Dave Moores wrote the following for his local bike club - he really captured the day and is coming back on May 3 for The Gert Lush 2020.
"This is a new event being run near Bristol and I thought I’d go along as I live in the French Pyrenees and don’t get a chance to ride UK events very often. I didn’t actually have a vintage bike with me, but the event website said that the only bikes they didn’t want there were full carbon jobbies, as it was all about getting people participating. This meant that even before we arrived the event felt more inclusive, and less snobby than some of the other days out we’ve been to. It also meant my lovely handmade single speed would do me nicely. After all, we will be riding in Somerset and Somerset is flat, right? What can possibly go wrong?
With my brother-in-law Greg we drove up to Bristol and were ready to go at 8 am. Sadly, we were stood in an empty car park outside a deserted village hall with few signs of life but by 8.15 it was all bustle and looking more promising! By 9 we were all registered, numbers on and ready to go. I think only about 25 people set off on the long route with us but it was a fun bunch, rolling at a sociable pace and a group of a dozen formed quickly and we rode the whole event together - very different to the usual bun fight we normally get involved in!
The ride itself was good. A nice 100km route over some small hills and out into the Somerset levels with the weird Nyland Hill as a waypoint was very pleasant until we got to Cheddar Gorge. This climb isn’t too hard and the numbers show this at around 7% grade for a couple of kilometres, but as usual this isn’t quite the whole story. I started the climb with a “99” cone in my hand and had fun overtaking loads of Castelli-clad carbon warriors whilst trying to eat the ice cream faster than it was melting. They seemed to think I wasn’t taking it seriously and then they noticed I’m on a track bike and got all grumpy and tried to keep up.
This all went well until I got to the 18% hairpin.
Luckily I was on my own at the start of this bend so when I found myself grinding along at 6rpm, weaving about and covered in ice cream and snot there was no one there to laugh at me. It’s possible that 48x15 is not the perfect gear for this climb. By the time I passed the next couple of riders the grade was back down to 10% and I’d got myself back together. I then got involved in a head to head with a Bath Cycle Club member and we smashed ourselves for the last km. He blew up and actually stopped so by the time he got to the top lay-by I was eating another Mr Whippy special from the van there. I think he went home then and threw his bike in the canal. It’s possible that living in the Pyrenees gives us something of an unfair advantage when it comes to cycling up hills.
Just after Cheddar gorge we were rewarded with our food stop. This was just about the most English thing I’ve ever seen. In a tiny village hall in a quintessential English village we were served tea, sandwiches and cake by ladies in beautiful period dress from the fifties and sixties. There was no beer or wine though and after a few years of French and Spanish events where you are normally pissed by 10 am this was all a bit of a surprise, but we continued on and a lovely run in to the finish was provided by a cycle path along the Strawberry Line. This cycle route is built along the line of a railway originally used to bring fresh produce from Cornwall up to Bristol for shipment onwards to the cities. This was before we bought everything from Holland so I fully expect to see a post-Brexit project to put this line back into use so that Guardian readers in the city can still get fresh strawberries when needed. And they will cost about 4 pounds each.
Back at the Village Hall where we started things were pretty lively. There were about a hundred people milling about having completed a shorter ride and a lovely event for kids and families, and the bar was open. There were some lovely bikes and lovely costumes, and several tandems which always look a lot more fun. I also saw my first “Flying Gate” which was a treat. There was a nice barrel of ale which we felt we should try and then we listened to a talk by Mr Chris Sidwell about his uncle, the famous and ill-fated Tom Simpson. He had brought along Tom’s rainbow jersey and the actual bike he rode to World Championship glory all those years ago. He also autographed a copy of his latest book for me, so that is Andy’s Christmas present sorted but don’t tell him, it’s a surprise.
We didn’t get the usual medal but instead were given a pot of home-made jam, confirming this is definitely a uniquely West Country event. It was a great day, with good company, and a very friendly feel.
Dave's Gert Lush Bike For 2020, A late 80s beauty that's full of character, like Dave himself. He's riding The Gert Lush with mates.
Check out Dave's sportif in France, www.figureofhate.com Not for the faint of heart!