ExeterBikeBusReports201203

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Exeter Bike Bus - Ride Reports - March 2012

Thursday 29 March - Powderham

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The Executive were faced with a difficult decision this week as there were a large number of contenders for the coveted Black Sheep Award. The two main ones were

  • Mrs Wolf - who took it into her head to wash and iron the Black Sheep T-shirt. Now one of the main disincentives to earn a Black Sheep Award (i.e. having to wear a fetid T-shirt) has been temporarily removed and
  • Kirby who was supposed to lead an 'easy' ride - but failed to turn up (allegedly due to a punture) - thus leaving four confused cyclists at Piazza Terracina.

After quite a considerable discusion the Executive have bestowed the Black Sheep Award on Kirby.

Mike writes:-

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We met Penny, Geoff & newcomer Michelle at the Piazza Terracina, Geoff sporting a nice line in Black Sheep T shirt. Pauline & Wolf arrived, & we heard about his recent wheel-collapsing accident! Then picked up the usual Swing Bridge crew, & the Aylesbeare Bike Bus as well, so a 20+ group heading to Powderham. Made the Exminster stop on time, then a scenic hilly way to Kenton (Wolf, Pauline & Michelle took a short cut, but somehow managed to arrive at coffee 30 minutes after the rest of us!) An excellent turn-out on this beautiful spring day.

After coffee we took a flattish easy ride along the coastal cycle route to Dawlish for an early lunch. Several sensible passengers left us there, realising the hills had all been saved for the pm session! Despite the best efforts of the Highway Authority to block our way with a heap of rubble & a massive hole in the road by Dawlish Water, we detoured around them & still managed to find one of the toughest climbs up onto Haldon. A welcome tea at The Grill, then four left us at the Racecourse to drop down the Old Road whilst the remainder took the final switchback punishment along the ridge to Longdowns, then Ide & home.

Stephanie reports on her homeward journey:-

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Between Topsham and Ebford we “bumped” into Martin on his way back from several days touring in the Bournemouth area!

Warren and I made our own way this morning but met Debbie near the Starcross Sailing Club – she was still very groggy and struggled to manage the short distance but so determined! For the first time ever, I had to slow down to her pace!

After coffee we went off towards Starcross, caught up with Sarah, pedalled a bit until Glenis caught us up and regaled us with stories of flamingos and chickens. All piled into Turf for drinks, then onto Topsham, Sarah stalled at Darts Farm, Glenis disappeared at Ebford muttering something about the Rat Man (thought he had already been ... a few times?) leaving Warren and I to continue via Lympstone, A la Ronde, Otterton for tea and eventually home.

64 miles and done in.

Tuesday 27 March - North Curry

Ian reports:-

Ian, Huw and Richard left Cullompton at 08h00 and picked up Steve from Talaton at 08h40. After a trip up and over Dunkeswell/Smeatharpe/Tricky Warren, we arrived in North Curry, where we met the Wellington Wheelers, the Windmill Hill Wheelers and the Exeter CTC Small Wheeled Division.

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A bit hectic at North Curry cafe, but we were well looked after with homemade cakes – still superb and well worth a visit – 17 pts.

After that, we went via North Petherton, on an almost entirely flat route to The Traveller’s Rest at Merridge, sandwiches and beer were good, but they refused to serve us cake as we hadn’t had main meals – blacklisted – next time will just go past and drop down into Bishops Lydeyard – 0 pts.

Return via Wellington, Uffculme and Cullompton - 75+ miles covered – next week Exmoor!

Sue adds informatively:-

Ian and Richard were cycling to North Curry in Somerset to meet the Wellie Wheelers. To avoid setting out before dawn to join them, 5 of us (Geoff, Penny, Kirby, Mike and Sus) hatched a plan to take our folders on the train to Taunton. British Rail rather begrudgingly got us there in plenty of time, where we set off in fine spirits and glorious sunshine, not a hill as far as the horizon. After about 3 yards we had to stop for adjustments as I had leapt on the saddle to find it was at a jaunty angle. Once I was facing the right direction we were off again, along the canal side and past neat farms, arriving, after only a few miles, at the community cafe at North Curry. Ian's Dad was already there sampling the fine cakes and coffee served up by local volunteers.

The Wheelers joined us, tailed by Huw and Ian, who had suffered a puncture. After a long banter, topping up on Vitamin D, we finally emptied the cafetieres and resaddled. Mike now found he had a front puncture from a tiny shard of grit. Making a mental note to throw away the Brompton tyres and replace with Schwalbes, he set about the difficult job of repair (see end of video). The rest of us helpfully sat down to another round of coffees.

