Taunton Regional GroupOrganisers Contact: Ian and Lisa Warren, Tel: 01823 443889, Email: email@example.com
Lisa and Ian organised the December ride and Christmas Meal for the Taunton Group where 15 tandems met at The Walnut Tree in North Petherton. We Started with Coffee in the Hotel which gave everyone a chance to change into their Fancy Dress. We then went for a short ride through Durleigh, Chilton Trinity and into the centre of Bridgwater where we stopped at the Bandstand for a group photo and an impromptu Carol Service.
Karl and Lisa organised the November ride for the Taunton Group where 8 tandems and 4 solos, including a recumbent, set out from Lutzy’s coffee shop at Exeter Quay.
Fully satisfied with the home baked Portuguese tarts (the house speciality) we headed off for a level ride to Dawlish along the Exe Estuary. The weather couldn’t have been better, a cold sharp day with awesome clear blue sunny skies. We passed many train and bird spotters lining the way, giving them a rare but fabulous sighting of an exotic group of tandemists.
At the mid way point of 12 miles we visited Daisy’s Tearoom in Dawlish to sample their cakes and once again satisfied we headed back to Exeter Quay for a leisurely lunch at the Puerto Lounge.
Although this was a level ride, not too taxing!! it provided a chance to take in beautiful scenery and a chance to catch up with the happenings of the group along the Estuary.
James and Andy organised the October ride for the Taunton Group which trialled a different way of leading a route.
Mark and Liz organised the September ride for the Taunton Group where 6 tandems and 2 singletons met at Yatton in slight drizzle which rapidly improved to a pleasant day. Quiet small lanes were taken to Clevedon where the tide was in and there were fine views over the Bristol Channel. After coffee on the seafront we tackled a hill out of Clevedon and then onward to Weston in Gordano before joining sustrans route 410 towards Nailsea. Suburban roads were taken around the edge of Nailsea and Backwell to take us to lunch at the Rising Sun.
Food was served promptly and portions were ample! Finally a rural route was taken to Claverham and back to Yatton.
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.
Andy & Anita organised the July ride where eleven tandems and one solo started from the Crediton Leisure Centre. Amongst the tandems were two Pinos, one was John and Judy's new mount, the other was ridden by 'Freetrike' Tom and his young son Oliver. Tom supplies a range of bikes and tandems specifically adapted to meet a variety of special needs. We were also joined by two of James' grandchildren, one on his tandem and one on a solo, so good to see youngsters on a club ride.
We set off at a leisurely pace through the back lanes towards Killerton House and our coffee and cake stop. On the way we happened upon our friends Julia and Meg who were out on a training run, getting ready for a 24 hour mountain bike race and then later in the year a run from Lands End to John o' Groats. They were soon pressed into service directing everyone through a staggered junction - thanks ladies. They rode with us until the picturesque village of Thorverton. A few more miles saw us at Killerton and their excellent cakes and drinks.
The ride back from Killerton through Silverton was slightly more challenging than the way out, steadily climbing until just outside Shobrooke where we dropped 200 feet and then promptly had to climb 90 feet back up again before we reached the Red Lion and our lunch stop. The joys of cycling in Devon! The food was pre ordered so we didn't have to wait too long for lunch, which was well received by all.
A short ride back to Crediton, and as if by magic, an Ice Cream van turned up just outside Mid Devon Tyres, I'm not sure who was more pleased, us or the guy in the Ice Cream van who suddenly had a massive increase in Ice Cream sales!
Thanks everyone for joining us, we look forward to riding with you again soon.
John & Judy together with Rex & Hannah organised the June ride for the Taunton Group. 10 tandems met at Hestercombe Gardens and set out in the sunshine for a gentle meander and morning coffee in the lovely walled garden of the Bike Barn in Taunton. 10 tandems continued over more challenging terrain, 2 turned round and took the low road while 8 hard core tandems carried on to climb up to Fyne Court at Broomfield. 10 tandems then met back at Hestercombe for lunch.
After cancelling the scheduled March ride due to 8' snow drifts, 9 tandems and 2 solos met at Bovey Tracey on a beautiful sunny morning for a ride over Dartmoor organised by Steve and Maggie.
