Exmouth Exodus - a night of two halves
When I'm not busy making road.cc I'm also involved in the organisation of a night ride, the Exmouth Exodus. This year's ride was last weekend on 6-7 June, when all of the rain for June swept through the West country in a single evening. That made for 'interesting' conditions on the night, and my job for the night was to dish out pasta to bedraggled souls at North Curry cricket pavillion. As such I'm not the man to write a report of the ride itself, so I'll leave you in the capable hands of Graham Brodie, who posted his account of the night on the EE forum, and it's a good read... pics and vid by Graham too.
A night of two halves, with curry in the middle.
In the afternoon it belted down with rain for hours – our garden turned into a river. Luckily as I finished packing ready to get the train, the rains ceased. I set off down the hill ready for a battle with XC trains. The only issue was Mr. Grumpy at Newton Abbot station, the signs said first class at the rear, so I waited at the far end, and then the train came in the other way. I started clattering down the platform, “ I’m not holding this train for you!” he shouted to me. I contemplated deliberately opening all the doors on the train as I went down the platform, but thought I’d better start with a clean slate!
Clambering into the guards van which was the old fashioned 125 type, there was space for about 10 bikes, and no sign of “Exodus” type machines. On the train I had an entire carriage to myself. I was a bit baffled, had the event been cancelled?, surely there must be other riders on the train. A guy got on at Exeter which turned out to be Matt from the Bike Shed in Exeter, but at Bristol TempleMeads it was just he and me getting off.
We rode together across town and up to Clifton, found Pembroke Road and then spotted the other brightly coloured loons. There seemed to be a few dozen people about including a few familiar SW faces. I rattled off up to bridge with Matt. And took a few photos – not much good! Must get a decent flash or a faster camera!
Just after most of the riders had gone through the light came on on the bridge, very pwetty!
Just after the right turn at the lights on the Clevedon Road there was a huge bang, everything flew off the bike, and my handlebars swung right down. I’d failed to spot a large drain cover with broken repairs around the edge and gone straight down it. I thought it was the end of the front wheel, but apart from a punctured front trye, and various bits that had flown off the bike, and two aching wrists, all seemed OK.
I fixed the tyre, reset the bars which needed an Allen key so it must have been a fair impact: probably the bars dropping saved me going over the top.
We were off again into the lanes and the rain was with us, although fairly light and we had a tail wind. Turned too early at Yatton ( AGAIN ) and had to track down a bit of the A370 to pick up the road through. The climb up Burrington wasn’t bad, a bit damp as was the descent of Cheddar Gorge. The Lobster Cafe was on the right near the bottom complete with gazebo– did I have any brake blocks left?
Chuffy and Baggy were doing stirling work dishing out the teas and coffees, and helping to warm up one or two riders who had chilled. It was warmer than last year despite the rain – soon the Dawlish Boys arrived having been on a later train, and then Brian Jago turned up grinning from cheek to cheek.
We pressed on through Wedmore with the rain getting heavier, and now quite irritating. I stopped to check the route sheet and the Dawlish lads caught us up and then turned right towards Burnham – we shouted but they were gone into the night! Navigation to North Curry was better than Geoff and I managed last year with his GPS! This time we got the right turn and arrived there at about 3am where Helen almost instantly produced a plate of pasta and sauce. The Dawlish boys arrived again having done the Tour of Burnham and Wrantage.
A few more photos were taken through a sopping wet lens – I considered putting on arm warmers but they were soaking as well, so we set off again and noticed that the rain had stopped. We only travelled a few hundred yards and it started again. There was a hint of light in the east indicating that Dawn wasn’t far off, and as we headed down past Burrow Mump, we had broken glimpses of a full moon setting behind dark grey clouds.
Before long we hit the climb at Blagdon, and by now it was light, the rain had cleared, roads were drying out and the views were superb. At the top of the climb I broke out the Jelly Babies, Stewart was there from Exeter with his friend, and me, Matt, and Brian.
The five of us rode on past Smeatharpe accompanied by the dawn chorus, and then we spotted the lamp indicating that the mobile Lobster Cafe was open for a morning cuppa. The temperature was dropping a bit, and mists rolled around as we tucked into a few rations ready for that last 25 miles to Exmouth.
Matt hurtled down in Broadhembury, I followed, Brian was much more cautious as his front brakes were on the way out. Soon the sun broke and it was a fantastic finish through the lanes around Feniton and Tipton St. John. I could almost smell the sea at Otterton when a dull rumble indicated that my back tyre was flat. A piece of white quartz had hammered through the case, - time for another tube change, - the wheel was a right mess with 50 miles worth of Somerset crud on the rim.
Sorted – and we were on our way up the hill to Yettington – this seemed quite hard this year, - hardly noticed it last year! We said cheerio to Matt in Exmouth as he had family to meet so Brian and I rattled down the Sea Front to the Harbour View café , and indulged in the Cyclists Special Breakfast! Brian went off home on the train, I had a tailwind ride home to Newton Abbot, with very tired legs going over Haldon with 136 on the clock including going up to Clifton.
Well done to everyone who got to the finish – it was a memorable run made more so by the weather, and huge thanks to Dave, Chuffy, Baggy, Helen and all who helped to make the event ……. EE5…..bring it on!