The Beast Before Bath

Another clear day dawned and with it the dulcet tones of PJ and Duncan serenading the assembled riders with, ‘Let’s get ready to rumble’. Everyone seemed to be getting into the swing of things this morning with tents cleared onto the awaiting UPS trucks and teeth being brushed before the sun had even cleared the trees surrounding the site.

With the memory of the relentless up and down of Day 1 fresh in their minds, the start groups were eager again with the start line cleared by around 7.30. With so much training having gone into getting to this point, they are all clearly keen to give themselves the best chance of making it over the course in time. The day in prospect was another hard one, but many riders seemed to be commenting on how their legs seemed remarkably free of stiffness. A credit to the heroic massage team who have tweaked, pummel and rub their way through half the field each night. They only become more popular as the week goes on with backs, knees and necks all being the most common culprits.

Heading out of Okehampton riders enjoyed some longer climbs and sweeping descents through green valleys veiled in a light early morning mist and the camp immediately seemed far behind them. As tentative friendships of day 1 were cemented in Day 2 we found more and more groups coming together and enjoying the exhilaration of a steady peloton. However, there was a looming beast in the distance that was to smash the groups wide open. It wasn’t the 200 sheep being herded down the route at half way, it was Copplestone hill.

Andy Cook had mentioned this little tester earlier in the day, but with the famous Cheddar gorge climb in prospect and the final slog up to the finish to worry about most didn’t think too much about it. However, at dinner tonight there was talk of little else. Whether it was the unrelenting gradient, the multiple false summits or simply the fact it was a bloody great big hill, all who climbed it agreed it will be remembered long into the future by all those who crested it this sunny Sunday in September. Typing out a tweet at the top reading, “It was hellish on the Quantocks today” rang true for many, but thankfully the autocorrect on the typing was spotted and so narrowly avoided an embarrassing (but perhaps also true for many) version saying “It was hellish on the buttocks today”.  

Today was a first for Deloitte Ride Across Britain as we spent the evening in rooms at Bath University. After a very tough two days we wanted to give people a good night’s sleep and we also wanted to see what the atmosphere in camp was like. Many welcomed the warm bed, despite the climb up one of Bath’s toughest hills to get there. However, we will see how the transition back into ‘real’ Deloitte RAB is like afterwards. The prospect of having to lure 700 tired cyclists in individual rooms out of the last solid bed they will be in for a week could be an equal challenge to Copplestone hill.

Tomorrow’s stage:

Bath to Ludlow, 99 miles

Riders will leave Bath via the south west edge of the Cotswolds prior to the superb crossing of the Severn Bridge into the beautiful Forest of Dean. There will be a long steady climb up from the River Wye in Chepstow prior to entering Herefordshire on the more undulating run into Ludlow via Leominster. An easier day in prospect with less climbing and it looks like we might escape the rain for a little longer!


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