Over an hour before we were expecting people, our devoted pedallers began appearing at The Mud Dock bicycle shop in Bristol to register for the day’s ride. Before long, there was a swarming buzz of biking excitement floating around the car park, with registration for the day and plenty of coffees. As the PoWWow team peeled on their bright orange massively geeky high vizzies, the formation of the day began. We split into two groups, bellowed a welcome speech from the slightly indulgent podium and began our departure from a very rush hour hit city. It was a good job we’d spent some time the day before negotiating how we were going to get over sixty people safely across the intimidating network of roundabouts, as it ran like clock work and the PoWWow team working harmoniously within our roles. At last we’d hit the route 3 cycle path + were soon riding by rivers + hedges + wide open fields. At last I could fire up my solar speakers + get the motivation Balkan musique going to urge people along the way. We’d lasted for at least an hour before the various bicycles began crumbling in on themselves, but our mobile repair kits swung into full effect and we weren’t keeping people waiting for too long before we were once again on our way. Our formations were fully in place, with front, back and middle stewards all communicating with each other to keep the groups together, but it soon became apparent that there was no such thing as a fast and slow team ~ all sixty four riders seemed to be going at the same pace ~ so we kept it that way! A few more punctures + a hugely inappropriately sized inner tube blunder later and we were starting to hit the Mendip Hills. Two single speed bikes + a pedal issue brought us up to our lunch break, where our pedallers enjoyed a much deserved sit down with a few groups indulging in some motivational Jaeger Bombs ~ we weren’t envious in any way. We took some cheeky group pictures [featured] and prepared people for the big climb ahead. One more puncture repair and we were hitting the ascents. We agreed to meet at the top, as it was every man and woman for themselves for this particular task in hand. Red faced, glowing + chuffed we hooked up at the peak of the hill for slurps of water and some chocolate from our support wagon [picture featured]. We assured everyone that from now on, it was only the beautiful open and [reasonably] flat road that lay ahead. With our formation firmly in place, we could allow a bit of distance between riders as the stewards bombed backwards + forwards to ensure that every junction was either corked or directed on. The misty clouds parted and the raging heat unfolded itself to our blissful afternoon of county riding. Rory the support wagon man would chug past us sporadically throwing bottles of water to the panting pedallers + clusters of groups formed, chatting and getting to know one another whilst eagerly anticipating the great festival that lay imminently ahead. We were seven miles away when we all met up at the peak of the Mendips, all very much looking forward to the steep descent ahead. We slapped suncream onto rosy faces and bellowed out a quick warning for the busy roads that lay ahead; we fizzled down the hill in strict single file ~ breaks screeching + verbal choruses of joy bounced between the enclosure of hedgerows. We could almost smell Glastonbury as we stampeded through Wells, everyone’s stride in perfect unison, accompanied by a few more punctures for good measure. We agreed to hook up again as a group a few miles from site, so that we could take over the approaching festival roads in Critical Mass formation and arrive to Glasto in perfect pedalling formation. The late sun was pounding down on this big cluster of slightly frazzled but euphoric cyclists, as we cheered in tune when the final destination had been reached. Lots of high fives, and well dones and have great festivals were exchanged as our pedallers swapped their bicycles for their festival baggage ~ out into the mass of the site they went and the PoWWow team could relax for the first time in days, equipped with warm beers and the promise of a brilliant festival ahead. It was a shame that Michael Eavis turned up to congratulate the cyclists just after we’d said goodbye to them all; the only downside to the efficient riding from everyone. Thank you so much to all the cyclists that joined us this year and to Glastonbury for having us ~ our number almost doubled from last time! Join us again next year ~ let’s make it one hundred bikers on our team! Watch this space for a short film of the ride and information about pedalling with PoWWow at next year’s Glastonbury. Please allow us to thank The Mud Dock as well, for letting us take over their brilliant shop with endless baggage, bikes + pleas for help ~ you’re all legends and wish you were based in Manchester!
The top of the big hill