The Taunton Tandem group ride on 20th August was a 28 mile three county loop from the village of Chardstock in Devon to Broadwindsor in Dorset via Somerset and back. Chardstock is on the edge of the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and whilst it certainly is beautiful, ‘hills’ is the operative word here. 2,500 feet of ascent overall and some wonderful swoops downhill but scarcely a yard of level road. We were pleased to be joined by tandem club members from Towcester and their son, who were on holiday very close to the start.
In all nine tandems and six singles set off from the community hall at 10:30 after a fortifying cup of coffee. We immediately began a mile of descent to the River Kit, followed by a two mile climb to Bewley Down, where for a nice change, the road surface was excellent having been recently resurfaced. We enjoyed great views to the South West over the Blackdown Hills from this wide road but most of the rest of the ride was on small, hedged lanes where luckily other traffic was scarce.
After twelve miles including more climbs and descents and a difficult crossing of the A358 we dropped down to cross the river Axe and stop for a well-earned coffee and cake break at beautiful Forde Abbey. Pre-booked groups may access the cafe without paying the entrance fee but get to walk through the impressive kitchen garden and stunning herbaceous border on the way to it (many thanks to the owner for allowing this concession). Forde Abbey is certainly well worth a full visit with beautiful gardens, lake and house. After that another six miles - uphill to Thorncombe Cross, downhill to Synderford, uphill to Kitwhistle, downhill to Broadwindsor and hooray! a welcome lunch at the Stableyard Restaurant where the staff did an excellent job of feeding the group. After lunch a slightly easier uphill along the B 3164 to Birdsmoregate passing Pilsden Pen (second highest point in Dorset) where unfortunately the cloud had come down and robbed us of the stunning views to the south coast and the sea beyond. At Birdsmoregate we plunged back into the small lanes and a long downhill back to cross the river Axe again. Just when one might think the end is in sight there was of course one more climb back to Chardstock and more tea and biscuits. A hard ride but with the excellent company, refreshments and views a very enjoyable one.
Malcolm and Kate
Saturday 23rd September 2023 Tour de Angus ride. Meeting in Brechin at 9.30am for a 10 am start.
Pamela and I would be interested in coming. We are based in Perth. Imagine more details will be posted nearer the time.
Meet at the Greenham Control Tower: Opens at 10am. https://www.greenhamtower.org.uk Please note. There is a HEIGHT RESTRICTION at the entrance to the car park – I will ask if it can be open for the day, but this may not be possible. There is space before it to stop and unload if necessary. Will leave at about 10:45, so enough time for a quick look around if you want to. Outside, on the runway side of the tower is a memorial and I believe the upper floor will be open, with views over the Common and beyond. Lunch at The Vine, Hannington. www.thevineathannington.co.uk aiming to arrive 1.00-1.30pm. Please could I have menu choices and confirmation of those wishing to join us on the ride or at the pub by Wednesday 13th. Route attached GPX file. If we are running late we can cut between Ibworth to Hannington. For those who are not ‘assisted’, there are a few challenges along the way… A short, sharp climb before Ibworth (after crossing the A339, care needed!), after lunch Plantation Hill will get the lungs working but views from the top are a fair reward, and finally, after crossing the Headley Ford, another short, sharp climb back up onto the Common.
PS Height Restriction is open during the day, so rooftop tandems will be ok.
I’m Peter Saunders the regional officer for this area and I’m thinking it was about time we got together again and had a ride! So how about meeting up at 10.00am Sunday 24th Sept at The Harbour Hub Cafe, Kinmel Bay, LL18 5AX. There is plenty of free parking on site. Set off riding at 10.30. The route is cycle path to Rhuddlan alongside the River Clwyd, across to Dyserth, cycle path downhill to Prestatyn,(with cafe stop on the way), then back along the coast cycle path to the start. The route is fairly flat and mostly on cycle paths. distance around 20 miles but an extra 10miles is an optional extra which can be decided during the ride. Please let me know if you’d be interested in coming along to this or any future rides. Please note: if the ride has to be postponed due to bad weather then I'll post details on this site the day prior to the ride...so please check this site for confirmation or message/ring me. Regards, Pete Saunders 07913 062930
A tango of 6 tandems and 12 tandemists cycled the September ride from Taunton out to Wiveliscombe. This was forecast as the last day of the exceptional September Heat wave. Instead we were waiting for the starting cafe to open in heavy rain thunder and lightning. But that just washed and cooled Somerset ready for our journey. We cycled through fresh and cheerful lanes with very little traffic. Approaching Wiveliscombe we found roads that no tandem has ever been down before, potholes the size of craters, grass down the middle as high as an elephant’s eye, and hills that climbed right up to the sky – Oh, what a beautiful morning…!
