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Exeter Bike Bus - Ride Reports - May 2012

Thursday 7 June - South Devon Sub-Aqua Club Outing

Mike Booth writes:-

Dear John

Sub aqua group.jpg

Many thanks for allowing us to join in with the East Devon Sub Aqua Club on the recent outing to Bernaville. Sorry we could only muster 6 bedraggled attendees to join your team, and we also apologise for the poor equipment - our wetsuits weren't really up to standard, and not a snorkel between us! Still, the chasms and reefs of the lanes from Broadclyst to Cowley were a delight, and the Bernaville cafe were not unduly put out by the litres of run-off swilling round the floor under our tables.

You'll be pleased to hear that we tried wind-surfing on the Exe on our return, but conditions were not ideal. Incidentally, have you seen Wolf? He was last seen heading back into the cafe muttering something about forgetting his flippers, and we haven't seen him since. Do we need to alert the Coastguard?

Best regards, Mike

John replied:-


I too enjoyed our swim arriving home at 1pm. Since then I have not been allowed out of the garage on the grounds that I must drip dry first before entering the kitchen. The smell of hot food is enticing and frustrating. However, on the bright side, I have been able to wash the bike by wringing out my clothing over it. The rust is beginning to show on my knees so I hope I will be allowed in soon.


Stephanie reports:-

A number of us checked the forecast before setting off: “gale force winds of 70mph, heavy rain all day and met office amber alert from lunchtime”. Not sure why anyone bothered to do this as like sheep we followed each other and ignored the warnings, although newcomer David was heard to say, “I needed to know how many layers to wear”. John Rowland, equally undeterred took us in a northerly direction away from coffee which could have been avoided, up hills which could have been avoided and along flooded lanes which could have been avoided. In such adverse conditions I’m left wondering whether we were all being put through some kind of new entry military training. Carrying sand bags as punishment is well known in the Forces, but carrying panniers of water as Sue did?

Glenis computer whizz.png

Great to see Maria who arrived home just hours previous and was still looking fresh from her trip to Sardinia ... by bicycle! Fascinating accounts of camping in the wilds, having shoes made, warm showers hosts and outstanding scenery.

Ironically, one person was noted by her absence today. Clearly “computer whizz”, Glenis was indoors in the dry, playing with pretty pictures and “keeping tabs on how much water we have”. Hmmmm. If she had only looked out of her window today she could have saved herself a lot of time in not predicting drought conditions and come out cycling instead.

Thursday 31 May - Newton St Cyres Golf Club

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Two riders led parts of today's ride - can you guess from the ride profile who they were?


The red leader took us on a gentle ride out to the Golf Club at Newton St Cyres. This should have been a straightforward trip but Richard and Wolf seemed to be pre-programmed to go to Crediton instead and attempted to lead the party off route ... which of course means ...

Ians birthday 2012.jpg

At the Golf Club we celebrated Ian's 29th birthday (although embarrassingly Yvonne seemed to think Ian was 40!) with

  • a card
  • a cake
  • candles,
  • an RAF fly past, and
  • a sing-song led by Stephanie.

After coffee the blue leader led us to Tiverton where the main party had lunch alongside the canal. Ian, Yvonne (they must have patched up their differences) and Ken choose to go to the posh cafe and were not seen again.

After lunch the red leader took us on a delightfully flat route via the canal and Cullompton (where we were able to call in on Ian) and back to Exeter.

Rogers puncture repair device.jpg

Here we were given cake and afternoon tea at Roger and Marilyn's and given a privileged early view of Roger's prototype puncture repair device.

I must admit that some of the details escaped me but key features appear to be an oversized tyre lever to easily remove stubborn tyres and a red plastic ball containing a mixture of glue and rubber compound which is somehow fired at the tube where it explodes and instantly seals any leaks.

Roger has indicated that when in production it will be made available to Bike Bus members at a discounted rate.

