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Reports on CTC Exeter Wednesday Evening Rides (well mostly evenings)

Please note - all our rides (and soon our blogs) have moved to www.ukcyclist.co.uk

19th October Merry Harriers

5 set off from Cranbrook with Sarah, Robert and Guy being joined by a slightly late Sue and Martin on the tandem. A nice evening saw the group head toward Talaton before heading through to Clyst Hydon and past a road closed sign, not that such things would normally stop cyclists. Going by the amount of traffic on the road it was not stopping cars either. Unfortunately the road works bit back. A change if surface level took the wind out of Roberts front wheel, on his recently acquired skinny tired machine. During a swift tube change we were joined by Richard H and Ian before we headed on our way. Richard S joined the rear of the group as we neared the Harriers and when we arrived we had been beaten there by Ted and Jamie. So all in, 10 out on a dry but cool evening. Chips, as usual, were enjoyed with a few cheeky halves.

Thank you for the blog Martin! Keep 'em coming :)

12th October

5th October

28th September Five Bells

A really mild evening. Just one rider left Cranbrook tonight and opted for a hilly route via Bradninch. There was a smashing of glass and squeeling of tyres as two cars decided they both had right of way past me in different directions. No-one hurt though. I arrived at the pub to find a cheery group of cyclists. I caught up on some sleep when the conversation turned to cars. We left around 10 with B racing to Ottery to get there before the kebab van shut!

21st September, Halfway

6 out & home before 10:20. It's getting chilly.

14th September, Fenny Bridges

Another warm evening for a ride. We rode via Clyst St Lawrence again but this time turning right and going through Payhembury and Old Feniton. There was another dog attack and Sarah was heard to call out politely - "excuse me your dog is on the road" - or something like that.... We sat inside the pub tonight as it was dark when we arrived and sat on comfy sofa's but left a little earlier than usual for a much flatter ride back. Another enjoyable evening.

7th September, Whimple

We saw long time Wednesday nighter Richard T tonight for the first time in a while which was very nice! We took a route through Ashclyst - narrowly avoiding three black labs that bounded out on to the road to say hello. Sorry Richard for stopping dead in front of you - and thank you Robert for getting rid of them. There were fantastic views through the forest and plenty of flies to eat. We then rode down through Clyst St Lawrence and past the cricket club to the pub. It was warm enough to sit outside the whole evening and there was a good crowd of people out. A really lovely evening.

31st August, Passage Inn

We changed the venue this week as the prices at the Jack in the green had risen above £4 a pint, so we decided to try out the Passage Inn, recommended by Martin. Three of us left Cranbrook and met B at the roundabout, and took the gentle route via Woodbury. We arrived in Topsham at the same time as new-ian and were lucky enough to get a table by the river - a truly lovely location on a really nice evening. The price of the beer ended up being the same as the Jack but it was generally felt that the surroundings made it justifiable. We were later joined by many regulars and then a surprise visit from Lexi and Graham. So nice to see you both after so long.

24th August, Lazy Toad

A good size group left Cranbrook tonight, and rode via the lanes to Stoke hill, meeting Richard at the Poltimore turn. We then rode along the main rode with Jeremy upping the pace so we flew along towards Cowley bridge. The tandem stopped, thinking they'd dropped something and had to ride like the wind to meet us at the bridge. We waited at the turn as usual and then took the lane towards Upton Pyne and turned right to descend to Bramford Speke. We were met by surprise guest Hummers from the Pompey Wednesday night group and and Mrs H. as they have been camping in Salcombe this week. Ian arrived via a slightly different route - taking the option for "direct to the pub" and ending up carrying his bike over rivers and styles! We opted for the route home via road although that was questionable on the lane that led towards Thorverton. We rode via Ellerhayes and four of us rode through Cranbrook to get home.

17th August, Harriers

Still no Sarah, but Ian was back and out to play. The tandem couple had also returned from their epic walk of the Pennine Way. 7 out in total although Sarah failed to guess who they were this week.

10th August, New Inn

No Sarah this week, being in Scotland, No Ian either having a visit from his sister, but the show must go on and the ride continued. A group from Cranbrook and few others rode out to the New inn in Broadclyst for a lovely evening.

3rd August, The Otter or was it the Kings Arms

We rode via Hawkerland tonight, so taking Sanctuary lane up to the top and then doing a left and right across the main road to follow the lane that depends to the pub, a lovely gently downhill all the way. We got to the Otter as the first drops of rain started to fall, to discover that it was shut -forever, or at least for the foreseeable future. The closest pub was the Kings Arms at Otterton, so we rode there having quickly sent texts to all the people we thought might be out that evening. I will always carry my phone and my number is on the website so if you ever get to the pub and it is closed please ring to find out where we are.

27th July, Castle

This was the same pub as Julie's first ever Wednesday night, so we took the same route to show her how much she has improved since she has been riding regularly. We got to the pub 20 mins earlier than last time!!!! Riding regularly really does build up speed and stamina. Well done Julie. The pub were welcoming and although there were a few dogs around inside they pretty much left us alone. The route took us out via Kilerton towards Ellerhayes, There is a little lane then that takes a hilly route towards Bradninch. We turned off after the first of the hills to divert via Hele and the flatter route in as Julie did on her first Wednesday. It'll be the hilly lane all the way next time!

20th July, Broadhembury

Tonight we killed Julie. We rode out via Talaton, then took the big hill past Payhembury that takes you up to the main road, and crossed the main road to complete the big climb up Hembury Fort to the common before descending Shaftesbury hill to the pub. Julie quickly recovered at the pub and wasn't put off for future rides! The hill climbers among us - mainly Jeremy- really enjoyed the route. As Richard S described it - Hembury fort is our local mountain!

13th July, Sir Walter Raleigh

Trying out a new pub this week. Sarah planned a route out to it and then discovered that her daughter was singing in a concert at 7:15 that evening so turned up at the start with instructions for the group that were waiting at the Younghayes! She followed a soon as the concert finished and got to the pub at before the end of this first pint! The pub was nice, quite busy but still plenty of seats!

