I can’t really write about business this week, not after the weekend I’ve just had. If google wants feeding with keywords such as commercial photographer, press photographer in Somerset covering Bath and Bristol, it’ll have to look elsewhere (see what I did there?)
No, this week I have to tell you about my weekend bike ride with colleagues from The Old Church School (TOCS) in Frome, where my office is based. Ryan, recently qualified TOCS apprentice and resident cycling nut, decided to organise a little Saturday jaunt which anyone within the building could sign up to. It just happened to coincide with a free weekend for me, so I signed up.
Set to go (left to right) Rich, Ryan, Jennie, Paul, Gavin, Zuz and me
Originally I was told it was a 60 mile ride down to Branscombe on the South Devon coast, camping overnight and returning on Sunday by train or bike if preferred. I was tempted by the thought of cycling back on the Sunday, but the train prevailed in the event.
The longest ride I’ve ever done previously was a 46 mile circuit which meant I got to sleep in my own bed the same night. This trip would be a whole new experience for me and turned out to be over 70 miles door-to-tent-flap, including some hills that were put there to prove God hates cyclists.
I won’t bore you with a mile-by-mile account, but there were seven of us that set off from Frome on what would transpire to be the best part of 11 hours on the road including stops.
Some in our group were clearly seasoned cyclists, with Ryan heading the way as navigator going strong all the way and who cycled all the way home the next day. Did I mention he’s a nut?
I wanted to take some photos of the journey, but it’s funny how when I need to take snaps I struggle. I was enjoying the cycling and of course every time we stopped I was having to drink and take in food like everyone else. Not too much time for getting the camera out, but a few iPhone photos and the occasional shot on my Fuji X20 meant the event didn’t go completely unrecorded.
Village shops were invaded by Lycra-clad, sweaty cyclists in need of sugar, carbs and water
We all rode pretty strongly until the very last few hills to our campsite just beyond Branscombe when Jennie, Gavin and myself started to find our legs had nothing left. Ryan, unbelievably, took turns with Jennie and I, riding up behind us and giving us a push up the penultimate hill. It was like having a jet pack strapped to your back. He must have been exhausted too, but he also knew we had to get to the campsite or sleep in a ditch.
Having beaten that hill there was a brief respite from the slog, but when we got to the foot of the very final climb to the campsite to see the warning sign which indicated a 20% ascent, three of us had to resign and walk it, which was pretty hard too. I must confess I was swearing a bit by this stage. Ryan, being nuttier than squirrel poo, cycled on up that hill like it wasn’t there. He showed God.
We’re still smiling at this stage. We had no idea the hills still to come
Anyway, we all managed to get there, had a fantastic meal (a drink or four) at the local pub and not much sleep under canvas.
The journey home the next day required a few more miles in the saddle (Ryan The Nut cycled all the way home), but I was chuffed to manage the first big ascent out of Branscombe, but once we got to Seaton it was clear we were going to struggle to make our train home, which was a few more miles away and we simply didn’t have the legs for it. Luckily I managed to track down one taxi driver who could help us and I’d like to say a big thank you to Floyds of Charmouth who came to our aid with a seven-seater which took the three of us and our bikes to Axminster station where we caught the train home.
Resting on Branscombe beach on Sunday morning (honourable mention to Jen, second from right, our support car team)
I wasn’t firing on all cylinders on Monday, but it was an excellent break for me and I’m so glad I did it. Given the opportunity, I’d do it again. Ryan’s nuttiness is clearly contagious.
Walking back to the tent to pack and start our journeys home