ExeterBikeBusReports201204

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Exeter Bike Bus - Ride Reports - April 2012

Wednesday 2 May - Exmoor

We've received a strange report about a Wednesday ride ...

Seems like all the wet weather has played havoc with the Mini Bike Bus activities.

Kirby & a lone supporter set out on Wednesday morning to catch a train to wherever Ian had planned to go Tuesday. Of course we never got there, as we almost certainly would not have had we gone the day before! Pitched up in Barnstaple again, but then K led me over hill & dale (& hill & hill....) until eventually we wandered into Tiverton Parkway & the welcome arms of Cross Country to Exeter.

Still, nice along the way, great views if a little hazy, coffee at Simonsbath & lunch with mallards at Dulverton bridge & great weather all day (makes a change for him to hit the right button there!). Will have to be a bit more careful in future though - I thought his "Great Train Journeys of Britain" a la Portillo meant the training would have outweighed the cycling & I was in for an easy day, but no such luck. For the record, meanwhile, Sus took the car & Brompton to Dorchester & managed a 20 mile jaunt to Weymouth & Broadmayne - good practice for getting lost in Somerset tomorrow.

Tuesday 1 May - Chard

Chard powered flight.jpg

Ian relates:-

So this week, we visited the Birthplace of Powered Flight. An almost entirely flat 35 mile ride to get there, turned into a 42 mile “no hill too steep” ride, as we had to make diversions to avoid torrenting rivers in the Axe Valley!

In order to avoid a mutiny, what with the extra miles, this week’s unofficial pub stop was at The George Inn in Chardstock. Great little hostellerie with outside space to enjoy the sun and passings by of the village – 17 pts

The official stop was at the The Secret Garden, cake and tea were plenty! – 17 pts

We then followed NCN Route 33 to Windmill Hill for a recce of Thursday’s route (KJ – no just rocking up, we plan ahead!!) (PS – local scouts suggest Creech St Michael is flooded and won’t be suitable for Thursday), before stumbling across The Greyhound Inn in Staple Fitzpaine for lunch – they allowed Yvonne to order a desert without having a main – yippee! – 18 pts

A quick nip up and over the Blackdowns, before a return via the Culm Valley

70+ miles covered – next week Dartmoor.


Thursday 26 April - Otterton Mill

John issuing orders

John writes:-

I knew it was going to be an unusual day when Glenis turned up several minutes early. Indeed I checked my watch to see if it was later than I thought!

Stephanie followed by chance, as she was aiming for the Woodbury Salterton stop and the other BB, but wisely decided to join this team. Tim and Judy followed right on time and we collected Hugh at Tipton Cross. Here we briefly saw Ian and Richard as they paused from their high speed journey, leaving us with a smell of burning rubber as they sped over the horizon.

Bike bus mending puncture.jpg

The ladies were in fine form with continual gossip and much laughter. Hugh fell back after Newton Poppleford due to a puncture, but leaving him, at his request, we pressed on until Stephanie suffered the same fate.

What a to-do.

All refused to ride on leaving the leader to help the wounded. As a result there was much noise and laughter, rather like a cocktail party, while Tim and the brow beaten leader worked to resolve the problem. To her credit Stephanie kept giving us sound advice and was quite able to complete the job herself, but, we noticed, that that was as far as the commitment went. The jokes flew thick and fast, enjoyable but distracting for the workers, I must put some ear plugs in my tool kit!

Once it was repaired we carried on along wet lanes and some long wide puddles to Otterton Mill. Here we saw the missing Hugh, who must have taken a different route. Having arrived 30 minutes late we cheerfully joined the melee on the top floor.

Meanwhile Stephanie's version of events post-coffee was:-

Pic #1

Four of us made it to Thirsty Farmer where we learned that the reason Mark Cavendish enjoys riding on the Isle of Man is because he can ride for 4 hours without a serious comment being made. Ho Ho, he hasn’t been out with the Bike Bus – we can keep going all day!

