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Exeter Bike Bus - Ride Reports - November 2012

6 December - Cullompton - A Sad Story

Sue reports:-

This Thursday Kirby was busy sampling the cycling course and so delegated leadership of the Bike Bus outing to Mike B.

Michael is very sensitive and so was a little hurt to find only Dave and Wolf waiting for us at the Quay. Never mind there were plenty of other bus stops to fill up with passengers. Only one sick note had been received; sent in by Stephanie's Mum.

Imagine his crestfallen face as we waited eagerly at bus stops - Swing Bridges, The Blue Ball and the New Inn, but not one passenger! Admittedly, it was a little parky, in fact Dave had made his sandwiches from frozen bread from his freezer, expecting them to thaw out by snack time - not going to happen today!

The lanes around Westwood grew more and more icy until I whimped out and decided to turn back, Mike decided to return with me, but the other two had slid past round the corner out of sight. By the time it was safe for them to apply brakes they were half way up the next hill so we agreed by text that we should split up and as they struggled on to the bus terminus at Padbrook, Mike and I cautiously returned to the Co-op cafe near Broadclyst, to partake of hot drinks until we regained some feeling in our hands and feet.

The sun never broke through the cloud as, crestfallen, we returned alone to Trews Weir.

Wolf continues:-

Yes, as we had already got up the icy slop we had no particular desire to slide down again. And the signpost said "4 miles to Buffalo". Avoiding the steep drop to Clyst St Lawrence we climbed a bit more to Hoop Cross. Temperature in the valleys were sub-zero.

On the ridge we made good progress as it was ice-free up there. Finally we found a very smooth way down to Padbrook Golf Cafe. Here we bumped into the rather large Wellington group and met Glenis, Geoff and Penny whom we must have missed by a minute at The New Inn. They had cleverly taken the main road and look quiet relaxed.

Chilled to the marrow we needed at least two cups of coffee to defrost. Then the whole group took the main road back which was comfortable as a gigantic crane has blocked the B 3181. So we had it all for us alone and arrived in Exeter for lunch.

Black Ice on Wednesday Night

Jamie andrews black ice facebook.png

"Country practices are infiltrating the chattering classes"

Sue's friend Alice is a sheep farmer, she has commented:-

Was rather amazed at the Christmas party entertainment that your biking group dreamed up!! I mean Sue - I don't think any of your tales can loose anything in the telling! Sheep do produce odd and varied offspring - but I've yet to have pulled out a hedgehog! So funny - again I will run that past some friends for entertainment - or call it how country practices are infiltrating the chattering classes!

29 November - Nowhere

This week we were headed towards Crediton.

Kirby was noticeably grumpier than normal - still complaining that the Executive had taken over organisation of the Anniversary Lunch. He became even grumpier still when he fell off on ice near Nettacott.

Snow crystal.jpg

Thus Sue Booth is a guest reporter this week:-

The list of those who made it, as planned, to Crediton Station was far shorter than those who abandoned the trip as a bad idea and ended up enjoying the salubrious surroundings of Bernaville Garden Centre instead.

It was such a promising start on the Quay - Kirby, recovered from his "croak", joined Sue, Mike, Tom, 2 Richards and "newish" Brian. Star of stage and screen (well Spotlight anyway) Glenis had arranged for the level of the Exe to be reduced so we could enjoy a leisurely cycle along the river path, and then a warming trip up to Upton Pynes. We cycled through some giant puddles and then Kirby suddenly toppled sideways in the middle of the road!, victim to invisible black ice. The rest of us rushed over to make sure his newly serviced bike was OK, and then made him cycle ahead of us as we gingerly retraced our way to Bernaville.

Clever Tom had sensibly not followed us, making excellent time to Crediton along the main road, without any mishaps. Others arrived there after him, including Geoff, Penny and Ian Lindsey before they all caught up with us at the Garden Centre.

Stragglers arrived in ones and twos - Judy who had not abandoned Tim even though he had a puncture, Glenis, even though she probably had rehearsals for her next TV appearance, Linda and hubby hiding in the corner, as they had only cycled about 1 mile - and intrepid Yvonne who had set off in the dark from Mid Devon and walked most of the way. Keith hobbled in as he had tested his bionic hip by bouncing off the ice. I suspect he is trying to win this years prestigious "medical "prize.

