Sunday, 18 March 2012

Wimbleball on a 12/25

Firstly, I would like to apologise to all of my non-cycling friends and colleagues who I have bored to death of recent weeks with endless chat regarding bike gearing. In fact I apologise to everybody – cyclist or not – because I’ve been a woman obsessed.

The thing is, I’ve been inwardly fretting that I simply would not be able to make it around the Wimbleball bike course on my new bike with its much harder gearing; I had visions of coming to a standstill on various inclines around the course and toppling into bushes. Stories from those who have ridden the route range from physically exhausting to outrightly hellish and I had built it up in my head to be some sort of snaking, hilly monstrosity.

Jo and I had arrived early to our temporary home in the pretty village of Timberscombe, and a “quick lap of the bike course” was on the cards. Jo had said something about doing it “in about two hours, plus the few miles to get out and back”, and I had nodded along confidently, successfully controlling an “OH MY GOD but what if I can’t physically do it!” outburst.

We headed out of the village on a small road that went up, and up. Within five minutes I had bottomed out on the gears, the heart rate was through the roof and I was blowing. It took us no less than twenty eight minutes to cover three and a half miles (which I shall quickly add, did include a minor amount of ‘finding the right road’ faff).

We hit a T-junction that met the actual course and I was delighted to cruise down a straight, rolling road with not even a sniff of a steep climb. This super section of road leads straight into a descent that is way too exciting to even try to describe; it’s like God looked at Exmoor and how difficult it is to pedal around and thought to himself “I’ll give the cyclists a little treat”. I held on for dear life as I plummeted down, resisting the urge to swear a lot as I realised a very sharp stop would be required for the junction at the bottom.

From this point, it does start to get a little bit more difficult. There are a few tricky hills along the way and I spent a good amount of time grinding away in the bottom gear, but, it’s do-able. Not really a scary monstrosity at all, just a tough old ride.

The descent back to the house took no more than a third of the time it had taken to get up there, and was another of Exmoor’s answers to an alpine descent with a few cheeky corners thrown in.

All this said though, I will definitely be getting a new cassette, one that doesn’t stop at 25. Then you’ll all be able to have some peace. And no Clare (a long-suffering office buddy), modern bikes don’t come with CDs just yet.


  1. well done egg, I had similiar debate many years ago when I did a tri in wales. swim was amazing but the ride in damp, cold welsh wales was a ordeal. I reached a cattle grid on a steep incline grinding along at about 2 mph, rear wheel spun on grid, i fell off, clipped in, old style rat trap pedals, had to walk to top of hill because remount impossible by which time I had burred the plates on my shoes making it impossible to clip in. I made it back to transition and jacked in. Gearing was all wrong and there is nothing in west london remotely similiar to a welsh mountain. so well done. Dave W

  2. ha ha! I did the Alps trip on 25 and that persuaded me to do something about it!