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Exeter Bike Bus - Ride Reports - January 2011

27 January 2011 - Exminster Golf Course

Last Week

Last week the Bike Bus plumbed the depths.

The journey to the Golf Club proved to be relatively uneventful - with only Pauline losing her rear wheel. The Golf Club resembled a bazaar with Stephanie and an invalided Keith hawking piles of cycle jerseys. Despite the cold, people were stripping off and trying out sizes.

I entered a daze whilst trying to make sense of the scene - and when I came too I realised that no one else was there.

The Woodbury Coven were missing Sarah (who was having a lie-in to prepare for the bird watching trip) - so Ian was adopted and they set off 'looking for hills'. Meanwhile as far as I can ascertain John took on the mantle of post-coffee stop leader and set off for Exmouth leaving the entire Bike Bus Management Team behind! I am unable to reveal precise details of the sanctions meted out - but suffice it to say you won't be seeing John for a while.

Witches sign.jpg

The following rather manic report was received from Judy Elvira Knowles.

We were looking for stars and awards for being the most adventurous of the Thursday coffee potters!

Daunted by the freezing temperatures and not having enough feathers, 3 of us decided to head for the hills. Lead by Judy, navigation, by Ian (he has fantastic plasticed maps built up from 1” sqs) and hill speed set by Glenis, we climbed to the giddy heights of Teign Golf Course.

Stunning views out over Dartmoor. We thought of heading that way, but Ian started to mutter about a pint of hot chocolate at the Haldon Grill! We turned down to Luton, Ideford, and Ugbrooke House. I understand much of this is uncharted territory and I believe I should be in receipt a bike bus award! However there are dark mutterings from the award board. The chairman was abandoned at coffee!

Trusham was on offer, but we decided that treat should be keep for the tweeters on another bus journey. The desire for hot choc was becoming desperate. Sandwich chomped under a hedge, we then whizzed up to Haldon Belvidere, flashed along the ridge and into the said cafe to satisfy Ian’s urge.

The trip off the hill was purgatory, we turned from pink to white, Ice cycling statues! Stopped to view a splendid flat, which Ian thought of buying. Turned out to be the old Exminster Asylum. Lucky escape said Glenis its haunted with the cries of the insane!

Great ride 83Ks on the clock

A rather more subdued Stephanie recalls

Following the coffee pot at Exminster, six of us pedalled off to Darts Farm to join the first tour of a new initiative from Nick Gillon (Cycle Devon) and Chris Townend (RSPB) to combine cycling with birdwatching! We were led down the cycle path on the eastern side of the Exe with Nick keeping an eye on cycling ability, ready to help with any punctures etc and Chris providing specialist knowledge and insight of the birdlife we are fortunate to see in Devon. By cycling, we were able to cover more ground in order to see more at different points along the trail – stopping at Exton station, Lympstone and again along the approach to Exmouth.


Whilst some-one in the group had optimistically hoped to see a penguin, instead (but not disappointingly) we saw:

Herring Gull, Blackheaded Gull, Common Gull, Redshank, Greenshank, Turnstone, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Brent Goose, Avocet, Pintail, Goldeneye, Cormorant, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit, Shelduck, Shoveler, Wigeon, Lapwing, Little Egret, Collared Dove.

I was the only one lucky enough to see a Kingfisher along a stretch of water parallel to the Exe.


On the approach to Exmouth, we were met by a newspaper photographer from the Exmouth Journal who took photos of us with bins and bikes – due in print Thursday Feb 3rd.

On our return to Darts Farm, we were welcomed by a mug of hot tea provided by the RSPB which we sipped whilst completing a feedback form – except, everyone but me was given a feedback form, for some reason I was provided with an Incident form! I am happy to say that for once, this was not needed!

New Appointments

Recent reports have documented the continued success of the Bike Bus brand around the world with new franchises opening in Essex, Australia, Rothera in Antarctica - not forgetting nearer to home - Ian's new Tuesday Bike Bus. We have also recently learnt that newcomer Graham is planning to operate a Bike Bus near Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Glenis' First Day

Such rapid expansion can lead to strains on a new organisation but in our case but we are lucky to have a streamlined and extremely effective processes operated by committed staff. However problems do arise such as those experienced in the Complaints Department. The previous Head of Complaints was summarily dismissed after she made extremely sexist remarks about a complainant and implied that they didn’t fully understand how to service a splined cartridge free bottom bracket.