6th July, Lamb and flag

This wasn't my favourite Wednesday night of the year. We left Cranbrook with the intention of riding past the old Aylesbeare inn, crossing the main road and taking the lanes down to Tipton before turning left to Ottery. We got as far as these lanes when an alternative was suggested, an un-metalled road that cuts of the corner on the decent. In the interests of variety we decided to try it and it was a fantastic route for mountain bikers - but my road bike needed to be half carried through the ankle deep mud and Robert's Brompton didn't stand a chance! We got the pub rather later than usual and very muddy to discover that they had no beer and no soft drinks. It was nice to see rare visitor Elly out though. We won't be returning to the Lamb and Flag for the foreseeable future and I won't be riding down that lane again! Might do it in walking boots though!!!

27th June, Harriers

A faster ride this week as we opted for a flatter route to the Merry Harriers. We got our usual friendly welcome from John the landlord and had a merry evening. The route went the usual way via Broadclyst, Whimple, and Talaton and then back down the bumpy B3181. Another good group out and we booked a meal in for our annual pub-crawl even happening in a couple of weeks.

22nd June, Halfway

We rode to the Halfway this week, eager to try it out with the new management and to sample the views over the Exe Estuary this being the closest Wednesday to mid summer. This pub is right on top of the ridge with outside seating that has a fantastic view towards Exeter. Two of the Cranbrook beginner group rode with us for the first few miles, but one of them was feeling unwell so they turned for home at Whimple. We carried on and took the lane that leads up to the ridge to discover that the top of the hill was shrouded in fog. We arrived at the pub with about 10 cyclists out but no view at all! It was still warm enough so we sat outside anyway. The fog kept hinting that it might clear but never really did. The service and welcome at the pub was much improved however and it will definitely be re-visited!

15th June, Otterton

We introduced Julie to the pleasure that is riding up Sanctuary Lane this week! We met Sue and Martin on top of the common and had our usual fast decent all the way to Yettington. Lots of fun. The ride back was much slower, opting for the long but fast route via Clyst St George and Clyst St Mary. This was the week that Martin told us about a new colleague joining him at work....

8th June 2016 The Jack, Rockbeare

Julie turned up for her second Wednesday night, not being put off by the hills from the first week. The Jack is too close for a direct ride from Cranbrook, so Julie, Jeremy and Sarah rode via Rockbeare Hill, Toad Pit Lane and Bird Cage Lane!! Some fantastic road names. We emerged near Fenny bridges and then took the old A30 to the pub. After a conversation about how you could probably get all the way from Striaghtway to the pub without peddling - it had to be tried. We got almost to the turning for Cobden before a peddle was needed - Jeremy had an amazing leapfrog style to keep upright and moving when all the momentum was gone. There was a good turnout at the pub, but we were really disappointed how much the price of beer has gone up at the Jack. As it is now over £4 a pint, it will be visited less frequently :(

1st June 2016 The Castle, Brandinch

Sarah was away walking the week so Jeremy kindly led the ride from Exeter. Newcomer Julie braved a hilly route for her first Wednesday night. The route via Poltimore and Ellerhayes was chosen, but opting for the easier diversion via Hele.

25th May 2016 The Thirsty Farmer, Whimple

Oh dear, oh dear oh dear! The Thirsty Farmer was not up to its usual high standard this week. With the landlady away the staff had not made a success of the beer order and it was really lacking. It was chilly inside the pub and as Jamie said "it was a surprisingly cold night for a ride outside too". Please don't ever leave Vikki, the pub can't function without you!

18th May 2016 The Bridge, Topsham

According to Jamie "it was a surprisingly good night for a ride". The Cranbrook crowd took the route through Woodbury and down the lovely lanes that are signposted for the estuary trail. We briefly sat outside until it got chilly and then huddled in one of the little rooms in the Bridge - even Robert's bike came in out of the cold!

11th May 2016 Six Bells, Payhembury

We had a request for a change of Bells this week - originally the Five Bells on the runs list - it was swapped to the Six Bells. The Six Bells, has a bit more character I think and the owner's daughter is always so welcoming' We had a dry ride from Cranbrook as far as the turning for the five bells, but when we carried on toward the six bells the heavens absolutely opened! Was someone trying to tell us something? We soon dried out in a lovely warm pub though with plenty of chips and a a good choice of beer and cider.

4th May 2016 The Swan

I don't know why people ride these rides - I mean who would want to? Why would you want to meet with a group of 8 cyclists at the Younghayes centre, ride up over Woodbury chatting and laughing as you meet another four cyclists on route, look at the views of both Exeter and the coast as you cross Woodbury Common, descend the long decent into Exmouth, join the well surfaced cycle path to the pub, to meet another 3 at the pub - 2 of which brought loads of different home made cakes to try, stay at the pub for about an hour and a half and then ride back alongside a river that looks perfectly still and calm - back home by 10:30. Why would you want to spend an evening like that?

Thanks for the cakes Clare and Stu!

27th April 2016 The Keepers

We rode out from Cranbrook via Talaton and Payhembury. There were just three at the start this week but I think we were unto about 8 at the pub, including Ken from Kentisbeare who wasn't far from home. The Otter was off apparently in the pub but the chips were good. It was a very chilly ride home with people disappearing their various routes. Sarah Guy and Ian(II) took the main road route back skidding over the loose gravel B3181 but got home without incident, this is Richards account of his ride home: On leaving the pub I turned right into the lanes as Ted & crew disappeared towards Honiton. Descending said lane I was thinking not seen the scrap metal merchants which I had passed on the way out. Eventually at the T junction where I thought where the f am I? Turned left at junction up hill. Hmmm Mutterton is all down hill from the pub, u turned in the lane & headed down the hill to another T. Turned right down the hill until I got to the crossroad signposted Mutterton. Mean while I was getting colder & colder by the minute. In Mutterton had a full blown Raynaud's attack nearly lost control of the bike. I walked through village & on a little further until the blood supply started to come back. Total agony (agony dance & a lot of swearing was involved) Eventually I recovered to ride on, but didn't warm up until climbing the hill into Pinhoe. Arrived home at 10 to midnight. Feel totally wrecked today, face & fingers feel frostbitten.

