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Exeter Bike Bus - Ride Reports - August 2011

25 August - A Very Secret Location near Cadhay

Twenty cyclists made their way to a 'not so secret' location near Cadhay. Jan and Keith Portlock had laid on an amazing spread of food and drink including the famous 'Irish Fruit Loaf'.

Bike Bus RDA Coffee morning.jpg

Jan writes:-

It was great to see so many fit, lycra clad cyclists tucking into coffee/tea and cakes without having to worry about the calories - just knowing they would be burning them off on a few hills you had planned for them!!!

Please pass on my thanks to everyone for their generous donations (the money raised is gong to the East Devon Riding for the Disabled Association). A wonderful £66.40 was raised and with a donation of £15 from 2 kind friends, who always give me their support for this Charity, this morning raised a total of £81.40.

Afterwards, Bike Bus Intelligence was tasked with uncovering the secret recipe for the 'Irish Fruit Cake'. Agent R has come up trumps ...


    Soak sultanas etc. in tea.
    Add sugar, spice, egg & flour.
    Takes approximately: 10 min work, 1.5 h cooking, 10 h total.


    Dried sultanas or mixed cake fruit      500 g
    Boiling water                           400 ml
    Teabags                                 approx 2
    Moist brown sugar                       200 g
    Self raising flour                      250 g
    Egg (chicken)                           1
    Mixed cake spice                        1/2 tsp


    Oven. Kettle (or some other way of boiling water for making tea). Mixing bowl. Knife to mix with. 
    Scales (or just estimate). Bread tin (about house-brick size). Greaseproof paper.


    Brew tea using 400 ml of boiling water and approx. 2 teabags (more or fewer to personal taste preference).
    Put the 500 g of dried fruit in the mixing bowl with the brewed tea (minus teabags).
    Leave to soak for a minimum of 2 h but preferably much longer, e.g. overnight or whilst out at work.
    Turn on the oven to warm up to 175°C (Gas Mark 4).
    Mix in the 200 g of sugar, the egg (shell removed) & the half tsp of mixed cake spice.
    Mix in the 250 g of self raising flour.
    Line the loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
    Put the mix in the tin.
    Bake for about 1.5 h (it is ready when a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake does not come 
    out with dough stuck on it).
    Remove the cake from the tin & allow it to cool.


After all this food and excitement the Bike Bus headed through Ottery and up East Hill. Here they were met by a cloudburst and they discovered that White Cross Hill had become a small river. Undeterred the leadership ploughed on upwards - but had to wait a considerable time before the rest of the bus struggled up the hill.

We descended into Sidmouth - but conditions had barely improved - here the problem was the wind - so we settled for a quick bite and then headed over to Otterton where we were able to enjoy a warm drink out of the wind and rain.

Bike Bus Executive Trip to the Dordogne - 5 to 15 September 2011

Dordogne bend.jpg

You will be aware that the Executive are taking seven select members of the Bike Bus to Central France for a trip up the Dordogne, Lot and Cele river valleys. The Executive were very impressed with the blobs produced by Mike & Sue, Ted & Susan, and last year by Tim & Judy - so have decided to follow suit - http://um-collaboration.org/walk/


However they are unwilling to utilise the complex technological wizardry used by the above wanderers - so are adopting a well tried and tested technique - homing pigeons. You may not know that Roy keeps pigeons - and he has kindly agreed to us taking eight of his birds on our trip. We will be writing reports each day and attaching them to a bird's leg - then release them for the journey back to Roy's loft in Exeter. Rather appropriately three of the eight pigeons are related to 'Mary of Exeter' who was awarded the Dickin Medal for showing endurance and exceptional courage on flights back from occupied France during World War 2.

Roy tells us that racing pigeons can reach speeds of up to 110 mph - but we should only expect average speeds of about 40-50 mph for the 450 mile trip home. Thus there will be a slight delay in updating the blob.

