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Exeter Bike Bus - Ride Reports - April 2011

28 April ~ Willand Restaurant

Regular drivers James and Rowland offered excuses - James claimed to be taking his mother to Powderham for a Birthday lunch whilst Rowland had a minor chest infection and wanted to stay in the warm so he would be fit to deliver a regular supply of tea to Julie during the Royal Wedding.

Mike Booth took over the reins of BB1 and reports:-

Wow, another opportunity to visit Powderham, bet you couldn't believe your luck! Never mind, duty done & I'm sure it was appreciated.

There was some discussion at Willand about 'Mother excuses', but we supported your cause.

Only six of us on the Bike Bus 1, & a lovely ride it was, if a little circuitous. Only event to note was our witnessing the narrow survival of a mother & her brood of seven at the hands of speeding white-van-man! The mallard & chicks were crossing in front of said van some 50 yards ahead of us, when the driver realised the situation & hit the brakes full on. Much screeching & blue rubber smoke, like a Top Gear test drive. Mother flew off a microsecond before disaster, & the chicks just cowered in a bunch in the road whilst the van slid to a stop over the top of them. Miraculously they emerged unscathed behind the van, tweeting for Mum. The driver stopped & got out, shaken but gratified he had not massacred them all. Mother & chicks were re-united in the adjacent ditch.

Don't want to tell tales, but we were bang on time at Willand, whilst Bike Bus 2 arrived half an hour late - must be missing the military precision usually present (John Rowland absent unwell)!

Roger led a great ride after coffee, no doubt he will let you have his thoughts directly. (I have sent you the route separately - hope you got ok for your 'new-roads' record).

PS we are all going to be looking out for Glenis at The Wedding, no doubt she is worn out after all the rehersals!

Roger relates:-

The elusive monument

Having covered 24 miles getting to Willand by a rather circuitous route, I wasn’t surprised that only seven hardy souls wanted to go even further north onto pastures (and roads) green and new. We cut through Willand, under the motorway and railway, and shortly swung north and made a bee line for Uplowman. It’s a lovely road from there to Westleigh (though it’s higher and steeper than it looks on the map) with occasional views of valley where the great Western canal runs. There was a fair bit of loose talk about lime kilns.

We turned west to Sampford Arundel still intent on reaching the Wellington Monument and expecting to duck under the motorway by the Blue Ball Inn. It looks possible on the map but we failed to find a crossing, and bowing gracefully to circumstance we made a rapid run to Culmstock where an overdue lunch was eaten, tea drunk (excellent tea shop) and Shine on you Crazy Diamond played at full volume from a i-phone.

Home via Ashill, Dulford and Talaton, then the old A30, always with a stiff tailwind to help us ignore the weariness of our legs. Ian said we did 62 miles, but then he also said we had exceeded 58 mph on one of the hills!

The Bike Bus Executive are now assessing whether Roger deserves a Bike Bus Leaders Badge for leading the Bus ... or a Black Sheep Award for failing to find the Wellington Monument.

Next Batch of Jerseys

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Keith Portlock is now taking orders for the next batch of Bike Bus jerseys.

If you can place your order by Thursday 19th May you will be able to take advantage of a reduced post & packaging rate of just £1. This makes the cost of a short sleeve jersey £36 and a long sleeve one £41. Please remember to specify whether you want a waist gripper or not.

Full information on how to order is avaible here.

Isle of Wight Randonee

Iow randonee 2011.jpg

Several well known Bike Busers (and a few Teign Valley Pedal Bashers) snuck off to the Isle of Wight for the Bank Holiday weekend.

Judy reports

Hi all,

Over 2,000 did the Isle of Wight Randonnee ... so well done to all who completed and the off-roaders who did the equivalent !

Details & a photo of some of our finishers are attached - Don & Kirby are missing as they'd whizzed through by the time the rest of us finished !

Tuesday Bike Bus ~ Exminster

Ian writes

A windy ride today, but a new cafe in the form of Luccombes Fishery just outside of Exminster.

Luccombes fishery.png

There was not much seating indoors but plenty outside. Pottsie didn't think this would be a problem when he booked, as the previous 50 days had been glorious sunshine. So we all crammed in and tucked into their bacon and sausage sarnies. Pottsie wanted an excuse letter as to why Kirby wasn't there this week - Mike Booth reminded him that he had missed last week's TVPB coffee pot, so no more was said on that matter!!