Saturday 23rd April 2016 Simonsbath for Lunch

Ted writes Yes, we made it for breakfast, we made it for lunch, and we made it for beer and chips, and Sarah made it for her 200k with time to spare ! So it was that our happy bunch of 8 set off from Ottery having met the Exeter wallahs, all singing happily in the spring sunshine. Lowman Valley was its usual pretty and quiet self until the swearing started after the route veered up left and had all slogging in the grannies. Still we all cosily squashed into Bawdens and the coffee morphed into late breakfast, which threatened to morph into early lunch, as Sarah's audax time ticked steadily away! Two or three opted for the wheel-wash at Winsford, and the following climb to Comer's X was stunning in early spring raiment. Only a stray vehicle caused us to use brakes into Simonsbath as most of us managed a fair attempt at freewheeling into Boeveys's steeply uphill car park for lunch ! Some sneaked off early toward Anstey Common, where the sun always shines, but we caught 'em at the Beehive Monument. Sun on our backs, riding over Anstey was its stunning self with vast views over Widemouth Bay, Dartmoor and Dunkery. But it's always a shock to arrive at Oldways End, for the 14 mile downhill ends abruptly there, and the foray into mid Devon begins. Surviving the bandit country, the Raddon and Cadbury Hills opened up in yet another glorious vista as we hurtled down to Bickleigh - and yes, most of us touched a brake or two down that one. A truly memorable ride ended with the lovely Burn Valley and the village of Broadhembury, and by this time we we reckoned that the 5.8 Bells had our names on it. Luckily Sarah had won back sufficient time in her audax schedule for us to partake of some truly excellent beer and chips to keep up the "Pubrunners'" reputation. After that it was a weary dash for home. I've never been called 'Awesome' before, so that's a first. What a ride !!!!!

20th April 2016 The Jack in the Green

Ian and Sarah both celebrated their birthdays this week with a ride to the Jack in the Green. It was great to see a bumper crowd of over 20 cyclists out for this one. A group from Cranbrook met a group from Exeter to go through Poltimore and up Stoke hill. Well done Roger and Colin for getting to the top so quickly. As we came over the top we met Jeremy riding the other way to meet us. Stoke hill was the only hill on the route - being followed by a descent to Pinhoe and a flat ride out to the pub, where the cyclists just kept on a-comin'. Ted, Jamie and Richard S had arrived early and got the best seats. Later arrivals were left to sit on tables or intimidate other guests into vacating their seats. The Chip Hoover adds:- In preparation for such a momentous occasion, Ian had had his hair cut. The barber (Ian called him a 'hairdresser' !!) had informed Ian that he had 'follicles' and that he'd better not have it too short as the unwary might see the skin. Not nice !! We did not inspect too closely.

13th April 2016 The Five Bells

Jeremy being a relatively newcomer to the Wednesday nights didn't know what he was in for when Sarah suggested Ashclyst for this ride. We were pleasantly surprised however, when despite numerous warnings from Sarah about how bad the roads were - only found one section that had tarmac hidden under dried up farm manure! The rest was lovely and it was a superb evening to go through the forest and admire the views. Especially when we crested the last hill - just in time for sunset! Our usual table in the pub was taken so we had to resort to second best, but a good evening was had nonetheless!

6th April 2016 The Merry Harriers

Just Sarah and Richard H on the ride out tonight - meeting at Poltimore and taking part of the hilly road towards Bradninch before turning off and taking the flat route out towards Clyst Hydon before turning back left towards the pub. The views along this road are good, especially in daylight! A good crowd at the pub. Good to see Richard H again after so long, and Clare and Stu at this pub, it being a long way for home. There was a cold wind to accompany us home.

30th March 2016 Hill Climb

This was the night of our annual hill climb. Every year we ride to Ottery, up Chineaway and have a meal at the Hare and Hounds. 14 riders met in Ottery ready for the hill. We don't race up - but Jeremy was first to the top! It was the sound of Ian breathing that kept him going despite the tail end of a chest infection and a bad cough!! He enjoyed it so much that on the way home he rode up again and then again the following Sunday! The meal was good as usual at the pub, with very impressive puddings. The ride back was slightly more eventful with a puncture caused by hitting one of the many stones that had been washed onto the road during the recent heavy rain. Lots of group torch holding while Stuart fixed it and then a pleasant ride home.

23rd March 2016 - The Maltsters, Woodbury

Ted writes (- OMG this is getting a habit) : Yet another new pub for the pubrunners, and this one wasn't closed (!!) . There's a metal puzzle of bikes outside, so many arranged in neatly locked pairs. And, yes the longbike's there, this being Woodbury, but its riders had infringed the basic rule of "nearest last" - it was only just after 8. Unlike the Talaton freezer, this pub was warm, the beer good appearing magically from nowhere - I hadn't even ordered. Now that IS magic. Chips, in insignificant quantities, were the rather poncey Pommes Frites - you know the thin things that make you think you've got a lot and you haven't, and when you dunk them in the TK they don't have the strength to support even the merest coating, dumping it somewhere down one's front (characteristically French, in fact) - in single portion oval veg trays, but at least the TK was free-range. We were even allowed to sit with civilised people, there being no fewer than a dozen of us eventually (Sa, Be, Je, Ji, Su, Ma, Te, Co, Cl, St, Gu, Ro). This was the evening during which B disclosed his fetish for 'The Full Rubber', uttered with barely a smirk. Henceforth, he will be known as "TFR" or "Rubber Man". I have to report that although the evening proved to be Ianless, we did manage to salvage some enjoyment out of deprivation. A near-full moon lit our cold progress home. "Why do you need titanium?" asks Rubber Man on the way home. I'll show you why says I, and waited for a full half hour at my road end for Rubber Man and Jim to pass, to say "goodnight". So goodnight !

16th March 2016 - The Thrusty Farmer

Ted writes (wot 'im again ?): I tried to be late, as probably the closest, but only partly succeeded - B was already installed, and Ian and Richard S were parking up as a I cruised into view - downhill all the way - fitting for a Wednesday night. Jamie's arrival marked an upturn to a far more cerebral and esoteric twist to the conversation - I couldn't understand most of it - that is until Ian cracked a Bernard Manning joke about a gentleman, a princess, and a burning smell. The burning smell could have emanated from the pool table, positioned as it is smack bang in front of the huge inglenook and its blazing log fire, although quite why a pool table needs to be so warm eludes me. Chips were to the usual high standard but the challenge to scoff the entire bottle of TK failed despite valiant attempts and several small spills ! Then all too soon it was nearly home time, to garner strength and beauty sleep for the Coasts & Quantocks audax on Sunday, when Jim turned up.

