2021 Route Confirmation & Update
It's time to confirm what we now expect to be the final route for the 2021 Mendips Lakes and Lumps Ride and, after a further route check by bike on June 3rd, we're pleased to say that the roadworks situation that we were monitoring isn't an issue and therefore we're able to provide our first-choice route.
This means that the route is exactly the same as it was for our very first outing in 2019, and the confirmed route is now available to download from our Route Details page.
The route will be clearly marked on the day with our YELLOW & BLACK direction arrows bearing the Great Weston Ride logo, and riders will easily be able to follow these.
In addition, this year we're also actually still hoping to be able to add in an extra OPTIONAL section, however this is currently subject to final clarification around an existing road closure situation.
Assuming we can offer it, this (entirely optional) section would add approximately 5 miles in distance and it consists of a very challenging descent AND climb - specifically, an extremely steep and fast one-mile descent (the steepest in the Mendips) followed shortly after by a very challenging & steep 1.5-mile climb.
So, while it definitely adds to our 'Lumps' collection, it's most certainly not suitable for everybody and we would strongly recommend that only very experienced riders should consider tackling it.
IMPORTANT UPDATE - WEDS 9th JUNE
Following clarification from Somerset County Council, we've been advised that the existing road closure affecting our proposed optional section will now be extended until 30th July 2021 and, as a consequence, we're unable to offer the optional section referred to above.
The closure is to enable work to continue to remove over 500 dangerous trees with Ash Dieback, and the road simply isn't safe to use until such time as that work has been completed.
It's disappointing news but entirely understandable given the facts of the situation, and obviously everyone's safety has to be our primary consideration. We'll look to introduce the new optional section in 2022 instead.
Please note that the existing 'core' route is unaffected by this, and our Route Details page has been amended and updated to reflect this development.
Notwithstanding the above, obviously we reserve the right to amend the route as a whole if we anticipate or become aware of any further unfavourable conditions that might adversely impact safety and enjoyment on the day, but hopefully that won't be the case.
Finally, if you've previously downloaded the route we'd recommend that you do it again now just to ensure that you have the most up-to-date version.
2021 Rider Photos
We're pleased to say that the official professional photos from the 2021 Mendips lakes and Lumps Ride are now available to view. Below is just ONE great example, and please just click on the photo to take you to the photographer's website where you can see the rest of the official images online!
We can't guarantee that everyone was captured, but if you enter you three-digit rider number in the box on the top right - so that means including any '0' at the beginning of your number - you'll be able to check to see any photos that were taken (provided that you displayed your rider number properly & clearly on the front of your bike!) and hopefully you'll see something in there that you like!
And if you can't see any images of yourself please try entering '999' into the search box - these are images where the rider number isn't visible for some reason so you might just be in there :)
We're very pleased to be bringing our Mendips Lakes and Lumps Ride back after an enforced absence in 2020, and we're looking forward to a great challenge and a big day out on June 13th.
However, while the overall situation is significantly better than this time last year, we all know that we're still subject to some restrictions on our normal behaviour under the Government's 'Roadmap out of Lockdown' and of course these are having a bearing on our plans for the event, as follows:
While the rules and guidance around what we all can & can't do have gradually been easing in recent months our approach has been to remain as flexible as possible as the situation has developed, and we're now in the process of finalising the exact details & arrangements for the day of the Mendips Lakes & Lumps Ride in accordance with the very latest guidance.
We appreciate that it's fairly last-minute but that's simply a consequence of the ongoing imperfect set of circumstances that we've been having to operate in - we do hope that people understand that, and also that our utmost priority is to ensure that we can deliver a safe AND enjoyable event that's as near-normal as we can make it.
Our aim is that the measures we deploy should be as simple as possible, but also as clear and as effective as possible in terms of mitigating the risks around possible transmission of the virus.
To that end, entered riders will receive a detailed pre-event briefing via email a few days before the event itself - we want to do this in a timely manner, but also in a way that hopefully requires no further revision or amendments to avoid any possible confusion or misunderstanding about how things will need to operate on the day itself.
So it may be a lengthy read with just a few days' notice, but it's essential that ALL participants take a good look at the information that we provide and adhere to the instructions therein on the day. And hopefully reading this shortly before the event will mean that it's fresh in riders' minds on the day and, therefore, easier to comply with the necessary measures & behaviour.
In the meantime we have updates on some other aspects of the event, as follows:
We're currently monitoring a couple of possible issues that may impact slightly on our route planning but we expect to have clarity on these in the coming days and therefore we should be in a position to confirm the final route with at least a full week's notice.
