Kneed to know

Posted by on 2, Jul 2023 in 2023 - Cathedrals, Europe, Tilly the Tandem, UK, Western Europe

Kneed to know
Salisbury Cathedral mirror font
If you can’t beat them….
Wells Cathedral grounds
Wells Cathedral
The Ford!
Clifton suspension bridge
Sustrans must have known we were coming…
Victorian basement of hotel..
Weston super mare
Tilly takes a paddle
Exeter Cathedral

I’ve always had problems with my knees. Some of it may be due to being run over as a child when I dmagaed my knee, but it’s usually not been too big an issue cycling. 

I get discomfort but nothing that stops us cycling.  This trip the discomfort has been growing into pain and on our rather pleasant cycle to Salisbury it began to get so bad I was unable to put any pressure on the right knee at all.  Oddly, this wouldn’t start right away, I’d cycle fine for a while, then get sharp pains and have to let my leg just sit on the peddle whislt the rear engine took up the slack, then after a couple of Kms it would go away and I’d be right as rain.

We stopped at Salisbury for our next Cathedral visit, a bit concerned as to our ability to continue, but after a lovely wander around the Cathedral and city we set off the next day on our longest hilliest cycle with no issues at all, all day. Very odd.

When planning this bit if our route, we didn’t take into account that it was summer solstice at Stonehenge, or Glastonbury festival and everywhere was either fully booked or ridiculous expensive. We eventually found a campsite at a pub near Glastonbury and were very concerned to see three white vans with about a dozen youngsters roll up at the site about 7pm. This usually means discos and loud talking well into the night especially as this lot were headed to Glastonbury for the festival the next day. But they were all tucked up early and it turned out they were all working there as stewards so needed to be up early and away. Phew!

They’d actually all left a few minutes before we did – and we were up at 7am! Our cycle that day took us very close to the Glastonbury site and closed roads, security and preparations we’re well in force. We were very pleased we had timed it right to not be here a couple of days later when no doubt it would be chaos!

And again I had major issue with my knee.

Obviously I’ve run out of miracles but we popped into Wells cathedral to collect our next pilgrims stamp and see if we could get some divine intervention on the knee.

From Wells we headed toward Cheddar and thought that climbing the Mendips wasn’t the best plan for my knee so decided to take the long route into Bristol and go around them instead. We always try to avoid the main roads so ended up on a back road with a Ford signpost.  When we got to the Ford it wasn’t so much a ford as a full blown river. The road joined it and then ran for 150m down stream before the river veered away again.  The Ford even had a Not Suitable for Motor Vehicles sign, which was just as well as in places the water would have been well over my knees and we would never had got through if there had not been a lovely narrow bridge on the edge to push Tilly along.

The ride into Bristol then followed the lovely Strawberry line which has a great cafe at the end of it where we had stopped for obligatory flapjack and tea before on our LEJOG route a couple of years ago.. So we repeated the order before carrying onto Bristol.

We decided that my knee needed a rest and an inspection form a paid Sadist, sorry Physio, and as it was Linda’s birthday we booked a nice Airbnb for 2 nights and didn’t venture out far as it was sooooo lovely and luxurious ! Perfect Birthday stop.

So we had to book another couple of nights somewhere else so I could go and see the physio who gave me various exercises and a Lacrosse ball to roll round on in leiu of him pummeling my legs with his elbow. That’s going to be sooo much fun.

We really like Bristol, they’ve done a great job with the cycle paths in the city and the city itself feels a bit like a mini London and leaving there we set off south toward Linda’s all time favourite place Weston Night Mare.

We followed the Avon cycleway which goes along the gorge created by the Avon to the sea. It’s quite spectacular in places and a lovely ride and eventually retraces our steps along the Strawberry line before heading off on a dedicated path seperated from the main road by a hedge. This is great, except for the twat in his 4×4 who decided it was far better to park in the cycle lane in front of a shop he wanted to go to rather than the bloody great car park next to it. His car touched the grass infront of the shop on one side and allowed us, or any pedestrians, virtually no room to squeeze past walking on the other. As he was then getting back into his car I of course had a word!

