Exploring again today

Voting in the EU referendum today and I really wanted to avoid all the campaigners banging on doors and bunnying on and on and on and on. I went, voted, came back and grabbed a coffee and then took Eric out for a spin. Kenn came too, on his Whyte Kings Cross (roadies have been hanging on the wall pretty much since we’ve been here and we’ve done less than 100 miles on them since moving). We planned to ride to the Snails Pace Cafe and back, nothing much really. Neither of us could face anything that didn’t involve being on the flat.

We made good time to the Cafe and had a coffee there and a chat about Garmins, CX bikes and North Wales with some folks. I suggested to Kenn that we rode up to Michaelstow and he could have a go at that hill. I said this in the full knowledge that he would tell me to poke right off and, on the off chance that he would agree, that he’d get half way up the hill and want to head back. I don’t like that hill, it’s horrid. At least the steep, horrid bit is at the beginning so zapps your legs straight off and doesn’t go up gently, lull you in to a false sense of security and then ramp up the gradient when you are not looking.

He said ‘OK, lets do it then’. I was a bit taken aback but not daft enough to ask if he was sure. We rode up the hill. I got past the bit where I had to get off and walk last time and actually got all the way up to the top. I waited for Kenn and then rode back down a bit to see where he had got to. He was still on his bike, muttering a bit but pedaling along. I rode back up to the top with him. We rode along the B road and turned to Michaelstow again but at the junction where the big polytunnels are, we decided to go right, instead of left.

I quite like an adventure but it’s always nicer to adventch with someone else. We followed the signs to St Teath and then followed a little road, that looked nice, and ended up at the A39 and a load of roadworks. We sat about 5 minutes there, waiting for the convoy man to arrive to lead us down the road. The workmen said that we could clear off down the inside of the cones, as the road is all freshly topcoated with that loose gritting stuff that really hurts when you fall off on it. I know this from experience.
We got right through the roadworks and around the left hand bend before the first convoy car caught us up. The lovely workmen had given us a cracker of a head start. This meant that we weren’t close passed on the thin bit. Thank you lovely workmen.

We really got on with riding on the A39, we didn’t want to be on there for a minute longer than necessary. It was a gentle climb but, after getting out of the Camel Valley, it was a doddle. We were spinning up there at a good pace and we pulled into the bus stop layby at the top. I suggested going back via St Tudy and the Camel Trail. Kenn was all for 8 miles on one of the busiest, twistiest road in Cornwall. I told him that he was welcome but I’m going the pretty route and staying alive. I started heading for the left hand turning, some 100 yards up the road when we were very very close passed by a 4×4 towing a big caravan, followed by a camper van with bikes on the back that dived in so sharply, he nearly took Kenn’s front wheel off. Kenn decided that he was riding via St Tudy with me. He said that he preferred hills to death. Good choice.

We rode along a gorgeous bit of road for the best part of 200 yards before it started climbing. I got well over half way up and then ran out of legs and thought that I would enjoy the view and wait for Kenn. It was a lot more uppy than the picture looks, let me tell you.

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Once Kenn had reached me, we got back on our bikes and kept right on pedalling. I hate hills. Have I mentioned this in the past, loathe them, with a passion. There is absolutely no actual need for the dang things. Hate, hate, hate, hate hills. My legs are not right keen on them either.
I got to the top first and the view was great. While I was waiting a BMW arrived and waited for Kenn to ride that last 30 yards or so and didn’t just drive down and batter him out of the way. We were mightily impressed with him. It made a real change from being forced into hedges.

Once at the top, I thought that I might not hate hills as much as I thought that I did. Kenn made it up and we stood for a while, looking at the view and letting our bikes have a breather. We took a pic of the hill sign. We’d got past the difficult bit when I got off and walked. Kenn had decided to walk at the steep bit. It was on a tight bend so not my idea of a laugh to ride along.
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We followed the signs to St Tudy and rode through the village, following a downhill route. Kenn reckoned that downhill was the way to go, back to the Camel. We should have asked. We rode around in a big circle and ended up back at St Tudy. We rode up more bloody hills and I got back to hating them. Especially after..
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I got off and walked again. After that hill, I asked for directions from a chap who we think had a small holding, guessing by the couple of cows, couple of pigs and lots of chickens scratching about. Lovely black lurcher who was woofing and wagging like a big daftie. It wasn’t scary barking, he sounded far to high pitched and giggly for that. The chap was telling us what a cracker of a rabbitting dog he is but there is no money in rabbits now. Nobody wants to buy rabbits for the pot nowadays. Kenn likes rabbit but I don’t. However, the dogs love some nice raw bunny for dinner.

We followed the chap’s directions, back to St Tudy, followed the sign to Michaelstow which took us up a road, over a crossroads at a B road and I regognised the turning immediately. I waited there for Kenn as I’ve got a faster climbing cadence than Kenn has. We followed the road along, straight over the next crossroads and down the hill that I’d ridden down just the other day and to Pooley’s Bridge.

