Exmoor Beast 2008

Yes, I really did do this ride. Who knows, I may just do it again: I’d certainly like to.

The Exmoor Beast is always held at the end of October, on the Sunday. For 2008, this meant the the ride was actually on the 2nd November. Both Matt and I entered, Matt for the 100 mile and me for the 100 Km. Having entered we decided to make a weekend of it and looked for somewhere to stay. Looking at the start of the event, the most promising location seemed to be Exford in which we found the Crown. So we (debbie & Nick came oolong as well, for the jolly) booked in on the Friday evening which gave us the Saturday to explore the area and find the start.  On reflection, while finding the start location was a good idea, exploring the area before the ride probably wasn’t. I was only now starting to appreciate just how hilly this route was going to be: Having said that however, we didn’t really know where the route went so, for my part, I decided to allow myself to believe that they had picked a fairly flat route through all the valleys. What, or Matt, hadn’t really appreciated was that the hill that started just outside the front door of the Crown was also in the route. Well, I call it a hill, in fact it’s a wall, especially as it’s so close to the end of the ride. Ah well, that is after all why bicycles are called ‘Push-Bikes’ 🙂

So, the morning came and along we went (in the car of course) to the start and check. Unfortunately, you’re truly had left his gloves in the hotel room, so we quickly returned to find that we were locked out. Hmm, I thought, It’s a bit early to be waking Debbie and it’ll surely put her in a bad mood but I could even contemplate doing the ride without them. So I bit the bullet and phoned her. To me relief she thought it was funny and seemed to cheer her up a bit, as she went back to bed chuckling. So eventually we reached the start and checked in. By now of course, we lost 40 minutes getting my gloves, the world and his wife had arrived and there were cars and bikes everywhere.

Having checked in,which I have to say was an extremely efficient process, we checked out our bikes, got kitted out and headed for the start. Oh, by the way, don’t forget this was the 2nd November and was now 08:00, so it was cold, and it was wet, and it was windy, and it was wet, and it was cold. But then we should have expected that, and we did, so we were well prepared. What I wasn’t prepared for though was the terrain. The start was ok as we bumbled along round the edge of a lake (don’t ask which one) and meandered around the lanes, then it started: the road started climbing a lot quicker that I was. I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of the route save to say that the Pyrenees and Mont Ventoux were a doddle compared to today.

Eventually I seem to remember reaching a place by the sea, Lynton?, where I took a quick breather before almost doubling back by taking the road that went upwards, and upwards and upwards, and then it went upwards some more: but surprisingly I was finding this quite a comfortable climb. But almost predictably, just as I was getting into a comfortable rhythm the climb climbed a bit more and onwards it went, up and up until eventually we came to the top of the moor. For all the agony of the climb, the views and feeling of achievement were worth it: even the weather had calmed for us.

Having reached the top of the moors and enjoyed the perpetual undulations I finally reached the feed-stop where there was much snacking and drinking before starting off on the last leg home. Not surprisingly, having left the feed-station and turned the first bend, the road climbed upwards. “blooming heck” I thought, just how many hills are there in this place? Well, I was soon to find out and get first a moral boost an then a sudden realisation. The boost was seeing that we were now going through Exford and the Crown [thoughts of stopping were soon waved away when I remembered the car was at the start / finish]. The sudden realisation was that as we went past the Crown, we climbed towards the Heavens at a ridiculously steep rate. Pushing the bike was again the order of the day, and not just for me I’m glad to say. Eventually we reached the top, remounted and carried on along what was to become the most up and down section [well it seemed that way] of the route. Eventually, the sign to gang a right and make our way down to the finish line was in sight and so subsequently was the end of the ride, the receipt of the ‘I’ve tamed the BEAST’ mug and a rather welcome glass of of local ale. This marked the end of my 100 Kilometres. Frustratingly, Matt was already there waiting for me having finished some 45 minutes earlier than me: then again, he is 37 years younger than me. 🙂

All in all, a brilliant day out: a brilliant event: well organised and one to be tackled again.

For now however, and for me, the Beast has been Conquered. Bring on the Beast.

Go Podge Go

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