 2016.
6½ Tandems set out from Procters Farm, West Monkton on a chilly but dry March morning to ride to Monks Yard, Horton, near Ilminster. Fortified by some excellent fairtrade coffee we negotiated round a couple of road closures and across the busy A358 without incident and enjoyed fine scenery and views below the Blackdown Hills. We were served very tasty locally sourced food at Monks yard and were somewhat reluctant to leave the warmth of The Sanctuary room which we had been allocated.
After a brief photo call we set off again, crossing the A358 to Ilton and thence to the Community Café at North Curry, where we were served fairtrade tea and coffee and delicious home-made cakes, before returning to Procters farm after an enjoyable 30 miles with no breakdowns.
Thanks to all for entering the spirit of this ride, taking place just after the end of Fairtrade Fortnight.
It was Lisa and Karl's first time to lead the Taunton group. The route starting at Exeter Quay towards Dawlish returning via the same cycle route venturing onto the main roads just briefly saw 6 tandems including some new faces set out.
The weather forecast was overcast with some brisk winds, this could have proved challenging considering that the route was mainly flat with some quite exposed areas. Most of the attendees drove to the start through rain and strong gusts but as soon as we set off the sun came out and was glorious throughout.
In Dawlish we took a breather for a cup of tea, a chance for the group to acquaint themselves properly. The journey back from Dawlish to the Turf Hotel was via the same route, with Lisa and Karl bringing up the rear! Lunch didn't disappoint, the group chatting about the upcoming rallies.
With only a short journey from lunch to the end, a couple of the tandems went home in different directions, Maggie and Steve heading back to Teignmouth, Rob and Sallie zooming back to Taunton. Once back at the Exeter Quay three tandems had a final coffee at Lutzy's coffee shop, the place we started from, where she thanked us for being her guests before all heading off home. A gentle 26 mile ride without the challenge of climbs.
The Ordnance Survey maps of Devon are often very pink. This is because of the density of the contour lines which means the roads, if they cross them tend to be very steep. When selecting the route for the ride on Saturday 16th January care was taken to ensure the route was on ‘white bits’ rather than ‘pink bits.’ The Taunton Group from Somerset were able to venture down the M5 with the tandems in/on their cars to the ‘bandit’ country of East Devon and start the ride from the National Trust House of Killerton. Free parking and a café is a prerequisite. Five and a half tandems present and we headed south towards Broadclyst. The weather had been very wet, but the preceding couple of nights had been clear and not surprisingly ,there was some standing water which had frozen. Nevertheless this was minimal and disappeared during the morning. Unclassified roads were then followed to the small villages of Talaton, Dulford, Mutterton and Clyst Hydon. These villages are not exactly household names (unless you live in one of them). For Devon lanes they are reasonably wide (ie just about the width of a car) but there were good views because there were not too many steep Devon banks. Traffic was pretty minimal, just a few cars and horses. It was decided to deviate from normal protocol and instead of having lunch en-route. The whole ride was completed without a lunch stop and return to Killerton for luncheon. This was because of the limited daylight hours. There had been a minor debate about the final leg of the ride back to Killerton. It had been planned to take the old A38 (now B3181). This is a straight road which no longer carries much traffic however the cars that use it frequently fly past quicker than the cars on the adjacent M5. For this reason the lanes through the Ashclyst Forest were chosen. This was decidedly more lumpy and traffic free and there were times when the wisdom of this choice may have been questioned. However when reminded that the lunch stop and destination were literally just round the next bend – any mutiny was averted! It was about 25 miles in total on easy to follow Devon lanes, which although it was not a fast route, itwas scenic and with little traffic.
The Christmas meal for the Taunton group started with a 20 mile ride; lots of familiar faces travelling over to us plus some new ones. 9 tandems started out and many were decorated with coloured baubles, lights and tinsel.
The route from the New Mill at Bathpool circled Taunton in a clockwise direction so that we could cut it short if the weather forecast was correct - it wasn't and we stayed dry!
Ian and Lisa led the ride and also brought up the rear at times. This meant sprinting quickly back to the front again! After 17 miles we stopped for coffee at Hestercombe House and then it was just a few miles back.
A traditional Christmas lunch was followed by a Christmas quiz organised by Lisa and then Ian awarded a trophy to the couple who had attended the most rides during the year. Richard and Michelle Miles had been to 9 local events (often cycling to the start) plus they had cycled to the National and the International rally in the Czech Republic! What a fantastic effort! (unfortunately Michelle wasn't able to attend that day but Richard came on his solo and returned home to Minehead in the dark!) Who will win the award next year?
