Sunday 20th January 2013 Middling Ride
Report by Chris Whatley
At home in Shiphay at 8am on Sunday morning our frozen garden pond came very close to stopping a very good days cycling before it began. The solid looking layer of ice suggested that any water in the frost hollows of the Devon lanes would be frozen and that even the salted and gritted main roads were not necessarily to be trusted. Wimpish considerations such as these obviously had not discouraged the 10 of our people who were gathered at Kingskerswell arch however. Geoff had seen some ice on his route in from Ipplepen so it was decided to travel to Morrisons at Totnes via Paignton sea front and then on past the Zoo following the main road. There was a short stop just beyond Scotts bridge roundabout to collect a very cold looking Rob Swayne who was completing a puncture repair. Paul Harman gleefully recorded this event using a rear facing camera mounted on his luggage rack. Following this the usual delays occurred at the numerous traffic lights on this route but other than that the ride to Totnes was very enjoyable. The cold weather had apparently kept most motorists at home. As we arrived at Morrisons I was looking forward to a pot of tea with extra hot water, a toasted tea cake and in view of the absolutely freezing weather, a leisurely ride home sticking to treated roads. At Morrisons though we met Kevin. He was very keen to continue all day so Dave and myself put all thoughts of an easy day aside and went with him. Our onward ride took us through Aish, Stoke Gabriel and Galmpton. Our progress was slower than usual as we looked suspiciously at every icy looking patch on the road. Sandwiches in Dartmouth park were wolfed down in freezing conditions. Eating sandwiches while wearing well insulated cycling gloves was awkward but absolutely necessary. Many of us quite enjoy the familiar pleasures of roads well travelled in past rides. Kevin though is an explorer by nature so I was not surprised when he revealed that he had a "new" route in mind. He optimistically described the section of coastal footpath from Dartmouth Castle to Stoke Fleming as a white road. What followed was much carrying of bikes up unreasonably steep steps, a walk through a field and a deep mud ride along a farm track. It was fun though and the view was nice. From Stoke Fleming we made our way over the Snowy uplands of the South Hams to Tuckenhay and Ashprington. Climbing the steep hill into Ashprington Dave and Kevin were well ahead of me. I was riding my heaviest bike and was also claiming to be unfit due to the appendicitis operation. So by the time I reached the Ashprington bus shelter they had hatched a plan involving a lot more mud and scary descents over icy tree roots. This was the old coastal road from Ashprington to Totnes passing Sharpham Vineyard. I walked down one muddy section because my mud coated cantilever brakes just didn't slow the bike any longer. Another nice view though and we did succeed in reaching Morrisons cafe at Totnes for the second time by 3.30pm. Reduced cake prices at this time of day so a pot of tea and large slice of chocolate cheese cake cost only £1.40. Good eh! Almost worth risking life and limb in all that icy mud for. And then of course there is that pleased to be alive feeling that I always get having survived another one of Kevin's explorations. Dave and myself made our way back to Torbay via Berry Pomeroy and Compton. Kevin later sent an e-mail informing that his outdoor thermometer at Bovey Tracey still registered 0 degrees C when he reached home.
Google Earth Map showing the route to Totnes and back.