It was the day of Wiveliscombe street fair, with a plethora of stalls and live music and crowds of happy people. The sun reached its zenith, temperatures broke all records and we evaporated as we ate a hot roast lunch outside the Bear Inn. With a sprinkling of luck we managed to glide back to Taunton. Another great day with tandem friends.
Nick and Rachel Warner
Hi, Sorry to say that ride on 24th Sept has been postponed to Sunday October 8th due to adverse weather forecast. The same ride details will apply to this new ride date.. Regards, Pete
Hi all, ride confirmed as going ahead tomorrow Sunday 8th October. Looking forward to seeing you then. Cheers, Pete
It was a sunny October morning for the Taunton Group ride starting from the refurbished Avalon Marshes Hub – first tea stop!
8 tandems took part with some dressed for a cold Autumn day, others still thinking it was summer!
We made our way across a wettish Tealham Moor, though sheep and cattle were still grazing. We turned towards Burtle and rode along the Polden Chain to pick up the cycle track to Bawdrip for our second tea stop at Peasey Farm Shop, a recent find to add to our café destinations.
After tea and chat we joined the cycle track along Kings Sedgemoor Drain that was perfectly still reflecting like a mirror. We skirted the villages of Stawell and Sutton Mallet to arrive at the Ring o Bells in Moorlinch for our lunch. We all ate well and then cycled on to Pedwell to pick up our second moor crossing turning left in Nythe where the swan family on Butleigh Drove were still enjoying the warmth of the tarmac. Leaving the moor we crested the ridge at Walton Windmill and descended into the village and turned off the main road towards Sharpham Moor. The stag at Sharpham park looked magnificent in his field of ladies.
Some of us took a short detour through the wilder parts of Sharpham to pass houses from the 21st Century to colourful dwellings from the late 1800s.
We all cycled the ‘old railway ‘ that passes through Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath reserves that have had numerous appearances on TV for their abundant bird life and murmurations, worth a visit in itself.
Back at the Hub we had more tea and chat and some of us decided it was time for our winter wear for the next ride! Many thanks for everyone’s company – we rode approximately 32 miles.
Rex and Hannah Whitcombe
A lovely autumn day saw 10 tandems and one solo set off from Stoke-sub-Hamdon before going to Montacute and clipping the edge of Ham Hill and then to West Chinnock before heading for coffee at The Feed Station at Merriott. For the next 45 minutes lively conversation replaced lively cycling before setting off again this time for Hinton St George. With its hamstone cottages and delightful Main Street this is one of the loveliest villages in Somerset. Peter Weeks, from the West Country group, but also well known by most of the Taunton group, gave an impromptu talk on H W Fowler (1858 – 1933), the famous lexicographer, outside his last home which now wears a blue plaque.
Next it was Dowlish Wake, Kingstone, the Seavingtons and South Petherton before hitting the home straight through Over Stratton and then to lunch in Norton-sub-Hamdon. The Lord Nelson was the venue where we were looked after very well and enjoyed some excellent food and atmosphere.
It really was one of those nice November days – mild, dry and a real pleasure to see the countryside in all its autumn colours as well as to pass through some glorious villages. Combine this with great stops and even greater company, what a way to ride 25 miles.
On a sadder note we missed having Malcolm and Grace join us on this ride. In May this year we celebrated Grace’s 90th birthday but we know that currently she is not well. She is an inspiration to the entire group and we send her our very best wishes and hope to see her again soon.
Stephen and Sarah Launchbury
The coldest day of the year and an ice warning saw us all driving rather than riding on our Mince Pie Ride! 19 members, the youngest being a toddler, gathered at the White Buck Inn at Burley in the New Forest for coffee and a very mini-mince pie. It was pleasant to see everyone, and there was already discussion about the 2024 rallies. Something to look forward to on such chilly days.
TCN2024 National Rally will be held at Alnwick Rugby Football Club, Northumberland.
You can find details of the rally via the Events menu. Bookings are not yet open.
Bookings are now closed. I am sorry but we are not able to accept any more bookings including on-site self booked nor off-site bookings as this causes the organisers extra work.