From there, it was straight home along the Camel Trail. No more climbing for us. Yay. I did a quick lap of the park, on the way back, as I reckoned that I’d be getting home at around 34.85 miles and that’s just not on. Looping the park just gives me an extra little bit so I came home to 35.13 on the GPS.

My disc brakes have started ringing so I need new pads. Kenn is going to have a look at them in the morning, he says. Hope so anyway. If we can’t change the pads, I’ll take the bike to the LBS and get him to do it.

https://www.strava.com/activities/618444236

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I have been out exploring (a bit) today

I really wanted a ride yesterday, but it was tipping down. I got soaked through walking Toffee dog in the morning and the weather got progressively worse as the day went on. It stopped raining somewhere about dark but I couldn’t be faffed then, anyway I don’t think my front light is charged up.

Today dawned wet and miserable. The BBC forecast said that it would get out nice in the afternoon but, after a morning of rain, rain and more rain, that seemed very unlikely. However, the BBC was right and as soon as the rain stopped I thought that I’d better check the charge in my Aftershokz and my iPod and then immediately put them on charge and thought that I’d go out after lunch.

I wasn’t planning a long ride, although I did have the fact that I’ve not done my 50km ride this month as yet and we are 2/3 of the way through June already. I checked that I had the correct innertubes in my bag and had a rummage around to make sure that Kenn had put my tyre levers back in the bag (he had), changed and got out of the door. It was dry but I’d put my 3/4 length shorts on, I had contemplated long sleeves but thought I’d risk short sleeves. Right choice for once, as it turned out.

I headed off out of Wadebridge, along the Trail towards Bodmin and caught up with a chap with a Planet X jersey, as I passed him I said “Oooh Snap” and pointed to his bike which was the same as Eric. We rode together for 4 miles, chatting about PX bikes (his has a single front sprocket and an 11 speed SRAM gearset plus hydraulic disc brakes so a newer model than my bike). Chap went off to Bodmin while I headed off towards Wenfordbridge. I had planned to ride to Bodmin but my legs were feeling great so made the decision to kick on a bit.

Looking down at the weir, when I passed it, was interesting. I’ve never seen it after torrential rain for 3 days and it was a lot less clear and white than normal.

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It was also, very noisy. There was a lot of water going down there today.

I got to the Snails Pace cafe in well under an hour, I didn’t stop, and carried on over the road and towards Camelford. It’s a heck of a climb out of the valley and I am a rubbish climber. Very quickly, I was in granny gear and muttering a bit. I could see the gable end of a barn and told myself that I’d get to it, then I saw a road opening and told myself I’d get to that and then, a bit after that, I had to stop as I’d have fallen off. I was going that slowly and losing balance. I got off and walked for 50 yards or so, which brought me to a false flat where I got back on and got pedalling.

Once moving again, it was all a lot better and I got to the top of the hill and eventually got to a main road and followed it for a bit. The ‘main road’ was actually a very fast B road and I didn’t want to be on it for too long so took a left hander and got to a dead end. I turned around and took the other turning in the junction (2 left handers in one) and followed the road down the hill to Michaelstow. The road gradient wasn’t too bad and I figured that I could ride back up it without too much of a problem. At the bottom, there was a T junction so I went left and reckoned that I’d probably just do loop and go back to Wenfordbridge so abandoned thoughts of turning around and going back the way I’d come. Anyway, I have a GPS so can’t get very lost, can I?

At Michaelstow I came across a Nursery with huge polytunnels. It really struck me so I took a quick pic. I had to wade through hip height grass to get a decent shot – naturally I only had my phone on me and no proper camera.

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After riding past I then rode on a narrow road and had a near miss with some numpties in a (not so) hot hatch. They came screaming down a hill, scattering walkers and me into the bushes. They were really shifting. I was in the wrong gear to get going again so rode down a bit then turned around and rode back up, in a better gear. I had decided that walking twice on one ride today, was not happening. It wasn’t much of a hill anyway. Speeding along narrow, twisty country roads seems to be a local sport here. I’m rapidly going off Cornwall as I don’t want my demise to be at the hands of some plonker who can’t drive, brake or steer. The numpties in the hatchback were really really shifting. The hikers were a bit shaken up, even more so when I said it was pretty normal for these parts. Car was going too fast to get a number.

I carried on along the road and came back to the main road so headed left and back towards the Snails Pace. It didn’t look overly familiar to me so I did wonder if I was on the right road at all but then, on the left, there was a road with a sign for the Cafe so I took it and rode down the hill. Again, it didn’t look familiar. As I rode down a 17% hill that I knew for a fact that I hadn’t ridden up, I did wonder where I would come out and was I going to have to climb up some monster Cornish hill, but it brought me out at Pooley Bridge and at the bit of the Camel Trail with the big fish sculpture on it. Picture taken on a previous ride and on a much sunnier day.
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By the time I got back to the trail, both my shoes were wet and Eric and I were very muddy – a sure sign of a good time. I stopped to take a pic of the river in full flow, it was really shifting and doesn’t normally look like this.

