Day Nineteen: Conquering the Mendips
Bristol to Taunton. 52.78 miles. Total: 844.73 miles
For the first time on this epic ride we started a day knowing exactly the challenges ahead, as we did this exact same ride in the heat of June. The climb up the Mendips was something on the horizon from the time we headed past Birmingham, whilst the boredom of the Somerset Levels threatened a difficult afternoon of maintaining morale. As it happened, we had both conveniently forgotten that there were quite a number of short, sharp climbs before we even reached the base of the Mendip escarpment! Heidi meeting us for coffee after 10 miles was therefore a very welcome intervention. The climb from Compton Martin was, as remembered, steep, but Izzy attacked it with determination and we reached the top significantly quicker and in better health than on the previous occasion. The ride over the top to Cheddar is lovely and we sped along, before rolling down through the gorge while taking pictures of each other with the spectacular limestone backdrop. After lunch and a drink at the Costa in Cheddar we headed out across the Somerset Levels. One of the primary antidotes to boredom has been silly word games and we embarked on a new one that lasted most of the way to Taunton. Very simply: one person suggested a TV programme or film and then we had to name characters alternately until one person faltered, with the other winning. Izzy started us off with characters from Friends and we followed with such classics as Miranda, Outnumbered and Harry Potter (which lasted a good five miles!). I have to admit that I wasn't overly impressed (or successful) when she suggested characters from Love Island! We met Heidi 10 miles from Taunton and buzzed along past Burrow Mump and into town. It was incredible to think that, on our hugely long journey, we were arriving at home for the night.