My penance for trying to sneak a 1” square of Chocolate Brownie into my mouth during man-talk about makes of bike and Mark Cavendish’s page 3 wife, was to appease 3 jealous men by grovelling to the bar lady for extra scoff – or risk continuing to be ex-communicated.

Pic #2

Ian was chuffed because he can now fit down the lane behind him in pic no 1.

Pic no 2 shows us looking down on the famous Bradninch hill! Oh yes, we went up a higher one! At the top, I learned about the different grades and values of Midget Gems and got to sample some particularly warm, soft but tasty ones from Richards pocket.

Warm ... & Cold Showers!

Sue writes:-

Jonathan setting off from Exeter

Our 'Warm Showers' LEJOG visitor, Jonathan, had set off from Lands End on Monday, battling a formidable 60-odd miles through rain and wind to a Youth Hostel at Golant, near Fowey, on his recumbent three wheeled bike. All the more remarkable is that Jonathan has considerable weakness in his legs and hands, after breaking his neck in a cyclocross accident 3 years ago.

A bit of damp was not likely to put him off this trip to raise money for the charity 'Regain'. Tuesday saw him heading from Golant another 80 plus miles to stay with us in Exeter. Ian's Tuesday Bike Bus ride posse of Richard, Kirby, Steve and Mike took in Moretonhampstead, Chagford and Drewsteignton before settling down to coffee at Woodleigh.

I joined them there to await a progress report from the intrepid Jonathan. His phone had taken in rain water and so only worked occasionally, but he managed to call briefly from Tavistock and then Okehampton, finally arriving at Woodleigh Coach House via Whiddon Down. In the end the rain mostly held off, and he was relieved at the last long down the hill, following Mike to our flat at Trewsweir.

After a bit of drying out, a hearty meal and a good nights sleep, Mike led Johnathan out through Pinhoe, from where he headed off for Bristol with a welcome tail wind, but the promise of a cruel amount of rain to contend with.

Good Luck! Sus

24 April - Dunsford & Drewsteignton

Ian reports:-

This week (as per every other Tuesday Ride) there was a little something for everyone.

Uphill sections Emoticon-sadsmile.png, downhill sections Emoticon-smile.png, flat sections Emoticon-smile.png, tailwind Emoticon-smile.png, headwind Emoticon-sadsmile.png, rain Emoticon-sadsmile.png, sun Emoticon-smile.png, picturesque views of a National Park Emoticon-smile.png, tea Emoticon-smile.png, coffee Emoticon-smile.png, bacon Emoticon-smile.png, tea cakes Emoticon-smile.png, picturesque views of a castle Emoticon-smile.png, beer Emoticon-smile.png, cider Emoticon-smile.png, cyder Emoticon-smile.png, getting caught having an unofficial pub stop Emoticon-sadsmile.png, CAKES Emoticon-smile.png.

I know what you’re all thinking – how could we possibly squeeze in so much in just one day!!!!!

4 refreshment stops!! and 70+ miles covered – next week Somerset with the Welly Wheelers Emoticon-smile.png


Chagford pub stop.png

You might wonder how the Executive detects aberations such as un-official pub stops. We can not reveal many of the Bike Bus Intelligence's methods - but in this case I have been approved to release details of the simple techniques used.

Bike Bus Intelligence remotely installed a copy of the iKiddyTrackerApp(TM) onto Mike's iPhone. This useful App allows you to continuously monitor your child's location to ensure that they don't get into trouble.

One particularly useful feature allows you to erect a 'soft virtual fence' at a specified distance from the child's current location using the iPhone's incredible haptic features. If the child strays beyond the approved distance they recoil harmlessly off the soft fence - and a txt is sent to the parent warning of the escape attempt.

When it was noticed that the iPhone had entered the Globe Inn in Chagford, Intelligence erected the virtual fence - and about one hour later reecived a message saying that the party had attempted to breach it.

Mike Sees the Light

William booth original.jpg

Mike writes soberly:-

I am sure you will never cease to be surprised at the hidden lives of Bike Bussers. Following in the footsteps of my illustrious forbearer, William Booth (you can't miss the likeness in the attached photo), I am continuing his work in the field of temperance.

