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Exeter Bike Bus - Ride Reports - Febuary 2013

7 March 2013 - Uffculme, Cold Harbour Mill - A Really Black Day for the Bike Bus

Now you would think that the concept of a timetable would be familiar to most adults in this country, wouldn't you?

But you would be wrong.

First a quick reminder, timetables

  1. list places, and
  2. the times you should be at those places.

Pauline failed at the first hurdle ... going to, ... and waiting at (right so far) ... the wrong place (in fact a place not even listed on the timetable). After waiting for half an hour at the Swing Bridge ... she then set off on her own route. Therefore a Black Sheep Award.

Subsequently it emerged that Mike & Sue ... on seeing the rain ... decided to stay in the warm in their riverside flat. Whilst supping coffee they observed Pauline cycling in the wet the wrong way. Did they ring her to warn her of the error of her ways?



Therefore two more Black Sheep Awards.


Further north even more trouble was brewing. Six unfortunates (Tim, Judy, Chris, Alan, Glenis and Hugh) smuggly congratulated themselves for finding the bus stop at Killerton. Unfortunately the bus had already passed through and picked up the passengers who were waiting at the correct time. Thus the Executive have decided to award a record six more Black Sheep Awards in one go.


Meanwhile in the far east Stephanie and Keith decided to completely ignore the timetable and set off on a very private excursion of their own leaving behind the unfortunate newcomer Jim ... who had to heroically make his own way to Killerton. Therefore two more Black Sheep Awards.

The official Bike Bus arrived at the Mill on schedule. And one hour later, just as the Bus was setting off to lunch, a bedraggled party arrived with an unconvincing set of excuses - road works, bridges missing, trolls, sandwiches to be eaten, etc.

We could surely ride across the parapet?

This is particularly disapointing given the extensive cycle training that has been delivered to the Bike Bus Participants over the winter.

One of the unfortunates (Chris) reported

Road closed, rubbish! This never usually applies to cyclists. So we continued down the road.

More convincing was the barrier all the way across the road, however we moved this out the way and proceeded more cautiously, but it was true, near total collapse.

But this is Judy, never giving up easily, saying 'We could surely ride across the parapet?'

Thus on this very sad black day eleven Black Sheep Awards were made.

28 February 2013 - Escot

Very little to report this week.

We headed out towards Escot and at Aylesbeare Cross picked up another contender for the David Dickinson Award.


After coffee Mike volunteered to lead us to Kilerton, but on the way Sue and Dave lost their concentration near Clyst St Lawrence, and went the wrong way. We all know what that means.

At Killerton we bumped into Tom who was conducting a bat count. He counted 132.

An Aside

In 1980 Steve Jobs attempted to rationalize the personal computer thus ...

I think one of the things that really separates us from the higher primates is that we're tool builders. I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The Condor used the least amount of energy to move a kilometer. And humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing about a third of the way down the list. It was not too proud of a showing for the crown of creation.

That didn't look so good. But then, somebody at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And a man on a bicycle completely blew the Condor away, completely off the top of the chart. And that's what a computer is to me. What a computer is to me, is it's the most remarkable tool that we've ever come up with. It's the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.

However Stephanie disagrees ...

Not sure I totally agree with the computer thing. Amazing as they are – I think it’s also too easy to absorb passively what we read via computer. Engagement and experimentation in activity develops the mind better, or at least the imagination of activity or application as you read.

Which is why computers are not the equivalent of bicycles, I think much better when I’m pedalling or shortly after pedalling. Bicycles are far more superior and tick more boxes for human development.

21 February 2013 – Stoke Canon & Crediton

This week we started with a gentle outing to Stoke Canon where we joined the Coffee Potters celebrating their 31st Anniversary. As usual Pete and Jean had laid on a spread and magiced up two special celebratory cakes.

A special guest appeared in the form of a young lady called Heather, 23, from Saddles & Paddles bike shop. It appears that they have been doing some market research and have determined that the market for bikes among the over eighties is going to experience explosive growth over the next five years. Thus Heather appeared before us to explain what Saddles & Paddles can offer the elderly.


After coffee we set off towards Crediton – but just outside the village Richard discovered a puncture in his tyre - which incidentally was almost bare. For having such an un-roadworthy bike Richard attracts yet another Black Sheep Award.

Now Richard is one of the few Bike Bussers who has some short term memory left and he was able to recall some of what Heather had promised half an hour before. You can read his version of what happened next below ...

It pays to advertise ... and keep your promises!