Debbie came for her first Tuesday ride and brought along her professional cyclist buddy, Theresa. They left us behind on the hills and after coffee, went off in search of faster pedallers.

So the rest of us bimbled up to the Haldon Grill where Sue Booth had the smallest piece of Victoria sponge that the grill could muster. We returned to Exeter via the double chevron ridge road to Longdown and back through Ide.

... and the latest Lindsay Scores are

  • Luccombes Fishery - Exminster - 16 pts (too close to exeter and no cakes or hot chocolate!!!)
  • Haldon Grill - 20 pts (excellent produce but a little hilly to get there!!)

21 April ~ Escot

On another beautiful sunny day just six cyclists joined Bike Bus #1 for the trip to Escot (Don wasn't one of them).

The Bike Bus at Escot

We arrived at Escot at exactly the same time as Bike Bus #2 which had been wandering aimlessly near Aunk (Don wasn't with them).

Also we had three surprise visitors - Arthur had found his way from deepest Somerset - and Mary and Richard arrived bronzed from Sydney (Don wasn't with them).

Keith (Don wasn't with him) then arrived with his family with a mission to take photos of the Jerseys. During this period we received a phone call from Don at Bernaville Nurseries - wondering why we weren't there.


Now Don has been a full paid up (and not many are) member of the Bike Bus for two and a half years. In that time he has not been given a single Black Sheep Award. Now the Executive have decided that going to the wrong cafe merits a double Black Sheep Award

Stephanie reports:-

Following the photo shoot for the Primeval Website, 13 decided to follow me to Honiton, up Northcote Hill, skirting passed Offwell and Northleigh through Southleigh. Lanes heavily scented with Bluebells with stunning views above Northleigh.

Although, whilst admiring the view, Judy clearly had other plans...but no-one knows what?

Judy escaping through hedge

Then up and down and up and down to cross the A3052 with a small diversion. I had titled this ride A Series of Unfortunate Cycling Events as the diversion took us to the memorial of regular cyclist, Dr Thomas Gilbert-Smith (no 1 in the series).

6 didn’t quite reach the memorial – maybe that’s fitting with the nature of this ride.

And then another 2 very hungry cyclists peeled off at Branscombe in search of food as the Old Bakery closed down on our arrival with mutterings of high demand (there were tables empty), just cups of tea would take half and hour, food run out, dishwasher failure and a water leak! I had previously warned them that cyclists would be arriving – so very disappointing. This I think added to the series of Unfortunate Cycling Events.

After submitting our How did you enjoy this venue forms into the National Trust feedback box, the 5 hardy and determined ones who were left, pushed down hard to climb out of Branscombe to descend later into Sidmouth via Salcombe Regis and the Norman Lockyer Observatory. A change of plan and desperation to find a friendly tea stop led us to the Courtyard Cafe in Sidmouth where we were warmly received and served very quickly.

The plan to go via Sidbury for Tale no 2 in the series was modified for a very enjoyable ride along the Byes and westwards to the Bowd Inn to pick up the old Railway Track to Tipton st John.

For Premium Subscribers, the full stories in the Series of Unfortunate Cycling Events can be read following link.

Now if you had spent the best part of a month preparing a ride, ringing round the cafes to check they would be open, and seeking out interesting historical events wouldn't you be a little bit miffed if people cleared off half way round? As Stephanie notes above - Tim, Judy, John, Jill, Mike and Sue badly let down the appointed leader and have been given the traditional Black Sheep Award.

This means that Sue (by virtue of the count back rule) is still leading the Black Sheep Table.

Geology Update

Duruing the ride Mike seemed to be a little preoccupied so I decided to cheer him up by asking him a geological question. I've forgotten what the question was ... but here is his answer -

You will recall we stopped at the roadside above Northleigh, to admire the view. I expect you were hoping for an answer to the 'Northleigh depression', which you spotted on the hillside in the adjacent field.

It seems this could be a spring, as there is a junction here between the younger (90 million years old), coarser-grained, more permeable sands & sandstones of Upper Greensand Formation (Cretaceous Era) to the east, & the older (270 million years old), finer-grained, less permeable mudstones of the Branscombe Mudstone Formation (Triasssic Permian Era) to the west. It is likely that rainwater has percolated down through the sands & sandstones, then appeared at the surface when it encountered the mudstones, thus forming a spring & subsequently eroding the depression you noted.

After this I was a little preoccupied.