Inevitably this means I have to enter those ungodly places frequented by thirsty sinners, to persuade them of the error of their ways & to bring them to light & salvation. As you can imagine, it is hard to win the trust & confidence of such depraved souls, so occasionally it is necessary to 'prove myself' to them by partaking of the devil's brew, a sort of bonding, if you will (obviously, not enjoyed by me at all). I hope this satisfactorily explains my unusual presence in the hostelry at Chagford, & later at Drewsteignton.

Mike


Thursday 19 April - Escot

This week we've had three reports on the same events ... spot the similarities and differences.

Mike reports:-

Nothing spectacular to report from the post-coffee ride to Budleigh. Judy & Tim got left behind at Escot, but soon caught up. We shed a couple of husbands (Roger & Tim) by the time we reached Otterton. A shower greeted our entry to Budleigh, plus Wolf & Tony both disappeared for a suspicious period at the lunch stop - were they lost, or just looking for somewhere to buy a sarnie?

Roger black sheep.jpg

Then Pauline reprised her Sunday route from Budleigh back to Exeter, including a battle against the headwind by the estuary. So the original 10 from Escot reduced to 3 by the time we got home. Not sure the Executives new policy of "zero tolerance" for passengers is achievable, although the proposals being bandied about for the 3rd May have potential - riders could be lost all over Somerset! Such fun!

Stephanie writes:-

A bit of a report from Thursday:

Marilyn black sheep.jpg

After coffee: some of us followed Mike Booth down the Otter Valley to Budleigh Salterton to brave the sea “breezes”. On the way we passed a crocodile of Tipton St John school pupils engaged in their cycle training. It may of interest that they appeared to be keeping a safe distance apart from each other, staying on the left side of the road and paying good attention to their leader!

Tim needed to pedal off with mutters of going away for the weekend later that day with Judy continuing on oblivious to any urgency (Tim was later spotted at Otterton Mill by two other members of the Bike Bus). Cold rain began to fall during the approach to Budleigh, so it became imperative to hasten and nab space for us in the seafront shelter. Didn’t quite manage to beat the ten or so promenaders huddled inside. Surprisingly they were hardier than I thought hastily chosing to face the elements than stay and enjoy the company of eight or so wet, noisy cyclists.

Teenage mutant ninja turtles.jpg

Exeter/Topsham crowd then headed for the Exe trail leaving Sandy, Andy and me to work out a less-hilly-could-be-worse route back to Aylesbeare (i.e. East Budleigh, Yettington, Hawkerland, Sanctuary Lane). Conveniently, a Secret Location in Withen Lane was identified as a welcome coffee stop – whereupon I was pleased to meet Max and catch up on what Thomas, Percy and the naughty Diesels had got up to lately. As I left I caught sight of what I mistakenly thought were two young Mutant Hero Turtles with back packs, helmets and wide grins shining through their mud splattered faces on their return from yet another victorious mission! Would you believe it was only John and Keith having completed 23 or so miles around Woodbury Common!

Meanwhile John writes:-

Only Keith managed to join me for the Thursday’s off-road as our stalwarts Geoff and Penny unfortunately reported ill and others, for different reasons, could not make it. We set off from Aylesbeare expecting rain but only suffered one light shower during the whole day. However previous downpours had certainly dampened the tracks and the ride gradually developed into a mud marathon.

We skirted Newton Poppleford then chose a new route back along the Otter which was pleasant except there were more “styles” than you would see at a fashion show! Using the (second) minor track we climbed up through the woods to Bowd before enjoying coffee at the East Hill Farm Shop; both revelling in a pancake sized pasty. We regretted these shortly afterwards feeling overfed while mounting the long steep track up Bulverton hill crossing large displacements of mud left by giant tree towing tractors. The reward was a slippery track around the summit, with magnificent views of the Sidmouth valley.