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It’s normally a lot calmer than this. A lot quieter too. The pic doesn’t really do justice to the flow rate on that curve.
From there on, I just got on with going home, it was well after 6.30pm, the temperature was dropping and I was pretty sure that it was going to rain again – it didn’t – but I wanted to get on with getting home. I got up the little hill with the Strava Segment ‘rattle your fillings out’ and it took a good 10 seconds longer than normal but I still headed left to Bodmin as I needed an extra couple of miles for my metric half century distance. Nothing worse than riding past the house for a mile or so and then back. I might just be weird though.
The Council have resurfaced the track at the edge of the playing field going towards Bodmin Goal and jolly lovely it is to ride along too. At the end of the trail, I turned onto the road and rode back to the carpark that I’d just passed and back on to the trail and home. The trail was lovely and muddy. The state of Eric necessitated him getting the first shower. He’s been drip drying in the shower room. I think that I really needed a shower today🙂
IMG_0787After my shower, the shower room needed a shower to clean it up. We were pretty muddy. My kit has gone straight in the washing machine, my cycling shoes are on the windowsill along with my trainers which got wet walking this morning. The bedroom windowsill has boots drying on it. It’s been a damp few days. Hopefully something will be dry for dog walking in the morning or I’ll be down to walking in flip-flops.

https://www.strava.com/activities/615357443

For anyone who may be interested. 31.4 miles in 2 and a half hours.

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Cornwall Coast to Coast

I have been riding since my last blog. Mostly up and down the Camel Trail, having had a couple of near misses in the car and on foot, on the local country roads and the climb out of town. On foot, I was able to dive into a bush and in the car, able to stand my ground for a sec and then reverse half a mile to a passing space as Mr White Van Man was not about to reverse 10m into the passing space that he had just passed. I suspect that had I been on my bike and not in a car, he’d have just kept going. He only stopped when I tooted my horn in the first place. Not paying attention there.

No exciting rides and yesterday (16/6/16) was my first ride in a week. We decided to go on the Mineral Trail, down in Portreath and to ride across to Devoran. We found parking very quickly, it being out of season still, or at least lowish season. Got the bikes back together – we have a Micra and 2 bikes in the back necessitate taking wheels off to get them there.

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Nice view of the starting point. It was a pleasant day, overcast with sunny spells according to the BBC, although we did suspect that it may rain at some point. As it turned out, it didn’t actually rain but I think that I felt a few spots, now and again over the 4 hours we were away from the car.

We rode down to the loo block = yellow building on the far right. I came out of the ladies and found no bike, either of them, or Kenn for that matter. He had dashed into the disabled loo and taken the bikes with him. I was starting to panic, as I’m very fond of Eric the CX bike and thought that Kenn had pedalled off and left him to be stolen. Once Kenn had called through the door that he was in the loo, I asked a cyclist on the opposite side of the road if they knew where the trail started. He did, so I could relay this learned information to Kenn when he emerged with the bikes.

We rode off down to the Quay area, where there is a left hand turning and a little tiny sign saying Mineral Tramway Trail, or words to that effect. You start off riding on a road, past some houses and then take a track. The tracks and turnings all have a Cornish Tin Mine Logo on them, with arrows on, so nice and easy to follow until the mid point where it gets vague for a couple of hundred yards, but I’m ahead of myself, as per.

The first bit of the track had a very interesting surface, very undulating indeed. Eric felt like he had clown wheels on. You know the ones they have in the circus with the offset hubs. Very strange indeed. The track surface was beginning to make me feel slightly nauseus so I was very glad when that bit of the trail ended.

We rode through wooded bits, not unlike the Camel Trail to Bodmin, and after about 4 miles, came out onto a funny crossroads on a main road – duel use foot & cyclepath though, so nice and safe – and saw a sign for Wheal Pevoor, taking us off the trail. We have lived in Cornwall for over 3 months and haven’t seen a tin mine since moving here, so thought we’d take a bit of a detour, it was only a mile or so anyway and we thought it would be nice. Uphill, but nice. Started off on a narrow trail and came out on to a road which was a slight uphill which kept on going. Just like Norfolk🙂 At the top there was a gate with Wheal Peevor written on, so we went visiting. No link to give you, it’s obviously not one that is online as yet.

It was nice to wander around, nobody else there at all. Eric enjoyed a rest too.
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As you can see, he has his knobblies back on. He did have summer tyres, Vittoria Pave tyres with a nice green stripe, but they didn’t roll as well as I’d hoped. Interestingly, my XKings roll a lot better. I’ve got a 33 on the front and a 35 on the back. Lovely and secure feeling on some of the terrain we’ve been riding on on this trail.

We then retraced our wheel tracks back to the original trail. The mile of downhill, nary turning a pedal, was rather lovely. Not a steep downhill, just a gentle trend down in the afternoon warmth. Gorgeous, and what cycling is all about for me. Back at the junction, we got back on the Mineral Tramtrack trail and kept following the signposts, over the A30 bridge and then the signs vanish. Here, we saw another couple of cyclists so asked them but they were lost and said something about following the signs and going through a pub carpark. They said that they’d looked in the pub carpark – the pub opposite – but there was no trail or anything there, so they were heading back to Portreath. We thought that we’d look a bit more. We too looked in the pub carpark and as we rode back we saw a triangular road sign warning drivers of cyclists, so thought that we might be on the right track, just past this was a block of granite with the tin mine symbol on it. We’d not have seen it had we not been looking for it. The little arrow pointed us on so we rode on the cyclepath until we saw the Fox & Hounds pub, rode through their car park and on to a bit more trail going downhill on a track alongside the road.

