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Exeter Bike Bus - Ride Reports - December 2012

The Executive Offer a New Service for 2013

Bike bus plotting table.jpg

Given the large number of people who have been lost on Bike Bus Outings (has anyone seen Jane, Ced, Diane, or Trevor recently?) the Executive has decided to offer a new service for 2013.

After a rigorous selection process Stephanie has been chosen to manage this operation.

Basically lost Bike Busers will (assuming they know they are lost) will txt (assuming they have a mobile phone and know how to use it) Stephanie a message (assuming they know her number) and her team will plot their location on a master map of Southern England (thus assuming that they are not that lost).

The adjacent photo shows a practice session with two Bike Bussers lost in the English Channel.

Then, depending on who is lost, Stephanie's Team will either arrange a rescue or ignore the call.

27 December - Powderham

Bike bus 2012 12 27.jpg

Mike reports:-

Not many! Just Sus and I at the Quay, then Wolf arrived just in time for the off. Swing Bridge deserted when we got there, but Topsham Richard rolled up, so it was 4 to Powderham. We took care through the puddly, muddy lanes, and noted mysterious music wafting in the wind as we headed to coffee. Ten minutes after we got there, Glenis turned up muttering about the headwind slowing her down. Then Mike Bowden came, after finding a p***ture on his bike when he was about to set out.

After sustenance Mike Bowden returned to Exeter, whilst we 5 rode to the Obelisk above Mamhead, still hearing the mystery music. Richard headed home from there, and we enjoyed great views and our sandwiches...

Glenis departed for Ashcombe and Dawlish, so the 3 remaining took the road to Haldon Forest Ridge. On the way we discovered the source of the mystery music - a rave in the woods near the racecourse. Resisting the temptation to join in, we dropped off Haldon and headed home.

20 December - Haldon Grill

John reports:-

Only a few braved the promised rainy day. Keith and John rode in from Ottery and West Hill, through some exceptional puddles, to be joined by Ted; Geoff & Penny; Wolf and Dave at Exe Bridges. Then the long haul via Pottles Lane and Kennford upto Haldon and "The Grill" arriving quite damp at 11:30am. Much steam from wet clothing while consuming large mugs of tea and coffee as mine hostess was busy selling raffle tickets. As it happens it paid dividends for Geoff; Keith and Wolf who all won small (but hefty) Christmas cakes which inevitably filled their saddle bags and seemed to be very heavy!!

Weather conditions influenced the decision to take the easy way out and descend to Exeter via Dunchideock and Ide to the Quay and Lutzy's for lunch. Ted and Wolf left us but we were joined by Dave's wife Gill plus a smart small brown curly haired poodle who behaved extremely well, but left no potential sniff undone. The incessant if light rain persuaded us to eat indoors and so paninies and coffee became the order of the day and sandwiches were left in saddle bags. That is except for Geoff & Penny who were anyway without sustenance and one other (who shall be nameless) who sneaked in a sandwich and secretly nibbled at the table. Much to his/her embarrassment Lutzy who came to join us quickly detected the transgression and remarked tactfully that her food was better quality! Then generously served some port to each member together with a small slice of flapjack.


After about an hour we regretfully faced our respective journeys home, while Dave and Gill and their hound had but a few hundred yards to go, the rest had at least an hours ride, again against a background of flooded fields and occasional extensive puddles that drowned our shoes. Nevertheless we all seemed to have enjoyed the day.

Keith, by the way, has volunteered himself for a black sheep award although none of us are aware of what particular event sparked this meritorious admission.

STOP PRESS: Special White Sheep Award

Lutzy white sheep.jpg

Recently some so-called members of Bike Bus have behaved despicably in one of the best known local cafes. As a result the Bike Bus Executive have had to make a personal apology to Lutzy Dias.

The Executive took the opportunity to present Lutzy with a well deserved White Sheep Award for

  • behaving calmly and with good humour in the face of severe provocation, and
  • providing excellent refreshment to cyclists for many years.