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An hour later we were along the canal again towards Bridgewater, before cutting back west through little villages and more canal paths. A model of our solar system, built beside the water, illustrated how far we are from the sun. The "sun" looked more like a giant peach.

We chatted with a very friendly pair of touring cyclists from Essex, Grandpa on a Thorn and Grandson on a Brompton! Our train home drew up to the platform just as we arrived and there was a mad scramble as we had to run to the end to fling our bikes in the guards van before leaping out and running to get in a carriage. The reverse dashing about at Exeter provided the only strenuous exercise of a very pleasant day out.


A Personal Communication from Keith Portlock

Dear Kirby,

Bike Bus members, and especially those select few who have earned the coveted Bike Bus Leadership Badge, will appreciated how very disappointed I was that my attempt at bike Bus leadership failed so spectacularly to the extent that the Bike Bus executive felt compelled to award me, and deservedly so, a double ‘Black Sheep’ award (see Bike Bus report of 29 December 2011).

Given the devastating effect this had on my morale and the resultant fragility of my constitution I have been reluctant to make another attempt lest a repeat failure caused further, and perhaps more lasting, psychological damage. I am no coward, however, and I have not given up. I really do want to qualify as a Bike Bus leader and to earn a badge of my own. To this end, therefore, I felt the best way to improve myself and attain the necessary qualifications was to learn from those who lead our rides with such aplomb.

I have, therefore, on our rides since my debacle, been studying the leadership credentials and style of each of our leaders so I could seek to emulate the best features of each. This has proved a very interesting and valuable exercise. There is so much quality in our leadership that it would be impossible to summarise it all here but I have chosen five of our most distinguished leaders as my role models. I hope those I don’t mention will not feel offended.

My chosen five are, Kirby James, Stephanie Houghton, John Rowland, Mike Booth and Ian Lindsay.

Kirby is there because of his immediate visibility to other Bike Bus members. His rack bag, always at least 30° off the vertical and the amazing cadence he maintains means he is easy to spot amongst the group whenever leadership help or guidance is required.

Stephanie is there for her leadership style. She, like all successful generals, leads from the back. A style especially evident when the gradient exceeds 5%.

John is my choice for his precision and empathy with Bike Bus passengers. He leaves each bus stop absolutely at the time shown in the timetable, or a couple of minutes early if he can, regardless of who he leaves behind or whether or not one's zip is completely secure.

I am full of admiration for Mike. One cannot fail to admire this tolerance and understanding of other road users, especially those driving motorised vehicles on country lanes.

Finally, Ian is chosen for the encouragement he gives others as he streaks past them going up the steep hills.

Let me summarise, therefore what, through observing these great leaders, I intend to put into action to improve my chances of leadership success. I will adjust my rack bag to a lop-sided stance and buy a rear cassette the size of a dinner plate, I will practice dithering around at the back of groups going up hills and commit to setting off, precisely on time or, preferably, a minute or two early regardless of who is ready or not. I will shout and swear at as many motorists as possible, especially women drivers and I will unashamedly boast about my climbing ability and humiliate as many members as possible, especially the slower ones, by going up and down hills several times while they are struggling up once.

I am indebted to those mentioned above from whom I have learned so much and through their example now feel ready to give Bike Bus leadership another try.

I remain, Sir, your obedient Bike Bus passenger.

Keith A Portlock OBE QPM

Thursday 22 March - Otterton Mill

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Given the Executive's policy of reducing Bike Bus numbers - a worryingly large number of passengers turned up at the start on the Quay. Including Wolf who puzzlingly seemed to be quite pleased to be wearing his Black Sheep T-shirt. For those of you who don't know Wolf - we received him on a free transfer from the Hamburg Fahrrad Bus.

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Fortunately the rate of attrition was high. Geoff collided with a bollard some 50 metres from the start and somersalted over his handlebars and landed on his head. His 35-year old left crank was bent into the frame and his pedal fell out. A reluctant Penny was persuded to stay with him - so that was two down.

For his inattention Geoff** is this week's Black Sheep Winner.

The Bus made its way to Otterton for coffee (and for some of us free cake). The Executive has decided that the remaining Bike Bus passengers are becoming too soft - so planned a route to the Donkey Sanctuary which included two serious hills.

Over half the passengers suddenly remembered vital appointments with dentists, podiatrists, and long lost aunts. At least six more decided to avoid the first hill, and after getting over the first hill Jill also remembered that she had to buy some toothpaste in Sidmouth. This left just six brave souls to tackle Observatory Hill.