The blob can be found at http://um-collaboration.org/walk/

Mary of Exeter was a carrier pigeon who served with the National Pigeon Service during World War II. She was awarded the Dickin Medal in November 1945 for showing endurance on war service despite injury. She was owned by Charlie Brewer, a cobbler from Exeter. She served with the National Pigeon Service between 1940 and 1945 carrying top secret messages. Mary made four trips from France to England. She was wounded on three occasions, requiring a total of 22 stitches. On one occasion she was attacked by German kept hawks stationed in Pas-de-Calais returning home with wounds to her neck and right breast. Her next trip took place two months later. This time she returned with part of one wing shot off. Three pellets were removed from her body. In 1942 her pigeon loft was bombed during Luftwaffe raids on Exeter, killing many of the pigeons housed there. Mary, however, survived. During her final trip her neck muscles were damaged by shrapnel. To enable her to hold her head up, her owner made her a leather collar. She died in 1950 and is buried in Ilford Animal Cemetery.

Pippa Makes it to Paris


As most of you know Pippa entered the 2011 Paris-Brest-Paris (PBP) Audax. This event is run every four years and is a target for serious randonneurs.

During the year Pippa had to complete a series of UK based qualifying events - culminating in a 600 km ride. However the PBP is 1,200 km long - double the longest ride that most entrants have completed.

To cut a long story short - Pippa made it!!! She arrived back in Paris after 89 hours (and 1,230 km) on the road - what a fantastic achievement!!!

Pippa's quotes:-

Good to relax now.

French trip was fun. Don't know what all the fuss was about!!

I love all these notes of congratulations, at work today, banner over the white boards, cake with my frame number on. End of the day it was just a bike ride and I had a lot of fun.

Hi Kirby - Thank you for highlighting my progress through France. I never imagined so many people would take such an interest. Please pass on my thanks to all Bike Bus Passengers for their support.

Tuesday - Exmoor Extravaganza (Part 2)

Ian reports:-

Bike Mini-Bus A (Ian & Richard), turned-to at Ian's house at 07h30 for Bacon Sarnies and then thought they would be meandering their way to South Molton for coffee. It is now confirmed that the road to South Molton is not flat. Having climbed up and descended down for what appeared to be over a dozen times, we eventually rolled into town just before 10h00.


A text message from Bike Mini-Bus B (Kirby and John), informing us that they had left Barnstaple (alledgedly got there by train, but don't believe those cycling stalwarts would stoop so low - assume they met at the Swing Bridges at 06h00 and bimbled up the Taw Valley in order to get some extra miles in), meant that we didn't have time for coffee. A quick cereal bar and we headed straight off for the South Molton to The Sportsmans Inn hill climb - new PB of 45m57s set for the 6 mile climb - well done Richard!!. A few uphill sections followed, where Ian set his new PB for highest altitude ridden on a road in the UK - 473 metres.

Descending into Challacombe (after finding a new gated road for Kirby to add to his list), it became apparent that Ian had not quite read the contours correctly and the selling feature of the ride - more beer, less hills - was not coming to fruition. 50 miles in, we eventually arrived in Simonsbath, where Bike Mini-Bus B were just finishing up their morning coffee before heading off. A Quick Hello Goodbye, an arrangement made to meet in Dulverton and then we nipped round to the Exmoor Forest Inn - good food, good beer, but not many points for distance from Exeter and amount of climbing needed to get there!! - total score 15 pts.

We raced over Winsford Hill, descended into Dulverton and established ourselves at The Bridge Inn. No sign of Bike Mini-Bus B, so, not wanting to be rude, we ordered a light ale and as we sat down, 2 ninjas in yellow cycling jackets appeared like trolls from under the bridge. Realising it was Kirby and John, we were informed that we would be departing in five minutes. We negotiated that to ten, downed the beer, scoffed a couple more cereal bars and then left Exmoor behind us, before returning to Cullompton via the Uplowman Valley. We lost Kirby at Sampford Peverell, something about checking train times or such like.