At the end of this track was a busy road. If you are riding on this trail, take care crossing here as it’s not very wide and the trucks just hurtle past at a bit of a lick. You can only see a short way in each direction too. Crossing the road brought us to Unity Woods, very pretty and there is a different way through, for the way back (that we didn’t take this time) that takes you up past more tin mines and great views.

A lovely downhill through there, which meant a nice climb back up on the way back with legs that are a little more tired than they were on the way there. Beautiful woods to ride through with a good track. Not too muddy today, after all the rain we’ve had.

We then rode through a reserve sort of place and noticed the metal cage mesh caps on the mine shafts. They are not solid caps as Pipestrelle Bats live down there, so they have the meshed caps to allow them to get in to their homes. Nice. Completely different terrain to what came before on this route. Still good riding under the wheels, with great views. We came across another building, which was an Arsenic Works up until WW2 and stopped for a few mins for a water and mint imperial break and to take some pics in the area. The stream bed was orangey brown from the minerals in the earth. With clear water with a blue tinge, it looked amazing and much nicer that the pics that I took.

 

After that, we came across a viaduct that looks to have been rebuilt on the footings of an older one.

Then onwards again, past the bike hire and cafe place to Devoran for more pictures before turning around at the 14.5 mile (ish) point. It’s only 11 and a bit miles C2C, but we went off to that tin mine for a look. We decided, today, not to carry on to the point. We’ll do that next time. We just took a picture of Eric looking resplendent agains the water at the inlet. No cycling across this bit, if you are going to ride here, you have to get off and push for the final 50 meters.
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There were fish in the shallows. Not viewable by photo. You could see all the ripples and the occasional splosh and a bit of tail. We watched the fish for a while, some were pretty big. I’m not very up on fish, so couldn’t tell you what they were. The only fish I know about either come in a can or a cardboard box with ‘Fishfingers’ written on the outside. For someone who lives on an Island and is 5 miles from the sea, my fish knowledge is shocking. I know what a Stickleback looks like though, and they weren’t those.

Remember me saying that I got directions for the start of the trail from another cyclist? We saw them again. They’d had to fix an innertube en-route so were well behind us. We met them about a mile or so along after we turned for home. They told us about the alternative route through Unity Woods and that the cafe is a good place to stop as it doesn’t have ‘tourist prices’.

Riding back is now Uphill – all the way to the confusing junction near the A30 actually before it starts to drop again. Still, not proper hills very often and the proper hills are dang short, 50m or so, totally doable. We went to the cafe & bike hire place near Bissoe and had a coffee between us and a brownie each. Kenn had been saying that he really needed something to eat and advised about the cafe not charging extortionate rates for coffee & cake, we thought we’d try it. Impressed indeed. Change from a fiver too, very very good value. I did take a pic but not quickly enough. That brownie was fabulous and only £1.50 for it. I assume Kenn’s brownie was awesome too. Going by the ‘nom nom nom’ sounds coming from his end of the table, it was.

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You can’t miss the place anyway. It’s very orange. Lots of bike parking, clean loos and a good sized indoor cafe space as well as outdoors. Friendly staff and the hire bikes look great. They are all Treks, so great quality bikes. They look much nicer than the usual hire bikes that I see around home, then again, this terrain is a bit rougher and there is much more opportunity for hooning about on some hills etc.

Short, sharp climb straight after the cafe stop and then a hard left. I am a bit omni-directional and don’t like hard lefts, as I always seem to catch my toe on my front wheel. I never do it on a hard right as I can back pedal to avoid doing it and don’t seem to be able to do that in the other direction. The joys of having a short framed CX bike I guess.

Back the way we came, climbing a bit more slowly than we would on a road, the surface is looser and lots of rocks in the trail that I was trying to avoid. The Foxglove has taken over from the Primrose as the flower of the ride here. Until very recently, there were Primroses everywhere you looked but on this ride it was all Foxgloves, every where. In every hedge, verge, peeking over walls and through gaps in walls. A sea of purple, with bees busily buzzing.

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No bee here, sorry about that.

The climb up through Unity Woods was not as horrible as I’d feared, nor was the climb up to the busy road, nor the climb up to the Fox & Hounds. It was quite easy so I’ve not lost as much fitness as I’d thought. I waited at the top of each climb for Kenn. His bike is geared differently to mine, he has a regular compact on, my compact is more compact and those few less teeth on the cog make all the diffence. Once past the Fox & Hounds, it’s downhill all the way back (mostly) to Portreath. I was thrilled skinny that I’d not had to get off my bike and push and just while I was thinking that, we missed a turning so had to go back and push our bikes as uphill U-turning was not going to be possible on that bit of trail. We’d have been fine if we’d have noticed to bear right up the thin bit instead of carrying on along the fat bit. Heigh ho. That’ll learn me, as we say in Norfolk.