9th March 2016 - The Three Tuns, or rather The Lamb, Silverton

The Lamb Inn at Silverton

Ted writes (who said about time too ?):T’was a cold dark windy night that I set out with eager anticipation for the ‘Three Tuns’ in Silverton, a prospective new venue for the ‘Pubrunners’. Sure enough, there it was, tucked neatly out-of-the-way, no bikes outside, no light of any note inside, nor any welcoming open door. Mmmm, what now ? A quick circuit of the ‘square’ produced no other confused cyclists, it being well after 8 o’clock by now. In a quick explore of a surprisingly extensive Silverton I found it to be well-endowed, boasting both a ‘gastropubbish’‘Silverton Inn’, and a much more enticingly homely-looking ‘Lamb Inn’ from which were coming very nice aromas (think fish n’ chips to a hungry cyclist). But still no bikes or Pubrunners.... Oh well, what else could I do but return, take a swift pint in the Red Lion and back home for tea. Soon, though I saw a ‘car’ coming towards me, one with a rather quaint flexible design with the front lights moving from side to side. And this was how I, B and R hove into view, whom I then led rather successfully to good ale and very acceptable chips in a nice warm pub ! A very pleasant, if Sarahless, evening passed and all too soon it was time to depart, being late - well-past-kebabs-in-Ottery late - chasing with rather indecent haste and big grins back home through dark lanes. (ps. The 3 Tuns closed last year !)

Tooth of March 2016 - The 5.8 Bells, Payhembury

The Six Bells at Payhembury

Ted writes belatedly Just back from hot climes, I shivered my way to the pub in an English winter, brrrrr. This is what I wrote in my diary: "Wednesday nighters at the 6 Bells (rounding up the 5.8) Payhembury. Nice and warm inside, huge bowls (pastry-bowl sized) of chips, lashings of TK, Exeter Brewery's nice Grubber at just £2.50 - Why do we go anywhere else ?? (Except of course to drink with John in the Hairy Marras). From a rather hazy memory, I think I counted 9 out (I, Ja, Ro, Ju, Be, Sa, Te, Ma, Su) but heartfelt apologies if I've missed anyone - blame it on the rather good ale.....

24th February Bridge Inn, Topsham

Nine out on a cold evening. Sue is finally out of her skiing cast. Clare made it, only two weeks late for her birthday. Roger recounted stories of setting fire to things. Jamie modelled one of his fetching collection of buffs. It was even colder as we set off for home.

17th February Talaton Inn, Talaton

Sarah was absent, cramming for a 'practical'. Four cyclists arrived together, and then another. Mostly the Ottery mob. Again no food. There was a fire, though, but only just. B got on his hands and knees and blew some life back into it; adding wood helped as well.

10th February Lamb & Flag, Ottery St Mary

A select group of four met at Cranbrook for a circuitous route to Ottery. We resisted the idea of a cheeky half at Talaton (though we know the beer would have been cold) and passed The Nog with barely a glance. The route took us past Ottery Nursery and to the back streets of the town. More cyclists arrived, in ones and twos, until there were eleven. No chips, though. Another dry evening.

3rd February Jack-in-the-Green, Rockbeare

The evening got off to a bad start with Sarah leading a tortuous route towards Pinhoe (to pick up the Exeter crowd – consisting of Robert and Roger) to arrive there half-an-hour later than either planned or agreed. Nevertheless, the Jack was its usual welcoming self. Ted said something about his thighs and not being around for a couple of weeks. The rest drank beer or cider (or tea) and looked wise. We all took direct routes home.

27th January Diggers Rest, Woodbury Salterton

A very random route this week from Cranbrook up to the ridge, through Aylesbeare, up Sanctuary Lane and then dropping down into Woodbury Salterton. A good crowd out, including Sue nursing a sore leg from her ski trip, Katrina recently back from colder climates and Ted preparing to jet off to warmer climates. A chilly but quick ride back. Richard S put Ian through his paces both out and back, but the rest of us had a more leisurely ride.

20th January Thirsty Farmer, Whimple

Two started from Cranbrook, unless you count the cyclist in a car. As it was quite icy we decided on a route via the airport and up to Within lane. The roads were alright until we reached the highest point, just before we reached the ridge road where there was a section of very slippery tarmac. Luckily nobody hit the decks and we descended carefully from Daisymount. Three others met us in the pub and we had our usual warm welcome in the farmer.

13th January Merry Harriers, Westcott

A very roundabout route tonight, from Cranbrook to Broadclyst, up the 3181 for a little bit before diverting around Killerton and Ellerhayes, back on the 3181 for a few yards before diverting along the other side to follow the lane that heads out towards Cyst Hydon, then we finally headed back to the 3181 and the pub. A fire and a very warm welcome awaited us. Beer, chips, and homemade carrot crisps on the house. The landlord John even joined us for the last drink before we headed home all in our different directions on a bitterly cold and wet night.

6th January The New Inn, Broadclyst

Well that was a Wednesday night great. All the weather Devon could throw at us, but a fast fun rattle through the lanes nonetheless. Great company as always and cider brewed 300 yards from the bar! Rode back through lanes that were very full of water, but had been dry earlier that day. Time to keep your wits about you and look out for those hidden potholes!

18th November 2015 - The Merry Harriers, Westcott

We tore through the lanes tonight. A much higher than normal average speed reached as we got to the pub. A flatish route was chosen via Broadclyst, Whimple and Talaton - reaching the pub within the hour! John, as usual was there to welcome us and Ted was back out having not seen him for a while - I wonder if he will be able to write some blogs for us again?! A huge group of people once again. We attempted to classify ourselves as either Scientist or Artist - most of us could do it without hesitation. A few sitting on the fence though. A very enjoyable evening and then a headwind home for the Exeter heading people.