That said, we're still fairly sure that the info currently on our Route Details page is likely to prove accurate, however we WILL put out a clear route confirmation message as soon as we can and we'd advise riders to wait until they see that message before downloading the route to ensure that they have the most up-to-date version.
There will still be further route checks up to & including the day of the event and, while we wouldn't anticipate any very last-minute changes, any such unavoidable adjustments will be notified via email to registered riders or, if absolutely necessary, on the day of the Ride itself.
We've organised an official refreshment stop exclusively for our riders at Chew Stoke Bowling Club, approximately 26 miles into the route. Riders will be able to top up water bottles and use the club's toilet facilities, and there will also be tea & coffee and homemade cakes available.
This facility will operate under its own established COVID procedures and as such it offers a perfectly safe environment, however we'd ask riders to minimise time spent inside the facility (ie. for food ordering/collection and toilet use only) and instead to remain outside as much as possible.
We'd strongly recommend that ALL riders should stop and make use of this facility, as the remaining part of the route thereafter does contain quite a few of our 'Lumps' and is fairly demanding!
And of course we'll have free hot food available for everyone at the finish - once again this will operate in a COVID-secure fashion, and it will be incumbent on everyone taking part to observe social distancing & good hygiene protocols at all times at the finish area. We'll monitor this closely and we will remind people of the ongoing guidance where necessary - we're sure that everyone will understand this!
We hope all of the above makes sense and is clear, and further information will follow shortly for entered riders.
The Beers Are On Us!
We've got even more FREE beer to give away courtesy of our fab partnership with Butcombe Brewery - and you just need to tell us if you want to be in the hat to win it!
You may have seen in the post below that Butcombe is supporting us again this year and already giving every rider a FREE bottle of excellent Butcombe beer at the finish to help them to celebrate their achievement in conquering the Lakes & Lumps challenge.
Now, as well as that, we're going to give away a further 24 BOTTLES of Butcombe's finest - and we want these to go to a rider who's fundraising for our charity partner Prostate Cancer UK by way of an extra little 'Thank You' for the much-needed help & support.
We'll be choosing a winner on Monday 7th June 2021, and every rider who's signed up to fundraise for Prostate Cancer UK by that date is eligible for the draw - so all you need to do is to EMAIL US to tell us that you're fundraising and your name will automatically go in the hat! :)
You can easily sign up to fundraise via our Charity Partner page if you haven't done it yet, and there's also a printable form on there for offline fundraising if you prefer the 'old school' way. And of course there's direct contact info for the charity if you need it for any advice or help.
You'll also see that Prostate Cancer UK offer fundraisers their own rewards as well to thank them for their support, including cycling jerseys and a great zip-up hoodie that's new to us this year.
The lucky winner can either collect the beer on the day of the Ride or we can arrange for it to be delivered - either way, someone's going to be set up very nicely indeed to celebrate their achievement at the Mendips Lakes & Lumps Ride AND the imminent lifting of the remaining lockdown restrictions!
To be entered, just remember to make sure that you let us know that you're fundraising :)
Raising a Glass to Butcombe!
We're firming up on arrangements now for what is only the second-ever Mendips Lakes and Lumps Ride and, as part of that, we're absolutely delighted to announce that Butcombe Brewery has confirmed that it will be supporting us again this year.
We're pretty sure that everyone's aware just how difficult the last 12 months have been for the hospitality industry as a whole, and for pubs and breweries in particular, but Butcombe has a strong affinity with the West Country and, like us, as a Bristol-born entity they're very keen to promote the local area as a great place for leisure activities.
This is because, as well as their excellent beers, there are also numerous lovely Butcombe pubs & inns dotted around the South West, and of course the wonderful Mendip Hills AONB area that hosts the Ride is right on the brewery's doorstep.
It's also worth noting that, as a cycling-friendly organisation, their pubs & inns are always pleased to welcome people on bikes for a bit of refreshment and refuelling when they're out & about.
The brewery even organises its own (very responsible!) in-house cycling tour of a number of Butcombe pubs, so they're definitely on the same page as us when it comes to enjoying a great day out on a bike! :)
And the really great news for our riders is that this partnership means that Butcombe will be providing every rider in the event with a FREE BOTTLE OF BEER at the finish - so a great day out exploring the wonderful Mendip Hills by bike in June just got even better!
We'll also be looking at other ways to get the most out of this great West Country partnership, but the bottom line is that we're going to have some of the best beer in the country available for our riders - and we'll certainly drink to that!
Roadmap Out Of Lockdown
As we begin Step 1 of the Government's four-step 'roadmap out of lockdown' for England, here's our take on what it means for the 2021 Mendips Lakes and Lumps Ride.