Brown-sheep-small.png

Shortly after this we took the mile long cart track to Peak Hill and this is where the first serious mud was encountered. Travelling at speed along the level we caused a small mud bow wave that coloured our legs and covered the gears! Thence down-hill through more deeper mud, nearly sticking to a halt at one stage, to Otterton and the lunch stop where we briefly met Tim. He did not recognise us at first maybe it was our disguise! The afternoon took us behind Budleigh Salterton followed by Dalditch and Lympstone commons to pass Woodbury Castle and down Sanctuary Lane. Along Withen Lane we recognised voices and saw Stephanie with Sandy and Tony, in the garden of Sandy’s daughter’s house, having enjoyed coffee after riding back from Budleigh. They recognised us once we had scrapped away the mud. Two brown sheep?

Tuesday 17 April - Axminster

Ian writes:-

This week, Ian and Steve were the Official Ride and went to the “Gateway to the Jurassic Coast”. Coffee and a parsnip slice at River Cottage in Axminster, followed by a visit to The Fountain Head, where the crab in their sandwiches were so “deliciously fresh, that it must have scuttled up from the beach only that morning”. Polished off with some Branscombe Beer, it was a very cosmopolitan experience.

Mike, Sue and Kirby, went on the Unofficial Ride to the Benidorm-style end of the English Riviera for Bacon Sarnies!!!

Meanwhile Kirby reports:-

Given our abject failure last week, when we got on the wrong train, we decided to play it safe this week and we spurned mechanical assistance.

Silva compass.jpg

Unfortunately Mike's phone (a super iPhone with GPS) ran out of charge so we had to rely on my map and his compass. We set off confidently eastwards towards Axminster.

About two hours later, after climbing over the Blackdowns, we strangely found ourselves in somwhere called Ideford which we couldn't find on our map. We also realised that we had lost Sue and we couldn't remember when we had last seen her (sorry Sue!). A helpful local pointed us in the right direction (up another hill) and then we bumped into two of the Teign Valley Pedal Bashers who were clearly hopelessly lost looking for Teignmouth. We decided to humour them and followed them to a sea side cafe.

Ian wasn't there (maybe he needs to buy a compass) - so we enjoyed a leisurely coffee before setting off for home.

Thursday 12 April - Cullumpton

Keith reports:-

I led a very enjoyable but fairly uneventful trip to Padbrook Park and then on to Escot for a lunch stop.

I was joined at Aylesbeare Cross by Tim, who was on time and then, eventually by Judy, who wasn't. Heading off then to the next bus stop at Talaton we were joined, just after Marsh Green, by Glenis who was even later. We took a route to Talaton via Daisymount and the bridge across the A30, much to Tim's disappointment as he appears to have some kind of irrational attachment to Whimple, which we by-passed.

On route we were joined by Ian and Richard. Ian, true to form, sped past us going in the opposite direction and, having done an unnecessary extra mile downhill, caught us up on the way back up again. Arriving at the next stop at Clyst Hydon, precisely on time of course, we found no other passengers so continued on to Padbrook Park where we enjoyed a very convivial coffee break and were joined eventually by BB1 under the typically able leadership of Mike.

Black-sheep-small.png
Black-sheep-small.png
Bike lock.jpg

After coffee I was asked to lead a mixture of the two buses to Escot and we set off en masse only to learn, a mile or so down the road, that Roger and Marilyn had turned back to Padbrook because the cycle lock they apparently share had been left behind. Mike and I have discussed this and, having consulted Marilyn as to where the fault lay, we feel, unanimously, that they should both be awarded a 'Black Sheep' for forgetfulness and unnecessary disruption to the Bike Bus' progress.

At Escot, most of us complied with the new sign forbidding us from eating our own scoff inside the courtyard and enjoyed a leisurely lunch, having displaced the family occupying it, on the one picnic table located outside. After about half an hour, when most of us had finished lunch, we were gratified to see Roger and Marilyn, proudly bearing the reclaimed cycle lock, proceeding down the Escot drive.

From Escot, Mike, obviously possessive about bike Bus leadership, snatched command back and led the remaining few towards Exeter where, at Daiseymount, I said goodbye relieved that I, and those who had had the courage to follow me, had survived the journey unscathed!