We started with the challenging climb of Haytor stopping halfway (about 700') at Ullacombe Farm Shop, where we enjoyed a leisurely break sitting in the sunshine. After our fix of coffee, we were now ready to attack the steeper part of the climb, which then plateaued out before another steeper section to the summit of about 1400',where we regrouped, taking photos of the iconic rock and the wild Dartmoor ponies. We then continued across the undulating Moor, enjoying the bluebells, gorse and stunning views, eventually winding down through the Devon lanes to the B3212. Heading east with the road twisting and turning and with a couple of fast descents, lunch at Moretonhampstead was calling. The Union Inn was welcoming and we were well looked after.
Remounting our trusty steads, we were ready for the slow, steady climb towards Doccombe, after which we were able to enjoy the long 4mile decent towards Dunsford. Regrouping once again at Steps Bridge, we then turned south to follow the pretty Teign Valley road towards Chudleigh Knighton and back to the finish at Bovey. We rode 32 miles and climbed just over 2700'. The ride seemed to be enjoyed by all and there were no complaints about the downhill sections!!!
50 hardy riders braved the heavy rain and breezy conditions to join the joint Taunton and West Country group ride for April organised by Malcolm and Grace. With 24 Tandems and 2 solos the group had to split into two so as to avoid causing traffic congestion. Group 1 assembled in an orderly manner and were dispatched 10 mins before group 2 who had to be constrained from the desire to chase group 1 and catch them A ride along Burnham on Sea promenade then through Highbridge arriving at Rich’s Cider Farm for morning coffee. This popular restaurant was keen to see we were served and on our way in time for their very popular carvery lunch customers. The two group system continued as we cycled our way in the rain to Cheddar. The Riverside Inn was well prepared to serve us even though some last minute additions were made. 50 servings all delivered in a timely and professional manner. After lunch the rain was even heavier and looked like it was determined to ensure we were going to ride the final 9 miles back in the wet but then the sun came out and began to dry our wet cycling clothes. A final steep climb back into the village of Bleadon and we were home, 35 miles mostly wet but with 50 riders having a very enjoyable and social ride.
Taunton Tandem Group has become so successful that even in the middle of February 13½ tandems turned up for this months ride organised by Richard and Michelle. The newly adopted policy of splitting into two groups, following the same route but with staggered start times, worked well. We met at the Willow & Wetlands Centre at Stoke St Gregory before heading to Langport for lunch, following quiet lanes through the pretty villages of North Curry, Barrington and Kingsbury Episcopi. The ‘A Team’, ably led by Nick and Rachel, arrived for lunch intact and without incident. The ‘B Team’ was less successful suffering a broken gear cable (which Steve managed to fix with a cable tie, although he and Maggie then had to complete the ride in one gear) and, more seriously, a broken bottom bracket on Mark and Liz’s tandem. Fortunately, some friendly locals took pity on them and gave them a lift to Langport. Mark then teamed up with John to go and fetch the van, whilst the ladies enjoyed more coffee and cake! The Bow Wharf Café did a great job in serving 27 pre-ordered lunches. A brief rain shower failed to dampen spirits on the short ride back to Stoke St Gregory.
James and Liz organised the January ride where ten tandems and 5 solos met at Combwich just outside Bridgwater.
It’s rather fitting that the attached photo is taken in the pub - it was only a short ride and the weather wasn’t really on our side, but the majority of the ride was spent in the pub as the food took for ever to arrive! Lovely people, as always, and an interesting part of Somerset to explore but maybe the constant inhalation of fumes from Hinkley Point Power Station slows the cooking somehow. And they ran out of peas!
The Taunton Group had a short ride planned for the day of their Christmas meal which was organised by Ian and Lisa but the weather was so bad that it was shortened to just three and a half miles! Only 3 couples agreed to tackle the challenge – a ride up the hill to Peter Merson’s house where he kindly supplied coffee and a slide show of his early tandeming years. We also saw Peter and Jenny’s pictures of Salviac.
The Christmas meal for 39 Tandemists at the Walnut Tree was up to the usual standard and the Christmas quiz was followed by the prize for the best fancy dress – awarded this year to Nick and Rachel. The trophy for the couple who had attended the most rides was awarded to John and Judy. Nick then led us in song to the ‘French’ version of the Tandemists anthem ‘Daisy Daisy’ which the Taunton Group had sung previously in Salviac.
Lisa and Ian were thanked for their work as ROs and presented with a bottle of wine and flowers.
