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.
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!!
We have been working on making the website more mobile phone friendly. Its not complete yet, but hopefully most pages should display better on these devices.
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.
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.
A short ride back to the Walnut Tree saw another 4 tandem crews join us for an excellent Christmas Meal.
The annual award for the most Group rides attended went to John and Judy for the 3rd consecutive year! Fierce competition for this year’s Fancy Dress, which included a Christmas Tree with Fairy, Mary and Joseph (complete with a baby Jesus), went to the 2 Sugar Plum Fairies (with Christmas Music) – well done Nick and Rachel. This year’s Christmas Quiz was won by Andy and Anita and a special prize was awarded to Richard and Michelle for the ‘most bagged Trig Points’ (long story!). The meal finished with the usual singalong provided by James and Nick.
Lisa and Ian were presented with gifts and thanked for organising another successful year for the Taunton Group.
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!
Having recently taken over the role of Regional Officer from John & Judith Skinner, we would like to take the opportunity to thank them for their hard work. Kay and I were approached to take over this role whilst on the International Tandem Rally in Oland Sweden. If you haven’t tried one of the clubs rallies, either National or International, we would highly recommend it.
We would love to hear from anyone in the region who would like to suggest or organise rides. Please make contact with John & Kay Fazakerley either by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 07581630033 we will endeavour to assist with the organisation and advertise the ride to our members.
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
Note the ride on Sunday 28th will have coffee in Marshfield rather than Castle Coombe.
Nick and Rachel organised the April ride for the Taunton Group which started and finished in the centre of Taunton. 11 tandems and 1 solo took the Bridgwater and Taunton canal towpath passing parts of the town the busy motorist never gets to see: the back of Screwfix, the rear aspect of Taunton Part Worn Tyres, and the local dump. It was refreshing when we reached the countryside. The day was cold and dark with low cloud, but the fields of oil seed rape glowed, as did the high vis yellow line of cyclists. We turned off the towpath to go through North Curry and then climbed some challenging ridges that emerge from the Somerset levels. We had a wholesome lunch at Monks Yard near Ilminster then took a ridge road back towards Taunton with views to the Bristol Channel and the distant Mendips. The sun emerged for a brief surprise visit and the skylarks rose and sang at full volume. A pub called the Farmer’s Arms manifested itself in the middle of the countryside. We dived in, warmed up again, and generated an atmosphere of good cheer. No one seemed to want to leave. Then it was downhill all the way back, so much descent that I am still convinced that Taunton got itself lowered by 200 feet or more of altitude while we had been away. We finished with a formation tandem circuit of Vivary Park. Great company making a very happy day.
When I first learned of the Dartmoor Way I decided it was a ride I'd like to complete. When I asked at our Christmas meal if anyone would like to join us, I was surprised and overwhelmed at the response.
After looking at the Sustrans route I soon realised that some alterations would be needed to make it Tandem friendly, after all we weren't going to be riding mountain bikes!
So, on the 18th May 10 Tandems and 3 solo bikes left Buckfastleigh station for the first stage of our 2 day ride, the weather was better than anticipated, so that was a bonus. After riding up through the Teign Valley we had a pleasant lunch at the Teign House Inn and then a further stop at Whiddon Down. After climbing up through the extremely picturesque villages at Skaigh and Belstone we joined the Granite way at Okehampton Station for the final leg to Lydford.
We all enjoyed an evening meal together at the Castle Inn where Karl and Lisa set us a quiz.
On Sunday we headed off to the west side of the moor and enjoyed fantastic views and bright sunshine. We had a longer than anticipated lunch stop at Clearbrook due to staffing problems. We then tackled the challenging climbs around the south side of the moor before we found ourselves back at Buckfastleigh.
I'm pleased to report that we all made it back and I think we all felt a great sense of achievement, after riding over 90 miles with just over 8,500 feet of ascent.
Thanks for your help Karl and Lisa and thanks to all of you that joined us on the ride, it really wouldn't have been the same without you.
Andy and Anita.
Please note the date for the August group ride has changed from the 11th to Sunday 4th of August due to a clash of dates
Len and Gill Hampson organised their first ride for the group in June which started and finished at the Lime Kiln Inn near Long Sutton.The route wound around the quiet lanes of South Somerset taking the group through beautiful countryside and pretty villages. There was a stop half way round at Hambridge village green where the riders were treated to homemade cake provided by the organisers. The riders then returned to the Lime Kiln Inn for Sunday lunch, drinks and general socializing.