Mike leading bike bus.jpg

Mike relates:-

Well, Kirby, I'm sorry to have to report that the Executive's Strategy regarding Passenger Policy (i.e. lose as many as possible) is becoming less effective. Things looked promising at the Piazza, with only 5 turning up. I thought "this is going to be easy for an experienced leader like me, I can lose 5, no problem!". Not to be - by the time we reached Clyst Hydon the numbers had swelled to 17, & I couldn't shake off anybody. I had tried all the usual ploys, so ably demonstrated by yourself on many occasions:-

  • arriving & leaving bus stops early,
  • arriving & leaving bus stops late,
  • ignoring passengers,
  • being rude to passengers,
  • using excessive speed to leave passengers behind,
  • racing off at road junctions in the hope nobody will spot which direction to take,
  • finding as many 'road closed' sections as possible & riding through them,
Sarah confusing climbing with cycling

but all to no avail. In the end, I only lost 3, & that wasn't really a loss, more they just detoured off to selfishly get to Padbrook ahead of the bunch & get the best cakes. So the Executive needs to rethink its Strategy as the Passengers achieve higher levels of resistance to the current treatments.

Incidentally, one bit of good news. After coffee Keith led from Padbrook to Escot, & I took the opportunity to quietly observe his techniques, following the rigourous leaders retraining course he has recenly undergone. I am pleased to report he has fully grasped the concept now - I did not observe him once on the journey paying any attention to the passengers whatsoever, & in fact when one of them spoke just behind him, he looked genuinely startled, as if he was surprised there was anyone else riding with us!

Looking forward to having you back with us next week - perhaps we can spend a bit of time formulating some new APS's (Anti-Passenger Strategies).

Regards, your humblest of stand-in drivers, Mike


Tuesday 10 April - Newton Abott

Richard reports:-

Huw thomas leg break.jpg

This week Ian and Richard were bereft of Huw's company, for a very good but unfortunate reason - he had fallen off his new Van Nicholas bike the previous day on its second outing! The circumstances were:

  • speed of bike before fall: 0 mph,
  • reason for fall: having both shoes firmly cleated into the pedals and hence having no control over anything really,
  • solution: be brave, go ahead and order some stabilisers.

Seriously though, the injury was a nasty fracture to the ball joint at the head of the femur, an immediate operation involving the application of some metalwork was needed and now Huw has 6 weeks of no load bearing to the leg, followed by a further 6 weeks of partial load bearing.

The route Ian planned was the 2012 Devon Delight in reverse - a feat which truly impressed Mike B (although Richard was concerned about the possible tax implications of a bike with reverse gears). Kirby and Mike (sans Sus) in a Wallace & Grommit sort of way, apparently managed to catch the wrong sort of train and ended up starting from Barnstaple rather than Newton Abbot.

Exeter inn thorverton guns.jpg

I&R arrived at the almost hidden Carlton Café in Newton Abbot, however we soon discovered it was worth seeking it out. The breakfast was enormous, however we were quite surprised at the eating habits of a young Teign Valley Pedal Basher, no sooner had the groaning plate been set before him than he proceeded to tip half of it onto his lap, presumably to eat - curiouser and curiouser. Whilst in the café there was a heavy shower, which abated in time for our departure, our luck held out until outside Chudleigh where we were battered by a full-on hailstorm.

A great ride up the Teign valley and beyond led to the first pub stop at the Kings Arms, Tedburn St Mary. Finally at Crediton Station contact was made with Kirby and Mike, who had had better luck weather-wise. Goodbyes were said and then the Exeter Inn at Thorverton beckoned - log fire, cheap booze, and worryingly a fine overhead display of firearms was to be seen. When quizzed about this, mine host merely said 'We'll be ready'!

A great day's ride despite a little bad weather, total mileage: 78

Barnstaple in the rain.png

Meanwhile Kirby and Mike discussed the best route to Newton Abbot to meet Ian's party. They both decided that (i) they couldn't face climbing over Haldon yet again and (ii) they couldn't face getting soaked in the heavy showers that were forecast ... so they opted for the train.