11th November 2015 - Jack in the Green, Rockbeare

Luckily it was a dry mild evening so the temptation wasn't too big to ride directly from Cranbrook to the Jack in the Green. Instead a route was chosen that could pick various cyclists up on the way - first heading into Exeter to meet Clare, then to Farringdon to meet Martin and Sue and then unexpectedly meeting Stuart in Rockbeare before arriving at the pub. A friendly welcome, excellent chips and a noticeable drop in temperature before riding home. A good crowd of people but missing Ian as he was on his way to the Audax Uk AGM to collect his 100,000 mile award! Well done Ian!

4th November 2015 - The Thirsty Farmer, Whimple

Preparations for the Christmas do continued with Sarah tackling the recalcitrant few who hadn't booked, and handing out 'secret santa' slips. The Cranbrook contingent headed towards the airport via the new tunnel, to meet a breathless Robert, and thence via Aylesbeare to pick up our tandemistas. A looping route, swerving to avoid Tipton and flying through the rural suburb of Westhill, saw us emerge at the Devon Smithy roundabouts and descend at tandem-speed to the Hand-and-Pen. Jamie and others were there already to greet us. Another two-table evening.

28th October 2015 - The Otter Inn, Colaton Raleigh

The nights are drawing in and it's lights on both out and home now. It was a fairly dank evening, but we had a good turnout nonetheless, to the extent that we were stealing chairs from neighbouring tables. Sarah opted to explore the lanes heading towards Aylesbeare Common on the way home. Her route didn't quite work out as planned. Those heading for Ottery and points beyond braved the Venn Ottery hills and potholes.

21st October 2015 - The Five-and-a-Half-Bells, Clyst Hydon

The 5.5 Bells at Clyst Hydon

Ted writes:The Devon winter is here. A damp, drizzly, dark, warm and muddy night did not deter a metric dozen of pubrunners (eleven if you count Sarah as two – cider swilling, and fizzy bilge-water sipping) from coalescing at the Five-and-a-Half Bells. That’s the one at Clyst Hydon, by the way. ‘I’ found his way to the pub, a feat which is doubly amazing, his being both maplexic, and often unable to find the right pub on the right week. Trouble was he’d forgotten his wallet – or he’d deliberately forgotten where he’d put it, so tonight we had to pay for our beer - and trendy chunky chips with even more trendy leathery bits on them. We contemplated the number of Bells, there being 6 in Clyst Hydon church, usually barely a bit over 5 at this inn, and possibly fewer than 6 by the law of averages, in Payhembury. As usual, we partook of sufficient excellent beer to ensure that we were talking philosophical bollocks by the end of a very enjoyable evening. B led the charge home up slithery dark roads, but tonight wisely chose to adopt a genteel pace designed for survival and one to which we could all perspire (aspire ??), himself included.

14th October 2015 - The Diggers' Rest, Woodbury Salterton

Ted writes: Another dry night, a bit chilly, saw 13 pubrunners out. So runs the traditional blog !! However, it was actually 10 cyclists, 3 non-cyclists including new pubrunner, Mia, (I hope the spelling is correct) and a dog ! For the factually pedantic, pubrunners were, 'in no particular order', S, I, S&M (longbikeless), M, R, T, S&C, M, J, J, B. We were actually one-down - S had left her fizzy-bilge-water-sipping alter ego at home, so there was just one of her, not the usual two. But how she could be so scared of a lovely smiling black & white Border Collie wagging its tail so hard it was in danger of falling over, is one of the seven sights of the modern world, cowering as she was behind a table - but there we are. I quipped last week that we envisioned I alone and sobbing into his pint in the Five-and-a-Half Bells thinking we’d forsaken him. Well he was actually in the Diggers' Rest, 14 miles away, sobbing into his pint thinking we’d forsaken him !!!!!!! Luckily he found his way this time, otherwise we wouldn't have had the benefit of his wallet for free beer. However, I note that next week is the five-and-a-half Bells, so it's anybody's guess where he'll go. I was very impressed that the two bowls of rather trendy 'French Fries' were accompanied by a bowl of proper 'English Chips' and a more-then-fulsome vat of TK. J and me invented a new challenge of who could get most TK on two FF's, the technique being to have them just a touch apart and to use surface tension to get the TK to span them !! Is there no end to the challenges of being a Wednesday Pubrunner ?

7th October 2015 - The Hairy Marras, Westcott

Hairy Marras at Westcott

Ted writes:' The slight dusky chillth just nipped the ends of my fingers – it is now that time of year – as I set off to find a loot-tree. Thin occasional tyre tracks indicated someone fast and smoooooth was leading out and as the track became clearer, I was closing. So it was that I was extremely surprised to find the ‘Hairy Marras’ [www.http://themerryharriers.co.uk] Ianless, he, of course being so smoooooth. We envisioned him alone and sobbing into his pint in the Five-and-a-Half Bells thinking we’d forsaken him (sad and very close to the truth - see 14 Oct above). Similarly Sarahless, believe it or not as you like, B, T, R and J all managed, leaderless and rudderless, to find separate ways to the ale, joined in due course by the longbike (S & M). Now don’t believe any of this nonsense about ‘harriers’ being the dogs on John’s (landlord’s) pub sign accompanying the hunt. The Oxford Dictionary defines a ‘harrier’ as ‘a person who engages in persistent attacks on others or incursions into their land’, which clearly means a Border Reiver’, who is, of course, a gentleman from the north. Now a ‘marra’ is a gentleman from the north, so it’s pleasing to report that John admitted, under cross-examination, that his pub’s real name is indeed the ‘Hairy Marras’. As is usual at the ‘Hairy’, we managed easily to drink the Otter pump dry. A riotous evening, ably accompanied by B in bouts of beat-boxing, ended inevitably with the workers party heading out early, and the ORF’s (old retired......) imbibing till the wee small hours over gossip about live concerts of music makers from pre-history and the art of survival in a ‘bass-bin’. My dinner wasn’t in the dog, but it could have been – twice over – had we a dog.