Clive and Emma organised the July ride for the Taunton Group. Eight tandems and three solos met at the Red Brick Building in Glastonbury to ride across the Somerset Levels.
We set off on the National Cycle Network lanes to Ashcott, Shapwick and Catcott before turning north at Cossington.
We stayed on the lanes passing the peat farms to East Huntspill and then onto a coffee and cake stop at Rich’s Cider Farm. The clouds had cleared and we were all able to enjoy the sunshine at the outside tables.
The return journey took us across the lanes towards Westhay Moor. We all declined the option to stop again at Sweets tearooms and continued through Godney and back to our start point for a lengthy lunch.
Chris and Chris organised the August Ride where an eleventh hour weather reprieve saw 10 tandems and a solo gather at The George Hotel, Castle Cary for pre-ride coffees.
Machines varied from recumbent tandem, “Moustache “ E tandem, lady back elect. assist.model,to a sparkling new “Dolan”.
Jamie and Becky were welcomed to their inaugural ride with the Taunton group as was David from “Somerset Sight “.
Negotiating a service company road closure within the first half mile, on foot, the ride followed quiet lanes through Pitcombe to Wincanton. Having crossed over the A303, we continued on unchallenging terrain via South Cheriton to Milborne Port where we just managed to avoid crossing the county boundary into Dorset. From there we continued through Charlton Horethorne and Compton Pauncefoot to a well-deserved lunch at The Camelot Inn at South Cadbury.
Suitably refreshed we pedalled on through Sparkford and North Barrow to return to Castle Cary for tea and cake, having said goodbye to Rex and Hannah en-route to their onward journey home.
Having largely avoided vehicular traffic and serious fluctuations in elevation a pleasant and easy-ish ride was enjoyed by all in the most benevolent weather.
Due to road closures in Stafford on 15th September the ride will now start from Market Drayton. Full details in the whats on section.
James organised the September Taunton group ride which was attended by four tandems and two halves.
Bow garden centre, between Okehampton and Crediton did us proud for breakfast, and we decided pretty quickly to split into two groups. The riders and the walkers. That isn’t walking all the time. Just when excessively gravitationally challenged. Andy knows the area well as his workshop, where he makes the wonderful Brook guitars, is close by. He led the riders whose bikes were powered by dark matter; we, the walkers, plodded on about half an hour behind.
After rather a lot of climbing we reached the Hog and Hedge. We read the sign: “Pull in and Pig out” and we did just that.
Now we could lose the height we had gained in the morning. A very rural ride in excellent company. We were back before the rain started and nobody mentioned the B word, but I could kill a pint this evening.
Mark and Liz organised the October Ride where 8 tandems and 3 solos met at Escot Country House. Escot has very large grounds with a maze and a variety of captive animals -they include red squirrels, European otters, wolves and the Scottish wildcat- some are on a plan to be reintroduced to the wild.
Our route was fairly sparse on steep hills for Devon, passing the hamlets of Fairmile and Coombelake then past Kings School at Ottery St Mary. We then went to Tipton St John where we crossed the river Otter. Now on the east side, we went through the particularly pretty village of Harpford before crossing the main Exeter to Sidmouth road. The route then took us to Otterton Mill for a coffee stop. Beavers have been seen on the river Otter just upstream from this village in previous years but have been more elusive this summer.
We then cycled on down to the sea at Budleigh Salterton where the sun came out for our photos .It is a great spot for swimming , but a bit cold these last few weeks and had we more time ,we might have visited the creamery at the town end of Budleigh beach ,with a huge range of ice creams. Our lunch booking at the “Lamb and Flag “in Ottery was, however more pressing.
We took a fairly similar route back up the Otter to the pub in the town. They did us proud with prompt service for our pre- booked meals. Ed, local to Ottery told us it’s a pub famous for serving Christmas dinner to people on their own, following a first dinner funded by a local lady.
Back to Escot for the end of the ride -this one a 25 mile trip. The day started with fantastic sunshine and then was more mixed .For the first week of October, we were very lucky to have no significant rain and sunshine at the seaside at Budleigh.
Mark and Liz Nicholson
We are always looking for ways to raise awareness among potential new members who don't know there is a Tandem Club.
In the latest copy of the TCJ are 5 Club stickers in a white envelope. Please put these on your tandem (on all your tandems if you have more than one). People admiring your tandem out on the road are sure to spot them and ask about the Club. This is your chance to tell them about what we do and get them interested.
If you need more stickers please get in touch.
Thank you for helping to raise awareness of the Tandem Club amongst potential new members.
Peter Weeks Publicity Officer