Just the two of us confirmed, so the ride was quorate... and imagine the surprise when another familiar face rolled across the car park in Shepton Mallet! Seriously though, for a moment, for all away rides, please let the ride leader know you're coming - worst case scenario is the ride doesn't run and you're not aware (why would you be?) and most likely outcome is that there won't be enough space booked for lunch.
Setting off then, the surprise 17% rise at Winters Hill caused some early consternation, and a few more undulations followed, with the ever-growing view of Glastonbury Tor. The lanes around here are totally straight for miles, with drainage ditches at either side, and we managed to spook a heron into flight as we cracked on.
Breakfast at Sweets Cafe was a relaxed affair, the cafe yet again brimming with riders. Lyn changed his hearing aid batteries, so he could hear us better... Onwards then, to Cheddar Gorge itself.
Normal service was in place - lots of jay-walkers and cars to contend with, but this is a really rewarding climb which somehow manages to get easier all the way to the top. Once the Mendip Plain was gained, we got some good miles in before the plummet down Harptree Hill towards Chew Valley Lake, where drinks, cakes and ice-creams were taken in the sunshine.
The final part of the ride is pretty tough, especially for tired legs. It didn't help on the second climb that your chirpy ride leader called out the gradient every metres, topping out at another 17%.... The final bonus climb was short and steep, and we nearly lost Lyn who didn't manage to hear shouts of "turn left" (I'd go for a refund on those batteries Lyn!), but he made it back to the group in enough time to enjoy (!) the steep 20% climb of Litt Hill.
Some undulating along delightful lanes followed, and then the rewarding descent of Bolter's Lane into Shepton Mallet finished the day off perfectly. Thanks to Lyn and Barry for being excellent riding partners for the day!