Through the only gate on the trail with a fastener was the one we nearly missed. All the rest are self closing swing gates, there are quite a lot, that you can nudge with your wheel and then nip through and they will close by themselves. I really liked them. We then carried on down to Portreath Quay, along the Clown Wheel Surface Track again, and took another pic of the water and the bikes.

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No idea what Kenn is up to; crying, sneezing, just rubbing his face, hiding, counting to 100 so I can hide… it could be anything. I didn’t notice until I uploaded the pics. I did ask but he couldn’t remember. From there it was a quick ride up the hill back to the car. We stopped at 26.92 miles. Had I known, I might have carried on for another 400′ or so, but it was up and I was tired. Great ride though. We took the wheels off the bike and put them in the car and then walked down the hill to the beach for a look at the surfers. Should have taken a proper camera with us. I will next time, for beach pics. Only so much you can do with a phone. The black dots in the sea are surfers.

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We followed a surfer up to the car, all soggy in his wetsuit and carrying flippers and a board. I didn’t know that they surfed in flippers, in fact I am sure that they don’t. Anyway, he was a bit ahead and we followed the wet footprints up, very ScoobyDoo. We will definitely be back to ride this again, we’ll go up to the Point at Devoran and miss out Wheal Peevor, maybe even ride up the back road at Unity Wood as well. Looking forward to that. Next week maybe, if we can get some good weather and a day off from hospital visits.

https://www.strava.com/activities/611310344

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Evening ride to the harbour

I haven’t ridden for days. I have not been feeling the love of cycling nor have I felt like riding up hills at all and the thought of riding along the trail is just tedious. I got out on Tuesday and rode to the bridge at Padstow and back with Kenn but haven’t been near either of my bikes since.

I have been walking and have had a couple of lovely walks with Toffee the Lurcher but have had a couple of duvet days with a hacking cough and feeling like hell as well. I was planning on riding yesterday but really couldn’t rouse myself and summon the effort required to get on my bike. Even not changing and riding in jeans and just bunging on my SPD shoes didn’t fill me with any enthusiasm. I was reasonably determined to ride today but not making any promises that I couldn’t make myself fulfill. Depression is a bugger.

Today I have been making bracelets from paracord and bits of old bike chain. I’ve been using the spacer ring things from between the chain links. They have turned out quite well. Apparently you can see the cord in the dark, it said so on the packet when I bought it.

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I made another one out of bright yellow guy rope, that I found in Norwich when I was there for the weekend. I made it for me to keep as I rather like it.

Bouyed up by learning new things today, I grabbed the opportunity while I was all happy and feeling ‘up’, changed quickly and got out the roadie. I didn’t have much planned, just a ride up the trail to Padstow harbour and back.

The first bit of the trail was interesting. I called out ‘excuse me, passing on the left’ to a chap with a Bichon Frise dog (off lead) who then wandered right in front of me. I had already unclipped so could put my foot down quickly. The chap caught his dog, mentioned that I’d crept up on him silently – I hadn’t whispered – and I carried on riding, only to be chase by the dog. I stopped as it veered in front of my wheel, waited for the man to retrieve his dog and carried on again. The dang thing chased me again then twice more. You would have thought that the owner would have realised his dog was chasing and let me get up the trail a bit before releasing the daft thing.

After that, a lovely clear run to Padstow and on to the harbour. It was a lovely evening and there were lots of people milling about in the town so I went through at about 3mph with one foot unclipped. At the end I turned, was nearly taken out by a massive seagull who decided to fly right in front of my head to alight on an old Fiat Panda. I think I heard the car groan as the gull landed on it, it was a big gull.

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I rode slowly back through the town, getting off and walking past the one way bit where I was going in the wrong way.

There was a busker there who called out ‘you need some decent shoes’.
I called back ‘they are decent shoes, just not right good for walking in’. He laughed.

I then got to follow an elderly couple at 2mph through the car-park but I cut around the back a bit as they were doing the same speed on the road. I managed to overtake them by going up the other car-park and they then swung off the road and into that carpark having sped up considerably, missing me by inches and then going 2mph again. Numpties. I overtook them, then they revved past like they were in a hurry – heading towards the edge of the car park and open water, scattering kids on skateboards as they went, then kangeroo’d to a halt about an inch from a bollard. I think that they were going to drive up the Camel Trail. I suspect that they were tourists. Blind as a bat tourists.

I saw loads of other cyclists on the way back home. All on MTBs and all heading in the same direction as me. My shadow overtook them long before I got anywhere near them. Lots of pleasantries were exchanged as I passed them. I considered riding on a little further but decided, as I’d had a week of the lurgy, not to push my luck. 12 miles was plenty for me today.

https://www.strava.com/activities/584824000

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Tarka Trail, just for a change

Kenn had an appointment at Launceston today, which is roughly half way between ours and Bideford. We’ve been planning to ride on the Tarka Trail and a hospital appointment seemed as good a reason as any. We checked the weather forecast before deciding, then packing the bikes, as it was raining here, quite hard at one point actually. The weather was given out, by the BBC, as raining until about 10am, then overcast for a couple of hours and then cloudy with sunny spells with a temperature of 18 degrees, for the afternoon. That sounded fine by us so CX bikes loaded up, all the info that Kenn needed for the doc was in the car and we were away.

