Right to the End – Day 1
Day 1: Bristol - Wells - Glastonbury - Street - Bridgewater - Bishops Lydeard - Exford
(These post are the post-journey account of my Bristol to Land’s End trip in June 2009)
Day1: Cool and cloudy
I got up very early as I intended to leave by 0700. I knew it was going to be a long day and leaving early would give me ample of time to learn my navigating skill on the way (yes, getting lost!). Davide arrived to send me off just after my morning Buddhist prayer. I kitted myself up and took all the luggage downstrair. I felt like John Cabot, ready to take on the great journey to the west but only to find that my bike’s back tyre was completely – flatted.
Even John Cabot take 2nd attempt to get to North America, so I didn’t dwelle in disappointment for too long. I got on changing the inner tube. (Thanks Davide who kindly photographed the heroic first step of my journey.) The puncture must have caused by the last minute change over of the back tyre from the knobbly one to the slick one (better on road surface but easily puncture). I must have nipped the inner tube somehow.
Having done the change – next disaster striked: the bike pump didn’t work!!! But it was solved easily as I managed to borrow one from my neighbour. Finally at 0800hr, I was ready to leave! But I decided to get a new inner tube and a pump just in case another disaster strike. I arrived at the shop, did the purchase and had a little rant about the eventful morning with the shop owner. I ended the conversation with “well, at least it can’t get worst from here”. I really really wished I didn’t say that.
Get on route 3 near Templemeads train station and headed for Wells. There were just enough signs to help me navigate. The route took me though rural roads and then the back streets. I was building up some speed until I went downhill somewhere near Chew Magna and made a spectacular fall on a left turn. My knee went down first then my left hand, I was flat on my face a few metres away from the bike. There were some pebbles one the road which caused the slick tyres to lost their grip on the turn. After I spent a few seconds observing the dirt, I got up and checked the damage – the bike was Okey but the pannier’s screw loosen. My left knee was simmering with blood. The cuts were not deep but long but there were deep scratch on my left hand.
Washed the wounds with some water and carried on cycling. Passed Blagdon Lake, and finally arrived in Wells at 1257hr. I rode around the city centre a few time to get the bearing of the city, and to find a cycle shop to get the damaged pannier fix. Found a bike shop called Bike City. Costed me £1 to fixed it. Left my bike there and went over the road to get some lunch and went to Wells Cathedral to have it there. Left Wells around 1330.
It was quite difficult to find the bike route from Wells to Glastonbury. It started to rain very heavily. I stopped under a big tree for sometime. After 30min, the rain seems like it wasn’t going to stop for a long while. So I decided to brave it out. The wounds on my knee felt fresh with the cool rain wash.
After an hour in the rain, I started to felt stupid and wished that I wasn’t there. I was on A39 toward Glastonbury and the road was getting narrow as I was getting closer to Glastonbury. Large trucks were passing at regular interval with heavy gust of wind and water spray which caused my bike to swerve. I felt unsafe and honestly – quite scare. I decided to get off the bike and walk on the narrow footway slowly. The rain kept pouring down and I was soaking through and through. It can’t get worst than this can it? really..
Finally, I get through Glastonbury and headed to Street. The rain cleared out and it was a plesent ride. Stopped on the way to get change into fresh cloths and socks before hypothermia hit me. The sun came out which help to warm me up as well. Fantastic.
I built up some speed and get to Bridgewater in no time (relatively!) But after Bridgewater navigation become difficult again and I got lost quite a few times. The sun was low on the horizon and I started to get panic – cycling in the dark in rural road should be avoid at all cost. Finally, I arrive at Bishop Lydeard around 2100 and still wasn’t sure which way to go to get to Exford and there were no one on the street to ask for direction.
I knocked on one of the door I saw some light inside. A middle age man opened appeared with a bemused expression on his face. I told him I needed help and where I want to get to – and he said “No way you will get there tonight – it’s another 3hr ride on the bike and it’s all up-hill from here.” Great. Just what I wanted to hear. I decided to call the hostel owner, not sure what respond I want. I can hear my ego saying to me – find another place to stay and carry on the journey tomorrow but my body and mind was already surrendered. After a few phone calls (the reception was poor), Mike the hotel owner agreed to come and fetch me. Hurray! I tried to find the best place to wait for him in the dark. Somewhere obvious and somewhere away from the stupid farm dog that kept barking at me. Its loud and sharp barking was pushing me to the limit.
I decided to settle down next to the direction sign just off the main road. After 30minuts also, Mike arrived with his 4×4 and take me and my bike away to his hotel – Stockleigh Lodge. I felt so strange in his 4×4. Although the padded seat was SO soft and the roaring engine just kept on going attacking the high hills that would have finished me off one after the another effortlessly. I felt my eco-warrior pride crushed, like a runaway boy who were on the way to see the big world but got lost and his parents found him and taken him back home. I was disappointed that I won’t be able to say that I rode all the away from Bristol to Land’s End, but I was glad to be found and rescued.
After a glass of milk, two slices of bread and hot shower I was ready for bed. Sod the planning – I’ll do it, and more thoroughly this time in the morning. As I drifted off I kept reminding myself not to ever say that jinx phase ever again!