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Exeter Bike Bus - Ride Reports - August 2012

Provence and The Cevennes

Where are we?

A few pigeon borne reports are emerging from France where a group of nine cyclists set off on a mission to find the source of the Rhine.

After a few days they belatedly discovered that the large river that crossed a fold in their only map was in fact called the Rhône.

One black sheep in nine.jpg

They then experienced an épisode cévenol: when cold air from the Atlantic meets warm air from the Mediterranean, leading to apocalyptic rain, flash floods, broken bridges, dead sheep, restive children, fretful fathers and unhinged mothers.

Strangely the villagers of Meyrueis had clubbed together to give the gallant cyclists a tapestry containing an image of nine sheep. We are still trying to unravel the symbolism of this piece - but it clearly contains eight white sheep ... and one black sheep on its back ... snoring.

More information will be made available as it emerges ...

Blob Update

Blob iphone.jpg

As you know Mike & Sue and Ian & Janet set off two weeks ago on their trip to America. They plan to cycle down the west coast of the States from Canada to the Mexican border.

After two weeks in Canada they have now managed to find each other and are ready to set off south to the States.

Meanwhile plans for the Bike Bus trip to the south of France are well advanced.

Roy has now got enough helpers to man his pigeon loft. Incidentally he would like to thank everyone who sent in packets of bird-seed - but unfortunately racing pigeons have a very specialised diet - especially when preparing for a long flight - so he has passed the food onto the RSPB.

Rodney & Sasha at Cadbury

All the birds are well, except for Mary VII, who has a bruised and bent keel. Roy assures me that she will make a full recovery - but she needs to be rested for the next three weeks. Her place has been taken by Rodney. Last weekend all the birds successfully completed a trial flight from Geoff & Penny's house in Cadbury back to Exeter.

All the selected birds are now being driven to Avignon by Roger and Marilyn. They had a fright on entering France when Customs appeared to think they were importing livestock. Only when Marilyn produced Roy's National Pigeon Club documentation were they let through.

You can read about all these adventures at the following links ...

Thursday 23 August - King's Garden Centre, Exmouth

This week we ran one of the special Introductory Rides for those who are new to, or returning to, cycling. We were pleased to see that Ian's dad (David) turned up - interestingly on a titatium bike with Rohloff gears. We hope to see more of him (and his bike) soon.


A quiet ride after coffee was enlivened by Stephanie and Jill getting lost.

When we eventually managed to find them in the Collaton Raleigh triangle they were still chatting away unconcernedly (they didn't know they were lost!).

Thursday 16 August - Escot

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Continuing the festival theme ... this week we went to Escot ... which was hosting the Beautiful Days Festival.

Beautiful Days is the Levellers festival which takes place at Escot Park in the heart of Devon. 2012 was the 10th Beautiful Days festival. Winner of BEST FAMILY FESTIVAL at the UK Festival Awards 2011, it's a family music festival with six stages, site art, a huge children’s area in the centre of the festival, comedy, theatre, family camping, a healing area, licensed real ale bars from Otter Brewery & carefully selected food and craft stalls.

Unfortunately we had come one day too early so we didn't get to hear any music ... or sample any real ale ... but we did get to work out how to navigate the one way system imposed on the roads nearby.

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After coffee Ian decided to find the hardest way up onto the Dunkeswell Plateau. This freaked out several well known members of the Wellington Wheelers Cycling Club (who shall be nameless) who decided to take an easier option.

Thus it was that some hours later Ian's party arrived at The Aviator Cafe to find Yvonne and Ken had already finished their lunch.

A small contretemps developed about whether it is possible to eat one's sandwiches in the viewing area in front of the cafe. When we left Ted was still discussing the niceties of the location of the food/no food boundary with cafe staff.

After lunch Stephanie led us to the Post Office in Broadhembury where we were made very welcome for afternoon tea.

Thursday 9 August - Sidmouth

A beautiful sunny day saw the Bike Bus set off to Sidmouth to see the final day of the Folk Festival.

Show of hands.jpg

We stopped first at Otterton Mill, which seems to be fully recovered from its latest flood, and then set off over Peak Hill before gathering on the sea front. The passengers were given a generous hour and a half to explore the festival - but a few decided to put their feet up on the front and enjoy the sun and breeze.

After rounding them up we avoided the traffic by setting off along the Byes and the lanes to Sidbury and the climb past Lincombe Farm up East Hill. We were then rewarded by the descent into Ottery where we found Poppies Cafe was closing! Undetered we walked round the corner where we were made very welcome in Seasons Tea Room.

On an otherwise agreeable day it is sad to report that quite a number of passengers were vying for a Black Sheep Award. We can only presume that these (clearly missdirected) competitive urges resulted from two weeks of Olympic coverage.