Nick and Rachel organised a glorious November ride with coffee to start and then a mixture of gentle and more aggressive undulations over 22 miles. There were 27 of us and, had we laid our tandems end to end, it looked like nearly a furlong's worth! We went west from Taunton and strung out across the lanes of Taunton Vale to descend into Milverton. A Somerset local who on another day might have had a smock and a wisp of straw in his mouth asked us what we were doing clogging up his village, and encouraged all those on the back of tandems to rise up against their oppressors on the front. Then we went east back to Taunton and shared some good beer and delicious food at the Vivary Arms. It was then back to Nick and Rachel’s for a very generous afternoon tea and cakes spread
John and Judy organised the October ride with the Taunton Group starting from the Bocabar Café in Glastonbury. A beautiful autumnal Sunday drew a record-breaking 16 tandems and 3 solos out to cycle the Somerset levels on a 30 mile circular route from Glastonbury to Castle Cary, riding twice past (but not up) iconic local landmark Glastonbury Tor.
A delicious lunch in Castle Cary was followed by an impressive group photo outside the historic Market House.
Nigel and Mercedes organised the August ride where 10 tandems and 2 solos met at Barnstaple railway station.
Some members of the Tandem Club might be familiar with the Tarka Trail in North Devon where much of the route is on old disused railway lines. It is flat, with a good surface and is popular with cyclists and walkers. The problem is that it usually follows deep wooded valleys and consequently it's difficult to do a 'round trip ride' that avoids tandem 'unfriendly' hills. The August ride for the Taunton Group tried to achieve this.
The Old Bideford Road was the route out of town which led us via unclassified roads over the hill with a couple of long steady climbs and back down to sea level at Bideford. The sky was blue and it was perfect cycling weather. We then had to climb again out of Bideford with another steady hill to Gammaton Cross. If there was any muttering of discontent about the hills, I didn't hear it and I didn't quite think it was necessary to hide in the bushes whenever the group stopped. We joined the Tarka Trail at Weare Giffard in the Torridge Valley and this was a very steep descent. Lunch at The Cyder Presse at Wear Giffard and then it was the Tarka Trail all the way back to Barnstaple but stopping for tea and cakes at the Fremington Quay cafe. En route there are a few gates etc which require a little more care to negotiate than on a solo bike but the tandems can be wheeled and no heavy lifting is required . So in total it was 29 miles and 1130 ft of climbing which was all in the first half of the ride.
Malcolm and Grace organised a joint July ride for both the West Country and Taunton Groups where 10 tandems, 2 solos and 1 recumbent solo met for this friendly outing.
Starting at Puxton Park near Weston super Mare heading out through the villages of Banwell and Sandford then stopping at Heathers coffee shop in Congresbury for elevenses. Suitably refreshed heading then through Claverham and across the levels eventually arriving at Clevedon Sea Front for our Lunch stop overlooking the sea.
After lunch we toured Clevedon harbour, then through to Yatton where we picked up the Strawberry Line through to Sandford. The pace quickened and a small group managed to break away from the peloton surviving to the finish line at Sandford railway bridge (been watching too much TDF me thinks).
A short stop to admire the leaning tower of Holy Saviours church in Puxton and then it was just 2 miles back to the car park and home.
36 miles covered in dry and warm weather but some members - Ron & Linda and Stuart & Jackie had ridden down from Bristol clocking up over 80 miles. Well done!! Also nice to see Bill and Katherine who popped in to say hello at lunch
Andy and Anita organised the June ride where 4½ tandems enjoyed an extremely hot ride over some of Devon's rolling hills. They were joined by Mark and Liz, Steve and Maggie, Chris and Chris and their daughter Yasmin, on a solo bike.
The temperature reached 29 degrees in places, so sun block and plenty to drink was the order of the day, this was in marked contrast to last month's ride where the rain was the abiding memory of the day.
As our ride progressed through the narrow lanes we encountered, amongst other things, a horse and trap and on the whole some very considerate motorists - we even had a tractor and trailer reverse for us!
It was quite bizarre to watch Chris and Chris on their electric tandem, with their independent pedals, totally out of sync as they powered up the hills.
We had a tea and cake break at Kirsty's Kitchen in North Tawton, lovely home-made cakes, yum yum!!. Kirsty even stayed open late for us - much appreciated and highly recommended.