30th September 2015 - The Duck, Lympstone

Ted writes:' 'The ‘Indian Summer’ evening sky edged with mellow autumn colours of rust, amber and indigo as the sun dipped away from view behind the silhouetted skyline of Haldon through to Ashclyst, with warm and chill air by turns. This was my ride. A metal puzzle of bikes gave me a welcome problem of where to secure my steed on arrival at the 'Duck' (sorry, I meant 'Swan') at Lympstone. Problem sorted, there were no fewer than 14 pubrunners including the Rock Steady Crew, gathered outside, 15 if you include Sarah’s brown-fizzy-bilge-water-sipping alter-ego, which claims to enjoy bilge-water at home too. Outside ? There was a chill in the air and no view. Outside ? But outside it was, for a reason. Now the already-arrived C&S had infringed the basic rule of being last to the pub, their arduous journey of about 50m having taken all of 45 seconds. It’s possible that their journey took longer than normal given the three trays of freshly-baked cakes which were hugely appreciated by the pubrunners. We’ll call him ’Bake-Off Stu’ – star baker. During the evening, Sarah claimed that she had lost half a kilo. Although we looked around, we failed to find it, until it was determined that fat could not be created or destroyed. So we were able to contribute a new law to science – “the Law of Conservation of Fat”. The corollary was that Sarah’s loss must have been someone else’s gain – B ? Then all too soon, the contingent of under-age drinkers, and the workers’ party, left the old men to our cheeky halves (note plural, again) until it was time for me to help map-lexic I towards Ottery on a clear star-studded night.

23rd September 2015 - The Thrusty Farmer, Whimple

The Thirsty Farmer, Whimple

Ted writes: As it’s customary for those nearest to a Wednesday night venue to be last, I toiled my 6k downhill through a dark but dry evening to reach the beckoning lights of the ‘Thrusty’ by 9pm, to find a multitude of bicycles piled neatly outside. I counted thirteen seats without, including a strange long bike with two (belonging to nice newbies Sue and Martin), but counted 14 cyclists within, albeit after a pint or two, the difference not being me. Maybe the dichotomy was explained by Sarah carrying both her normal cider-swilling self, and an alter-ego which sipped fizzy brown bilge-water. I was very touched by the group’s having saved me one chip (a small cold one with just a smear of TK), which shows just how deep true friendship runs. Beer, though, magically appeared, and time equally magically disappeared whilst contemplating audaxing stories, inebriated (and I should say “don’t do this at home children...”.) riding, environmental sciences and other choice subjects. When all were about to leave J quietly whispered something about cheeky halves, and suddenly there was the cacophony of chairs being dragged out and lots of cyclists rapidly sitting down, which yet again shows just how easily their hearts can be bought. I eventually got home a bit shy of midnight,t so it was lucky that my dinner wasn’t “in the dog”! (Would have been tricky – we don’t have a dog).

16th September 2015 - The Red Lion, Broadclyst

Ted writes: Not in the least off-put by the Met Office severe weather warning of rain, avalanche, cats, dogs, trees, tsunami, gales, twisters and so forth, I set out on a slightly drizzly night for a gentle ride down Rockbeare Hill, when to my genuine surprise I espied a familiar face going in totally the wrong direction. Yes, t’was a single Sarah (she sometimes doubles-up later on). So rotating about 180 degrees, I set off with her in search of.......Holy Grail, pot of gold, eternal truth...who knows, but the riding was good as we looked high out over Whimple towards Ashclyst. Not many yards further I heard my companion talking to herself. She had, it seems, doubled-up again. So now we were three. The Red Lion appeared out of the dark twilight, but the bikeless exterior hinted at no cyclists inside, and so it proved. It wasn’t until the chunky chips appeared that so did R, attracted from a considerable distance, no doubt, by the enticing aroma. Later B and J made up the half dozen, to help consume further 'chunkies'. Nice pub, nice beer, nice company, nice chips, nice TK – a full house in fact, so, late indeed it was that we left. Map-lexic ‘I’ had to be escorted to familiar roads, but B & J left without us, attempting abysmally to show us a distant red light. We’d been practicing, though, 'I' by doing PBP (a bit excessive I'd have thought just for a Wednesday night 'chase' but you have to admire the commitment), and with just a touch of extra panting readily hauled in the wayward duo. And not a single raindrop to hold back our enjoyment of the night ....

The Crew at a cafe near Cullompton !!

12th September 2015 - Saturday Pointless to Bampton and Wiveliscombe

Ted writes: Here's the crew in usual 'tea-sipping' mode, this time at a 'cafe' somewhere near Westcott. I feel duty-bound to explain that most of us had completed at least 100k by the time of this piccy. But it was Sarah's ride so I'll let her pick up the story, won't I ????.......

Sarah writes:A good trip around the Breakfast in Bampton route. Good company and good weather. This ride will be a calendar event on 28th November.

9th September 2015 - The White Hart, Woodbury

The White Hart, Woodbury

Ted writes: Yet another lovely evening ride brought me to the White Hart where a puzzled–looking Richard was tugging at doors trying to find his way to the beer. The front entrance gave into the bar and we were helpfully advised to proceed through the door marked ‘Gents’ to find our pubrunners, R, R, J and a cider-swilling Sarah all trying to hide from us, although not actually sitting in the ‘Gents’. Shame. Richard and I made 6 until I, and J arrived, with C and S later completing our metric houseful for a chipless crisp-rich evening so no TK sachet-squeezing. During the evening, strange financial transactions occurred whereby a wallet with lots of CASH was passed around providing the rare opportunity for free drinks all round until the money ran out. Mediocre beer under new management, and threats to decamp and head for the Maltsters oddly never dented our enjoyment of a pleasant evening, although the Exeter crew did de-camp early leaving us hard men to our cheeky halves (true and sad) deep into the dark night.....

2nd September 2015 - The Blacksmith's Arms, Plymtree

The Blacksmiths, Plymtree

Guest reporter Ted writes: Although we had a new venue, tonight was as much about the cycling. It was one of those lovely cool dry clear evenings when the roads are all smooth and downhill, and the wind is on one’s back. Dusk was just falling as I arrived at the Blacksmiths’ in Plymtree. Three boys (R, R & I) and yes, a diet-coke-sipping (what again??) chilly Sarah, were already installed in soft sloppy leather armchairs, but, alas, tonight we were B-less, he probably raiding skips in foreign parts. Our new venue provided us with exemplary ale (I suspect that ‘I’ had been here for much longer than the few minutes he claimed as he seemed very somnolent and ran the Tri-Bute dry on the second order, although we did fail miserably to dry out the Amber pump, which flowed effortlessly and tastefully all night), and exemplary home-made chips magically appeared from time to time in a receptacle the size of a small oval bucket – they must have known that cyclists were coming and that their hearts are easily bought !! We did a lot of squeezing, though, to season our chips with TK from tiny sachets !! We never referred to crap cars once, nor did we put to rights the migrant or any other crisis, so inevitably time and pints flew by. We resolved to return, and departed into a cool clear and very dark night for one of cycling’s most pleasurable and enthralling facets – late night riding.

