Saturday 14 December 2013

Yatmon and on and on ….

Only cycled on one occasion this week. It was a good cycle, however. I completed the Yatmon 150 audax for a 4th time.
Would like to have been cycling here (New Zealand) but I wasn't
Black Sheep HQ was my starting point. It was worth my while starting from here as I was able to covet a brevet card from Lou and a stamp from Mark. Neither of the Black Sheep folk cycled this event with me, it was a solo affair. It was nice to be wished well from the pair at the start though.

Left Tewkesbury on a foggy December morning. A beautiful red sky graced the horizon. Temperature wasn’t too bad. The traffic was initially very busy though – I followed the original route sheet and made no plans of avoiding the traffic. The traffic didn’t last long – as soon I neared Apperley very little traffic was encountered. Had only cycled this ‘original’ version once before so it was nice to compare my routes. I was initially confused as I reached Mitcheldean because I entered it from a different side compared to my last ride. The co-op shop provided me with my necessary POP (after I purchased a lovely red apple). Some random chap started talking to me about bikes, triathlons and sport at this stop.

Reached Goodrich in no time and was pleased I could see the castle despite the fog. Stopped for a fudge bar at the P.O. (every good boy deserves fudge) and then headed for the Yat Rock climb. Not sure why but I found this climb harder than usual. Maybe the over indulgence of pre-Christmas chocolates had something to do with it?! I was pleased to reach the summit and found the trek to 5 Acres garage nearly as tough. I purchased more water from the garage and then headed for Monmouth.

Felt much better heading towards Monmouth. This was probably because of the super descent and the knowledge that the next control was a ‘spoons pub! Suffice to say, the breakfast at ‘spoons was a winner!

The next stage led to Grosmont and back. Lou describes this leg as the ‘horse shoe circle’ because it’s kinda horse shoe shaped and one virtually circles back on themselves. The GPX track of this part of the route is presented below.
A prominent white house can be seen on either side of the horse shoe. Better yet, each white house can be viewed from the opposing white house. Just for fun, I decided to photograph each white house as I passed it, plus photograph the opposing white house from where I stood. The first white house was aptly called ‘Whitehouse cottage’. Was pleased the opposing house could be seen (just) despite the foggy conditions. Before I reached the second house, I stopped at the control in Grosmont.
Whitehouse Cottage
Aptly named cottage
Opposing white house as viewed from Whitehouse cottage
The Grosmont control was a P.O. Had stopped here before on my first ride (used café on second two) but the P.O. was not able to give me a stamp because it had been stolen 2 days prior and they didn’t give receipts. On this occasion my card was stamped with a temporary stamp. This temporary stamp had the wrong date and didn’t state ‘Grosmont’ but am sure it would suffice. I also purchased some liquorice all-sorts to keep my energy up.

After the Grosmont P.O. the route turned on itself and I cycled the other side of the horse shoe. Stopped at the second white house. This house was (disappointingly) called ‘Beech lodge’. Like before, I took a photo of the opposing house. Oh, things you do when you only have yourself and the voices in your head for company…

The other/opposing white house
Not-so aptly named
Whitehouse cottage viewed from (white house) Beech Lodge
Continued on through Hoarwithy and finally reached Much Marcle. Despite the ground being damp, the mud wasn’t too bad and my bike stayed relatively clean. No ill sounding chain either – bonus! Had a pepperoni at control before embarking on the last leg.

Was not sure if it was before or after Much Marcle but at one point I was stopped by what I thought was a group of gaggling geese. I took a photo as presented below. Can any bird spotters tell me what they really were?
Gaggling geese? Christmas turkeys?
Moments later, 2 guys could be seen running after these birds. They explained that the birds were escapee’s from a local farm. I raced on during the last leg, wanting to reach Tewkesbury before it got dark. My Garmin went into night mode about 10 minutes before I reached the arrivee in Tewkesbury, so job nearly done.

The arrivee was, of course, Black Sheep HQ. It was nice to finish here as I got congratulated, ate mince pies, saw recent decor and shared stories. One such story involved a rescued cat who was called ‘Lunar’. Lunar is the name of my daughter. How cool was that?! What a novel way to end my blog. J

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