Apparently Robin had also done a pirouette on the ice and gone home to lie down. Ted and Martin turned up at Bernaville just as we were all leaving, and announced they too had both tumbled en route!

The survivors made it back to the Quay just as those on the cycling training course finished. We look forward to hearing how they got on, and have they any tips on ice-cycling?


Cycle Training #3

This week we had six students on the Cycle Training Course - Susan Gameson, John Rowland, Pauline Gibson, Roger Spurr, Marilyn Spurr and Wolf Jennet. They report ...



The course is very unthreatening. Its main use was in making you rethink the way you deal with common traffic situations. It is easy to fall into routines over the years without analysing them to see if they are the best way.


I always knew that it was necessary to keep a high profile on the road but this gave me more confidence to do it and to consider myself as part of the traffic and not always try to let cars go by when it isn't safe.


The training was very nice but not very challenging. Chris the trainer was lovely and rather cautious with us. I have learned: get out of the gutter and you will be respected and therefor safer. Still a problem is how to deal with "reckless pedestrians" meandering unpredictably on a shared path focused at their SMS or tucked away into their music.

I think it is good for our reputation that CTC has shown interest.


Our lesson proved to be of value and was well run. Thank you.

22 November - Orange Elephant, Kennford

Kirby writes:-

After last year's dismal event the Executive decided to take complete control over this year's Anniversary Lunch. Stephanie and I were given a partial briefing beforehand - but most of the events and activities were as much a surprise to us as I'm sure they were to you.

When we arrived we were given sideburns in honour of Bradley Wiggins' achievements this year (is he a member of the Bike Bus?). The Orange Elephant staff were also given them - although unfortunately one pair slipped over the eyes of a young girl who then dropped tomato soup all down her front.

Bike bus lunch 2012 collage.jpg


The Timekeeping Award

This Award was kindly sponsored by Rolex

The Nominations were

  • John for regularly leaving early, and
  • Keith leaving even earlier – and not stopping.

The prize was a 'teach yourself the time' kit for 5-8 years olds - and the winner was Keith.

The Geographic Knowledge Award

The Geographic Knowledge Award was sponsored by the Royal Geographic Society.

The Nominations were

  • Kirby for sending Tom Ingram down the wrong side of Mont Aigoual in France, and
  • Geoff – who was unable to distinguish the Rhine from the Rhone.

The prize was two crystal glass phials containing water from the Rhine and the Rhone - and the winner was Geoff.

The Noisy Bike Award

This was sponsored by the Noise Abatement Society

The Nominations were

  • John Rowland for owning an errant bell which tinkles whenever he goes over the smallest bump, and
  • Mike Booth who insists on carrying a cow bell which tinkles constantly.

The prize was a brand new bell from Bikelands in Exmouth - and the winner was Mike.

The Most Damage to a Bike

This was directly sponsored by the Executive who have a large collection of broken bike bits.

There was only one serious contender for this prize – having destroyed gears, wheels and even complete bikes the winner is of course - Wolf who took away the prized bent crank.

The Best use of Technology

Apple Corporation kindly sponsored this Prize and donated two prototype iPhone 6s.

The Nominees were

  • Mike for using a phone for everything (don't ask),
  • Kirby for developing the KiddyTracker(TM) software which ensures we know where you are, and
  • Roger for, after years of resistance, actually buying a mobile phone

Due to Apple's generosity there were two prize winners - Roger and Sue (for putting up with Mike's phone).

Most Calories per Mile

This new Prize was sponsored by Slimming World.

The Nominations were

  • Ian - primarily for consumption of beer,
  • Glenis for eating a sandwich at every stop – and often in between, and
  • Mike for his notorious consumption of cooked breakfasts.

The prize was several bags of jelly babies - and the winner was Glenis.

Lambing Competition

Judy lambing.jpg

This new competition was sponsored by BBC's Country File - but unfortunately due to the floods their camera crew couldn't get through to film the final event.