After a rigorous selection process we can now reveal that Glenis Pewsey has been appointed the new Head of Complaints. Previously she occupied a senior position in the Water Industry – but has now made the step up to this demanding post. Glenis lists her interests as hockey and cake.

We wish her well in her new position.

Tuesday Bike Bus - Newton Abbot

Sue Booth's report on the day:-

Five met at the swing bridges, nearly the record for a Tuesday! Ian leading, Richard, Kirby, Mike & Sus B. It was surprising cold, but no sign of the threatened rain. Through Exminster and on towards little Holden included a few warming hills, & then fog at the top before a chilling swoop down to Kingsteignton. A steady stream of cars prevented us turning onto a cycle path so we battled instead through heavy traffic in Newton Abbott. Slowing to wait for us, Ian caught his wheel on a bus bay kerb and fell off, fortunately not into the traffic. Bumped & bruised, but in the spirit of recent Bike Buses & Sunday Rides, he soldiered on with hardly a murmur.

Penn inn sign.png

We were now in danger of being late for our rendezvous with the Pedal Bashers at Romany Jones Cafe. This may explain the muddle we all got in at the complicated Penn Inn roundabout. Mike skidded on a grass verge in the melee and toppled off his bike. His landing was soft but muddy, injuring his knee though on his bike. Again, he soldiered on manfully (Note added by Mike – no I didn’t, I sulked hoping for sympathy but as usual, not a chance!).

Fortunately there was only a moderate turn out of the Pedal Bashers so we could all fit in the compact cafe, some who shall remain nameless consuming large bacon butties. Richard was seen to slip Kirby a tenner –we are not sure if this was a bribe to allow him to slope off after the cafe stop, or if he had lost a bet as to how many would fall off by coffee; anyhow he made his excuses and departed –then we were 4.

The sun was trying to shine as we set out towards Chudleigh, first through some more traffic, & then past a limestone quarry at Stoneycombe (yawn). Kirby took a call to say his Mum had fallen and was in hospital. Fortunately we were not far from Newton Abbott station, where he headed off at top speed. So we were 3.

After an hour the passengers were a little disgruntled to find they were still only 2 miles from Newton Abbott as the driver had slipped in an extra large urban loop, including some riveting views of the ball clay & sand quarry (yawn, yawn). However the route then on up to Chudleigh was sunny, with some lovely views so we forgave him. Amazingly there was still ice all down the side of the road into Chudders. We ate our sarnies in the town square then indulged in more tea and cake at the Pottery cafe (except for Saint Ian who stuck to his lettuce leaf as usual).

There`s only one way to Haldon and that is up, but the weather was positively balmy by now so it was a pleasant pootle there and then over the top to Kenton, Days Pottles Hill and Exminster. Ian left us at The Swing Bridges, then there were 2. As it was such a beautiful evening we stopped at the bird watching platforms by the canal, hoping to catch sight of the rare Bittern, but no luck.

Here`s hoping Mrs James is soon back on her feet.

20 January 2011 - Haldon Ridge Cafe

Last Week

Mike Booth reports

Frosty Canal (c) Stephanie

Sus & I met Kirby at the Quay & it was already apparent after just the short ride from home that icy conditions would prove to be hazardous. So we took the west bank canal side detour to the cycle path at the Double Locks, thus neatly avoiding Steph who had anticipated the usual route!. Several riders waiting at the Swing Bridge, then to Exminster & Kenn. En route Marilyn & Alan both took tumbles on ice, with Alan turning for home shortly after. Regrouped at Kenn, then the old road up Halden to the Ridge Cafe for coffee stop at 10.45 - Steph, with Graham in tow eventually arriving at 11.30, having circumnavigated Halden!