Judy Sock Award


Talking about awards ... Judy has appointed herself the arbiter of good taste in socks (I'm not quite sure what qualifies her for this ... isn't this the person who dresses in bin liners in the wet?). This week she instigated the 'bad taste in socks' award. The first winners are

  1. Kirby James
  2. Sue Booth

Red Dragon Sportif Ride in Aid of The Prostate Cancer Charity

Wdr jersey.jpg
The prostate cancer charity logo.jpeg

Alistair Cope of Axe Valley Peddalers invited me on a gentle ride in Wales. I accepted as I lived in the Principality for 10 years. I should have known better ... the ride turns out to be the infamous Red Dragon Cyclosportif.

I was however relived to learn that mechanical back up, medical and rescue/support vehicles will be in attendance.

On the plus side money raised from my participation in the event will go to the Prostate Cancer Charity. If you would like to sponsor me you can either do so on-line or you can just hand over shedloads on money when you next see me.

Tuesday Bike Bus(es?)

Ian (mid move) reports:-

What with all the Easter festivities ongoing and the upcoming IOW weekend, only Ian and Steve made this week's ride.

With no others in sight, and Steve wanting to check out his new cassette, we ventured up Silverton hill and then Butterleigh hill before dropping down into Tiverton to meet the Wellington Wheelers for morning coffee at Four and Twenty Blackbirds Cafe. Having received instructions from the oracle as to the location of this cafe, we found ourselves outside Mallards Cafe. We asked the Carlsberg delivery chap if he knew the cafe - he said not as they didn't serve beer!! - so we asked 2 young student looking chaps if they knew where it was - one of them pointed to a cafe not 20 yards away on the other side of the road - a bit of deja-vu from Monday (KP will explain!!).

After coffee, a hilly trip down the west side of the Exe Valley (beautiful scenery) we arrived in Bampton for lunch - Bawdens was closed for the Easter break so we all squashed into Toucans - a ride in the sun after lunch down the Uplowman valley before Ian departed for the new pad in Cullompton and Steve went off to find his 4th refreshment stop, courtesy of some friends in Kentisbeare.

Next week, the Teign Valley Pedal Bashers are taking us to the fishery in Exminster for coffee - didn't know they had a cafe, but hey-ho, we'll give it a whirl and report back!!

... and the latest Lindsay Scores are

  • Four and Twenty Blackbirds - Tiverton - 22pts
  • Toucan Bistro - Bampton - 19pts

Meanwhile Ian detached a splinter group to the Walled Garden in Dunsford to keep an eye on the Teign Valley Pedal Bashers. Much of the report is confidential but Mike Booth has released this brief statement.

After we left Dunsford we followed the bridleway from Steps Bridge up the Teign to Clifford Bridge - beautiful carpets of Bluebells are appearing in the wooded valley sides. Then to Drewsteignton for lunch, Whiddon Down for a coffee at the Services, before heading back down the old A30 (& some lovely side roads) to Cheriton Bishop, Tedburn St Mary & home.

14 April ~ Uffculme ~ Cold Harbour Mill

Things began badly ... and steadily got worse ...

Pauline turned up on a machine ... the back wheel of which would not turn. She was dismissed - and earned an immediate Black Sheep Award.

At coffee things improved for a while as we celebrated Joan Bridge-Taylor's 75th birthday ... and scoffed her free cake.

Stephanie and Mum (or is it?)

In the corner I spotted Stephanie with her mum. As she is one of the few mum's who reliably provide sick notes I thought I would thank her for her diligence.


Much to my surprise she said she had never sent in a sick note! The only conclusion I can draw is that the notes are forged. Stephanie has thus earned another Black Sheep Award.

After coffee the Executive had gone to a great deal of trouble to plan an attractive route to Honiton. Unfortunately at least half the bus had other ideas and made their own way to the cafe. Seven Black Sheep Awards were issued.

Super-injunction in Force

Two weeks ago, in the absence of the Head of Complaints, the Bike Bus Executive received the following email ... which was unwisely copied to numerous recipients:-

In the recent absence of a representative from Complaints Dept, standards of fairness and equity have been breached by the casual shelling out of Black Sheep Awards!