Ian with bandaged head.jpg

Three candidates stood out

  1. Warren for coming out on an unfit machine (chain broke)
  2. Stephanie for staying in bed and missing the first half of the ride (despite having been brought a coffee in bed by Warren)
  3. Ian for skiving off the ride altogether and having an accident with no trained first aiders present.

Details of Ian's accident are sketchy at the moment ... but we do know that Ian was riding his bike on Exmoor at the time ... and a horse was involved.

The clear winner of this week's Black Sheep Award is of course Ian.


Mike & Sue and Ian & Janet are just setting off on their trip to America. They plan to cycle down the west coast of the States from Canada to the Mexican border.

Blob iphone.jpg

Mike & Sue will be recording their trip on their hi-tech iPhone device ... which as you know is loaded with KiddyTracker (TM) software. This allows us to follow their every move ... and in the latest release allows us to take photos at inopportune moments.

The Bike Bus Executive have negotiated privileged access for Bike Bus devotees to their private blob.

We wish them well on their adventures.

As last year the Executive are taking nine of their favourite friends on a two week trip to the south of France. It's not a complete jolly as the riders will have to climb Mt Ventoux (1,900 m) and climb and sleep at the top of Mt Aigoual (1,700 m).

Blob pigeon.jpg

None of the nine are very technical ... but Roy again has come to the rescue and will be allowing us to use a number of his homing pigeons to relay messages back to the rest of the Bike Bus. One problem is that Roy is one of the select nine and will be in the south of France ... so we will need help to man his loft back in Exeter.

We've already got a number of volunteers ... but we are still looking for help for the period 6-11 September. If you would like to help (it will only take one hour a day) please contact me or Roy as soon as possible. Please note that we can't accept anyone who is sensitive to serum protein antigens or who has previously suffered from ornithosis or hypersensitivity lung disease.

The birds will be bringing back daily reports which will be put on a blob ... we will let you know the address when it has been set up.

Thursday 2 August - Escot & First Aid

First aid.jpg

This week we had an easy jaunt to Escot where we discovered Warren and Stephanie newly back from their tour of Brittany. But we had to leave them to their cake and coffee as we had an important appointment.

Roger about to begin a trepanning session

The CTC Exeter Committee was concerned at the number of people falling of their bikes and so decided to send the most inept of us on a compulsory first aid course. I expected a 10 minute session on how to open a packet of plasters – but it turned out to be a much more serious affair lasting around three hours. These days this much concerted study qualifies you for a degree.

Thanks go out to Bob Ball for delivering the course in an entertaining and engaging manner and to Jan and Keith for hosting the event.

We now have to construct a database showing who wears false teeth – this is important if you are at risk of choking – so can you please let me know whether you wear false teeth or not.

Thursday 26 July - Higher Pitt

Higher pitt july 2012.jpg

Last week Jan & Keith Portlock very kindly asked us round to their house for coffee and cakes. Jan subsequently wrote:-

I really hope everyone enjoyed their coffee stop yesterday. The weather was absolutely perfect and it was so nice to see so many familiar and new faces. The pity was I didn't get to chat much as I would have liked because I needed to help my stalwart crew in the kitchen!!!

The amount donated totalled a fantastic £248.44 so Keith 'generously' made it up to £250. Please thank everyone for their contributions every penny, of which, will be devoted to providing riding lessons for the riders of East Devon. The day finished well as Keith came home from hospital early and so far so good!!!

Keiths scan july 2012.png

Keith has also made a contribution:-

I am very sorry I was not able to join you but I hope to be back in the saddle very soon.

Jan thanks you and coffee pot members for their very generous support of the RDA at the Higher Pitt Coffee Pot on Thursday. She was delighted with the result. I understand that the sad but necessary sale of Paul's cycling gear was also very profitable. I just wanted to thank all those who sent me their good wishes in my 'get well' card. It certainly lifted my spirits at the right time. Would you please pass on my thanks through the medium of the Bike Bus circulation if you felt that would be appropriate.

I have been aware that something of a Bike Bus 'tradition' has been established regarding the publication of documentary evidence of injuries, ailments etc preventing members from riding. Given the nature of my indisposition, however, I'm sure colleagues will understand my reticence in allowing my scan into the public domain. Jan, however, has persuaded me, in the interests of medical research, to put up with any personal embarrassment. I have, therefore, attached a copy of my scan hereto.


As you would expect the Bike Bus Executive have reviewed the, admittedly contradictory, evidence surounding Keith's absence on a day when Jan was faced with an enormous pile of washing up and over forty guests ... and decided to award him yet another Black Sheep Award.

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