Firstly, we're pleased to see that the plan as a whole anticipates a material change for the better from here on in and, while no doubt people will have their own views on the pace at which various lockdown measures will be lifted, obviously the overall picture constitutes very welcome news.
And it's certainly encouraging to see that the Government and its scientific advisors actually appear to be able to envisage a complete end to legal restrictions in relation to social contact by the Summer.
Obviously we note that the final Step 4 'unlock' date - even as it stands currently - falls just after the Ride so we now know for sure that we'll still be subject to some COVID-secure requirements (albeit seemingly 'light touch' by that stage), and it's actually helpful to have this clarification. We always felt that this was likely to be the case, and it's the basis on which we've been preparing to date anyway.
The important thing is that, based on the information provided in the roadmap, we're very confident that the Ride WILL be able to go ahead as planned on Sunday 13th June 2021 in a COVID-secure form and, as a small outdoor event, it seems very unlikely that we'll have to concern ourselves with restrictions on the number of participants.
So at this stage we're going to continue to proceed cautiously but proactively with our event planning - we're very encouraged and certainly feeling quite optimistic about the outlook, however we're not taking anything for granted and we look forward in due course to receiving greater certainty around the timelines & dates that have been announced.
In summary then, overall this feels like we're entering a more positive and encouraging phase and so for now we'll just continue to monitor developments and the relevant official guidance. And as the situation develops further we'll adjust our thinking as necessary and update accordingly.
We hope this note is of some help, and please feel free to let us know if you have any queries regarding any of this.
And get your entry in for the 2021 Mendips Lakes and Lumps Ride ASAP if you haven't done so already - we're into Spring now, the weather's improving rapidly, and the Ride will soon be here!
Come on - Rise to the Challenge with us! :)
We're Back & Raring To Go!
We're delighted to say that the Mendips Lakes and Lumps Ride is returning on Sunday 13th June 2021 after the event was cancelled last year (along with so many others!) due to the coronavirus restrictions that were in place at the time.
So this will now be the second outing for this fabulous challenge ride - and this year we're very confident that it WILL be happening! :)
We say that having successfully delivered two very safe COVID-secure cycling events in 2020, and the knowledge gained from those experiences will stand us in good stead going forward and will inform & underpin preparations for the 2021 Mendips Lakes and Lumps Ride.
Obviously the short-term outlook nationwide is still pretty bleak and currently we all find ourselves subject to significant restrictions once again, however we firmly believe that the prospects from the various vaccine options DO provide genuine grounds for hope and optimism, and the consensus among experts seems to be that we should see a material change for the better from Easter onwards.
This means that we fully expect the Ride to be able to take place in a COVID-secure fashion as scheduled in June and we're planning on that basis.
The Ride will form part of the National Trust's revised 'Top of the Gorge Activity Weekend' this year, along with the established running and mountain biking events that also take place as part of the Trust's overall 'Top of the Gorge' concept.
Notwithstanding the current situation, the National Trust team and its local partners are still very keen to promote the Mendip Hills AONB as a wonderful area to explore and to be active in, and the range of outdoor challenge events that normally would form part of the traditional festival weekend - including the Mendips Lakes and Lumps Ride - are very much central to that.
Inevitably there is considerable uncertainty with regards to some other aspects of the wider festival idea as a whole, to the extent that current expectations are that it probably won't be feasible for it to proceed in its "normal" format. Therefore the plan at this stage is to focus efforts instead on offering the activity features of the programme.
So while it seems unlikely that camping and other 'socialising' elements will be possible again this year, there's a real determination to keep the Top of the Gorge spirit alive by ensuring that at least the challenge activities go ahead and provide what is likely to be some much-needed fun and enjoyment.
And that's certainly what we intend to do - we already have initial COVID-secure plans in place and, while these mean that there will be a cap on the number of entries (there are around 200 places available), we're also actively looking at options to maybe add a bit more 'spice' to the event and broaden its level of challenge to ensure that it has plenty to offer for everyone taking part.
More news will follow in due course regarding the new elements of the Ride and we will, of course, continue to monitor coronavirus developments and the relevant official guidance & instructions in the coming weeks & months and, where necessary, we will adjust our plans in response and will advise further as required.
But the bottom line is that the Mendips Lakes and Lumps Ride WILL be a great day out, and our aim is to make it an excellent way to get the Summer started! :)
Please feel free to let us know if you have any queries regarding any of this, and do sign up as soon as you can to secure your place for the return of the Mendips Lakes and Lumps Ride.
And in the meantime please stay safe, follow the official guidance, and remain as positive as you can while we get through this latest difficult period.
Don't forget our motto - Rise to the Challenge! :)