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West Dorset Mountain Bikers

The Dulverton "Men Only" Biking Weekend 2017
Or
Four (don't) Get Lost (for a change!) on the Moor's of Devon & Somerset

 

Monday 10th July 2017

As we hadn't had a "boys only" MTB trip since Dartmoor in 2014 (click here to see the story of that trip) we decided one was long overdue and Ed arranged this trip to Dulverton in Somerset which is right on the Devon border and gave us the whole of Exmoor to go and play on.

Those able to come along this year were Gary, Ed, Ian, Pete and Rod. It should be noted that since the last boys only trip four of us had peddled past 60 with only Ian still a couple of months shy of this notable milestone. The very hilly Exmoor terrain wasn't going to be easy on our aging legs!

We stayed at The Lion Hotel (click to see details about the pub) in the centre of the village which provided good rooms at a very reasonable price, some fine ales, a very good breakfast and a reasonable lunch/evening menu.

The Monday afternoon ride was intended to go out to Wimbleball Lake and ride around the lake. However after a lot of searching the track around the lake was found to be very bike unfriendly so we gave up on that idea and did a very good descent alongside the river past thousands of Pheasants being bred in the valley for the local shoot. This ride introduced us to some of the many hills that we would be climbing over the next few days! Although the ride was only 16 miles long we did nearly 2000ft of climbing! But with every climb there is always a descent and some were very good, of note was the one at Willishayes, very steep, very technical and great fun to ride. Back in Dulverton we stopped at The Bridge Inn for a couple of pints before returning to the The Lion for a few more and some good food.

At the top of Haddon Hill

Ed and Pete find something to laugh about, probably at Rod's expense

Ian, Rod, Ed and Pete at the top of Haddon Hill

Ian not happy about his lack of phone signal

Rod all smiles as Gary tells him (lies) once again that its all flat riding from here

 

Two views over to Wimbleball Lake from the top of Haddon Hill

Having some photo fun at the top of Haddon Hill

 

Tuesday 11th July 2017

Tuesdays weather forecast was for rain most of the day, but we decided to go out anyway and do the planned ride out to Withypool. A very good breakfast followed by some bike fettling (not enough fettling in some cases Pete!) and we set off up a steep climb out of the town under dark gray heavy skies. Within half an hour the rain started and didn't let up much, if at all, for the rest of the day, even though on many occasions Rod said it had stopped!

We did 7 miles of NCR 3 (National Cycle Route) although on tarmac it was a very quiet road across the top of the Exmoor hills. At Round Hill we headed north and finally got off road at White Post and followed various tracks north west before crossing the River Barle and heading East on the Two Moors Way. The planned pub stop at Withypool was postponed as they were shut and we were by now extremely wet so we headed south following the TMW and the river.

The riverside trail involved two river crossings. The first on very large slippery stepping stones at Kings Farm (see photo below) and the second a ride and wade at Great Bradley where Ed nearly went swimming as he came off his bike mid-stream.

At the Tarr Steps bridge (a Stonehenge like construction across the river, see photos below) we left the river and headed cross country to South Hill as Ed said there was a very good descent there back into Dulverton. There was a very brief stop to fix Ian's puncture, with none of the usual p*ss taking and advice as we were far to wet and cold for that. The two mile descent back into the centre of Dulverton was excellent although Pete didn't enjoy it so much as his brakes were completely shot and he had to walk the steeper sections. It was an epic day out, nearly 32 miles and 3200ft of climbing made all the more memorable by the wet weather.

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Baths, showers and cleaning up done we adjourned to the bar for an ale or two and to give Johanna Konta advice on how to win her Wimbledon quarter final. The advice must have worked as she won, pity we didn't watch the semi final as well! We then went to Woods Bar & Restaurant (click to see details about the pub) right next door for some superb Rib-Eye steaks and several bottles of Argentinean Melbec. A night cap back at The Lion and some very tired bodies toddled off to bed.

Unfortunately there are only a few photos of the ride as no one wanted to take a camera or get their phone out on what was a very very wet ride.

Pete and Ed ogle the very expensive Huntin', Shootin' & Fishin' apparel in the Dulverton shops

Rod (Charles) has started a new business it would seem!

The Lion Hotel (Dulverton) where we stayed

The first river crossing just outside of Withypool

The Tarr Steps bridge near Hawridge

The Tarr Steps

 

Wednesday 12th July 2017

A new dawn broke with the promise of much better weather and most especially no rain! Over another very good breakfast we discussed where to ride that day, after much debate we decided to go 10 miles north to Exford and ascend Dunkery Beacon, a ride we last did in 2011 (click here to see the story of that ride). After not much riding over the last year Rod's legs had had enough of the Exmoor Hills and with work commitments the following day he decided to leave us and make his way to Croydon via Weymouth.

So four of us set off on the picturesque drive to Exford where we parked up in the village car park to prep the bikes. Pete changed his front and rear brake pads so that we had some stopping power and Ian noted the oil oozing out of his forks, but there wasn't much he could do about that. Ian also noticed that he still had his hotel room key in his pocket! Many Anglo Saxon curses were used as he realised the trip home would necessitate a detour back to Dulverton.

We set off north on a bridleway from the centre of the village on the 1000ft climb to the beacon. Five miles of uphill grind saw us at Dunkery Beacon, at 1700ft the highest point on Exmoor. We stopped for a while to rest the tired legs, take pictures, eat some snacks and enjoy the amazing views north across the Severn estuary to Wales, east to the Quantock Hills, south across Exmoor and west to Dartmoor.

The three mile descent to Brockwell was well known to us and once again didn't disappoint. Very technical, rocky and steep in places it was great fun to ride. GB was first down the track having finished at the road junction waited for the others who popped out sometime later on a different track a couple of hundred meters down the hill. They had stopped when Ian found a water bottle that someone had dropped which contained their tool kit and spares and so missed the track that GB had taken to the bottom.

At the Brockwell we decided to skip the planned route and instead do a loop back up to the beacon and from there do the four mile descent back to Exford. So once again we found ourselves grinding uphill for three miles to get back to the top. It was well worth the grind though, the descent into Exford was a great way to finish the 3 days of riding. The ride itself was 15 miles with over 2000ft of climbing and I don't remember anything flat, it was either fast technical downhill or grinding uphill.

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We went to the The White Horse (click to see details about the the hotel/pub) in Exford for a pint and some lunch and to talk about the last three days of riding. Ian tried to auction off his newly acquired bottle of bike spares and tools, but had no takers.

In total we did 63 miles and over 7000ft of climbing, not to shabby for five 60+ "old men"! There were no injuries and amazingly, given the terrain and very rocky descents, the only major bike malfunction was Ian's puncture, Pete's brake issues don't count as they were self inflicted by poor maintenance.

At the top of Dunkery Beacon the first time around

"It's ok Ian, don't panic, we only have to climb up here once more!"

At the top of Dunkery Beacon the second time around
It really was all downhill from here (for a change!)

Looking south across Exmoor from Dunkery Beacon

Looking north from Dunkery Beacon
"That be South Wales over thar that be"

All smiles after the last ascent of the trip

Another view south from Dunkery Beacon

The White Horse Inn, Exford
Where we had lunch after the exursions on Dunkery Beacon

Not sure where or when the next trip will be, but looking forward to it, maybe on E-Bikes!

Look out for more photos and ride reports coming soon .........
Dick & Debs "Tour de Dorset" extravaganza, August 4th/5th - click here to see photos
Also the annual MTB weekend away this year based on the Malvern Hills in October which Colin & Trish are organising.

GB - 18 July 2017

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