James and ‘stand-in’ Stoker Andy led the November ride which started from Darts Farm near Topsham. Now what were the best bits…..
Firstly - as always with the Taunton group - Great Company. We talked about ‘Strictly’ (my money’s on Helen), being a good Grandparent, knitting patterns…oh and next year’s International Rally which most of us are going to.
Secondly - The cakes. Considering that both Otterton Mill at lunchtime and Darts Farm were full of people buying Christmas landfill, we did pretty well. Nigel’s Lemon Meringue Tart from Darts Farm deserves a special mention.
Thirdly - The weather. What do you expect in Mid-November? Well it was a lot better than that. Nigel, again, wore shorts!
Fourthly - The cycling. 5½ tandems, 25 miles, 1,300 m ascent (or was that feet), average speed 7.8 mph. Well…..it was 50% traffic free and had lots of staggered gates and loose dogs and mud and at least that average speed shows we are not taking drugs!
The worst bit - it’ll be a whole month before we do it again.
Nigel and Mercedes led the September ride which started from Barnstaple on a very sunny September Saturday morning. We started with a cup of coffee at the Bike Shed some cafe which was perfect. This also proved to be an opportunity to stock up on any cycling essentials which had been forgotten. The first task was to gain from sea level some height (800 feet) over approximately five miles to Shirwell. This height did not have to be regained during the ride. Subsequently, gloriously quiet country lanes were enjoyed to Berry Down Cross where the A3123 is joined. This road, although busier was still relatively quiet since was outside the school holidays. To our right there were clear views across to South Wales. Straight ahead Lundy was clearly visible. It was at this point that our one and only puncture was encountered. This led to a division of labour along gender stereotype lines, the four male cyclists doing a combination of careful inspection and violent wrestling with the offending wheel to fix the problem. We were soon on our way again but the offending tandem riders suffering from a mild dose of P.P.A. (post puncture anxiety). However this did soon pass.
At Turnpike Cross we turned off on to another quiet lane and descended into Georgeham and particularly the 'Rock public house where we had an excellent lunch. We then continued on our way down into the popular coastal village of Croyde and subsequently on to Braunton via the scenic and flat lanes of Braunton Burrows. It was at this point that the Tarka Tail was joined. The gates were negotiated very expertly by all tandems with hardly a foot down at any point. We continued along the north bank of the Taw estuary and were very much flattered by being greeted by a marching band as we reached Barnstaple. It was actually because of the town carnival which was soon to start though! A refreshing cup of tea at Tea in the Taw' seemed appropriate. This 'retro' cafe is strategically positioned on the cycle path itself. At this point we were almost back at our starling point which is the Barnstaple 'park and ride'. In total it was 37 miles with 1400 feet of climbing, the vast majority of which is gained in the first 7 miles with a single steady climb.
Richard and Michelle led this month’s ride which started from Wiveliscombe where 7 tandems and riders met at the White Hart for coffee before heading south towards Langford Budville. This section held the first mechanical problem of the ride. Richard was trying to identify a strange whistling bird when we realised that it was Carl trying to attract our attention. They had a broken chain. 6 men then looked on, offering advice and parts, until eventually the chain was repaired. The ladies of the party dutifully held the tandems and had a good chat!
Problem solved, our route joined the Sustran's route towards Bampton and it wasn’t long before problem number 2 occurred. While descending a narrow lane a loud bang was heard and Nigel and Mercedes suffered a blow out - hopefully this will not be a regular occurrence as they had also punctured on the previous ride!
Aware that things happen in 3's, we tentatively continued towards Bampton enjoying quiet lanes with lovely autumnal colours and views. Lunch was at The Swan, where we arrived about an hour late, but they were very understanding and we enjoyed an excellent lunch. Here we discovered the third problem - a lost phone, but fortunately it was found where it had been left at the White Hart!
The return along the B3227 had a few hills but we also enjoyed some long and fast descents.
The Taunton Group’s April ride was slightly different in two ways. Firstly it was organised on the spur of the moment and, with the help of the internet, still attracted 5 tandems and I solo, Secondly, the ride from Creech St. Michael did not take in ”13 bend hill” up to North Curry!
Instead we had a 30 mile loop around Taunton, through Orchard Portman and Pitminster to The Worlds End pub at Bradford-on-Tone. After lunch (too much choice on the menu!) we went through Bishops Lydeard (past the Steam Railway) to Hestercombe House for a tea stop. General comment was that we always seemed to be going downhill (the gradient not the quality of the ride!)