We need some clarity on agreed qualification for BS Awards, i.e.:

  • is a puncture a sign of weakness or negligence? Or simply the risks we are prepared to take for trying to be green and healthy?
  • if the owner of the puncture successfully repairs the hole and still makes the coffee pot, surely this shows resourcefulness and determination?
  • if punctures qualify for Black Sheep then this therefore must also apply to pedals which mysteriously fall off – (let’s hope these latter incidents don’t happen on Thursdays).
  • is a forged letter from Mum with a valid reason for absence better than no letter and no reason given for absence?
  • which group of cyclists qualify for Black Sheep Awards: group 1 at the front, group 2 in the middle who stop when they realise that group 3 are missing or group 3 for unfortunately being the ones at the back? (some-one has to be last).
Payne Hicks Beach Solicitors

Clearly the Bike Bus Executive takes such ludicrous libelous allegations extremely seriously and has engaged Payne Hicks Beach solicitors to instigate action on its behalf.

Payne Hicks Beach have issued an extensive rebutal of the points above, in brief they state

  • no one suffering a puncture has ever been given a Black Sheep Award
  • in the week in question the Executive's agent Kirby James stopped to fix someone else's puncture - thus ensuring that he arrived late at the lunchtime coffee stop
  • their agent Kirby James was in fact awarded a Black Sheep Award for having an unserviceable machine when his pedal fell off
  • the Executive take a serious view of deception - especially when it involves an innocent sweet lady
  • the Bike Bus is considered to be a single group, if other groups form and wander off in other directions the Executive can not be held responsible for their actions.

In an extremely serious turn of events the above complainant has obtained a super-injunction preventing us from reporting her name. Payne Hicks Beach are contesting this injunction and we hope to have more positive news next week.

Tuesday Bike Bus ~ Teignmouth

Seven Bike Mini-Bussers left the Swing Bridges bang on 09h00. After the long slog of a climb up to Teignmouth Golf Club, we enjoyed the fast downhill to the seafront, where morning coffee was taken in glorious sunshine overlooking the bay.

We then tackled a couple of cheeky climbs after coffee and had to take a few detours due to new supermarket construction and road resurfacing before arriving in Dawlish Warren for lunch.

The standard route through Starcross and then back along the canal saw us arrive back at the Swing Bridges - a hilly 30 miler complete!!

Next week is Bampton and a long awaited return to Bawden's Bakery

Memorandum of Understanding with Exeter University

Over recent months Bike Bus members have positively engaged in a range of educational activities – including mountain bike training, bird spotting, geology and the study of ancient monuments.

Exeter university logo.gif

The Bike Bus Executive has thus been exploring opportunities to advance these educational interests and also to contribute the global research community. To this end they have been in discussions with Exeter University. I am now pleased to report that the Executive have now signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Exeter’s Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive - Professor Steve Smith .

In particular we have forged strong links with the Department of Psychology which is a top UK centre for world leading research specialising in understanding organisational psychology focused on identity, leadership, and well-being. They have singled out the Bike Bus as extremely fertile ground for further studies.

Exeter psychology.png

There is no need for you to be at all concerned about your personal details and detailed medical history - in accordance with the Bike Bus terms and conditions - they have already been handed over.

Over the next few weeks some of the academic staff will be joining the Bus. Again there is no need to worry as a preliminary assessment indicates that we only expect a few of our number to be sectioned.

In fact last week three of the Department joined our Thursday ride - this had the beneficial effect that the average age of the Bike Bus was reduced by nearly two years (1 year 47 weeks) and its average IQ rose by 5.7 points. In addition the researchers gathered sufficient material for at least two ground breaking papers.

The Executive will keep you up to date with developments.

31 March ~ Exmouth ~ King's Garden Centre

Last Week

Multiple reports this week!!

Mike starts:-

Due to Bike Bus Management (BBM) being decimated by the latest bug, I was asked to lead the Bus from the Quay to Exmouth Kings Garden Centre. Uneventful, except for the stop off at 'Frank's' house near the Puffing Billy. Apparently Frank (as a fellow Rotarian) is prone to playing practical jokes on Don, who saw our passing of his house as an opportunity to get his own back ... arriving with 15 cyclists & suggesting this was the coffee stop! No coffee or cakes, but Frank was pleased to see us & took a photo for posterity (& the Highwayman).

Bike bus lunch escot.jpg

After a suitable sojourn at Kings, Tim took charge of a very large post-coffee ride (26, I think!). This included 3 new young ladies who had intended to meet us on the Quay, but had been waylayed by a broken chain (... and what do broken chains mean? ...) & an unscheduled visit to the Exeter Bikeshed to repair it!