We roadies then left 'Team MTB' to play in the woods, & headed for the Obelisk above Mamhead House - great views. Roger & Marilyn left us there, as we went down to Ashcombe & across to Chudleigh, with some particularly bad ice patches claiming both Sus & Trevor as fall victims. Uneventful climb back to Haldon for lunch & a review of the MTB happenings. Took the old road back down from Halden, hoping it would be the safest, but two very nasty ice patches gave Trevor his 2nd tumble of the day. Guess we were lucky to make it home without further injuries, despite Steph annoying a dog at Days Pottle Farm!

Post ride analysis reveals that Mike found new lanes to the obelisk and down to Ashcombe.

Advanced Mountain Bike Course

Meanwhile the lean, fit, adventurous and stupid six joined the Advanced Mountain Bike Course. We all had different expectations. Stephanie hoped to learn how to jump over chihuahuas. I imagined that we would be sitting in the cafe watching a PowerPoint presentation whilst drinking lattes. Geoff, Penny and Paul looked rather smug having miles of off-road experience in their legs. Little did any of us imagine what lay ahead ...

Geoff negotiating a small jump

Our instructor Josh took us off to the 'Skills Area' where we were taught how to jump over small, then large, tree stumps. We were then introduced to berms and small, medium and large drops. The proceedings were videoed so we could laugh at the others refine our technique.

At this point I thought I had survived - but no - we were then encouraged to ride around the Blue Trail. This trail twists this way and that throughout the forest - and what particularly interested me was that we descended through an atractive deciduous area on the Teign Valley side of the hill (don't mention this to Josh as I was suposed to be looking straight ahead).

The Blue Trail

We all enjoyed a fast run on the forest trail and were all surprised to find that we had covered 8 miles off-road.

The whole course was very well run and Josh proved to be an excellent instructor - showing us how to build up confidence in small steps so that we could tackle bigger obstacles.

We would like to run another course in a few months time - so if you are interested drop me a line. Alternatively if you would like to make your own arrangements please contact Josh direct. Josh Scillitoe, email, 07866 703 065.

Stephanie recalls

For me one of the highlights had to be receiving an 'excellent' from our teacher for pedal position and the 'manual' body position when flying at astonishing speed over the bigger of the two tree stumps!

Disappointed not to have had the confidence to follow Kirby and Geoff down the black jump – but, it is always good to retain a goal for the future! Loved the variety of challenges posed by the Blue Trail but rather glad that the need to concentrate blinded me to what was apparently, in places a very sharp drop off the narrow path! Thankful to have avoided a visit to A and E.

The Six plus Josh (c) Mike

Paul writes:

I can add that although I was quite experienced, I found the tuition very useful as I had time to think about what was being taught and realised some of the things I was doing wrong. Penny, Geoff and I used part of the Red Run on the way down the hill and it was definitely more difficult than the Blue, with patches of ice not helping. I think I have decided I need full suspension to tackle my 5th Devon Dirt - Josh recons they are like riding in an arm chair!

Geoff reports

After some running repairs on the bike we met the group for the smooth ascent up Haldon (rather too smoothly because of the ice in parts ) then the going got rough after coffee with the MTB course. Our instructor, Josh, began with how to do a safety check on our bikes, then with instruction on body positions and bike handling. Next we were encouraged to ride over a low then a higher tree stump. A good demonstration of what our bikes were capable of. This mastered, it was off to the playground to learn how to ride over drop-outs – first blue, then red and finally black graded. Then we were led through a series of linked berms ( banked, tight fast turns, as in a Wall of Death) before riding to the Blue trail. After lunch Penny and I with Paul rode 2/3rds of the red run as a short cut on the way home.

I think we all enjoyed the course despite the wide variation in our experience levels (from capable novice upwards), all learnt much from it. Josh proved to be a very able and patient instructor – much to be recommended.