From Exeter we cycled through the Marsh Barton Estate to Alphington then stopped at the newly opened Twisted Oak in Ide for an enjoyable lunch. 4 couples then braved the climb to Haldon Belvedere - a mere 800' at the top! The road was very undulating to Dunchideock, typical Devon hills, and then the more serious climb started. The steeper part defeated 2 couples, with one stoker getting a lift from a farmer who felt sorry for her!
We regrouped, with jelly babies for all, and continued to the top of Haldon Ridge. We were rewarded with fantastic views, seeing Dartmoor on one side and across to Exeter and Exmouth to East Devon on the other. From here all flat along the top and then just past the top of Telegraph Hill, all downhill for 4 miles, back into Starcross. It was a ride of contrasts. The weather was kind and hopefully riding in the Devon hills hasn't put people off.
Nick and Rachel organised the June ride which started at Hestercombe Gardens, just North of Taunton, and covered 33 miles. 6 tandems set off with cheerful optimism into the rain which we soon left behind as we headed West. The route took us along narrow country lanes (see Photo) and followed the River Tone upstream crossing it 4 times. We headed through Wellington where we attracted attention from the local Paparazzi then, just to work up an appetite, took on a couple of climbs. The Martlet Inn Langford Budville happened to be at the top of the final hill, and the sun came out as we enjoyed a refreshing lunch in the pub garden. Then it was downhill all the way, apart from when it wasn’t the wind behind us and the sun on our backs.
Malcolm and Grace organised the July ride with an invitation to both Taunton and West Country group members. The ride, based near the border of the two regions, saw 12 tandems in total with 10 starting from Puxton Park and 2 others joining us from the morning coffee stop. Heading out through Banwell, Sandford, Wrington and then into Congresbury where we stopped at Heathers to enjoy homemade cakes and coffee. Shortly after leaving coffee we arrive at the scene of a broken down car on a narrow stretch of busy road causing quite long queues and tailbacks. Already being attended to by a solo cyclist we soon had the car shoved off the road and out of our way! A broken clutch apparently. The remaining morning ride into Clevedon and onto the sea front was uneventful and we all settled down to a nice pub lunch overlooking the Severn Estuary. (Photo shows the group outside of the pub refreshed and ready for the ride home.) Afternoon ride back into Yatton where we joined the Strawberry Line through to Congresbury and Sandford returning back to Puxton village where we stopped to view the Church of St Saviour a medieval church with a heavily leaning tower which is now redundant but still maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust. The final leg was back along to Puxton Park where afternoon tea and cakes were enjoyed by many of the riders. So....36 miles, 24 riders, 12 tandems, lots of sunshine and most importantly new friends for all.
Paul and Nina organised the August ride which started at the Red Brick Building in Glastonbury. The previous day was wet (really wet) but joy of joys, the sun shone, the wind blew in helpful directions and two tandems from the Taunton Group, two tandems from the West Country Group, two tandems from the Wessex group AND a tandem from Kent (Graham and Sally) arrived at the rendezvous and all set off for the Polden Hills and beyond.
The ride was advertised as flat, but going out over the Moors would have meant a ride into the wind and despite their name The Poldens aren't really too hilly, as one member said " just lumpy" and once we had reached Cossington it was all downhill and then level until we reached Burnham. We picnicked in a recently renovated park called Marine Cove where numerous self-timed photos were taken, the best of which is published here! Then 6 tandems took the flat and wind assisted route home across the levels, while the seventh tandem couple continued up the coast to their home, having cycled that morning to the ride start.
No one got lost, no one fell off, (despite a good attempt by a white pick-up driver on one of the narrow sections) and we had a very enjoyable and social time. And the couple from Kent? - for their first ride out with a Tandem Club section, they had cycled to our ride from their campsite in Cheddar, and they rode back to Glastonbury with us all despite the fact that they could have shortened their journey home considerably.
June Group ride to West Bay
April group ride
Over Woodbury Common for coffee at Budleigh Salterton seafront. Cycle paths to Exmouth and Topsham for lunch.
Contact: Mark & Liz Tel: 01395 233375 Email: email@example.com
Cycle along 'The Granite Way' to Lydford
Contact: Steve & Maggie Tel: 01626 772771 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
April Ride Report and phots.html
March Ride Report.html
February Ride Report.html
YouTube Video - February
November 2013 Ride Report.html
December Ride Report.html
October Ride Report.html
Ride Report - February 2014.html