Unfortunately they got on the wrong one ... and found themselves in Barnstaple with the wrong map.

One in three hill alswear.jpg

After thinking about this for a bit they hit upon a brilliant wheeze. They would use the Met Office radar image (i) to find the way home and (ii) to dodge the showers.

Unfortunately there was a flaw in this plan ... the Met Office radar image does not show hills.

So although our brave party managed to stay dry ... they were forced to climb no end of horrendous hills.

They were last sighted in Crediton ... clutching a list of hills for Mrs L to measure with her inclinometer.

Thursday 5 April - Crediton Station

This week the Executive went to the trouble of arranging four rides

  • two normal ones
  • an easy one, and
  • an even easier train assisted one.

So what happend?

Sarah reports:-

Black-sheep-small.png

Good idea including the train option here - I was nearly successful taking it up, a novelty for me - if I hadn't mislaid my garage key at the vital moment and missed the Topsham through train. Never mind another time but it was a great excuse to head instead for Lutzy's for croissant and newspaper - what a friendly place!

I may have recruited a new CTC member even, one of the unsuspecting coffee drinkers there. Learnt also that Lutzy** is carrying the Olympic torch, I believe in Paignton, you probably know that. I cycled back via Exmouth and St John's road to the Common and back to Woodbury that way.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that the Executive have given the Black Sheep Award to Sarah.

Sarah responded:-

Kirby, that's fantastic! I'm so proud to be the winner! I have to do something with a dirty T shirt don't I? You'll have to remind me.

Happy Easter all.

**Lutzy Dias, who runs the eponymous cafe on Piazza Teraccina.

Record Attendence

Pete Luxton tells me that last week at Powderham 71 cyclists turned up for the Coffee Pot - a record!

Tuesday 3 April - Exmoor & Otterton

Ian reports:-

Beer at luttrell arms.jpg

This week, just Ian and Richard set off to recce the Ken’s Autumn Colour’s Audax Route over Exmoor. First stop was at Tantivy Cafe in Dulverton – great coffee – 18 pts.

After a few climbs over the Moors, we arrived in Dunster, where we were refused beer at The Stags Head (presumably the landlord thought we looked underage!!) – 0 pts. So we forced ourselves to go to The Luttrell Arms, where Richard had a pint of radioactive Scrumpy – 15 pts.

A quick trip down the Eastern edge of Exmoor, saw us arrive at The Bear Inn in Wiveliscombe – superb Tawny bitter from Cotleigh Brewery – 17 pts.

Up and over from Wiveliscombe to Huntsham and then a run down the Uplowman Valley before heading back to Cullompton

75+ miles, next week Newton Abbot.

Mrs B. writes:-

This week Ian's planned ride was totally off our radar so four of us (Kirby, Warren, Sus and Mike) didn't even try to meet up with him, instead enjoying leisurely elevenes at Otterton Mill. We hung about chatting so long the staff had laid the tables for lunch by the time we left. There were several road closed signs which we ignored and got through with no trouble but then encountered speeding trucks etc thrown onto back roads by diversions.

Airport cycle path entrance.jpg

To our embarrassment we were overtaken near Metcombe hill by a senior lady on a old bike with a soft tyre. We never did manage to catch her.

We had a secret mission to photograph the new cycle route through the airport, as K had received some complaints about it. Apart from a lack of signs, and some hazardous gates at the end, it was a welcome change to being chased up the main road by motorists late for their flights.

At the airport roundabout and another road closed sign, we parted from Kirby and carried on to Killerton via their new route through the farms. We met Tom coming the other way, leading a party of his fellow Killerton workers on an assortment of bikes. As we exited the carpark after taking tea, we met them again, rather more strung out and 3 with punctures! We gave Warren some very approximate directions home before abandoning him, then we whizzed back to Trewsweir via Pinhoe. 45 miles.


Thursday 29 March - Powderham

Black-sheep-small.png

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:-

Geoff in black sheep t shirt powderham.jpg

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:-

Martin returns.jpg

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.

North curry cafe 2012.jpg

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.

Solar system somerset.jpg

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.


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