Sweating buckets on the Quantocks

Another weekend, another trip to the Quantocks; initially to attempt Everest again, but it soon became obvious that I would die of heat exhaustion long before I got anywhere near the top. The GPS said it was 36 degrees at the car park. For the UK, that’s uber hot with a capital “ooooo”.

Instead I went exploring, looking for the one combe I haven’t ridden down - Weacombe Combe, towards the northern end of the hills. I’ve heard a few times that it’s great fun, but I’ve never gotten around to actually riding it myself for one reason or other.

Without a cloud in the sky I used half the bottle of sun cream before setting off; I must have sweated most of it away before leaving the car park. Along the top of the hills there is absolutely no shelter at all, and with the lack of any wind at all even the zoom along the central ridge was hard work.

The signpost at the head of the combe said “Weacombe - 1/2 mile”. I believe this is because they couldn’t find a sign big enough to say “Weacombe - 1/2 mile of fantastic fast, swoopy, tight singletrack” or “Weacombe - Cyclists shout “woooohoooooooo!” now”. It was awesome!

It started off quite uninspiring; just a bumpy grassy slope that was tedious and difficult to ride. Around the first corner however the track tightened into a narrow ribbon of rocks and gravel twisting down the combe. It stayed this way right to the bottom; it was probably the fastest I’ve ever ridden from the top of the hills to the bottom on the muni, and definitely one of the most fun descents in the area.

The gravity karma was all on credit though, as after a brief jaunt along fun but nettle-lined singletrack around the bottom of the hills it was back up Bicknoller Combe to the top. I’ve ridden this once before, and it was stinkingly hot then too. It is probably the most dull, tedious, slow and frustrating hill climb in the known universe. No shade and not a breath of wind so the heat really makes itself known, and the track is steep, rocky and almost unrideable doubletrack all the way up. I need to find a better way back to the top, because that hill is just painful.

The next descent was the classic into Hodder’s Combe, ridden at the BMW; the heather hasn’t half grown in two weeks! Much to the amusement of a group on the other side of the valley watching me most of the way down I took several headlong dives into the undergrowth. One second you’re riding along happily, then you briefly feel the pedal being absorbed into the foliage before being launched off the uni. For them it must have been quite amusing to watch this chap on a funny wheeled thing disappear headfirst into the heather, but when you’ve got a face full of plant (ba-doom) you can’t help but feel a bit of a prat.

I cut the ride short after that descent; I couldn’t face another loop and another massive hill climb in the heat. The day’s sunburn quota complete, I headed back to the car via the ice-cream van that was suspiciously absent two weeks ago. I’m in the wrong job… he must have been making a fortune today!

My arms look silly now. The suntan starts below the t-shirt to the watchline, then from the watch to the glove, then again where the fingerless gloves stop. The rest is glaringly white. I’m in for some ridicule tomorrow morning, methinks. Still, it could be worse; I passed a chap with helmet strap lines on his face…


Sounds like fun.

It was roasting at Afan, too. Falling in while crossing the stream was a great idea :sunglasses:

Hodders Combe? Was that the really narrow track that lead down to the forest, after which was the tea garden? It was narrow enough on BMW, it must be almost invisible if the heathers grown at all!

I went to the local hills yesterday but could only last an hour before giving up, it was too hot (36 or so degrees the car said). Plus I had no sunscreen on, so I didn’t want to risk staying out too long.


I was indoors all weekend wallpapering :frowning:

Apparently it was quite nice outside…

Re: Sweating buckets on the Quantocks

Ouch. I hope you don’t have/get the issue that I am still working through with my left hand. On that heathery bit I pulled a Superman after a pedal-strike on a rock and found that bare hands and heather don’t mix well.

I left the little red dots covering my hand for 4 days, until some started swelling up. I then found that heather splinters don’t tend to ‘grow out’ of one’s skin. Several of the larger ones were removable with much squeezing and pinching (it’s amazingly satisfying to get a 1mm thing out of your flesh, and the pain then seems all worth it), but there are still a number of tiny ones which aren’t infected and don’t seem to fancy moving from their home between layers of skin. Some gloves would be a grand idea in future.

Wouldn’t like to get them in my face though!


That it was. When it’s not as overgrown I think it’s a truly awesome descent; you can ride it dead fast, and keep going as it gets lumpier at the bottom.

I think I escaped any subcutaneous heather injections, somehow. I think I landed more on my palms than anything, so the gloves did their bit. Strangely enough I’ve had a tiny, generally-not-noticeable splinter in my right hand for months. I guess any lurgies from it are leaving me alone because they’re too busy fighting the tetanus, lyme’s disease, rabies and all the other ailments I surely must have picked up from all those muni crashes.

Is it possible to develop a symbiotic relationship with a splinter? Hmmm…