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Some hours later the party arrived at the Donkey Sanctuary and enjoyed hot drinks. Stephanie made friends with an albino donkey.

Drinks downed the party made its way to Honiton where Stephanie introduced us to a new cafe on the High Street called 'Toast'. The cafe has a back entrance so that bikes can be safely left in the garden - and we enjoyed afternoon drinks in the sunshine.

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Stephanie had one more appointment in Honiton - it was cycle sale day in Lidl's. So we next found ourselves on Honiton's Industrial Estate seeing what bargains were on offer.

Purchases ranged from inner tubes, through gloves and waterproof tops, up to a complete set of panniers. See if you can spot them next time you're on the Bike Bus!

**Geoff wrote later:-

After leaving you I managed to pedal back to the new 'Exeter Cycles' in Topsham Road using my detachable pedal and I must say I can’t recommend them highly enough.

They fitted a replacement crank arm and my own pedal in about 15 minutes for the princely sum of £10 and I was ready to ride again. I then turned my attention to the helmet which had a crack below the dent so they sold me a new one at a very reasonable price. I was very glad that I was wearing the helmet as they didn’t stock replacement heads and even though my brain is not clever enough to avoid bollards it is clever enough to be clever enough to be worth protecting.

Sorry we missed a nice day out with you all.


Sue Booth reports:-

A select team (Susan G, Sue B, Mike B senior, Mike B junior, and Don) decided to amble back, avoiding the arduous Sidmouth route of the others. We managed to leave Ken behind at Otterton as he was mesmerised by Steph's gears. He caught up when some speeding cars caused us to stop near Newton Poppleford.

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Ken and Don, impatient at our sedate pace, zoomed off on a secret route, avoiding Metcombe hill. This was their loss as we continued on to eat our sarnies in Susan's kitchen at West Hill, followed by Susan's Super Soft Special Surprise Sponge. The Special was the lime flavour and the Surprise was for Ted when he got home as we hadn't left him a crumb. We left Susan multi-tasking as always, this time painting the outside of their bungalow whilst simultaneously pruning her Clematis.

It was a pleasant cycle back via Aylesbeare, Woodbury Salterton and Ebford. Later we had plenty of time to bird watch along the canal and at Matford Scrapes, spotting 12 Snipe - some Widgeon, Teal, Mallard, Shovellers, Greylag and Canada Geese, ChiffChaff, Lapwing and many other sorts of chickens. Across the canal we spotted Wolf and Kirby returning, who told us that they and Steph had bought the entire stock of cycling gear at Lidls in Honiton.

Tuesday 20 March - Ashburton

Ian writes:-

Ian & Richard left Cullompton at 08h00 and after a visit to Exeter, Dawlish, Teignmouth and Newton Abbot, arrived bang on time at 10h43:26 at the top of Bickington Hill. Mike & Sue arrived 2 seconds later (Ian to KJ – feel that your suggested reprimand for lateness for the BBB (Booth’s Bike Bus) is a little harsh. 2 seconds is not that serious a misdemeanour, but agree that if this becomes a habit, then perhaps we should re-visit this.)

Coffee stop?

So the group of 4 cruised into the The Dartmoor Lodge Hotel at Ashburton at 11h00:00 (MB was 4 seconds early due to an unofficial short cut) Kirby arrived some 11 minutes later (apparently timing issues with British Rail!! – The Executive have written a letter of complaint to British Rail. Premium subscribers can see a copy of the letter here.)

The Dartmoor Lodge Hotel offered good fayre – Exeter Beer, Irish Cider, teas, coffees, bacon sarnies and full english breakfasts!! – all round excellent and good service – a little far from Exeter and not a pretty route if you want it flat to get there – 19 pts.

Kirby, Mike and Sue then went off to Trago (where Mike brought 100 pairs of brake blocks at 69p per pair) and back to Exeter, whilst Ian & Richard went up and over the moor to North Bovey and the Ring O Bells – this week’s sandwiches were cheese, cucumber, lettuce, peanut butter and sweet hot chilli dressing, all within garlic ciabatta bread – mmmm lovely!! – beer not great at Ring O Bells and also more restauranty than pubby, so not really suited to cyclists eating, but in the summer, a nice place to sit out and have a cup of tea - 15 pts.

Ian & Richard returned via the standard Moretonhampstead, Dunsford, Longdown route

85+ miles covered – next week North Curry!