Due to absences abroad (USA, Spain & Germany) the lambing competition could not be completed before the Anniversary Lunch. So, throwing all health and safety considerations aside, (and putting at risk the Orange Elephant's catering licence) the Executive decided to hold the finals during the Lunch.

The Finalists were

  • Sue
  • Judy, and
  • Wolf
Sue lambing.jpg

Sue has considerable experience of lambing on her friend Alice's farm, Judy comes from New Zealand, and Wolf did a gynaecology course 35 years ago. Thus the standard was very high.

Wolf lambing.jpg

During the introductions (Dolly was the sheep) we learnt that she had been covered by a ram called Roger.

Thus the Executive decided that it would be appropriate for Roger to oversee the proceedings.

After donning protective equipment the finalists then took turns to try to deliver a lamb.

Sue and Judy managed to deliver a baby hedgehog and a baby racoon ...

... but the overall winner was Wolf ... who delivered a lovely baby lamb.

Black & White Sheep Awards

This year we were honoured to have the Black & White Sheep Awards produced by a renowned international ceramic artist.

Unfortunately after reviewing the Bike Bus web site the artist decided that their career might suffer a terminal decline if they were seen to be even slightly associated with our activities and that it might not be appropriate for them to sign the ceramic pendants.

So regrettably the identity of the famous artist is only known to the Bike Bus Executive.

Black Sheep Award

Black and white sheep pendants.jpg

The Black Sheep Award is given to the person who have been given the most black sheep during the year.

The Runners up were

  • Stephanie Houghton
  • Ian Lindsay
  • Wolf Jenett, and
  • Roger Spurr

But the overall Black Sheep Winners for 2012 are

  • Keith Portlock
  • John Rowland
  • Dave Martin, and
  • Glenis Pewsey

White Sheep Award

Black and white sheep pendants.jpg

The White Sheep Awards are for notorious service in support of the Bike Bus and are decided by the Executive in Closed Session.

The White Sheep Winners for 2012 are

  • Stephanie Houghton,
  • Wolf Jennet, and
  • John Rowland

Lunch Feedback

Below is some of the correspondence and feeback we have received

Thank you sheep.png

Sue text'ed

Many thanks for my super phone - I love the fact that it txts in PINK!!!!

Tim & Judy wrote

Hi Steph & Kirby,

Many thanks for organising & arranging the lunch today – lots of clever ideas & entertainment. It’ll be difficult to choose which photos go on-line next week!

The food was good too & great to have the large upstairs area to ourselves. Hope the sheep survived its outing.

Tim and Judy

Janet Portlock wrote (before the lunch):-

Dear Kirby,

My purpose is writing this letter is two-fold. Firstly I would like to congratulate you on the success of the ‘Bike Bus’. Keith keeps me apprised, almost ‘ad nauseam’, of its activities, routes and new members etc. and, although I am aware the ‘executive’ and a whole raft of voluntary ‘leaders’ play a very important role, I also know that its achievements are in no small way due to your inspirational leadership.

The second issue I wanted to raise is the matter of the ‘Black Sheep’. At the time of writing I understand that Keith has dubious honour of leading the ‘Black Sheep’ award table with Glenis Pewsey, John Rowland and Dave Martin, each with four ‘Black Sheep. I think this is grossly unfair!

Whilst I just can’t imagine how gentle folk such as Glenis, John ad Dave could have transgressed to this extent I find it very much more surprising that Keith has earned so few. Had I have been able to avail myself of such a sanction over the last 42 years Keith would have accrued more Black Sheep than there are white ones gracing the fields of our ‘green and pleasant land’.

I hope sincerely that, should he remain at the top of the leader board, shared or otherwise, a punishment commensurate with his cycling failings is levied on him. On this point, however, I would ask for compassion – for me not him. Please don’t ban him from the ‘Bike Bus’. I have come to treasure the sight of him cycling off into the dawn every Thursday leaving me free to enjoy a day of blissful self-indulgence.

With best wishes, Janet Portlock

Kirby replied:-

Dear Mrs Portlock, cc: Bike Bus Secretariat,

Thank you for your email.

Yours is in fact the 12th such email I have received this week from partners, mothers and children of Bike Bus members. All have made special pleading on behalf of their partners, children or parents (or as has readily become clear to me - on behalf of themselves) ahead of the Bike Bus Anniversary Lunch. None seem to appreciate my lack of influence with the Bike Bus Executive.