The hospital appointment only took an hour and then we were back in the car for an hour and into Bideford and found a car park close to the trail. £3 for the whole day parking. We could have paid £2 for 4 hours but, as we didn’t know how long we would be, we didn’t want to take the risk. Coffee, cake, ice-cream etc, cannot be rushed and we didn’t want a ticket for being 5 minutes over due.

While Kenn was putting his bike together – the Whyte doesn’t have QR skewers so takes a fortnight to put the wheels back on – I took a nice pic of a rotting hull on the river bed. Low tide, obviously.

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Again, totally forgot to take a camera, even though I put it out to bring so my trusty old phone did the honours again.

We did pop over the bridge to get some money and buy a sarnie, as we were hungry. Not a great way to start a ride so we were underway after a nice chicken salad sandwich each. Kenn had bought 2 packs so he had the 2nd pack in the back pocket of his jersey. We then rode back over the bridge, taking our lives in our hands with close passing BMWs, up the road and across to the start of the trail. Actually, it’s not the start, it’s the middle. We looked at the map and found there was nothing helpful saying ‘Meeth this way’ or ‘Barnstaple that way’. I said that I remembered that the river was on the right, when looking on the map so we turned to the right and started riding.

The first place we came to was Bideford Station, where they do tea and cake on an old railway carriage. We didn’t stop and carried on a bit.

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We rode for a mile or two and came across a bridge with nice views of a folly. We stopped and took a couple of pics and Kenn had a breather. He suggested, at this point, that we rode to Torrington and then back to the car. I said that if I’d just wanted to ride 10 miles, that I might have ridden at home and not driven all the way out here. The bridge and folly were nice though.

Riding on again, we came to a tunnel, with lights in it, which was handy as we didn’t have them on our bikes today. I thought that it looked pretty. It was really echo-ey in there. I resisted the urge to yell ‘Allez allez allez’ as we rode though. Such a child. It was only a couple of hundred yards long and we were the only people in it at the time we rode though it. There was a little sign just before it saying ‘please remove your sunglasses’. I wonder how many people don’t and ride in the walls, or another cyclist and cause a crash. Quite a few I shouldn’t wonder.

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The next little stop we had was at a viaduct. I can’t remember the name of it, I did take a pic but I managed to obscure most of it with my thumb or finger. That’ll teach me not to pay attention to the camera, I was enjoying the view too much.

Just after the viaduct, we stopped and watched the water going over a weir. No ducks or anything bobbing about today. It’s been our experience that ducks seem to like weirs and will ride down on them. The ones at Dovedale did, very often. Maybe Dovedale ducks are more playful than their Devon cousins.
Soon after this we got to Torrington, sat on the edge of the station platform and ate the other sandwich, while it was still edible. There is a bike hire place here, that serves tea, coffee, buns etc. I bobbed in to the shop area and bought Kenn a Calipo and a Mini Milk for me. We were sitting on a chair, munching away when a child refused to get into the trailer on the hire bike. His or Her Mum was doing her best. Her friends came to help, their children were all in the trailers, but that child was not having any of it and was wailing like a banshee. Naturally all the other children thought that this was obviously the way to go and all joined in with the yelling, screaming and general tantruming. One was trying to get out, another rocking side to side and screaming fit to burst. We decided that it was too noisy and environment to enjoy an ice-cream so got back on our bikes and headed on to the trail again. We don’t have kids, never wanted them. Can’t think why. Oh, maybe I can.

We continued along the trail, it was gently rising by now and I waited for Kenn every 1/4 mile or so and we were overtaken by a cheery bloke in bright red shorts riding a bike with a tall flag on it, while we were stopped and swigging a bit of water to rinse out the big fly that I’d eaten. We kept seeing signs for The Yarde Orchard and Kenn said that we would head for it and then think about riding on or back. It was uphill to the Cafe so stopping every 1/4 mile was imperative for Kenn to catch up. I saw some cows, I seem to see a lot of cows on trails. I took a pic, it’s becoming a habit. The trail is very pretty to look at while waiting anyway. That’s Kenn in the distance there.

We got to the cafe at around 3pm. Kenn decided to stop for a coffee and I decided to push on. I said to Kenn that if I wasn’t back for 4pm, to grab me a coffee before the place closed and that I’d drink it when I got back to him.

I had a brilliant ride, gently downhill again, and I was spinning along wonderfully when a suicidal lamb jumped out in front of me. I was very glad of my disc brakes, I might have had a bit of an ‘off’ if Eric had had rim brakes. I took a pic of Lamsykins, after he stood and baa’d at me a bit. He was right, I was going to fast.