The annual Christmas meal for the Taunton Group was held at the Walnut Tree Hotel in North Petherton and 17 couples attended. It’s a great venue with delicious food, conveniently situated near the M5 junction for those driving from Torbay in the south and Weston Super Mare and Bristol in the north.
Unfortunately the weather was against us and the original route was abandoned due to flooding on the Somerset Levels.
Richard and Michelle kindly agreed to lead the ride using plan B.
Coffee was served in the Hotel, fancy dress was judged, seven tandems and 2 solos set off but the rain came down. Fortunately the weather improved and after a shortish 20 mile ride through Enmore, Durleigh, Chilton Trinity and Bridgwater, everyone assembled at the Walnut Tree for lunch.
Firstly there was a round of applause for Grace who had recently been in hospital and everyone was pleased to see her. The quiz sheets were handed out and the food arrived. Later on, presentations were made: The prize for the best Fancy Dress costumes was awarded to Andy and Anita. The trophy is usually awarded to the couple who attend the most rides during the year. This year both Vicky & Jeff and Hannah & Rex had attended 10 out of the 12 rides so they will be sharing the trophy - 6 months each! The quiz was won by Vicky and Jeff.
Ian rang a bicycle bell and handed out song-sheets for his alternative version of Jingle Bells (aka Ring your bells) and another version of In the Bleak Midwinter. As always, our singing was accompanied by Nick on the mandolin plus Grace and Michelle playing percussion (reindeer hooves and bells).
Another year of The Taunton Group was over. Rides are already planned for every month in 2024, many of us have booked to go to the International Tandem Club Rally and many will be attending the National Rally too – a lot to look forward to in 2024!
Lisa & Ian Warren
Bookings are now open for the 2024 Easter Rally being held at Bishops Green Farm campsite, south east of Newbury. This time we will have the whole campsite to ourselves (double the number of pitches compared with 2017).
You can find details of the rally and the booking form via the Events menu.
On the day of Storm Isha the Taunton Tandem Club got back in the saddle after the Christmas break. 23 hardy cyclists set out from Tiverton to cycle a 20 mile circular route mostly through quiet Devon lanes.
Our first stop at about 10 miles was on the edge of Cullompton where we all sat down together for a welcome coffee break.
Luckily for us the BBC weather forecast was very accurate and although on the second half of the ride the wind had picked up the rain held off.
After Coffee we continued on our route back to Tiverton, taking in some lovely views on route. Back in Tiverton we were joined by a few more club members for a carvery lunch.
Jeff & Vicky Conibear
Seven tandems and two solos joined the Taunton Tandem Group February ride which started at Cleeve Abbey, Washford and headed south for a short distance before coffee at Torre Cider Farm. From there our route headed up to Elworthy passing Combe Sydenham, an historic manor house which now needs a little TLC. Back in 1585 Sir Francis Drake was engaged to be married to Elizabeth Sydenham of Combe Sydenham. However, before the marriage Drake left on a long voyage and her father arranged for her to be married to a rival suitor. Legend has it that on their wedding day, as the couple approached the Church in Stogumber, a loud clap of thunder was heard and a large meteorite crashed through the roof. This was seen as a bad omen and the wedding was hastily cancelled. Drake had arrived back in Plymouth on that same day and he and Elizabeth were later married at the Church in Monksilver. The large meteorite, known as "Drake's cannon ball", has apparently remained in the house ever since.
On route up to Elworthy we passed at least three Road Closed signs. Cars seemed to be ignoring them and so inevitably did we, without any problems! The climb was rewarded with a delightful run down to Halse with lovely views of the Quantock Hills. Lunch was taken at the excellent New Inn, the community run pub and cafe in Halse. The return route started on smaller roads which were a bit wet and muddy because of the recent rain. The climb back up to Elworthy was easier, but the leaders unfortunately suffered a puncture (even Schwalbe Marathons don’t last forever!). Much help and advice was on hand, and Rex's strong carpenter hands soon had the offending tyre back on the rim.
Everyone remained dry on the ride although the organisers did get wet as they cycled back to Minehead.
Richard and Michelle
Greetings to anyone within striking distance of North Norfolk, we're doing a ride on Saturday April 7 starting out from our home in Sheringham, and probably heading West towards Blakeney, or maybe East through Cromer to Happisburgh for the lighthouse and the North Sea's crumbling cliffs. Anyone keen please contact Mark Brayne on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07711 888682.