The Executive have not shared the names of tomorrow's Award Winners with me - so we will have to wait and see whether Keith is adequately rewarded for his contributions to the Bike Bus.

As a result of requests such as those you make in your final paragraph we now operate subsidiary Bike Buses on other days during the week. Attendance at such rides requires a subscription - but several partners have indicated that 'it is cheap at the price'. If you wish Keith to take advantage of these rides we can offer you a new rider discount of 20% for the first year.

We also operate a scheme where we take members to remote parts of Europe for several weeks at a time - again such 'breaks' offer very good value for money - and have proved extremely popular with partners.

Although you clearly don't fall into this category you may be interested to know that we offer a support group for Bike Bus Widows & Widowers.

I hope you enjoy your indulgent day tomorrow.

Yours Kirby James

15 November - Exmouth


This week we went to a new venue - Channel View Cafe on Exmouth Sea Front. The cafe has recently been taken over by Aby ... and she and her team were keen to welcome us to their new venture.

After a relaxing coffee we used to bike path to Budleigh and (all except Ian) risked Park Lane alongside the Otter. As feared this turned out to be rather muddy.

On the climb to Pinn Lane Cross a race developed between Ian, Dave and Glenis. Whether they are aware or not of the fact that in 1890 the National Cyclists' Union banned racing on public roads is irrelevant ... all three get Black Sheep Awards.

Afterwards we stopped at Escot for lunch before heading home.

Cycle Training #2


Meanwhile we held the second of the 2 hour cycle training sessions organised and delivered by Chris Blasdale of Execel. This time Mike Booth, Dave Hutton and Chris Brightman took part.

Mike writes:-

My thanks to you and the CTC team for providing the opportunity for me to attend this short refresher training course. As I anticipated, it was both interesting and informative.

It was superbly presented by Chris, whose informal and inclusive style provided easy listening and participative learning. Having quickly covered some clothing and bike maintenance basics, we moved on to look at modern thinking on minimising rider risk whilst riding in present day traffic conditions.

For me, there was confirmation of many of the practices that experience has taught me during my time cycling, plus some new things (such as correct helmet adjustment, and current advice on rider positioning when negotiating junctions).

I would strongly recommend this course to any experienced rider who is keen to improve their riding skills.

Dave writes

Just to feedback and say that today's session was brilliant.

Chris is so knowledgeable and is very good at getting the points across. We analysed several road junctions from a safe cycling viewpoint and the advice Chris gave was spot on. The experience of just stepping back and looking at options in terms of road position, signalling etc. is invaluable.

Like many others, I have cycled in all sorts of situations but today I found a lot of useful information, some of which made me realise I need to get out of a few bad habits!

Many thanks for helping to organise this.

Chris Brighman writes:-

I concur with the favourable comments from Dave and Mike on the training. Chris brought us up to date on current CTC/Excel thinking and food for thought about our cycling habits. We discussed incidents which we all have and the conclusion was rather than have a conflict, verbal or otherwise, try to note vehicle no. and detail and report it!

We had just chatted about a scenario of an overtaking motorist on a left bend when, hey presto, a van driver with no hope of overtaking in the space between we four and a parked van on the right, had to fall back, then sounded horn as he overtook on wider section of road.

I thoroughly recommend the two hour refresher. Thank you for offering it.

8 November - Uffculme

Shrunken sue in deck chair.jpg

This week saw the welcome return of Mike & Sue after their American Odyssey. After four months away we noticed substantial changes.

Mike had lost 3 stone (19 kg) ... and Sue had shrunk to half size.


Nevertheless they made it to Uffculme with the rest of us. Although one newcomer was not so lucky ...

He innocently turned up at the appointed hour at The Arch in Woodbury ... and no one was there!

For this serious indiscretion Woodbury residents Glenis, Judy, Tim and Sarah have all been given Black Sheep Awards.

After coffee Penny & Geoff led us over the hills to Killerton ... from where it was an easy trip home.

1 November - King's Garden Centre, Exmouth

People adopt some very strange tactics to avoid being noticed.