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There he goes, wandering back to his Mum. The fence looked good about there, so not sure where he came out of. The surface of the trail changed to a sort of hard clay, dark grey coloured stuff. It was quite hard work to pedal on in some places. I stopped a couple of times to check my tyres as the surface made them feel odd. Still going downhill though, I thought that the surface would be ‘interesting’ to ride back up on. I meant to only go a couple more miles or so, after the cafe, but at the 13 mile point I came across this wooded bit of the path and thought it looked a bit like a fantasy woodland, Tolkeinesque or something out of a Lewis book.
I expected to see Mr Tumness in the woods, or to be chased by a bear, a cross bear because someone had eaten his porridge and slept in his bed. Actually, I’ve often wondered about the thermodynamics of porridge. The too hot, too cold and just right thing with porridge out of the same pan just doesn’t work for me. I reckon that there was a 4th bear who had snuck in, stuffed the porridge and had eaten Mummy Bear’s porridge, replaced it (hence it being cold), eaten baby bears porridge and replace that, and only just eaten Daddy Bear’s porridge which was why it was too hot. That’s my theory anyway.

 

Anyway I was not chased by a hungry bear, didn’t see Mr Tumness or anything, just listened to the birds singing as I rode along. I decided not to stop at 15 miles as I figured that would give me a ride of less than 30 miles and that I’d push on to Meeth as I may as well do another 50km for the 50km challenge thing that I’m participating in. Another point is always welcome. The 17 and a bit mile mark had me at Meeth so I turned back and rode for the cafe.

I’d only gone a few hundred yards when I saw cyclist with red shorts and big bike flag. We got chatting and rode to the cafe together. He was riding at my pace and it was good to have someone to pull (not literally) me up the long draggy hill with the funny clay type surface. My legs were protesting and Dave, the man with red shorts, said we could slow down but I said I was happy to keep on as I wasn’t going to get fitter if I don’t get out of my comfort zone. He was a nice chap, living in Devon but had family in Barnsley, where he grew up. Nice chap, bright and funny and a big fan of Tommy Cooper. The 7 miles flew by.

At the cafe, Kenn had got me a takeaway coffee and saved me half of his cake. Dave and Kenn chatted while I stuffed cake and drank my coffee. It was super hot still so I added bidon water so I could get it drunk and carry on before my legs decided to stiffen up, as they will do that, on purpose, to annoy me. We rode back with Dave and parted company at Bideford Station as he was back off home and we were back off to the car. I rode in a couple of circles around the car park to make up a .5 of a mile, as you do.
That hull was still there. It hadn’t sailed off anywhere.

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52.3km or 32.54 in real money. Metres climbed, 448 and a nice 2 hours and 40 mins, riding in the sunshine. Perfect day.

http://www.strava.com/activities/573943965

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Couple of short evening rides

Tuesday, after a very lazy Monday, recovering from 800 miles of driving and a 50 mile ride, I managed to get 16 miles or so ridden, home to Padstow and back, then rode up to Polgeel Wood on the Camel Trail and back from there, to make up the mileage a bit, as 11.5 miles is a stupid distance to stop at.

Today (Wednesday) I have been procrastinating all day about riding – I’ll just make some earrings, then I’ll just print and make some display cards, laundry, washing up, putting the bins out etc. Around 7, I fed the dogs, kicked myself up the bum – metaphorically speaking – and got the roadie out.

I decided to just ride to Padstow. I wasn’t in the mood to ride but my jeans were feeling tight so thought that I’d make an effort. I took my iPod, Aftershokz and a long sleeved top as it looked a bit cool out. I wasn’t wrong. The low cloud, that hadn’t lifted all day was a bit spooky and it was a tad chilly out there.

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As I approached the bridge, I could see the Wadbridge end of it but not the Padstow end at all.

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It was an eerie sort of quiet out there too, funny thing about the mist, is it deadens sound so my wheels sounded strange on the surface and I could hear some birds tweeting some distance off but they sounded distant and a bit muffled.

The bridge, as I crossed it, sounded very weird.

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Once properly at Padstow, there were a few kids playing on their skateborads and scooters in the car park, but other than that, deserted. On the way back, I looked over at the boats, bobbing about and they were just vanishing into the cloud.

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You could barely tell the water from the horizon and they just looked like they were in the middle of nothing. My phone doens’t really do the vision justice.

I passed ours, on the way back and just rode to the end of the road and back to make the mileage up to 12 and a bit, rather than just shy of 12 miles. Nice ride.

https://www.strava.com/activities/572918450

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Weekending in the flatlands

We headed back to Norwich on Friday evening, so see friends, family and for me to get a nice ride in. Also to check if I was really homesick or just missing my Greyhound. It seems it was that I was missing the dog, that our new landlords said was too big, hence him going to a fantastic new home. It is a fantastic new home too, he has a Pomeranian for a little brother and is living the life of Riley.

We got to Norwich at about 11.15 in the evening, sat at our friends for an hour before heading off to sleep. Or stay awake most of the night, as it turned out. Friend lives in a 2nd floor flat and it was roasting. I couldn’t open the bedroom window as I couldn’t find the catch/handly, so just had to deal with it. I got just under 2 hours sleep in all, I know this because my fitbit tells me so.