Tuesday 29 May - West Penwith

On Tuesday Ian was headed for Exmoor to meet up with the Wellington Wheelers and Mike & Sue were going to Torbay to seek out the Teign Valley Pedal Bashers.

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As he was still feeling a little fragile Kirby decided ...

... which reminds me ... when Kirby announced that he had lost his voice the only note of sympathy came from Stephanie who kindly sent in pictures of a set of useful British Sign Language (BSL) signals - including coffee, cafe, cafe and bike ...

... anyway as he was feeling a little fragile Kirby decided to use a train to skip the first part of the journey.

When he got to St Davids station he decided to get a train to Newton Abbot to join Mike & Sue.

Kirbys bike in st ives.jpg

Unfortunately as soon as the train set off he promptly dozed off ... and when he woke up some 3 hours later he found himself in unfamiliar suroundings.

Deciding to make the best of it he set off and before long found himself in St Ives where there was a wide choice of cafes for coffee. Unfortunately he quickly discovered that none of them understood BSL signs.

Eventually by pointing at a menu card he managed to obtain a cappuccino and he could partially recover from his ordeal.

Lunch near cape cornwall.jpg

After calming his frayed nerves he set off round the coast and found a nice spot for lunch overlooking Cape Cornwall.

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After lunch he had to ride through a seemingly endless series of fishing villages and try out three more cafes.

Eventually he found himself in Penzance where he could get a train back to Exeter.

Maybe there are advantages in missing the 'official' rides.

Tuesday 29 May - Watchet

Ian reports:-

Today was another 4 stopper! Bacon and donuts at Exford – Liquid refreshment in Watchet – Beer & Sandwiches in Bishop’s Lydeard – Beer at Milverton

Quotes of the day

Ians trip to watchet with wellington wheelers.jpg

The GPS says that we’re going uphill
Ian to Richard, on passing 1,000ft altitude climbing out of Dulverton.

Look Rich, 1,600ft – hope you’re happy now!
Ian to Richard, on reaching the summit of Wilmersham Common.

To be honest mate, I’m surprised that there aren’t blokes giving us newspaper to shove under our jerseys for the descent, we’re so high up!
Ian to Richard, on reaching the summit of Wilmersham Common

You almost lost it there mate
Ian to Richard, as as he went through a proper ford! (Ian wimped out and walked round!)

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Ian, Happy Birthday to you!!
Yvonne, Ken, John, Barry, Richard to Ian upon arriving at Watchet

Ian & Richard at various times during the day

85 miles done (115 for Richard!)

A Note from Divine Duvets

The board of directors of Divine Duvet were most impressed with your training film. They congratulate you on the quality and content of the short take.

What is more the actor excelled himself by showing Determination and Cheerfulness in Adversity both qualities we seek in our presentations.

We are now seriously considering seeking to use your clip as part of an advertising programme. With grateful thanks;

Yours Pinkus Sockton

Thursday 24 May - Uffculme

Stephanie writes:-

Stephanie ballet dancer.jpg

Over coffee, the usual confusion, excitement and terror associated with prospective rides permeated the Bike Bus. The Glastonbury idea was appealing but Glenis and I erred on caution about the long ride back. Over the next few miles to the Sidmouth Arms in Upottery, we were not allowed to forget who was responsible for a shorter ride.

Hmm, interesting - as after lunch the only ones prepared to take on a longer ride to Colyton, rather than head back were Glenis and I! Upottery proved to be a good stop (well done Mr L) – so good that Glenis appeared behind the bar (not sure whether she took a wrong turn or whether she is contemplating a career move).

Some concern over Don’s meagre sandwiches – not really enough to hold body and soul together whilst on a bike in Devon, we thought. Maybe that’s why he had to join the lot returning to Exeter?

On towards the bench on the A303, not being the first time Glenis has hung out here waiting for passing cyclists.