One newcomer has decided to dress all in black in the (rather vain) hope of not being seen.

Exmouth bikelands 2.jpg

However nothing escapes Bike Bus Intelligence. This week said person was seen to fall off his bike even before he arrived at the quayside start. Thus Dave has been given another Black Sheep Award.

We made our way without further incident (barring Richard's p*nct*r*) to King's where, after coffee, three 'volunteers' set off on their 'Advanced Cycling Course' (see review below).

The rest decided to visit Exmouth's new bike shop - Bikelands on the Strand - for a bit of retail therapy.

Afterwards we made our way to Otterton for lunch before heading home.

Bike bus at otterton.jpg

Cycle Training #1

Execel logo.png

On Thursday we had the first of the 2 hour cycle training sessions organised and delivered by Chris Blasdale of Execel. Ted Gameson and Geoff & Penny Cockram were the first brave volunteers ...

Ted writes:-

The training (Bikeability level 3) was very good and covered things like

  • How to adjust a cycle helmet properly (how many of us have had that?)
  • How to start and stop safely (A lot of us just do this the way we always have and without thinking about it, to the detriment of our safety)
  • Roadcraft, focusing on junctions, and particularly how to adopt either primary or secondary position for the control of traffic in the interests of safety

There was plenty of practice available on open town roads and turning (left and right) in more dense traffic, including roundabout safety.

The course would be very suitable for those in our group who:

  • Are not very confident about riding in traffic, and / or
  • Have not had any formal training in bicycle Roadcraft in, say, the last 20 years

On these criteria alone that probably means just about everybody in our group should attend.

I was looking specifically for current recommendations relating to lane positioning, and for consistency with advanced instruction for motorcycles. I'm very pleased to be able to report that, in my opinion, the system being taught is highly appropriate to the safest possible town cycling and is also entirely consistent with instruction for other vehicles.

Penny reports:-


Like Ted I thought it was a very worthwhile course and although several others expressed an interest in us passing on tips, I feel it would be beneficial for as many as possible to attend – with the practice as well it hammers it home so much better than hearing it from a third party ! The road positioning that Chris was recommending was probably a bit more assertive than I would usually use to be honest so again the practice gave confidence. Other tips not covered by Ted were :-

  • How much space to leave beside parked cars
  • Frequent checking over the shoulder for general awareness, and specifically to let cars behind know you are planning a manoeuvre. (Even with bike / helmet mirrors he advised making a deliberate turn around for the benefit of the motorist behind). Also covered was the use of eye contact with motorists at junctions and roundabouts.
  • How to turn round without wobbling (sounds easy but how many of us can do it without a little one!) He suggested taking your right arm off the bars and moving that behind you as you swing your head round / resting your head on your shoulder / swivelling your hips round. Tried them on the way home and it helped.

All in all an excellent session.

We will now be rolling out these two hour sessions more widely. Given the content of the course we plan to deliver most sessions in either Exeter or Exmouth. The sessions are free but only three people can attend each one. If you are interested in attending please let me know. Some additional information about the courses is available on-line.

25 October - Honiton

Woodbury sidmouth honiton.png

Alarm bells rang from the start when four 'riders' were spotted heading off in the wrong direction (i.e. off the official route) from Woodbury.


At first we gave them the benefit of doubt - believing it to have been an innocent mistake.

But, unbeliveably, evidence has emerged (see map right) showing that, rather than an aberation, this was a cynical pre-planned move.

Thus Black Sheep Awards have been made to Ian, Richard, Glenis and Dave.

Veloist cc honiton shop.jpg

In Honiton the Bike Bus assembled in the Boston Tea Party and after refreshments paid a visit to a new shop in the High Street - Veloist.cc - selling custom cycle jerseys.

Afterwards a group made their way down the Otter Valley and onto Exmouth where they paid a visit to Aby's new outlet in the Channel View Cafe.

Kirby birthday 80th.png

When Kirby got home he was very surprised to find a card waiting for him - it was his birthday!!

He couldn't remember when he last had a birthday - was it four or five years ago? He also couldn't remember how old he was - but luckily Glenis had done some research and found out that he is 80!

Happy Birthday Kirby.

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