In a Top Gear-esk race between 2 forms of transport – one green, one not, Jon gives us his account of a race to Glastonbury Festival. Bike Vs Car.
21st June, 2011
Everyone in the house was up early and excited about heading to this years Glastonbury Festival. In previous years one of the worst experiences of the festival had been the hours spent stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic both before and after the festival. This year myself, and two others from our group decided to cycle to Worthy Farm from Bristol. We did this in an attempt to avoid the dull queues, take pleasure in travelling under our own steam and, to prove our theory that in this situation cycling is quicker than car.
At 7:10am, Mike & myself stepped out of the house into the pouring rain. Team Car, our affectionate name for our friends driving to the festival, found it highly amusing that the heavens had opened. In an attempt to swing the situation back in our favour, I reminded Team Car that once at the festival we get access to special cyclist-only showers and food and clothing vouchers. We then set off. The race was on…
We met our friend Jimbo a little further down the road. All three of us were already soaked through. We had a chat about taking shelter and leaving a little later in the day. This contemplation was quickly abandoned by the dreadful thought of letting Team Car get to the festival before us. We had a point to prove.
Once we left Bristol the rain stopped & the sun came out. Surprisingly our clothes dried up quickly and we could now enjoy the beauty of the countryside. Before reaching Chew valley we stopped for breakfast & sent Team Car a joke text telling them we had decided to catch the train.
The Somerset countryside is a truly beautiful place with large valleys and hills just big enough to create a challenge for the lower intermediate cyclist. We passed the Chew Lake with the sun on our faces and smile at the large swan nesting in this distance and the Coots playfully diving in the water.
At the top of Mendip Hill we all cheered as we saw the famous Glastonbury Tor in the distance. We were close and enjoying the long decline into the City of Wells.
Upon reaching Wells, (probably the most picture perfect City in the UK), we were forced to take cover in a sandwich bar due to torrential rain. The road had turned into a river and our hearts sank as we realised for the first time that Team Car will probably reach the festival site before us, thus disproving our theory that cycling is not only a greener way to travel to the festival but also quicker. I received a text from Team Car, they were 6 miles form the site and stuck in traffic.
After 40 minutes the rain passed and we were off again. Team Car were now only 2 miles off but still stuck in traffic. The race was still on but it was going to be close.
It was not long before we had the realisation that the rain had slowed us down too much to compete. We received the message that Team Car had parked up at the site and were about to queue up for entry. The finish line was first at the campsite & it now looked as though we had no chance.
The three of us cheered as we cycled up to the festival and felt a good sense of achievement for our efforts. We reached the bike lock up site and collected our luggage that had been delivered previously as part of the green traveller scheme set up in partnership with the festival. Just as we were leaving we were provided with our green traveller passes. We wore these with pride around our necks.
I phoned Team Car for an update. They were still in the queue and sounded quite frustrated. We started to get excited again. Could we win this? Could we get inside & be first to the campsite? We eagerly left the cycle lock up and turned left around the corner following the infamous Glastonbury fence to our nearest entrance. There was a short queue for wristbands. We realised that our efforts may have paid off and team cycle may now be ahead again.
We collected our wristbands and headed to the campsite. Team car were nowhere in sight so I gave them a satisfying phone call to announce we had made it first. Team Car were still in the queue, pedal power had won!
Glastonbury 2011 has been and gone now, but you can check the official Glastonbury Festival site here.
Loads of great places down in the West Country – festivals, towns and of course adventure sport opportunities. Check our our holidays and accommodations in the West Country…