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Exeter Bike Bus - Ride Reports - March 2013

Thursday 28 March - Amelia's Pantry, Cockwood

Kirby James is away so the office girl has put together this week's report ...

Hi Kirby


Thought you would need a bit of help advising the Executive on Black Sheep Awards this week. Obviously you cannot publish this report - wouldn't want anyone knowing I had shopped them!

Well first up has to be Sue for dropping off the back due to a disastrous gear change at Kenton. Then Roger for delaying us whilst 'snake-dancing' on the same hill. After that it has to be the whole of the East Devon contingent for failing to turn up (this includes Keith, who did turn up but failed to bring anyone with him).

On the return, Ian's first award for deviation after we descended Dunchideock hill, and Dave for repetition of several near misses when ahead of the leader. Then I believe it was Ian and Wolf who failed to make the Devington diversion in Exminster.

All in all not a bad haul for a simple 33 mile ride. Incidentally, I may have heard mutterings about an award for 'vexatious leading', whatever that is. With the large number of compliments regarding my route today, and the colossal weight of responsibility carried by a leader desperately trying to manage such an obviously difficult group, I expect I am in line for the first of the usual glut of this year's White Sheep Awards (a good word from you to the Exec on my behalf wouldn't go amiss here).

And remember what I said above about not publishing this - I am sure I can rely on your absolute discretion here.


Competition Hots up for the David Dickinson Award

Dave (left) Keith (right)

Competition has been intense for the David Dickinson Award with over six months to go.

Keith booked a four week sailing trip to the British Virgin Islands ... and according to Janet spent the entire time laid out on the foredeck ... and even turned down an invitation from Sir Richard to visit Necker Island.

Meanwhile Dave also adopted a nautical approach (they seem to think that reflexions from the water will double the effect of the sun) sunning himself on a coaster on the West African Coast.

In order to judge the effectiveness of these two approaches we have commisioned a top photographer to take candid shots of the two of them under identical lighting conditions. I leave you to judge who is ahead at this time.

Thursday 21 March - Exmouth

You've got a variety of reports to pick from this week ... Tim says:-

Keith, Judy & I met up at West Hill memorial & made our way (by different routes!) to Kings whilst Glenis intended to link up with the Exeter branch but missed the only representative, Wolf. Robin & Pippa whizzed along their own route, as did Ted who was already ensconced at Kings when we arrived, very wet & bedraggled!

Thus there were 8 of us who cycled. Several of the more senior coffee potters had sensibly broken the rules by arriving by car! After coffee and some good chats we (cyclists) made our way speedily home to dry out properly!

Glenis reported ...

Well ... happy to report that despite the weather - some of us did make the bike bus trip to Kings. I might have missed the many Woodbury stops in the official route - but I did make the Ebford stop (and early for once!). No one there so I continued to Lymsptone - still no one there.

I bravely continued to Kings and found a be-draggled Keith having led the route from West Hill all on his own. We were shortly joined by Wolf, the Greens; Ted; Pippa and Robin. (Don't think I have missed anyone and if I have I'm sorry - too wet to count!)

Surprisingly enough, I don't think anyone continued on for a cycle in the afternoon....!!

Here's to better weather next Thursday....!!

... and finally Wolf writes rather forlornly ...

Thoughts on a lonely Bus.

Nobody at the meeting point - just rain and wind! Perhaps I am too late? No, three minutes left. So I will be the leader and the group in one. That's good: No complaints, no delays and my own pace - but unfortunately no chats. No matter, the wind would have scattered the words anyway.

What a silly idea to buy overshoes on spring equinox. But now - the first time this year - the feet are warm and dry. You don't get thirsty when the rain runs down your face. Wonderful, no stops for habitual drinking. And all this freedom! when the squalls play with the front wheel and allow the use of the full width of the path. Gone with the wind! Oh miracle, suddenly there are Pippa and Robin helping me back on track!

Eventually eight weather-resistant riders gathered at King's around the Round Table to face further adventures.

Saturday 16 March 2013 - Lympstone

Undeterred by the fact that it was a Saturday, Mike has produced a report on his day ...

Sue and pauline lympstone steam rally.jpg

Forecast to be pot-luck with the weather, so we took a chance and went ahead with the ride. Had difficulty controlling the vast number of riders (er ... Sue and Pauline). Mien Freund abandoned us at the last minute, preferring to attend a literary day at the RAMM!

Hail and rain caught us in the open between the Marine Camp and Lympstone. Fortunately Pauline had had the good sense to bring a 3-man tent (see photo for her modelling this item) so we all sheltered in that until the shower passed.

Whilst pleasing to see the variety of working historic engines, and the undoubted dedication of their owner/operators, I think it's safe to say the Dorset Steam Fair has little to worry about by way of competition from Lympstone. We passed a pleasant 30 minutes inspecting all exhibits, then had a coffee before dodging the rain on the return to Exeter.

14 March 2013 - A Secret Location near Woodbury


This week Nita Goffron very kindly asked the whole of the Bike Bus around for morning coffee and cake. About 20 cyclists took advantage of this generous offer and by some major miracle all arrived at once (except Pauline who had forgotten to fit a tyre on her bike).

Bike bus leaders badge.png

Nita had baked dozens of cakes and had co-opted Stephanie and Glenis to help dish out the drinks.

Embarrassingly during the week the Bike Bus' archivist discovered that Paul had failed to be issued with his Bike Bus Leader's badge - so the opportunity was taken to belatedly present Nita with it.

We then had a vote on who should do the washing up - and this was won by Glenis and Stephanie - leaving the rest of us to pedal off into the sunshine ...

Judy on budleigh beach.jpg

Mike took us on a circuitous route around the Otter Valley ... finally fetching up on Budleigh sea front.

Here we found Judy lying 'stunned' on the pebbles. As far as we could tell she had been (illegally) cycling along the front when her front wheel caught in a pile of driftwood throwing her over the handlebars.

Rather than being seen to associate ourselves with such illegality we moved along the beach and sat in the sunshine far enough away to not be disturbed by Judy's growns.

Stephanie and glenis on budleigh beach.jpg

No sooner than we had started our sandwiches than Stephanie and Glenis turned up by motor-car!.


After a spot of sunbathing (although nothing on the scale that would register with David Dickinson) we set off round the coast where we were tempted into Route-2 in Topsham for afternoon tea.

Here yet again Stephanie and Glenis turned up by motor-car!. Now you would think that after nearly five years of Bike Bus operation two people who outwardly appear quite intelligent would have got the hang of this Bike Bus thing.

Apparently not!

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.

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