Thursday 15 March - Uffculme

Bike Bus Report

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Another really foggy day!

The two riders spotted heading out from the Quay at 08:30 were joined by Pauline on the canal path. Some 30 minutes later Wolf was spotted waiting on the Quay for the Bus to pass.

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Whether he was unable to access his emails or whether his watch was set to European Time is irrelevant - he has been awarded his first Schwarz Schaf Award.

The party made its lonely way to Uffculme Mill where only a few brave souls were out (clearly the Bike Bus Executive's policy of reducing numbers is taking effect).

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After coffee Ian led us by his traditionally hilly route over the Blackdown plateau. At the top we debated where to go for lunch and after a prologned discussion eventually settled upon Payhembury shop followed by Secret Location #1 where we met Bruce and Sheila fresh from their antipodean adventure.

The entire stock of pies in the shop were brought up - and warmed in the capacious oven in Secret Location #1. After lunch we were given a tour of the pottery museum.

Bike Tractor Report

John Rowland reports

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With the Executive’s permission four or us made our way to Comer’s Cross near Withypool Exmoor on a damp foggy Thursday (coffee-pot) morning. Geoff & Penny joined Keith and I aiming to revive our off-road skills as the moor was reputably relatively dry after several days without rain. Driving to the start the first obstacle was a closed road north of Dulverton which involved a circuitous minor road at one stage blocked by a domestic oil tanker. What with fog and detours we started a little late in thick mist and initially had to use a compass. Fortunately without much difficulty we found our steep drop out of the mist to the Exe valley and eventually enjoyed a first class coffee and cake at Exford.

The middle stage to Simonsbath was the real challenge crossing virtually open moor by intermittent trails and much broken peat and bog. After several miles we avoided a monstrous steep climb using a road detour finally dropping down to the lunch stop with legs covered in sticky mud. Phase three was a more straightforward route crossing high ground over various open fields and better tracks by passing the well–known feature Cow Castle to ride above the River Barle eventually enjoying the long rough metalled road drop to Withypool. All that remained was to climb, again by road, for about a mile up a 1 in 5 hill back to the cars. A wonderful way to end the day!

Tuesday 13 March - Glastonbury

Ian writes:-

So just Ian and Richard left Cullompton at 08h00. A misty day, but a relatively flat ride, saw us roll in to the main square in Glastonbury at 10h30. Unfortunately, the cafes were full with tourists, so we were forced into getting liquid refreshment at The Crown Hotel – 15 pts – drinks were standard and Richard supplied the sarnies (Pastrami, cheese, cucumber, marmite, peanut butter with blue cheese dressing on brown! – an odd taste!)

We then raced off to Langport (via Somerton) where we met Huw (he had been at his monthly GP’s fluffy seminar in Taunton!). Requiring further refreshment, the pub in Langport was closed (their decenial cleaning day!), so we went to The Old Forge Inn at Curry Rivel. An odd couple operating the hostellerie, but the beer was good (apparently!) – 15 pts.

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After a few navigational matters were resolved, we arrived at the day’s secret location, where Ian’s mum produced 2 types of crisps, pork pie, 3 types of sandwiches, 4 types of cake, tea/coffee and hi-energy drinks!! – cheers mum!! – easily 25 pts (again!!)

Huw was complaining about the lack of hills, so we returned via the Blackdowns. Although the mist/fog got thicker and thicker as we climbed, we never quite managed to pop out above it. So no sun today, but 3 good stops!

90+ miles covered (a stupendous 120+ for Richard E – longest Tuesday ride ever I believe!) – next week Dartmoor ...

... it was a superb day, except the weather was a bit rubbish – went all the way to glasto and didn’t see the tor!!

Meanwhile Keith writes

I was intending to go on Ian’s 'fast' ride to Glastonbury but Jan (my wife) was due to go off on a golfing break so, being the loving husband I am, I wanted to see her off. As, at the Bike Bus on Thursday, there were some murmourings about an alternative Tuesday ride, I waited with baited breath for the descriptive email to arrive. Alas, none was forthcoming so I was left with no alternative but to do my own thing. I decided on a 70 odd mile wander around Mid-Devon.

I set off on my lonely journey, with the countryside shrouded in fog, mirroring my mood. My first stop for a coffee break was to be at the Station Café in Crediton. 22 miles later I approached the station yard where I saw three bicycles in a state of repose and, low and behold, one was sporting a well-worn Brooks saddle with yellow springs. That belongs to Booth, I thought, who else would have one of those? I entered, and to my amazement and abject disappointment I saw huddled together in a clandestine little group Kirby, Glenis and the saddle owner himself.