Green lane.jpg

At some point Glenis and I were left on our own with very detailed route suggestions for Colyton and beyond. Although grateful for Ian’s concern that we were at risk of doing something foolish up a chevron or two or along unsuitable roads – in our excitement of discovering a lovely new cycle routes previously unpedalled by the Bike Bus, we clean forgot to take note.

Glenis in green lane.jpg

The wide, straight road near Shute was a happy temptation. Glenis called out “how fast are we going”? So, only happy to please I called “25”, and pedalled faster ... then “26, 27, 28, 29”. On 30, I glanced over my shoulder and couldn’t see Glenis! When she eventually caught up she cried out “didn’t you see the half dozen red signs which said max speed 20, danger of skidding”! I replied “no, I was looking at my computer telling you how fast we were pedalling”!

We were delighted to find the clearly marked cycle path shown in photo 1 leading from the gap in the trees to the foreground and onto the wide and smooth track in photo 2.

Ice-cream and mocha at Colyton and onto Northleigh, Farway, Hare and Hounds and East Hill Strip. Sadly, we arrived at the scene of an RTA just by White Cross only minutes after the Police arrived. Turned round, found a wooded footpath and field down off the ridge to push our bikes through and eventually onto Tipton where we parted having had an excellent and eventful day out.

Brecon Weekend - Bws Beic - Lost Property

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For the credulous amongst you we have received the attached letter from Myfanwy Thomas, the warden of the Youth Hostel just outside Brecon.

Unfortunately it's all in Welsh.

Luckily Glenis suggested that her Great Aunt Arianwyn might be willing to help.

According to Arianwyn the gist of the message is

A group of cyclists from the Exeter Bike Bus stayed at Brecon YHA on the weekend of 6 and 7 May.

Pink socks hello kitty.jpg

One of the group has left a pair of pink socks behind. The socks were found in one of the bunks in room number 1. This room contains four bunks so we are not sure who they belong to.

One of the staff recalls that he saw one gentleman wearing pink socks and that he definitely had a tank axle. If you could let me know the name and address of the gentleman involved we can post them onto him.

After I phoned Arianwyn (she told me she is 93 and that she hasn't seen Glenis for four years) she has revised the translation of bendant dwyn ​​milwrol from he definitely had a tank axle to he had a distinctly military bearing.

If you are able to identify the person involved please let me know.

Late Breaking News

We have managed to gain access to the Brecon YHA Internal CCTV system and have located some video of the pink sock owner in room 1.

If you recognise the person in this short video extract - please let us know as soon as possible.

Thursday 17 May - Exmouth & Sidmouth

This week the Executive went to a great deal of trouble to organise two rides from the Quay - a 'normal' one and an 'easy' one. However detailed market research revealed that all but one of the so-called 'easy' riders didn't realise that they were in fact on an 'easy' ride - and none had brought along the mandatory sick note. The Executive are now considering how to deal with such errant behaviour.

It was nevertheless pleasing to note that Ian (of tandem fame) was out for the first time after being invalided off the Brecon trip. (It's a little more difficult to hack into Welsh Hospitals IT systems - but we plan to bring you Ian's X-rays next week).

Anyway a goodly party assembled in dribs and drabs at King's Garden Centre where they found a rather sheepish Keith - who the previous weekend had collided with a tree on Woodbury Common (stick to roads I say). Jan has let down the tyres on all fifteen of his bikes (plus two trailers) and hidden his pumps - so he is now effectively banned from cycling for a month.

After briefly commiserating with Keith a party then set off to visit the delights of Sidmouth. Somehow we got our wires crossed and Ian found himself in a pub - whilst the rest of us found ourselves in the wrong cafe.

Sweets on tipton bridge.jpg

Over lunch we learnt that Roger and Marilyn had once spent a fruitless week trying to find their way out of Sidmouth using a dimly recalled Bike Bus route. They failed. (Which reminds me - Roger remembered to turn on his mobile phone this week - but sadly our KiddyTrackerTM software shows he left it on his piano when he came out).