The Skills Area

Penny's report

With a bit of reluctance I agreed to join the 'other half' who was keen to play, and surprise, surprise I really enjoyed the course. Josh’s tuition was excellent – patient, instructive and confidence boosting and I must confess even fun! We were told we wouldn’t have time to look at the views (pity as that’s what I really enjoy about off-roading), but we managed a few quick glimpses before shooting into the trees again on the Blue Run. The Blue is a well designed trail that gave us most of the challenges we would meet on any off-road ride – tree trunks, narrow twisty paths, berms and drop-outs (have even learnt the lingo!) and when 3 of us took the Red Run on the way home we found similar conditions but that bit more stretching of our skills.

A fun day out.

Tuesday Bike Bus - Bampton

Ian reports:-

      Exeter CTC - Ian, Richard, Kirby
      Wellington Wheelers - Ken, Malcolm, Pauline, Derek

Richard met Ian in Rockbeare at 08h45 and proceeded to Tiverton Parkway station without anyone joining the Bike Mini-Bus at Broadclyst. Kirby (having left his car in Bampton) met Ian and Richard at Tiverton Parkway station and after a little diversion met with the Wellington Wheelers group at Uplowman.

Ken and Malcolm then led to Bampton, where a bakery cafe awaited - coffee, tea, bacon sarnies, cakes and pasties - it was like a cholesterol eater's convention!!

The Wellington Wheelers went on their merry way after coffee and Kirby returned to Exeter via car for important cycling meetings. Ian and Richard proceeded to Tiverton via a series of chevrons and then picked up the main road to Bickleigh, before conquering the biggest climb of the day, up and over Fursdon Hill. Sarah will be measuring it with her inclinometer during her day off tomorrow.

Having finished the climb, Ian and Richard dropped down into Thorverton for lunch - but whilst locking their bikes up outside The Thorverton Arms , the landlord came and shut the door - closing at 14h30!!! - this pub has been scrubbed off the Tuesday rides list of approved establishments - they continued on to The Ruffwell Inn, where lunch was provided with good service and a smile!!

An uneventful final leg of the ride finished off a great day - no rain and no ice!!!

13 January 2011 - Escot

Last Week

Old rydon lane map 2.png

We had even more trouble getting to Escot this week than we had getting to Cullompton the previous week.

Old Rydon Lane was still closed (and it seems as if it will remain so until mid March at the earliest). We had to jump the ditch again, yomp across a field and then find a way past stroppy site managers before exiting back onto the lane by the railway bridge.

The Woodbury group waiting by the Blue Boar had almost given up - but we arrived just in time to form a party of sixteen to make our way to Escot.

After coffee Richard Eales took on the challenge of leading the Bike Bus for the first time and attempted to find a new road. This he accomplished with aplomb - unleashing a veritable tour de force - in which we travelled on 14 km of new roads - and visited a pub for lunch (The Golden Lion in Tipton).

On the way there was much grumbling and quite a bit of debate about the steepness of the hill up onto East Hill above Gittisham - so later that day Ian dispatched Sarah with her inclinometer to investigate. She returned with a measurement of 19% - disappointingly slightly less than 1 in 5.

After the ride I received copies of the following correspondence.

Glenis wrote:

My last week's bike bus has led me to ask some questions that a few days on I'm still struggling to find answers to ...

Can anyone throw any light on why Judy had to buy sandpaper before she started the bike bus trip? She didn't even buy 'wet and dry' - which would have been more suitable for the weather conditions. I accompanied Judy back to Woodbury after the bike bus and, unless she used the sandpaper on the last 100 yards home or so, it seemed to serve no purpose at all other than for her to randomly get it out and show it to us. Um very puzzling behaviour - does anyone think we should tell Tim what happens when he isn't around to keep an eye on her?

My other query concerns Don. He seemed to think he would be able to cycle from Escot back to Ebford without going up any incline whatsoever. He then insisted on staying with Judy and I all the time - even though we kept offering him flatter routes back. Life got even more confusing at one point when he missed the turning that Judy and I were going to take muttering something about a sign showing there was ice on that road.

Do you think someone should tell him

  1. that it is impossible to get many (if any) places in East Devon without going up a few inclines,
  2. that if the temperature is well above freezing (like last Thursday) the ice will have melted and
  3. Man strops every time there is an even slight incline will become very boring when cycling in Devon. Finally, I'm still confused why he was going to Ebford anyway - I thought he lived in Exmouth?

