Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Devon Weekend - Sidmouth Ride

With the Combe Raiders (Taunton based) travelling down to the Devon coast, it was an easy opportunity to head west and meet for a Saturday mountain-bike ride. Preferring not to drive two hours each way for a half-day ride, I made a weekend of it by finding a B&B a little further around the coast (south of Exeter).

One of the advantages (perhaps the only one) of starting work an hour earlier than strictly required is that it is easy to get Friday afternoons off. However, the unfortunate thing about travelling west to Devon & Cornwall is that there are no motorways. So I set off in plenty of time to tackle the A-roads; in the end the traffic was good and the trip only took the expected two and a half hours.

The airbnb.com find was another winner as I received a warm welcome in Starcross and was fed exceptionally well the whole weekend. With hosts that like to travel and cycle-tour (particularly in the States) there was plenty to talk about - Jim is planning an A-Z cycle tour of the States starting in Seattle and heading to Florida making sure he visits particular small towns in alphabetical order (X was a bit of a problem to find). The lovable dog and no-eyed cat (it still jumped up on to the back of the sofa etc.) also deserve mention.

It seemed to rain all Friday night, which didn't bode well for the planned ride. As it turned out there were seven of us riding from John's parents' place in Sidmouth. With a group that size I decided I would be able singlespeed and not get left too far behind. We had a great ride, with temperatures in the mid-high single digits and a lot of water everywhere. It rained a fair bit on us, we got spectacularly sleeted on at one exposed stage and there were three reasonable-length mechanical stops (one of which was mine). But that was all part of the fun as there were some good climbs that were a challenge for all - especially me & 32:16 - and had everyone, gears or not, walking.

The flip-side of challenging climbs is proper descents - & with everything being very slippery, they certainly kept us on our toes. There were a few spills, but none too serious. The sun almost came out too at one stage - but that was about a mile away.  John (leading the ride, & riding yet another bike - I can't keep up - this one a fully rigid 29er SS) was keen to head up one last hill to make a Figure-8 and add a few more miles to the paltry fifteen; that was vetoed in favour of cleaning up & heading down to the seaside for fish and chips.  That was a good decision - it was very tasty and much needed by all.

Devon countryside

Almost sun

Mechanical #2 - broken chain

The only real stream crossing & yet another shiny blue bike for John

I was pretty worn out, so Sunday was very leisurely with a big sleep-in, another (unexpected) full English and a relaxed drive back home via the coast in gorgeous sunshine (we got the days wrong for the ride). I stopped in and saw (Mum's) cousin Pamela in Poole - the first time since I got my arm out of sling last year. I chose a good day as a roast was just coming out of the oven as I arrived - awesome - and great to catch up too (since I missed all the family news at Christmas just gone).

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