In the morning, I took Toffee for a walk, leaving Kenn and Millie asleep in bed. I got a coffee on the way back from a cafe that was just opening up for the morning. Once back, I asked our host if he would like a hand with some housework chores and than, at around 10am, I changed for a bike ride.

Due to the lack of space in the car, as returning a sackbarrow to our friend, plus taking dogs with us, I took Eric the CX bike, as he’s shorter an easier to fit in a small space. It gave me more options to ride anyway. I decided to ride up to Whitwell and see how I felt there. 14 miles to Whitwell and my legs felt empty by Costessey but I kept on and figured that they’d be fine. I’d had breakfast, a bap thing from Greggs that Kenn had been and bought in the morning. Actually, by Attlebridge, I was fine and enjoying the ride.

At Whitwell, I popped in to the cafe area and filled my bidon back up. It was very warm out there and, then there was this pop-whoosh sound and I had a flat tyre on the rear. Joyous. I quickly changed the innertube out, fixed the hole with a patch and was back on my way. I often have a cuppa here but not today as I decided to ride the Themelthorpe Loop and then carry on to Aylsham that way. As I started on the Loop, I saw some badger sets and stopped to take a pic. Sets on the right, in case you’d not noticed them. Naturally I forgot a camera and only had a phone on me, but it takes reasonable pics.

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I did a nice ride around the loop, fastest ever, but then it was dry and I wasn’t up to my hubs in mud. Boiling hot day and a dry spell in Norwich for the few days preceeding did wonders for the trail.

I saw some horses, enjoying the sun and took a quick snap of them. Marvelling at how far I can see with no hills. I’d forgotten.
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Approaching Aylsham, I realised that if I kicked on, I’d break 2 hours for the Marriotts Way, for the first time, even though I was starting from Mark’s house and not Halfords as per. I was spurred on by that and was a good 2 minutes under my target. I went to the Bure Valley Railway cafe and had tea and a flapjack. I topped up my bidon here too. Lady put ice in it and everything. Highly recommended place to stop for a cuppa if you are about.

I only ate half that flapjack, it was massive. I folded a napkin around the rest of it to eat later. Actually I then forgot and took it back and Kenn ate it while I was walking Toffee. Digressing again, but that’s me all over.

Where was I? Bure Valley Railway. I decided to follow the path to Wroxham and have a rethink there. Possibly an ice-cream, depending on queues.
The Bure trail was lovely as normal. I saw trains – notice Eric leaned up against the fence while the train passes.

I watched the Rainbow Trout in the Bure for a while, while chatting to a walker.

My shadow is the one on the right, in case you are interested. View from a bridge, and all that. This bridge was up all last summer and it’s been made all lovely again for this year. I bet this bridge being out annoyed the tourists last year, not to mention the impact on the train ride business. You can see the trout in the river but you might have to zoom in a bit. Like I said, no camera, just my phone.

At Wroxham I overtook a couple of cyclists on their roadies, they looked like new cyclists with brand, spanking new bikes, who were complaining about the hill out of Wroxham. I’d not noticed it. I’ve ridden it so much over the years plus living in Cornwall gives a different perspective on hills. I turned for Salhouse, down and up and down again then turned at, what used to be, The Salhouse Lodge and headed up the short hill, past the farm that used to belong to Ron Fielder and to the pond where I stopped for a swig of water.

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I used to ride my ponies past here all the time, when I was a kid. From the pond it’s down a small hill to the main road where I decided to turn right and start heading back towards Norwich. I did pop into Salhouse Nursuries and begged a top up of my water bottle, the lady there was happy to oblige even though I wasn’t stopping for a cuppa or anything. It does look a good place for a stop and some tea and cake though. Another time maybe.

From there it was a case of heading to Little Plumstead, getting on the cycle tracks and through to Thorpe End. It was here I realised that heading back was going to give me a 48 mile ride. I don’t think so!! I headed through Thorpe St Andrew, past the house I grew up in, doglegged through Cottage Drive and then right on to Thunder Lane (eventually, I turned right,  it always was a busy road but now it’s bonkers). Along Plumstead Road East and then doglegging through the Heartsease Estate to the cyclepath through Mousehold ot Zacs Burger place then Gurney Road cyclepath to Sprowston Road.

Still going to be a good mile or so light, so I headed to the right and followed the roads to Mile Cross, up the slight rise there, over the Aylsham Road and then on to the city dump (yes really) but there is a left hander there to put me back on the Marriotts about a mile and a half from our friend’s flat. A quick spin along there had me back at the flat with a 50.2 miles on the Garmin.

https://www.strava.com/activities/570072383

I drank a lot of water once back. Then wandered into the City for some new cycling mitts as my old ones were just knackered and my hands hurt. I gave Toffee a good old walk too. 37,000 steps and revolutions counted on my fitbit, so pleased with that.

I was going to ride yesterday but by the time I’d walked, seen friends and sorted out, it was time to head home, so I didn’t ride. Still got my 10,000 steps in though.

Took a nice pic or two (with phone again) of Stonehenge on the way home.  It’s on the left in the second picture. We missed the M4 junciton so got on the M3 and the A303 instead. Took about the same amount of time.

Glad to be home again.

R

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