Don's legal representative has responded

Dear Bike Bus Chief Executive,

My client, Mr Donald Buteux, has instructed my firm to represent him and to inform your organisation that he completely repudiates the accusations and slurs insinuated to his reputation whilst in the company of the ladies mentioned in the indictment.

My client was riding his bike in the country lanes of Devon, when he was overtaken by the two ladies and as they passed they offered to sell him some sheets of sandpaper and female riding clothing tops, at an extortionate cost. Naturally, he refused and believing they required some money, he handed to them a small amount of cash.

His good will gesture resulted in a tirade of words, which he did not comprehend, and assumed they related to bike parts. My client was then enticed back to one of their houses for a free glass of water. "Knock, knock, know what I mean". The then use of the forementioned sand paper was not made clear.

My client is willing forgo any legal proceedings, providing the ladies in question are willing to give an undertaking that they will not harass him and show respect to old, grey haired, senior members in cycle clothing.

Yours faithfully

Crank & Pedal
Advisors to the Aged & Concerned.

Bike Bus Management have no comment.

Bike Bus Jersey

Bike bus shirt.png

Keith and Stephanie have conspired to produce a version of the Bike Bus Jersey which could be put into production.

The design is based on Stephanie's original "East Devon Hills, Sea and Beach Huts" design. The final jersey will have long sleeves and a full length zip.

A larger image of the jersey is available here. The jersey is made from 230 gms fabric with a light fleece lining for fast and efficient wicking. The indicative cost for Bike Bus members only is £30-35.

We are interested in whether

  • you have any suggestions as to how the design might be improved (unlikely according to Stephanie), and also
  • an early indication of whether you are interested in ordering a jersey.

Classical Concert in Support of the Deaf College

Classical concert poster.png

You will recall that Amanda is Head of Fundraising at the Deaf Academy in Topsham Road.

A parent of one of the school students is arranging an evening of classical music in aid of the Academy. The evening is being held to raise funds towards some samba drums, which the deaf students particularly enjoy playing due to the vibrations they create.

The event is being held at 7.30pm on Thursday February 24th 2011 at the The Mint Centre in Fore Street, Exeter.

A piano quintet will be performing works by Dvorak, Haydn and others and the evening will feature Sian Jamison (soprano) and Penny Schroeter (mezzo soprano).

More information is available on this poster. If you want to buy a ticket (£5) or find out more please contact Amanda by email or by phone on 01392 267 089.

Weekend Away - Friday 22nd to Sunday 24th July 2011 - Marlbourough

A reminder that John is also organising a weekend away near Marlborough in the Berkshire / Wiltshire Downs. Options will be available for both B&B accommodation and camping.

<googlemap lat="51.421" lon="-1.730" width="500" height="350" type="map" zoom="11"> 51.421,-1.730, Marlborough </googlemap>

RSPB Cycle Tour - Thursday 27 January

Chris townend.png

On Thursday 27 January local ornithologist Chris Townend is leading an bike Bird Spotting ride from Dart's Farm to Exmouth and back.

People (12 max) will assemble at the RSPB shop at 12:15 and leave at 12:30 for a two and a half hour ride.

More details, and how to register can be found in the Information Sheet.

6 January 2011 - Cullompton ~ Padbrook Park

Last Week

Old rydon lane map.png

Last week it rained from the time I set out until I returned home - it was wet!

The ride started off badly when we found that a crucial bit of Old Rydon Lane (the road) had been removed. This meant that we had to cycle up the drive of Newcourt House, jump a ditch, yomp across a muddy field - and then navigate the adjacent building site.

Despite this setback we managed to rendezvous with BB2 at the New Inn just outside Broadclyst. BB2 then set off for the hills of Bradninch and BB1 took the somewhat flatter route via Langford. Amazingly both buses arrived at Collumpton at the same time. Inside the Golf Club there was a fight to put gloves on the (rather lukewarm) radiators.