We made our way back over Staddon Moor, with spectacular views of Dartmoor and the recently completed Den Brook wind farm and then on to Bow, where we stopped outside the church for a drink and a natter. The climbs were now behind us and we had an easy ride back to the Waterbridge Golf Club, the only impediment to our progress were the cows crossing the road near Copplestone, they held us up for a couple of minutes as they ambled across the road on the way to be milked. As we'd pre-ordered our food before we set off we only had a short wait before a well deserved lunch.
Thanks everyone for their company, we look forward to our next ride together.
Steve and Maggie organised the May ride where 8 tandems and 2 solos met for coffee in the old railway station at Okehampton to ride the Granite Way and explore a loop of southern Dartmoor. The weather forecast of sunshine and showers was half correct, the sun appearing in the last couple of miles of our homeward leg.
Despite the weather, the visibility was good and we had stunning views of a moody Dartmoor. The heavy showers arrived soon after the ride started and by the time we got to Lydford the thought of a warm, dry pub lured several couples.
By this time we had already lost 2 tandems (how, we don't know) so 3 tandems and a solo continued a lumpy ride around Brent Tor (the church on the hill) to the pub at Peter Tavy for lunch. The lost tandems appeared separately at the pub and 14 of us had a very enjoyable lunch.
Having regrouped, 5 tandems set off on our homeward journey. The route between Peter and Mary Tavy was more off road. Here we unfortunately met a farmer in a Land Rover who very kindly reversed 200 yds back up a narrow, twisty lane. After that the path became very rough and we walked a short distance.
Leaving Mary Tavy we skirted around the edge of the moor and joined the road back to Lydford. This road had a sting in its tail with a steep, short climb into Lydford, but then through the old village to rejoin the Granite Way and back to Okehampton.
Steve and Maggie were trying to claim the title for the wettest ride, but Nick and Rachel can still hold on to it!!
Mark and Liz organised the March ride where ten tandems left Woodbury village car park, heading for Budleigh Salterton sea front. We started with a slow climb to Four Firs crossroads on Woodbury Common and passed through East Budleigh village. After a couple of miles, we sped down the hill to Budleigh sea front, pausing for a photo opportunity facilitated by a tame walker (who also owns a tandem). A coffee stop followed at the Cosy Teapot, who coped with 20 of use with great ease. Leaving Budleigh, we joined the cycle track to Exmouth along a disused railway line as far as Littleham, where we turned off to Maer road, passed several farms down to Exmouth seafront and a blowy ride to the estuary mouth. Passing the railway station, we joined the Exe estuary cycle track.
An ebbing tide exposed more mud and birds including Shelduck, Oystercatchers, Godwits and Curlews. We passed through Lympstone village and then Lympstone marine camp, including the famous commando course. After Exton, we crossed the relatively new bridge over the river Clyst for walkers and cyclists taking us to Topsham. We arrived at “Route 2,” a cycle café, who have plenty of space for parking the tandems and a very good menu. After lunch, we crossed back over the Clyst, through Ebford village and back to Woodbury.Highlights:
No rain, even a little sunshine, great food at the two stops and good company and we didn’t lose anyone-and not too many Devon hills
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
GROUP RIDE REPORTS
March Ride Report - Click Here
February Ride Report - Click here
December Ride Report - Click here
October Ride Report - Click here
September Ride Report - Click here
August Ride Report - Click here
July Ride Report - Click here
June Ride Report - Click here
May Ride Report - Click here
April Ride Report - Click here
March Ride Report - Click here
Tea or coffee to start then an 'undulating' cycle ride returning to the White Hart for lunch. There are two car parks in Wiveliscombe and on a Sunday, parking is also possible in the surgery car park (opposite main car park) Contact: Rob & Sally Tel: 07970 026344 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ride through Kingston St Mary, Bishops Lydeard, Halse, Bradford-on-Tone, West Buckland then the Cross Keys at Taunton for lunch. Contact: Richard & Michelle Tel: 01643 818465 / 07401 067823 Email: email@example.com
Starting from: Bow Garden Centre on the A3072 between Okehampton and Crediton, at 10:00 for 10:30 start, 25 miles, Hard
Lunch at the Hog and Hedge at Whiddon Down Contact: James & Liz Tel: 01647 433292 / 07751 091896 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
November 2013 Ride Report.html
December Ride Report.html
October Ride Report.html
Ride Report - February 2014.html