A little further along, the cycle path then for some unexplained reason ended up on the beach.

We really didnt understand the reason for this.  Cars park on the beach and we did cycle for a way along the sand allowing Tilly a quick paddle, but once you get past where the cars have made a hard surface Tilly just sinks in and it’s virtually impossible to cycle. So about turn and back to the road!

And eventually we arrived at Weston!

Personally I think Linda had got a bee in her bonnet about the place after our last LEJOG visit, where it was cold, windy and only available in black and white and did look a bit miserable and sad for itself. The blazing rows we remember at the hotel check in between some couples didn’t help either, so I was prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt and we booked in to a typical old sea front hotel that would have been grand in Victorian days but now looked past its prime. The staff were great, they put Tilly in the basement that was still decorated how the Victorians left it, and our room was clean and (apart from the dick heads with the loud broom broom cars who drive up and down sea fronts) quiet and comfy.

The seafront itself in the sunshine was really nice with an enormous beach and Linda begrudgingly said it was ‘quite nice’ sitting with our chips on the seafront watching the sunset.

The next morning we had a traditional seaside full veggie English breakfast whilst looking up the progress of the ‘Chase the Sun’ cycle riders who had set off at dawn from the Isle of Sheppey on route to Weston and were now way past London on their 370km day ride. Hats off to those 750 people! It’s taken us about 3 weeks to do that trip so we thought it best to not have the croissants and head out of town before they all began to arrive.

Surprisingly the rides here are Dutch like, flat as a pancake almost all the way to Exeter, which was a very nice way to get my knee back to full power.

The Physio had told me to moderate our rides, so we broke the Weston to Exeter trip into 2 to keep the distance down. We had a lovely night camping in the middle of nowhere before a short hop to Exeter where we had a other day off planned to rest my knee.

We rolled up at the Cathedral, had a Greggs veggie sausage roll outside and then looked for somewhere to put Tilly whilst we went inside the cathedral.

The cycle rack was near a work zone, where new cloisters are being built and there weren’t any places we could leave Tilly without obstructing workmen, pedestrians or cyclists. So we did what all cyclist do in these circumstances and propped Tilly up against the 600+ year old front and went in.

We were happily wandering around when a tannoy announcement asked the people who’d left their bicycle at the front of the cathedral to come to the ticket office immediately . Uh oh.. We’re in trouble..

We duly wandered back and the staff said we couldn’t leave Tilly outside…. someone may nick her so would we like to bring her inside. Would we heck!

So in came Tilly to be propped up under the rose window looking mightily chuffed with herself and causing the odd visitor to sneak a photo.

We completed our wander about and returned toward Tilly to be greeted by a proper old fashioned letter to the Mail “Dear Sir, the young people of today are awful, yours Major General blah blah blah Retired” type. He opened with you can’t leave that in here, to be countered with oh yes they can from another member of staff. He slunked off to compose another letter to the mail complaining about cyclists. I should have shown him my #bloodycyclist tee shirt….

The dock area in Exeter is lovely and on our rest day we wandered down for lunch on the quay before heading back to our very nice airbnb. Prices for many Airbnb’s now seem to be ridiculous, but the Exeter one was seriously underpriced. Fabulous room, with sofa and also a shared Kitchen and dining room adjacent that no one else was using so we had the whole too floor to ourselves.. Another excellent stop.

But from here it gets tough (for us). We’ve not been sure how to moderate riding in Devon as it’s all just up and down and the accomodation is expensive and often no where near the route. So in the end, after looking at the rain heading out way, we packed the camping gear up in a chinese laundry bag and left it at the left luggage of a Premier Inn to lighten our load for the upcoming hills. We also decided to do maximum of 50km a day which should keep the climbing below 700m a day. Is that moderating our cycles we wondered?

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