26th August 2015 - Castle, Bradninch

19th August 2015 - Ruffwell, Thorverton

Sarah was the sole Cranbrook starter this week but met a bunch from Exeter at the Poltimore turn. A very flat route was chosen through the lanes, meandering around and even visiting Stoke Cannon by accident! We chose the rough lane that brings you out on the edge of Thorverton to see if it had improved. It hadn't. Richard punctured almost in sight of the pub. Jamie was waiting at the pub and a merry evening was had, with the usual beer and chips.

12th August 2015 - 6 Bells Payhembury

5th August 2015 - The Otter Inn, Colaton Raleigh

The Otter Inn at Colaton Raleigh

Guest reporter Ted writes: It was a dark foul dusk – wet and windy – as, rather late, I approached the ‘Otter’ and its rather synthetic charms, to espy three fellow cyclists (I, B, R) already perched on high chairs, sipping gently – not a single Sarah in sight. In just half an hour, by around 9 pm, we had turned our attention to, the left-wing bias of cycling groups, the complexity of modern western politics as an explanatory factor in the decoupling of electorates from any interest in politics, the legalisation of same-sex marriage and the liberalisation of social mores, war as an integral part of the human condition, and the trivialisation of modern western society in the context of increasing affluence. After that, I guessed the evening would probably struggle for longevity, and so it proved. Notwithstanding that the beer was good, if oddly priced, the chips plentiful and chunky, and the TK amply dispensed from a bottle, we dispersed into a warm damp night unintentionally sober having contained our binge drinking to a measure of just 4 cheeky halves. This was a night to remember.

29th July 2015 - The Talaton Inn, Talaton

Guest reporter Ted writes: That's near Talaton, by the way. We love the Talaton although I never know why. On a summer's evening, a cool pint or two with cycling friends in a characterful English village pub would seem like the harps of the angels in Heaven to one struggling on foot through the red hot sands of a summer Sahara. But it wasn't quite like that. The Talaton is always cold, winter or summer alike, and the beer, which you would have thought would have been equally cold was actually unappetisingly slightly warm. Chips were up to the Wednesday night pubrunners' standard even if we did have to squeeeeeeze the TK out of sachets, hundreds of them. Anyway, the rock steady crew of the usual suspects including Ellie, forced a few pints down, spirits only slightly dented by our being Sarahless (new word to appear in the OED this year it being used so often). And no, we didn't sit outside - it was far too warm for that....uh?

22nd July 2015 - The King's Head, Otterton

It was warm enough to sit outside for the earlier part of the evening. Jeremy, Mark and Sarah started from Cranbrook, B and Charlie, separately, from Ottery, and Ian from Honiton. The latter tried heading for Woodbury via Aylesbeare before remembering (mistakenly) that the venue was Colaton Raleigh, and eventually arriving by trial and error at the correct pub. Sarah announced her absence for the next few weeks: something about being in foreign parts. It was a cool ride home, and the nights are noticeably drawing in.

15th July 2015 - The Merry Harriers, Westcott

Guest reporter Ted writes: We always enjoy our trips to John’s Merry Harriers, even if, as tonight, someone else has drunk the taps dry earlier in the day. Indeed my first pint of ‘Reel’ was drawn from the keg in the cellar and brought to the bar in a jug! First to arrive (this seems to be becoming a bad habit of mine) even at the back o’ 8, I guessed the other romantics would want to sit outside getting cold and midge-bitten whilst watching the fading light, so I sat outside playing with my toys when Jamie sneaked up and scared the **** out of me ! Lots of people eventually joined the party, with Roger, Richard, B on Bates (EG variety) and Ian from the rock steady crew, plus Mike and Sally, Richard S, Linda, Ken and his (better looking) ‘replacement’ Matthew to name a few, as there were at least three more friends whom I can’t name. All too soon it was time to ‘hit the road’ with Ian blazing off down the main road, Richard in hot pursuit (I’d better get some of Richard’s supplements if they’re that good) although I suspect he never caught him. However, I kept Richard’s red tail-light firmly in my sights until I too, disappeared into the night.........

8th July 2015 - The Drewe Arms, Broadhembury

Another new venue for the Wednesdays, and another sunny evening, though not so warm. In fact a chilly wind soon had the earlier arrivals scurrying inside. Ted, Elly and Ian were first to arrive, closely followed by Jamie, who was dining out. The Cranbrook group arrived in loose formation with Sarah riding shotgun. She brought another foreign guest: Cymru Anne. Richard S was last to turn up, making nine in total.

1st July 2015 - The Thirsty Farmer, Whimple

It was warm and sunny enough to sit outside. Hummers from Portsmouth was our exotic guest, who proceeded to grill Roger about the possible uses for a single sock. Charlie made another brief appearance. Sarah led the Cranbrook group in as usual by a devious route – Ted not being present to object to steep scoggy lanes. It was scarcely dark when we left for home.

24th June 2015 - The Cannon Inn, Newton Poppleford

The three musketeers.

A warm sunny evening saw Roger and Jeremy hiding in the pub garden nursing their pints. Ian joined them shortly after eight. Charlie made a brief cameo appearance, and EWCC members, Arved and Gemma, stopped for a chat on their way past. We adjourned inside as the temperature dropped. Absent Sarah was still struggling to guess the names by text. Jeremy left. Roger was dressing for departure when Richard S arrived. Halves all round. Finally, in short order, B and Jim turned up.

17th June 2015 - Keeper's Cottage, Kentisbeare

This was a new venue for pubrunners, perfectly situated for a laney route from the west. Ian did a laney route from the east and got somewhat lost. Good weather, tolerable beer, and the all-important chips were served. We'll doubtless come again.

10th June 2015 - The Swan, Lympstone

Slap me vitals and ring my chimes! The morris dancers were outside the pub. The strange prancing made it look like fire-walking, but without the fire. Stu made some lame excuse about it being too far; most of the other regulars were in attendance. Chips, beer, and a good ride home for all but Clare.