At the Escot lunch stop, Ian & Richard entertained said trio, although it would seem we should have some concern regarding Richard's recent trip abroad - he seems to have adopted a 'hoody' look on his return.

Tim was blessed with the best weather of the year so far, although his ride route produced several discussions on whether any new Bike Bus routes had been found - BBM Technical Team to adjudicate on this.

Tim writes:-

26 left Kings Garden Centre to free-wheel down Hulham road, including 3 post-grad Psychology girls from Exeter Uni who were unsure about the distance planned, but soon made it to the front of the pack !

Bike bus jerseys at kings.jpg

By the bottom of Hulham Rd 2 had dropped off but it may have been a miscount at the start ! A proper count as we entered Phear Park agreed on 24 and somewhat relieved with the safety of the bike track we sped on to the end of the track at Knowle, unscathed. After a quick check on Mike’s sat-nav a possible option via Shortwood Common had to be ruled out so we took the main road past Tidwell House Hotel before a left turn & up into a narrow lane in the direction of E. Budleigh. At this point a bit of a rumpass ensued as the leader claimed a virgin route & in the absence of the Bike Bus Management who were on sick leave Deputy Booth kindly obliged with the 3 whistles only to have the claim challenged by Steph ! It was agreed to refer the matter to management for a ruling !

We managed not to lose anyone through E. Budleigh & Stoneyford to Newton Poppleford where we said goodbye to Ted & Susan and on Don & Debbie mysteriously disappeared but to everyone's relief, they had found the group again by Tipton & after a few minor hills we made it to Escot for lunch by 1.15 pm.

Bike bus en mass.jpg

Encouraged by glorious weather, we decided to do an extra loop around Larkbeare at which point someone narrowly missed sending Glenis down a farm lane to the A30 dual carriageway but leaving her safely on the right road, we all continued to Whimple whereupon one of our two Steve’s suffered a puncture & Keith gallantly left us to go to his assistance & the rest of us pressed on to the Rockbeare straight where Ian left us having declared it must be summer as he had enjoyed his 1st ice-cream of the year at Escot !

Steph & Richard left us at Aylesbeare cross & in the melee of the goodbyes word got out that Don's other half was enjoying a Rotary tea in the Village Hall & was duly escorted out to greet us. Teas for the remaining hot & sticky cyclists having been politely declined, the group now down to 15 made our way on to Woodbury & the cycle path to Darts Farm & after goodbyes to Roger, Marilyn, Don, Richard, Debbie, Ursula & Derrick on the way the rest of us enjoyed Rookbeare ice-creams before the residual of Rebecca, Livvy & Beth our post-grad reps, Mike & Sue, Tom & your leader said their final goodbyes.

Thanks to everyone for coming and a special well done to Debbie for comfortably breaking her prev record for this year, about 55 miles for most of us.

Stephanie notes:-

What has Keith lost?

I got as far as Colestocks (less than a mile) and got a puncture! I managed to fix it all by myself (not quite within Ted Gameson Puncture Repair Time Scale Measures) – but still fairly impressed with my independance. However, due to quite a significant split in the tyre, I decided to temp fix it, ride home and swap bikes. In the meantime, a Knight in Shining Black Lycra mounted on a Blue Ribble appeared to keep me company on what otherwise would have been a solo ride to coffee. On arriving at Tipton, we were only 4 minutes behind the gang – (our spies were out, which is how we knew). They must have been going a fair lick, because we didn’t manage to catch them up but arrived at coffee at same time!!

Great to see the 3 students from Exeter uni! I asked them why on earth they would choose to come cycling with us lot. Apparantly they liked the bike bus reports on the website - particularly the white/black sheep awards which they found funny! FUNNY! I explained this was actually a very serious matter, not to be taken lightly! (Agreed: broken chain = Black Sheep Award)

Tim safely lead 23 sunstroked passengers along a most enjoyable route through the Otter valley to Escot with the Technical Team By Proxy deciding a whistle was allowed.

Tuesday Bike Bus ~ Buckfastleigh

What had Sue said?

This week we adventured out as far as Buckfastleigh and then rode the easy way up to the top of Haytor via Auswell Cross.

With fantastic weather up on the summit, we enjoyed superb views over the Teign Valley. We lunched in Bovey Tracey, before tackling the Trusham route up Haldon Hill to the Belvedere and then dropping back down into Exeter.

Latest Lindsay Scores are now on-line.

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