So this time the Executive decided to reprise an earlier ride - so with Roger and Marilyn making notes we headed through the Byes and up to the Bowd. Here there was a small mutiny - with several softies deciding to take the road rather than the old rail line down to Tipton.

The rail line proved to be more of a challenge than expected with half a dozen large trees across the track bed - felled by the recent strong winds. The brave party battled through and found the softies sucking sweets on Tipton Bridge.

Afterwards Stephanie and Glenis decided to extend their ride to Honiton whilst the remainder set off for home.

Tuesday? 15 May - Exmouth

Stephanie reports:-

I had the absolute joy of joining Judy in cycling to work. The plan was to park at Judy’s to take a leisurely cycle into Exmouth Hospital – me for a 9.00am mandatory training day. However, I had been told in no uncertain terms that anyone arriving just a few minutes late would not be admitted. Added to which, not doing this training is a disciplinary offence and I am now 2 months overdue for doing it – confirmed by the recent stream of managerial reminders.

So, when I found a whole chunk of essential road CLOSED between me and Judy thereby causing a 6 mile detour I became a little frantic and Judy had previously warned me that we need 40 minutes. Arrived at Judy’s 8.15 am, honking my horn, pulled bike out of car, shoved on panniers, clamped on helmet, yelled for Judy (who appeared on cue), swung leg over bike, waved a farewell at the laughing Tim and off we flew like a double Pegasus! My legs worked overtime maintaining a lead on Judy whose hysterical laughter was rapidly fading into the distance ... until we virtually careered into a bunch of Royal Machines marching down the lane. No time to ogle, although I did warn them about the enemy fast approaching. Didn’t quite catch the comments that Judy later heard about “crazy cyclists”.

Judy’s 6 minute hill was achieved in 3 (although Judy did finally overtake me on this last one).

Stephanies bike at exmouth.jpg

Arrived with 15 minutes spare! Just enough time to take in the delights of the Hospital’s quaint bike shed which housed various dilapidated appliances (purposes unclear) and with a door to the mortuary. Judy leaned her bike against a portable hydraulic hoist, strategically placed to avoid the rain which drips in from the vandalised roof. Maybe the culprit was the same person whose final gesture was to spray “F**k off” on the wall.

Kicked my heels a bit at the end of the day whilst I waited for Judy to appear from some breast feeding update (don’t ask – I did, and wished I hadn’t although the four point position is obviously a modern thing).

Quite surprised by what I can only imagine must be a homespun headlight which appeared on my bike just before our much more sedate but head wind buffeted return journey along the Exe trail to Lympstone.

Tuesday 15 May - Exmoor

Ian writes:-

Quotes of the day ...

“Oh look Rich, we’re at the Gateway to Exmoor!”
Ian upon arriving at South Moulton

“471 metres...highest point of the day”
Ian upon reaching the summit of Kinsford Hill

“Oh look Rich, we’re at the Place where Exmoor meets the Sea”
Ian upon reaching Lynmouth

Countisbury hill.jpg

“Is this really 1 in 4?”
Richard, halfway up Countisbury Hill

“When in Countisbury, it’s only right we do as the Countisburyonians do!”
Ian’s comment 29/30 of the way up Countisbury Hill, whilst leading Richard in to the Blue Ball Inn

“Well we should really leave something for another day!”
Richard’s answer to Ian’s comment of whether they should do another lap of Countisbury Hill or not

“You don’t get this standard of service on a Thursday”
Richard’s comment whilst heading East along the North Coast Road

“They speak a different language and everything ...”
Richard’s comment to Ian’s statement that Wales, the home of Ifor Williams, is now visible to the North

“There are only 2 places I know where you have to pay to use the toilet, Dulverton and now Porlock. Do you think it is a coincidence that they are both in Somerset?”
Ian’s comment whilst in Porlock

