My friend Mike had actually got out of bed and walked up to the start to wave me off, unlike my good wife! I just managed to spot him and call out as I was passing, else I'm sure he would have missed me as he was on the far side of the road with about twenty riders in the group.
A few years go I would have gone out without arm and leg warmers, knowing that the forecast was for a slightly warmer day. However, my knees don't like anything under 15C these days, so I was dressed for cool. Good thing too because, shortly after leaving Okehampton we climbed into the mist and it felt really quite cold and damp, especially as were now riding on a plateau so making a good speed.
Rest stop 1 was in the village of Bampton, where we encountered a big traffic jam entering the village. It turned out that a herd of sheep was being taken through the center of the village! The rest stop was just after the barn they were heading for so you can imagine the chaos. Not a good time to be in a car.
The rest stop was pretty crazy, being on two sides of the road just after a narrow bridge over a river. There were bikes and bodies everywhere but, happily the lines for drink and food moved quickly. Since I had missed the first rest stop on day 1, it was a pleasant surprise to find that "lunch", by way of a variety of sandwiches, was part of the fare.
I met a young girl on the bridge eating my sandwich and asked her how her ride was going. It turned out that she had only started riding in April, and here she was aiming for nine centuries in a row. The optimism of youth!
Sometime after the rest stop, the road surface deteriorated, and these were fairly main roads. Lots of badly worn chipseal made for a very bumpy ride. It seems that UK highway builders use a larger chip than in the US, around 3/4". So when the tarmac in between fails, the resulting surface is much bumpier. Since my left shoulder was also complaining I wasn't very comfortable on the bike. I was trying to keep my left elbow down to keep the trapezium stretched out, but it wasn't easy.
A little further on, we entered Somerset.
However, this was just a warm up as up next was the crossing of the Quantock hills.
We didn't have to enter Bath proper as the University, where we were staying, is on the south side and, feeling pretty good, I rolled into the finish to be greeted by Jenny and Anna again and Bee and Stewart, old friends who live in Bristol. A bit of a panic though, as Anna had almost run out of fuel in our hire car and couldn't get it started! Jenny, Bee and Stewart had also had a frustrating time going in circles and following the route signs for the next day trying to find the finish!
All I wanted to do was get a shower and something to eat, but first I had to get my room sorted. The room was great, quite new with en-suite shower, but it was on the fourth floor and no elevator. My legs didn't really appreciate that.
After the shower, we went off to find Anna and the car and, of course, it started first time for me! These hybrids can be tricky! Apparently Bath is built on an old volcano and certainly the hill dropped off very steeply to the south, where we went to get some fuel. At the garage I spotted a RABer who had sadly taken a wrong turn, waiting for a ride to the finish - he was done.
Another night playing hooky at the pub, with one pint of real ale this time, and then actually back in time for dessert and the daily briefing, and off to a real bed.