A Legal Note from Marilyn

Marilyn writes:-

The realisation that news of Dolly's demise is now public and the possible origin of the information has caused great concern in the Spurr household. Fortunately Roger had already repaired my broken brake cable. Upon taking legal advice, I find that evidence given by a spouse is inadmissible and therefore I would ask that any comments I might have inadvisably made be disregarded.

A Legal Note from Keith

Dear Bike Bus Executive,


The purpose of this letter is to object vehemently to the award of a “Black Sheep’ as published in this week’s ‘Bike Bus’ report. It may have escaped your attention that, in British jurisprudence, one is ‘innocent until proven guilty’. You say “Keith has been charged with impersonating the wife of a police officer”. I strenuously deny this offence, and, until a guilty verdict is reached this premature award of a penalty not only demonstrates a crass disregard for one of the prime tenets of English law but it is also a gross infringement of my ‘Human Rights’. I demand, therefore, it be expunged from the record forthwith and a suitable apology** included in next weeks report.

Although the allegation is not specific, I have assumed that the ‘wife’ I am erroneously alleged to have impersonated is my own lovely spouse, Janet. I am sure everyone who knows us both would agree that the chances of me impersonating her successfully are remote in the extreme. Whilst I admit trying on her clothes occasionally, her rare beauty, much greater intelligence and fairly obvious female attributes surely render any possibility of confusion laughable.

Yours sincerely,

Keith A Portlock

** A Suitable Apology: The Bike Bus Executive write - Keith appears to mistakenly believe that the Black Sheep Award is related to his pending court appearance. If he re-reads the report below he will see that no such connection was made. Thus the Executive have nothing to apologise for.

Kirby satsuma.jpg

A (non legal) Note from Sue Booth

Kirby is reported to have said

"Satsumas disagree with me".

Sue writes

"Kirby you were right, satsumas do disagree with you".

13 December - Escot

Temperatures were a few degrees above zero - so apart from a few patches of ice on roadside edges - it was a relatively safe and straightforward ride for most out to Escot.

However ...

    ... there are always exceptions.


Dave tootled off on his own down the wrong road and so - as well as finishing last year with a high rate of Black Sheep Awards - seems to be determined to carry on where he left off.

Stephanie recovering.jpg

When we were at Escot Sue and Glenis received a txt from Stephanie asking them round so she could brief them on her operation.

They set off alone and - with some trepidation - unsure what they would find - entered the remote cottage. Because of poor temperature regulation Stephanie has to sleep in an incubator - so Warren has modified one of his larger pottery kilns for the purpose (I just hope for Stephanie's sake he's got the thermostat wiring correct!). She also has to sleep on a sheep skin rug to avoid bed sores.

Aaron wheeled Stephanie out on her gurney and plonked her on the sofa. Sue managed to take a candid photo on her iPad for the Bike Bus News and a video for Premium Subscribers.

Stephanie was rather incoherent and swathed in bandages - so we will have to wait some time before we know whether the operation was a success.

I'm sure you will join with me in wishing Stephanie is soon up and about and back on her bike.

Some Sad News

Dolly rip 2.jpg

I'm afraid I have to bring you some very sad news this week.


Many of you had become very fond of Dolly - but tragically she passed away last week and has gone to the great green meadow in the sky.

Unfortunately the circumstances of her death were suspicious. Although we are still awaiting the results of the official autopsy - and thus don't want to prejudice official enquiries - the Bike Bus Executive have instructed me to award two Black Sheep Awards to Roger.

Serious Charge


In an unexpected turn of events we learnt from the newspaper this week that Keith has been charged under Section 90 of the Police Act 1996 (Archbold 22-62) of 'impersonating the wife of a police officer'.

This is a serious offence and can result in a penalty of up to six months in prison, a fine of up to £5,000, or both.

We will let you know when the matter comes to Court.

Meanwhile he has been given a Black Sheep Award.

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

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