I felt like an intruder to this intimate, secret little gathering which obviously had not sought to advertise its intentions to members via the usual email. I was inclined, therefore, to take a separate table but, as there was one spare seat at the group’s table, they felt obliged to offer it to me. It would have been churlish to decline so I accepted but conversation was limited to feeble excuses, mainly from Glenis, about how I had been excluded from this ride. But I can take a hint so after delaying for only as long as politeness dictated I carried on my way.

Over the next 50 miles or so, with fog obscuring the views, I tried to swallow my pride and reflected on the few positives which emanated from this rather chastening experience. Ostracized from those I thought were my chums I may have been but I went about 5mph faster than I would otherwise had to have done, didn’t have to wait at the top of any hills and by, talking to myself, enjoyed conversation on a much higher intellectual plane! You win some and you lose some.

Kirby reports

Mike led a small party from the Quay out into the thick mist to rendezvous with Ian's party at Glastonbury.

Whether they became disoriented in the fog or simply committed a wild navigation error is still unclear ... but several hours later they found themselves in the outskirts of Crediton. In order to collect their thoughts they stopped at the Station Cafe where they found another rider who was also looking for Glastonbury.

Leaving the cafe the party inadvertently separated ... it is still not clear whether any of them made it to Glastonbury ... or home.

Thursday 8 March - King's Garden Centre, Exmouth

Stephanie reports:-

Left home and within minutes Yvonne appeared at Feniton level crossing – good old natter comparing our two different routes to Kings until barriers rose. In front of me I had all the right Bus stops, but not in the right bike bus order – which is why Glenis looked perturbed as we passed in Within lane, Tim and Judy equally confused when I whizzed past them towards Woodbury Salterton and why none of the Exeter Bike Bus arrived at the Diggers.

Getting used to cycling my own Bike Bus these days, I pedalled on quite happily along the Exe and took a very interesting wiggle through Lympstone whereupon I found a friendly cyclist to chat to ... with a cello strapped to her back, which apparently was quite easy for some-one more used to carrying her windsurfer and kit on her bike.

From Kings onwards, I pedalled with Ken and Yvonne back up the Otter valley via Colaton Raleigh (‘cos Ken hadn’t been that way before) ending up at Chez Houghton for refreshment break.

Meanwhile the Official Bike Bus made its way from King's to Sidmouth where lunch was taken in Connaught Gardens. Afterwards we rode along the sea front, through the Byes, and then up to the Bowd before dropping down the old rail track bed into Tipton. On the way home a final tea was taken in Dart's Farm.

Tuesday 6 March - Perry's Cider Farm, Dowlish Wake

As it was a lovely sunny day the whole of the Bike Bus Executive decided to take a day off from their onerous duties and cycle out to Somerset to meet the Tuesday Bike Bus.

They arrived at Perry's Cider Farm at coffee time - but no other cyclists were to be seen. Each of the Executives had at least three cups of coffee and one piece of cake - but still no one turned up.

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Eventually they decided to leave and at that point they spotted the remnants of a small Wellington Wheelers party in the distance (whether they made it to the Farm is uncertain), but there was still no sign of Ian's party.

They then journeyed back through Chard and Stockland (where they spotted an interesting sign on the bridge) and climbed over the ridge back to Honiton and Exeter.

Ian reports:-

Ian. Huw and the 2 Richards left Cullompton at 08h00 and had an uneventful ride to Dowlish Wake (apart from the puncture, the crash, the 1 in 5, the 2 x 1 in 10 and a secret coffee stop!). ed what about the cafe points?

Cider was had at the cider farm in Dowlish Wake – service and quality is superb, although a little far from Exeter!! – 18 pts.

Meeting up with the Wellington Wheelers, we then rode to Curry Mallett before returning home via Taunton and Wellington, which included emergency refreshment at the Lamb & Flag in Blagdon – 17 pts.

80+ miles covered (110 for Richard E!!!) – next week Glastonbury!

Thursday 1 March 2012

Unfortunately the driver of BB2 took a 'sickie' - so the cyclists of East Devon had a problem.

However Keith, Ian, Stephanie and Glenis all volunteered to lead. Although things got off to a bad start when the leader responsible for covering the Woodbury start got up late, and then discovered that she had yet another puncture (who do we complain to?). Nevertheless Keith, Ian, and Stephanie (KIS?) managed to round up the remaing rabble and deliver them to Willand.