So 80+ miles covered, a couple of new PBs, a couple of beers, a couple of hills and John's first crack at a Tuesday ride.

Next week, Kingsteignton with the Teign Valley Pedal Bashers.

John adds:-

At Boeveys in Simonsbath Kirby and I enjoyed first class cups of coffee and large slices of delightful cake all reasonably priced. So much so that we each had a second large cup of the dark liquid. On leaving having met you two, while we were "washing our hands!" a man sitting at the next table moved my wind stopper from my chair near him to the other side of my table. Why we didn't ask, but presumably he objected to the potentially sweaty clothing near to his meal! Next time I see him I will leave a pair of sweaty socks there instead! In addition to fine fair the landlord was obliging and helpful, filling water bottles etc. All in all a good cafe for future visits (assuming the objectional man is not present) - total score 19 pts

18 August - Escot

Last Thursday was yet another of those days when you wished you'd stayed in bed. At the Quay I again found myself all alone ... it was the right year, the right month, the right day and the right time ... but I was all on my own in the rain. I debated whether to go back to bed but I was curious to see how Escot (which was preparing for the Beautiful Days Festival) was coping with the rain.

At the Swing Bridges I was somewhat amazed to find Roger and Marilyn patiently waiting in the rain. We set off and were soon caught up by Ian.

A few more Bike Busers had made their way to Escot and three of us (accompanied by Martin from the Wellington Wheelers) took advantage of the improving weather to loop home through Budleigh and Exmouth. We forwent the opportunity to call in on Mrs James (snr) for tea - in case she surparsed the score of Mrs Lindsay (snr).

Pippa on Way Back from Brest

As I expect you know Pippa Wheeler is tackling the 1,200 km Paris – Brest – Paris Audax ride this week. Pippa set off from Paris at 19:40 on Sunday evening and arrived in Brest at 12:32 today (Tuesday) after having covered 618 km in 41 hours. All she has to do now is ride back!!

You can follow Pippa's progress by entering her number - 5680 - into the tracker

Pippa paris brest paris.png

We all wish Pippa a safe journey home.

Where is Judy?

F 11 51 55 0116.jpg

I expect you also know that Judy has been missing for the past few week's – being heavily involved with preparations for her niece's wedding. Unfortunately we still haven't seen Judy since ...

... However reports have surfaced of a lady bearing an uncanny resemblance to Judy having her head stuck in a wall at Dawlish. We are trying to verify these reports.

Tuesday Report - Widecombe

Ian reports:-

Hills to warren house.png

After various excuses as to why Bike Mini-Busers weren't riding this week, Richard and Ian set off from Cullompton at 07h45 in order to meet Debbie at the Swing Bridges. An uneventful ride out along the old A30, saw us arrive at Woodleigh Coach House for coffee. Cakes looked superb as usual!! total score 22 pts.

Debbie left after coffee - some excuse about not being allowed to leave the kids Home Alone for more than a couple of hours - whilst Ian and Richard rode off to Chagford. Negotiated a surprise hill into Drewsteignton, before the main event - a 7 up chevron 3.5 mile road out of Chagford that took us all the way up to the top of Dartmoor at Warren House. Refraining from beer, we descended into Widecombe for lunch at The Old Inn - a little hilly to get there!! - total score 14 pts.

After lunch, we had a crack at the Widecombe Hill Climb - Chris Boardman's 1990 record of 4m10s still stands - Ian came closest with a new PB of 9m30s, whilst Richard soared up in an impressive 12m30s at his first attempt

A 40 mph descent into Bovey Tracey, followed by an up and over Haldon Hill, saw us arrive safely back in Exeter, 80 miles clocked up and no mechanical issues (for once!!)

Next week, is the Exmoor Extravaganza (Part 2) - names to Ian for numbers for FREE BACON SARNIES!!!!!

