Rob has been trying to convince us for months now that wild animals roam the countryside. He has offered 'evidence' to back up his claims, such as sightings of 'black cats' and paw prints in the mud. We had put these down to 'black cats' actually being quite common, my neighbour owns one, although if it keeps crapping in our garden it won't be around for much longer and the paw prints could be put down to maybe, I don't know, dogs or big badgers !<BLOG_BREAK>
But now we too have seen the beast, in its most furious state. This beast didn't have paws or teeth but it roared and we felt the full force. I speak of the mighty Exmoor beast.
Leaving a nice warm, dry bed at 4.00am is not easy, especially when you can here the rain pounding the window, but being the designated driver I didn't want to let the others down ! With the wipers going full pelt we had to make a slight detour en route due to a lorry having been blown over onto its side. That didn't boad well for an enjoyable road ride across Exmoor. Thanks must go to the very helpful copper who when asked what the best way around the road blockage could only answer with " I don't know, take a right somewhere !"
Still we made the signing on in plenty of time and due to the start being delayed due to '80 mph' winds on the moor !? we sat in the van, it soon became steamed up which was actually quite a good thing as we couldn't see the horizontal rain and the trees at 45 degrees. Unfortunately none of us had the sense or guts to suggest we didn't take part so, after almost missing the start, we set out into the wind and rain, oh joy !
Heading towards the first climb Rob suggested we should work together which I thought was a very good idea. That was the last we saw of Rob until we got back to the van !
At the top of the climb it was interesting to see that you can ride at about a 45 degree angle as long as you have a 'breeze' to hold you up ! At least that wasn't as bad as riding into the roar of the beast, which at times, well most of the time, had you wondering what indoor sports might be worth taking up, even scrabble sounded inviting, and as you know, I can't spell for toffey !
Then after pedalling down one of the steepest hills on the route we turned left at Lynmouth, up a long climb, and I started to find I was starting to enjoy this. Am I sick ?! The rest of the ride involved alot of climbing, some very dodgy descents due to the wet roads covered in fallen leaves leaving me wondering when they will start fitting disc brakes to road bikes !, and some, although not many, flat sections with, on rare occasions, the wind behind us.
So after a long 60mile ride, half of which into the wind, the other half climbing hills, we all safely made it to the finish. Despite the conditions I think, I can speak for us all, we had a great time and enjoyed the extreme challenge and can even contemplate returning next year ! ( we'll see ! )
I must therefore apologise to Rob as he was right all along and we have now seen, and beaten, the beast of Exmoor, although it wasn't in the form Rob had described. Well done to all those that took part in this great event, Rob as ever finishing in a fast time, but we all did superbly well and can only wonder why some would choose to get up in the middle of the night and decide, upon arrival, not to take part.
They can only say they saw the beast, we can say we took it on and beat it !