Resuming the ride this morning after something of an over-kill of bacon butties, pasties, chocolate thingummies and cake that was on hand to celebrate the coffee pot anniversary at Stoke Cannon Village Hall, I felt what is now a familiar feeling of a deflating rear tyre.

After a relatively incident-free first year with the Bike Bus, recently I seem to have taken over Glenis’ role of the one to whom mechanical misfortunes happen. Anyhow, with the help of Warren – thanks Warren! – I was able change the inner tube relatively quickly and get the bike back on the road again. However a close inspection of the tyre revealed not so much a hole, more a rip in the outer rubber of the tyre (they have only lasted a year, on not much mileage!), so much so that I decided not to risk the ardours of a journey to Crediton and beyond, instead to return homewards towards Exeter.

Lightbulb bright idea.jpg

As I was trawling through Stoke Woods, daydreaming and musing as one does as articulated lorries and busses hurtled by, I recalled the ‘pitch’ we had heard at coffee from Heather, the new owner of Saddles and Paddles at Exeter Quay. So, I thought, why not give it a go? After all it is on the way back, and she did mention something about a 20% discount for CTC members.

By the time I got there, I had decided to replace both tyres, as the front one was just about as bad as the rear, and, I thought, why not get them to have a look at some of those other annoying rattles and creaks that always happen on bikes, particularly after a harsh winter? Heather had mentioned something about same-day servicing too in her pitch – so I decided to put it to the test.

And sure enough, they delivered! Yes that’s no problem, said the mechanic, to replace a couple of tyres, check the rear derailleur, by the way, your front brake’s not functioning well either – give us an hour and we’ll have it done! So I wandered over the river, down to the Welcome Café near the Gasometer, where I had a splendid lunch (blowing my discount at the same time!) and picked up the repaired bike up literally an hour after dropping it off.

So that’s one up to Saddles and Paddles – thanks for the super service, and living up to your promises.

Meanwhile the remnants of the Bike Bus cycled (with some climbing over landslips) westward towards Credition. On the way we were intercepted by Laura & Gerald who very kindly asked us to their home so we could enjoy lunch with hot drinks.

After lunch a brave party made their way safely over Waddles Down and back to Exeter.

14 February 2013 - Cullompton - A Black Day for the Bike Bus

Dave Martin

A group assembled on Piazza Terracina to await the off ...

... and were joined by a newcomer ...

... however when he spoke we realised that it was actually Dave Martin sporting an unnatural tan.

The rest of the ride was spent debating whether this strange colour had been achieved using chemicals, carotenoids, a sun bed, melatonin or tea bags (or even all of them). The issue was unresolved when we reached Cullompton ...

... but in any event Dave was given the first David Dickinson Award of the year.

Whilst at coffee we were very kindly invited to Stepanie's house for a lunchtime drink. It was noticed however that the leading group of four 'dropped' the rest of the party as they rushed for their 'free' drinks.

Four black sheep.png

Fortunately Stephanie has now worked out how to get out of her incubator without Aaron's assistance ... and is even talking about getting back on her bike.

After a pleasant lunch we headed homewards.

Again the lead party of four shot off at great speed ... leaving the halt and the lame and the mapless to fend for themsleves. Now the Bike Bus Executive have always made it clear that we should not discriminate against anyone ... even those unable to read maps, or to apply fake tan uniformly.

Thus they take a a very dim view of these events ... and have awarded each of Mike, Sue, Dave and Richard a black sheep award.

7 February 2013 - Crediton

First a report from Bike Bus Operations Centre ...

Funny how things do bounce along without Kirby; hastily prepared timetable e-mailed to Glenis night before in hope she might ride out with numerous txts to possible cyclists who might meet new rider en-route and make him feel welcome in our well organised and slick organisation.


Apparently, Bambi continued to struggle on ice so never quite made New Inn on time - but did get to Crediton. Thankfully Jim was greeted by both Hugh and Susan Gameson. Sue who had no notion of any timetable but took a chance that folk might be around in that area at roughly 9.00 am also met Jim.

They all made it so the Hub went out for a walk to calm the nerves.

Just as well I didn't hear about the afternoon until later: a near-six-bike-pile-up when Bambi yet again failed to control her wheels on slippery surfaces.

... and an independent report from eyewitness Wolf ...


Six of us started a bit late from Exeter Quay while waiting for a leader (Kirby). Tom took over and led a gentle way via Cowley and Langford to Crediton Tea Room which was pretty busy. So the group grew larger and continued after lovely warm coffee into the hills south of Crediton up to Tedburn St Mary. A lovely and picturesque area! Here it split into a partition aiming for home directly and an other one crossing the A 30 up to Kettlerhouse and down again to Longdown for lunch.