11 August - Cullompton, Padbrook Park Golf Club

This week was the first opportunity for the Bike Bus to try out the newly re-opened Old Rydon Lane ... so I was expecting a massive crowd of cyclists. Unfortunately I was the only one at Pizza Terracina. After checking I'd got the right time ... and the right day ... I set off alone along the canal path.

Fortunately Roger and Marilyn joined in at the Swing Bridge ... and gradually more joined in on the way to Collumpton. When the Aylesbeare service arrived there was almost nowhere to sit.

Paris brest paris.png

At the golf club Debbie presented Pippa with a 'good luck' card. For those who don't know from Sunday 21st to Thursday 25th August Pippa is riding the 1,200 km Paris - Brest - Paris Audax.

The riders pass through a series of 'controls' - if you want to see how Pippa is getting on you can enter her tracking number - 5680 - into the following page.

After coffee John led a dozen cyclist up the Culm Valley, over Luppit Common and down into Honiton for lunch at the Boston Tea Party. Afterwards the group spit up and went their own ways.

The Exeter group left Stephanie at the turn off for Woodbury with a wicked grin on her face ...


Stephanie subsequently reported:-

With the prospect of up to 10 days off my bike due to usual summer activities, visitors etc. I decided to take the slightly longer but popular route from Honiton to Payhembury via Woodbury, Yettington and Newton Poppleford.

Wedding sheepy thumb.jpg

Brief stop at Burrow Cottage to grab a cuppa in amongst the foray of wedding preps. Judy greeted me and invited me in despite the chaos. So, deciding to have a little joke I mentioned the 20 or so parched BB passengers waiting around the corner in anticipation of a large pot of tea. Judy, blushed with embarrassment, awkwardly adjusted her weight from foot to foot and politely said no, it really wasn’t a good time! Ha ha – joking!

So, thought I’d try this again with Tim – guaranteed to fall for it! Not so politely and quite firmly he said “no, this really isn’t fair”! Ha, ha joking again! After this, I was astonished that they still let me in despite the house full of relatives frantically sewing, tailoring, tucking, hemming fuscia gown and scarlet jacket with less than 48 hours to finish! Swiftly downed tea with Friendship Cake, gave Tim a quick lesson in bread making and out of the door 20 minutes later. Whereupon, I witnessed what I can only assume is a traditional Maori dance – Judy stomping up and down, waving all four limbs and grimacing in sheer jealously of my anticipated 68 miles for the day!

Tip: Cyclists know when they have overstayed their welcome when on departure and in mid leg lift over the saddle, they find themselves hopping like a pogo stick to keep up with their bike which has been lifted up and propelled out onto the road!

Ted and Susan Return from the Far North

Ted writes:-

This is a note to let you know, as some already do, that Susan and I survived our Norwegian and Danish marathon, and that the blog is now reasonably up-to-date if you would like to read about how Norway and Denmark treated us. In a few days or so I'm hoping to add some more photos....

Link: http://bit.ly/GamesonsNorway

We have seen so much in the last 6 weeks or so, that some days merge into a blur. Some might think that cycle travel is slow, but that isn't the way it feels because, in a comparatively short time, we have still travelled well over 2,000 miles.


We have come from the wild tundra of the North, through the beauty of the northern fjords, to a rather grim Tromso, down the fabulously beautiful Lofoten, along the ferry-hopping coastal route 17 (approriate because there were about 17 ferries!) to the beautiful city of Trondheim, then into breathtaking (in more ways than one) southern fjord country (Nord, Geiranger, Sogne), and then over the very challenging Rallarvegen (and the best campsite of them all), and finally the high plateau south of Hardangervidda and the valley of Setesdal. We have seen trolls, reindeer, stoates, and lots of other cyclists often going much further than us. Then there was Denmark ......... mostly headwinds rain and luke warm showers, or so it seemed.

I have more detail of equipment, routes if anyone wants to plan their own trip.