“Oh I’m disappointed now Ian”
Richard, on hearing Ian’s statement that there is only 350 metres of climbing left to get to the top of Dunkery Beacon

“Oh you’re really spoiling us today”
Richard’s comment as Ian leads him up a 1 in 7 out of the Exe Valley

“Next time I’ll try to arrange a hilly ride with a little wind, just so that it tests us”
Ian’s comment to Richard upon arriving back at Lindsay Towers

“Pint of Bitter and a Pint of Cider please”
Ian at the The Rising Sun in Lynmouth Richard at The Blue Ball Inn in Countisbury Ian at The Rest and Be Thankful Inn in Wheddon Cross

“Living the Dream!!”
Both Ian & Richard, every 15 to 20 minutes throughout the 10hr Exmoor Extravaganza

100 miles covered – next week, a trip to the Somerset Levels and North Curry

Thursday 10 May - Wiland

After a week of outlandish adventures we weren't expecting many passengers - and we were right.

Last week the bus was challenged by a trip into deepest Somerset ... and over the weekend attempted an outrageously difficult three day trip into the depths of Wales.

Stuck at cardiff car park barriers.jpg

Things started badly when the brave group failed to find their way out of the car park in Cardiff. The horizontal barriers proved to be an insuperable obstacle even to experienced cycle tourists. From then things got worse, much worse. John lost a meat pie halfway through eating it, and then found three strangers in his single room.

Cardiff bay opera house.jpg

Two failed to make the first night’s stop and fully two-thirds of the party failed to climb up to the Gospel Pass.

Surprisingly a few of the party made it back to Cardiff including Don who immediately got lost inside the Bay’s iconic Opera House looking for the loos.

Thus this week a small and broken party pedalled slowly to Willand in the rain ... and then made their way to Escot for a damp lunch.

The day was enlivened somewhat by Stephanie stumbling across two girls practicing for the Force 100 mile ride in June. Stephanie tempted them into Escot for warm drinks to discover that after doing the Force ride they are planning to cycle across Australia.

Hopefully next week, when a few passengers have dried out and recovered from their exertions - we will see a few more people out.

Tuesday 8 May - Abbotskerswell

Ian reporets:-

This week, only Ian and Richard turned up for The Tuesday Ride. However, the action packed itinerary continued regardless, with a 4 stop adventure – as always, something for everyone!

Having been to the place where the fun starts, passed through the Gem of South Devon and skirted the edge of the home of the historic Cheese and Onion Fayre, we arrived in Abbotskerswell for stop number 1. Luckily, Tonto from the TVPB had picked a cafe at the top of the village, so we didn’t have to endure the 1in5 descent into the village and the 1in5 ascent out of it! – Babbinis – only been open a couple of months, but they had their act together, a superb breakfast, reasonably priced – 20 pts.

Bowerman's Nose.jpg

We continued our journey via the climb of Rydon Hill and then a traverse of the Kestor Brook Valley, before conquering Ashburton Down and finding the Lost City of Stormsdown. Up and over the dizzy heights of Pudsham Down followed by the descent into Widecombe in the Moor, where the Rugglestone Inn served as stop 2 – lovely ale – 18 pts.

As if Honeybag Tor was not interesting enough on the third leg of our journey, the view of Bowerman’s Nose in the sun guided us to our third stop – The Kestor Inn – 18 pts.

A fast descent back into The Gateway to Dartmoor, saw us get some emergency rations at Thomas’s Bakery – 18 pts. – before a return via the Oldest Wool town in Devon!

85+ miles covered, next week an Exmoor Extravaganza!

Stephanie's Competition

Ian’s Mum and Dad’s house is unanimously voted "Bike Bus Best Coffee Pot Stop" due to their extensive range of elevenses treats ever enjoyed by passengers.