Cutting short we took the rather steep College Lane to Ide where we experienced the third kind of slippery surface beside ice and mud. Green algae were flourished under quite a long stretch of constantly flowing film of water. Glenis unfortunately did a bad fall and Roger had to alert all his ski-skills to come to a hold. A bit paler and much slower we arrived eventually back home.

31 January 2013 - Powderham

Keith reports for a fourth week running ! ...

Please find below my attempt to describe at least some of yesterday's experience:

Those Bike Bus members who have had the privilege of Kirby’s acquaintance far longer that I will undoubtedly already be aware his influence on other people’s lives extends far beyond Bike Bus or even CTC circles. I have witnessed recent personal experience of this. Since last week’s Bike Bus report was published my domestic life has changed, probably permanently. Janet, has neglected her family duties spending an inordinate amount of time scrubbing and bleaching her jodhpurs in what appears to be a futile attempt to get them as white as those depicted in Kirby’s publication and, perhaps more seriously, she has demanded tea in bed every day since!

However, let me move on to yesterdays ride. I had a very pleasant ride to Topsham during which I enjoyed conversation more interesting and on a much higher intellectual plane than I had become used to on bike bus excursions. Yes, you’ve guessed, I was on my own talking to myself. As I passed Exeter Airport the windsock was rigidly horizontal from a Westerly direction which indicated, as I remembered Ian telling me once, (anyone remember him?) a wind speed of 30 knots. There were no passengers to collect at Topsham so I went on to the swing bridge where I arrived precisely on time. On alighting from my bicycle, however, my foot caught in my rack bag and I slid unceremoniously to the ground just as Sue Booth led the Exeter contingent around the corner to find me on my back in the middle of the cycle path like a stranded turtle.

The remainder of the journey to Powderham was enjoyable but uneventful. Whilst Bike Bussers and coffee potters were enjoying the various delights on offer, Glenis arrived. She offered some lame tale about a faulty front mech changer which caused her to be delayed (she must be running out of excuses for missing the bus), a story which was exposed as a fib later on our journey.

Glenis rock cake remainder.jpg

After coffee Kirby, Glenis, Richard, Mike and Sue Booth, Wolf and I set of for Halden Hill with Mike in the lead. I’d like to thank him for taking us in the completely opposite direction so we could all experience the steepest approach to the top! Glenis streaked up the hill to the extent even I had to change down to my middle ring to keep up with her. She had apparently forgotten her 'faulty' front mech was supposed to be slowing her down! We took luncheon, however, near the obelisk where we enjoyed the most beautiful views over the Exe estuary. From there we went to the Haldon Grill for a hot drink. Glenis bought a fruit scone a third of which she generously saved, wrapped in toilet paper, apparently for her family’s evening meal.

Refreshed, we left the café where, outside, Richard found the need to fiddle with his front wheel. He had fiddled with the rear one on a previous trip. Whilst he did so the remaining passengers amused themselves by helpfully performing an intricate version of synchronized cycling through the puddles in the café car park.

We went our separate ways home and I accompanied Glenis as far as the approaches to Topsham where she said she had to call in at Darts Farm. She didn’t explain why but I assumed she felt the scone portion needed something to liven it up a bit before it reached the dining table.

Overall, it was an extremely enjoyable day out in great company.

The data I recorded are as follows:

Distance: 50.15m
Time: 4.31.41
Ave Speed: 11.1mph
Max Speed: 33.4mph
Elevation Gain: 3,858 ft
Calories: 3,131
Maximum Temp: 59.0f
Minimum temp: 46.4f

Mike responds indignantly:-

I would take issue with Keith on 2 points:-

Mike powderham haldon.png

1. The ride from the Swing Bridge to Powderham was hardly "uneventful". Having seen the mirth (oops sorry, I meant concern) with which we all treated Keith's stranded turtle impression, Laura decided to copy him and throw herself from her bike. Luckily Nurse Pauline was on hand to assist her, and Dr Wolf administered First Aid in the form of a sticking plaster.

2. Regarding my apparently wayward and steep approach to Haldon, this just displays Keith's lack of understanding of the finer points of Bike Bus leadership. With more experience he would have realised I was employing the "sneak up on it from behind" technique to enable us to use the flat route rather than the steep one we took. This technique would have worked had it not been for a formal complaint regarding the route submitted to me by another member of the party (no names etc, but she had a gear problem). Following this complaint, I had no alternative but to reroute, hence the steepness. Incidentally, I could have found a much steeper way than the one we took, so Keith should be thankful, not critical.

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