Cheddar Cycling Weekend

Friday night

Drove to Nelson’s. Packed panniers. Surprised at how much space there was and felt a sense of relief; we could now both take our Mac Book Pros. Winner.

Dinner, planning, work, sleep. Early start in morning….


Saturday Morning

Alarm set for 6am, out of bed at 6.45 (a re-occurring theme). Shower, breakfast, load up car. Attached £3200 worth of bike onto a £39.99 Argos bike rack. Mismatch?

Two new pairs of pants needed.

Drove to Cheddar, aiming to get there for 9.30 and head off by ten. Between Nelson and myself, we have the bladder of a 96 year old:

Downside: Arrived at 10.45.

Upside: Sampled the delights of every service station between Surrey and Somerset.

Load panniers onto bike and off we go by 11.00. Well, that’s what should have happened!

Nelson hadn’t attached his brand new Brooks saddle, or his handle bar bag (the most un-cool bike attachment ever). This, coupled with our want for new bike stash, meant a trip to Cheddars third biggest attraction, ‘The Cheddar Bike Shop’, (the first being the infamous gorge and the second, our amazing sponsors, Vado).

Once we’d finished perusing the 7 different items the shop had to sell (the web-site lied!), we went to work on Nelsons bike. We’d* forgotten the correct Alan key to fix his seat, we didn’t know how to fit the bag, and his break was fixed on STOP. Eventually, we overcome adversity, attached the saddle, fixed the break and threw the crap-bag into the car. It’s now 12pm.

*Nelson had forgotten. Not us. Another re-occurring theme!

Saturday Afternoon

First cycle with FULLY laden bikes, first hill: Cheddar Gorge. ‘In at the deep end’ springs to mind!

It’s name and birds eye appearance lend clues as to what four letter word would best describe an ascent of this giant Somerset crevice.  The View from the top was worthy of most climbs however, and the 3-mile descent into the quaint town of Wells made it more than worthwhile.

After a spot of lunch, a casual filming session with some buskers and a quick poo in Starbucks, we were on the road again. Much to our delight, we soon found out that the descent into Wells was to be the only one for the day; apparently the whole of Somerset is up hill. Consequently, Nelson spent the rest of the evening listening to my never-ending list of hypochondriactic conditions!

We started to lose light and decided to buy some dinner, find a suitable field, and set up camp.

Saturday Evening

  • Set up camp and make fire. Tick.
  • Get water supplies. No problem.
  • Cook a three-course meal with one stove. Easy.


A choice of oval cut potato chips (ready salted or sour cream and chive) PRINGLES

Main Course

A co-operative medley of Italian String Pasta and biennial Eurasian carrot plant root and finely minced tubular pork. All infused with fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and grated cheese. Spaghetti, carrots, sausages and pesto.


Caramel and Nougat, covered in a delicate layer of milk chocolate. MARS BAR

As you can see, there is no work needed on our culinary skills. None what so ever!

After washing our delightful dinner down with a couple of beers and some dark rum, we spend the evening listening to music, feeding the fire and having the first of many conversations about stars, the universe and how incomprehensible it all is. Eventually, this gave me a headache and we decided to hit the sack in our brand new tent.

Sunday Morning


After a ridiculously cold nights sleep (we are aware this was the UK and the Alps/Himalayas will be much worse!), we made some breakfast and packed away camp, before setting off on a beautifully scenic cycle through the Somerset countryside.

Unfortunately, between waking up and setting off, I threw a hissy fit about not being able to find my sleeping bag case. After nearly an hour searching, this conversation happened:

“Phil, have you checked in your panniers?” Nelson said, with an air of caution after seeing me sulk for 45 mins.

“No Nelson, I haven’t checked my panniers…” I retorted with as much sarcasm as possible.

“You should probably check again…”

“Fine…..I will. It’s not in there though!” I said, undoing the first pannier I came to.

Silence. Swiftly followed by a red faced Phil and a smug, almost wetting himself Nelson.  The sleeping bag case was lying neatly folded up, right at the top of the pannier. How I missed it first time, I will never know! I still haven’t decided if this was some form of revenge on me from Nelson…only time will tell.

After 65km on Sunday, some fish and chips at the beach, a pair of sore arses and some cold hands (Tom forgot gloves, so had to wear socks instead), we arrived at a B&B. It took a mere 4 minutes to realize how much we value a hot shower and a proper bed, and how important they will be to us on our trip.

The evening faded into a curry and a couple of beers, whilst we both patted each other on the back and congratulated one another on how great we were.

The weekend was a microcosm of what’s coming, but was a clear demonstration that you need to battle through the crap to enjoy the good stuff. We are both fully aware of the physical and mental challenge that lies ahead of us, and to be honest, we are both relishing it and cannot wait for never ending list of problems, the freezing nights, the saddle sores and the mismatch dinners.


Posted on February 1, 2012, in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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