Trinity map.png

After coffee volunteer leaders were in short supply - so Bike Bus Management had to step in and find a new road. We headed west through Colebrook towards Trinity and on the way Glenis and I spotted a massive hole in the ground. BIG MISTAKE! Behind us was Mike 'Rocky' Booth who began

This deposit is of the Exeter Group which are collectively known as Breccia. Component formations are predominantly breccia with subordinate sandstone. All formations are alluvial fan deposits ...

My concentration on the remainder of the lecture was interrupted by a vicious hill north of Trinity (more details below). This was followed by an equally steep hill down Yarde Downs to Killerton. Here we found the cafe was closed.

We pressed onto Broadclyst where the owner of the Red Lion welcomed us with open arms. We again spread our wet gloves and scarves on the (this time somewhat warmer) radiators - and tucked into our lunch.

Post Ride Note

I've learnt that Ian brought his wife Sarah an inclinometer for Xmas. After last week's ride Sarah was dispatched to Trinity to measure the slope accurately. The results were

Hill Slope % Slope
Trinity 23.40% 1 in 4.3
Yarde Downs -26.40% 1 in 3.8

Miles and Jelly Babies

Now that the media storm has died down we can reveal the (almost) final totals. In 2010 we collectively

  • cycled over 100,000 miles
  • saved over 40 tonnes of CO2
  • consumed over 2.5 million kCalories, and
  • ate the equivalent of 130,000 jelly babies

Well done all!

In accordance with Bike Bus and UCI rules the results are subject to scrutiny. The top three will have to provide blood and urine samples and their mileage records will be audited.

Until last weekend all top five places were taken by women. Then ... rather ungallantly I thought ... Ted Gameson came in with a higher total still. Nevertheless a remarkable year for the ladies - well done Pippa, Yvonne, Judy, Susan and Sarah.

We've recently received this strange missive from a Hugh Roberts from Whimple

Why not switch to the Joule,(1 watt-second think of light bulbs!) > kiloKJ > megaMJ > gigaGJ as the standard SI unit. Animal nutrition adopted this in the late 70s and it works a treat, eg wheat has a value around 14MJ/kgDM (dry matter) - a handy figure to work with.

Diet formulation in Agriculture has always been very accurate at the design/teaching/and advisory end, because it is second to labour as the highest cost in production. Of course all that goes to Potsie, when the blokes “just give them a shovel or two!!!.”

It is also used in agronomy for comparisons in crop performance as in GJ energy/Ha produced when comparing crops and planning forage rotations. Unfortunately, Pseudo human nutrition hung on to the calorie and still does, but because we grossly overfeed it doesn’t matter anyway!!

At last the solid fuel and biomass fuel industries are slowly adopting SI, but like coal, they prefer to remain dinosaurian most of the time.

Bike Bus Management have no comment.


Recently a video of Norman Wisdom in a cycling adventure around Teignmouth has been unearthed. See if you can spot some familiar landmarks. We've also included some other videos you may be interested in

Update on Tuesday Bike Bus


Ian continues to run the Tuesday Bike Bus and is working hard to expand his clientele. His current strategy is to take over neighbouring cycle clubs. He first attempted to take over the Teign Valley Pedal Bashers - but they seem indifferent to his advances. Indeed 'Rocky' Booth has provided the following update

Whilst the three of you were making your forays north-west to the combe of the Wivelis, in your absence Sus & I continued the assault on the TVPB. However, I am sorry to report that, due to their allying themselves with a treacherous CTC group from Kingsteignton, we were totally outnumbered. In fact we could hardly get through the door of the Pottery Cafe in Chudleigh. Mind you, this was not helped by three TVPB members repairing a puncture at the first table inside the cafe! Could you please let our esteemed Assault Commander, Attilla the Lindsay, know that we had to retreat in good order to protect our forces for a future, hopefully more successful, campaign.

Ian was more successful with the Wellington Wheelers. In a carefully coreographed move three Exeter cyclists descended on a Wellington Wheelers group in Wiveliscome. They were perusaded to change their allegiance from their favoured cafe of 20 years and then in a masterstroke Ian led them all to the new Strand Stores in Clumstock. Ian now has six more adherents!

If you would like to be added the the Tuesday Bus Bike email - please contact Ian direct.