3rd June 2015 - The Merry Harriers, Westcott

Another outside evening, for a time. Newcomers, Jamie & Sam, joined the Cranbrook group. Ian was late again after time-trialing. Inside the pub got busier and busier, but we commandeered chairs from here and there, and huddled round a couple of tables. We seemed to end up with more chips than beer – making up for the previous week.

27th May 2015 - The Bridge, Topsham

Sarah was absent, walking in foreign parts (Kernow, land of the Kernish). Chips were also absent, this being the Bridge. The rest of us congregated around an outside bench overlooking the Clyst, marveling at the summer warmth until it got too cold and we decamped to the front room. Some surreptitious texts may have been sent. Mark made a brief appearance. Robert and B reckoned the main road and Venn Ottery was a quicker route home, proving Ian wrong by beating him to Tipton.

20th May 2015 - The Castle, Bradninch

Guest reporter Ted writes: I expected to arrive at the Castle ‘wrecked’, after a 12 mile Dartmoor walk during the day, and a 12 mile ride from home, but the lovely clear evening just gave me a healthy thirst, and somebody generously added, a ‘ruddy glow’. Well, our new venue, bedecked in maroon and deep green paint, had to prove successful given that Sarah had insisted on visiting it 3 times previously to ensure that it met the exacting standards required by the Wednesday ‘pubrunners’. It is, however, one of the few pubs in Devon where it is possible to order a pint and an inner tube! For some strange reason, no chips materialised, so I cannot comment on our gastronomic rating of the offering, or even the ‘source of the sauce’ – it being crucial how our TK is dispensed. Beer must have been good. Why? Because I can’t remember a word of what we talked about. Pubrunners were aplenty, bad at counting we must have been at least 8. Then a few of us confidently shot off from the centre of Bradninch down to a very dark dead end. We got home eventually by way of the Talaton freezer, for cheeky halves (note plural) - a cheeky half being a very insignificant drink.....

13th May 2015 - The Nog

Guest reporter Ted writes :As the Scots would have said, "somebody mist hae went...but it wisna me". In fact several pubrunners turned up for a chipless evening. Ian was late after riding the Wednesday evening time ten.

6th May 2015 - Lamb & Flag, Ottery

Guest reporter Ted writes: I might have been thirsty, or it might have been that my 3 miles to the pub were all downhill, but I must have been sitting in this rather cold pub for a full half-hour before Ian, Sarah, Robert, and Richard - preceded by his hair - breezed in. It took B, though, another half hour or so to make the 1 km from his house - an arduous journey indeed. Ian and B spent the entire evening grinning like Cheshire cats; Ian having spent megasquids on titanium stuff and not even any gears; B having spent exactly the opposite having fished a Trek with one wheel out of a skip. This week, the TK came in a bottle (good) and the chips, two portions, came in egg-cups (bad). Seems most pubs are completely unable to get both right, but I'd settle for drowning in chips and squeezing sachets (see last week), given the choice. Being the eldest, and practising for my decrepitude, I forgot all the earnest conversation, although I know we didn't talk about politics, there being some sort of event in a just a day or so. I do remember that we narrowly avoided debating the inestimable contribution made to the legacy of the world's music by ABBA, but I did see Sarah's eyes glaze over at one point, so we must have been talking about crap cars again. Then we melted into the night....

29th April 2015 - Rolle Arms, East Budleigh

This was a new venue and a longer ride for the pubrunners from Honiton and north. Robert and B were joined in Ottery by Ian for a journey through sandy lanes alongside the Otter Valley. Roger, Richard and Ted got there first. Clare followed, and last but not least came Stu. An absent Sarah was commendably accurate at guessing the names. It was a dry night, not too cold, and the pub made good chips. Ted adds: This is a 'proper pub'. Think 'The Nog', rather than 'The Jack' which it certainly isn't! No luxury here, but the one ale was good, the place was warm, and the chips portion large and flavoursome, if not actually 'cordon bleu'. Only real downside was that the TK came in sachets not a bottle, which gets very messy after about half-a-pint of squeezing, but there you are. Gets my vote to stay on the list.

22nd April 2015 - Merry Harriers, Westcott

Guest reporter Richard writes: Well it was closer to 3pm before I got away, made good time to Bampton. I stopped for a break before Wivvy & lay on the grass soaking up the rays, munching cake, chocolate & bananas. The Easterly wind made the going hard to Wivvy but the lanes to Welly gave welcome shelter. Breezed back to the Merry Harriers for a welcome meal. Jamie was 1st to arrive followed by Robert & B. We sat outside for a while until the cold drove us inside. Ted appeared much later. Topics were cars, bikes, cycling & B's trip to Venice etc, etc. After 3+ hours in the pub I found it hard to cycle the 10 remaining miles of my 100k ride. The question remains did Clare & Stu do an Ian by cycling to the wrong pub, no bells involved.

15th April 2015 - Greyhound, Fenny Bridges

The first start, this evening, from Cranbrook, with Sarah in the lead. More cyclists joined the group at Whimple. Cheeky halves were imbibed there before the peloton headed for Fenny Bridges. Six out and Sarah bought the first round to celebrate a significant birthday as well as a new house.

8th April 2015 - Six Bells, Payhembury

Ian arrived first, but was on his mtb and dressed in civvies. Richard and Robert, arriving a little later, didn't recognise the bike, nor Ian inside the pub. Once the comedy of errors was resolved, three sat down to an evening of beer, chips and random conversation.

1st April 2015 - The Hill Climb - The Hare and Hounds, Putt's Corner

Ten cyclists assembled at Sainsbury's in Ottery in preparation for the assault on Chineway. The promised reward was a reserved table at the pub. Sarah managed to land in a heap even before the start, blaming the car-park cobbles. Stu and Clare went one better by breaking down on a car-assisted journey to Ottery. So we left without them and commenced the climb. Roger and Jim were first to Chineway Head, despite Ian's 24-inch gear. Elly took advantage of the others pausing to forge ahead towards the pub. There followed a convivial evening of food and beer (and Diet Coke — don't ask!), followed by a chilly descent for all in different directions to home.

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