As a little memory test, which one of these was not served up last Thursday:

Ginger cake             Cheese scone
Almond biscuit          Fruit scone
Tea                     Shortbread
Chocolate cake          Coffee
Mineral Water           Sausage rolls
Fruit cake              Orange juice
Fruit loaf              Coffee cake
Chocolate Brownies      Victoria sponge
Mini babybels           Crackers
Mini rock cakes

Forward your answers by email to Steph.

Thursday 3 May - The Great Bike Bus Adventure

Strangely we seem to have been inundated with reports this week:-

Sue writes:-

The race to Ian's Mum's house was fiercely contested. The first we spotted off the starting blocks was Wolf, who waved a cheery goodbye as he pedalled off to the station, on his way to Taunton. I pointed out he had forgotten his cycle helmet, causing him to dash back to his flat.

We bundled our "folders" into the boot of the car and headed for Chard. The rain started about 5 minutes along the road. We arrived some 10 minutes ahead of Kirby and Pauline, but as I still get very confused unfolding my bike Team B soon caught up with us, whipping their 'big' bikes from their boot in a jiffy (even remembering to reconnect their brakes).

The going was soft i.e. enormous puddles on the rail trail. Gigantic bicycle-trapping cattle grids interrupted ridiculously often, and slowed by these we feared Wolf would be drawing ahead. Sarah's timing was seamless in Ilminster, merging so effortlessly with our little group, we did not even need to slow (this despite her cycling one legged due to a running injury). All was going too well.

Kirby now shot off up a one-way street, panicking oncoming cars. The rest of us thought of trying to justify this shortcut to Roy later, and decided that rather than be eliminated for cheating, we had better go the long way round. Kirby's excuse was the rain drops on his glasses had blurred his vision.

Mike putting up the new CTC Devon flag

We "manned up" to pedal through a lake at the bottom of Windmill Hill, finally arriving chez Ian's Mum pretty confident we had made excellent time, only to find Wolf had just beaten us, despite having got lost in the woods behind the house. Worse still, both John Rowland's Aylesbury team and Ian's speed merchants had beaten us to it as well. Only Hugh arrived later, with a note from his sponsors saying he was testing new equipment and so could deduct 10 minutes from his time. Dr Wolf thought he was Dr Hugh with the broken leg, so was very impressed with his recuperative powers.

The great bike bus adventure windmill hill.jpg

All rivalries were soon forgotten as Mrs Lindsay provided the best ever bike bus refreshments,sausage rolls, scones, freshly baked cakes and biscuits of every kind, washed down by limitless tea and coffee, we were spoiled. Judy was even given a doggy bag for Tim who was resting at home, conserving his energies for Saturday and the onerous task of leading 20 of us up the Taff trial.

On the return trip to Chard the rain stopped and we avoided floods. A stop at the Cider Farm was irresistible for tea, coffee (and cider for some, guess who?), before returning down the rail trail, through clouds of house-martins, fly - catching alongside the sewage works. Back home, Kirby rounded off a successful outing for Team Trews Weir by providing warm soapy water and sharing his outside tap to help remove buckets full of mud from our bikes.

Stephanie reports:-

Ian, Richard, Hugh, Judy and I left coffee for Stockland – where the boys apparently needed some refreshment from a pub. Onto Honiton where Hugh got distracted by Lidls bargains, Judy flew off towards Gittisham and Ian, Richard and I headed for Weston where the boys apparently needed some refreshment from a pub.

Stephanies coffee andIce cream.jpg

A sense of déjà vu in the Otter Inn as Ian and Richard sat with their pints talking about latest bike ranges whilst I enjoy my coffee with yet another little tasty morsel on the side (see photo). Luckily my fear of more reprisals if I didn’t share my mini mint cornetto was unfounded and neither did I have to beg the bar lady to offer mini mint cornettos all round to make it fair. Obviously the conversation about bike ranges was sufficiently distracting this time.

All in all, this group managed a total climb which matched Snowden’s height.

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.

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