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The Exeter Bus bravely set out in thick fog - and also managed to get safely to Willand on time.

As we drank coffee the sun came out and we headed off to the lovely cafe in the Post Office at Broadhembury. Strangely the route involved lots of hills, but most of us didn't mind given the dramatic views over the countryside.

At Broadhembury we ate our lunch while basking in the sun and then peddaled gently down to Ottery ...

... on the way someone had another puncture (at the same point on the tube as before!) ... and she stood helplessly by whilst it was mended for her ...

... and then we pedaled gently down to Ottery for another coffee in Joshua's.

Tuesday 28 February - Bovey Tracey & Dartmoor

Ian reports:-

Ian and Richard (from Wellington Wheelers) met Ted and Steve** at the Swing Bridges at 09h00 before setting off to Bovey Tracey. However, we were stopped in our tracks when the advance party of Kirby, Mike and Sue were found cafeing without authorisation in Chudleigh. They have been reported to the Executive.

Despite their misdemeanour Ted lead us all as one to Bovey Tracey, where Kirby managed to negotiate us the fancy soft furnishings part of the cafe - ta. Brookside Tea Rooms is still pricey but the quality is good.

Kirby, Steve, Mike and Sue then ventured off to Moretonhampstead (report to follow****), whilst Ian lead Richard and Ted up and over Haytor to Widecombe, Dartmeet and then Two Bridges, before turning for Moretonhampstead via Postbridge. Absolutely superb scenery and an emergency stop at The Warren Inn meant that we arrived 4 minutes after Kirby had lead his troops for home!!

Although chasing like crazy, we couldn’t catch Kirby’s group (as they had gone off on an unofficial route back to Exeter – they have been reported to the Executive).

So in the end we arrived back at the Swing Bridges (via the official route) before Kirby’s group, and continued on our way.

90+ miles covered, 9,000ft of climbing (note to self – not even one third of the way up Everest, must try harder to find more hills!!) – next week, the Cider Farm via the coast (train assisted option available via Axminster).

** Huw had a snuffle - so wasn't able to come.

****Mike, Sue and Kirby set off some two hours before Ian's group - so that they could have a relaxed ride over Haldon Ridge. By the time they reached Chudleigh they realised that they were still well ahead of schedule - so decided to pop into the Deli for a coffee.

Unfortunately it was full of mums and toddlers - so we decamped to the 'Old Pottery Cafe' - but not before Mike had made friends with several toddlers. This was also busy and Sue and I squeezed into a corner and Mike found a space on the toddlers' table. Unfortunately we had left our bikes in the Main Square where they were spotted by an eagle-eyed Ian. We were dragged out and forced to continue the ride to Bovey.

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After a second coffee we left Ian's group to zoom up to Haytor and we took the old railway path to Lustleigh, and then on up an unexpected hill before dropping down into Moretonhampstead.

Here Mike made friends with a pony**. The rest of us had lunch.

After lunch we fancied our chances of making it back to Exeter before Ian - so we set off by a devious route past Windy Cross and through Dunchideock.

An hour after getting home we text'ed Ian to say that we had just got to the Swing Bridge ;-)

** Sue has made an appointment for Mike at Specsavers next week.

Thursday 23 February - Exminster & Haldon Grill

This week the Bike Bus was scheduled to go to two different places at the same time.

Unfortunately at the last minute the driver of BB2 decided to take a sickie - and left his passengers stranded at Aylesbeare Cross. Ian came to the rescue and shepherded them up onto Haldon where they met up with the Exeter Bus which had taken the direct route.

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After coffee I led the party down the hill - only to receive a phone call from Marilyn saying she had got a puncture at the top! I asked her why she hadn't rung Roger?

Now it seems that Roger has now been trained to take his mobile phone with him - but he hasn't yet had the 'turning on' lesson. So Roger is this week's winner of the Black Sheep Award Award.

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I rode back up the hill and rounded the party up and then went down the hill again.

We climbed up over the ridge and I descended to Luton - to find no one was following me. About 5 minutes later Marilyn phoned to say that one of the group had shot through a hedge and they were still looking for them. I cycled up the hill again - and rounded them all up again. And then cycled down the hill again.

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Eventually we reached Chudleigh, where the advance party had had time for a few drinks in the pub. Our sober, but tired, group joined them in the Square for our lunch and a quick coffee in the Deli.

Afterwards all we had to do was to climb back over Haldon and descend to Exminster where we rewarded ourselves with another coffee in the excellent Community Cafe.

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