Sue and Mike are still in Germany

Sue ferry.jpg

Meanwhile Sue and Mike, having completed over three and a half thousand miles (are they heading for the 2011 CO2 award?), are now in Germany.

Link: http://suemike-lifecycle.blogspot.com/

Their latest report describes electric shocks and wheels exploding. Let's hope they make it home safely!!

Bike Bus Executive

The following Resolution has been issued by the Bike Bus Executive:-

 Resolution 5 (BBEX -  327)


    1. The success of the Bike Bus

    1. The positive contribution made by seven Bike Bus Members
    2. The need to recognize such selfless acts.


    1. That none of these seven contributions quite meets the standard required for the 
       granting of a White Sheep Award.


    1. To reward the seven members with a holiday in France.

    1. Said members to free the period 5-15 September 2011 for an expenses paid holiday.

Who are the seven?

Tuesday Report - North Curry

Ian reports:-

Not 500 yards after leaving the Talaton Inn, 2 of today's 3 riders (Ian, Richard, Hugh - Welcome to Tuesday Bike Mini-Bus Hugh!!!) managed to avoid going in the ditch. One did and full details can be found in the premium subscriber's area by clicking here.

Having picked himself and his bike out of the ditch, Richard dusted himself down, realised that nothing was broken (body or bike) and we continued on our merry way up Hembury Fort.

15 miles of drizzle later and we found ourselves descending down into Staple Fitzpaine and then on to Curry Mallet. The cafe (at the local Post Office Stores) was good. Not a lot of cake, but what there was, was good homemade fodder. Umpteen refills of coffee meant we left well fed and watered - 15 pts

Martin from the Wellington Wheelers then lead us on to Swell, where we visited a 13th century church before riding across the levels to Langport and The Potting Shed - the quality was OK but was a little pricey - 9 pts - not as good as the Parrett Cafe down on the main street

Returning via North Curry (so that Ken could settle his debts!!), we picked up the Taunton Cycle Trail back to Wellington and then the Culm Valley to Cullompton.

85 miles completed (90 for Hugh and 105 for Richard!!)

Next week, a jaunt to Chagford and Widecombe on the Moor.

4 August - Crediton Station Cafe


In a cloudburst only one rider joined the Bike Bus Executive's Humble Servant on the Quay (thanks Debbie!).

The rain continued all the way to Crediton - where surprisingly we found quite a crowd had braved the rain and arrived by other routes.

After coffee we steeled ourselves to get wet again - but fortunately the rain had passed and we sought out the easiest way to climb over to Cheriton Bishop where we stopped for leisurely lunch at the Woodleigh Coach House.

Tuesday Report - Starcross Ferry

Ian reports:-


5 Bike Mini-Busers (me, Kirby, Tom, Debbie, Marilyn) left the Quay bang on time at 09h32. After an easy section along the canal, we manoeuvered our way through the cyclo-cross course before arriving at Powderham for morning coffee, where Roger joined us.

The quality standard was not quite up to scratch, so only 16pts scored - disappointing as this is the cafe with the least amount of climbing to get to it - in fact, thinking about it, the hilliest part is climbing up from the canal to get over the crossing at the Swing Bridges!!

Starcross exmouth ferry.jpg

Debbie left us after coffee, leaving us to what you would think would be just a formality part of the ride - less than a mile form Powderham to Starcross - but Oh No, not on a bike bus ride!! - Kirby lead us out to sea like a scene from the Lost World of Atlantis. Luckily the tide was out, so buoyancy aids were not required. We eventually took our place in the queue for the Exmouth Ferry and after deliberations as to whether there was space for our bikes, we made the crossing without incident.

Kirby redeemed himself by leading us down to a group of benches overlooking the estuary at Topsham. Sandwiches scoffed, we started to make our own ways home - an easy ride, just what the legs needed after the recent long hauls!!

Next week, normal service is resumed with a bimble out to the Somerset Levels!!

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