After the fun and games on the Cotswolds Caper Road Book day, thoughts turned to pedal powered two wheel tomfoolery.
The target this year, the Devon Coast to Coast from Ilfracombe to Plymouth is shorter and with smaller hills than last year’s classic C2C route from Whitehaven to Sunderland but with 100 miles to cover in three days, still a challenge. This year as well as our friends Tim and Andrea who we rode the C2C with, we were joined by Glenn and Wendy (all of us veterans of the 2015 Via Ferrata trip to the Dolomites).
Now you could consider this as training for rallying but seeing as I did no training for the ride apart from one thirty minute cycle from MK Hospital to home the other week, I’m not exactly sure of the training benefit as I found it bloody hard work!
Day one from Ilfracombe started with a very sharp pull from the quayside after the ritual “dipping your back wheel in the sea” photo alongside the strange Damien Hirst statue "Verity". Then it was up through the town to the former site of Ilfracombe railway station…
Yes the hill was too steep for trains back in the day! The day started with some light drizzle but improved to a nice sunny day as the time went on.
What followed was a pleasant enough but steadily climbing former railway route for a few miles, this eventually levelled out and then switched to minor roads, which turned out to be surprisingly hilly with short, sharp climbs but eventually followed by a welcome downhill into Braughton where a coffee stop was in order!
After this we had 20 miles of flat railway path first along both sides of the Taw Estuary (to cross a bridge at Barnstaple and then reverse the route into an unwelcome headwind) then after a smashing lunch at Framlington Quay we turned into the estuary of the River Torridge then up the river past Bideford and to our overnight stop at GreatTorrington. Where we were faced with a very steep mile uphill into the village! An evening of car shuttling ensued (thanks for the lift Pete)!
Day two dawned grey and wet and that’s the way it stayed! Grainne and Wendy decided to opt out; I didn’t blame them especially as Grainne was still suffering the after effects of a recent chest infection. They spent the day shuffling one of the cars and our van around and later meeting us for lunch.
After the very welcome downhill to re-join the route, more railway path ensued, however near the village of Petrockstowe we again joined minor roads, the railway continues but results in a dangerous section on main roads, the detour took us on a similar route to yesterday with short sharp hills (and some not so short) and corresponding descents and all the while it poured!
The early part of the route went surprisingly quickly so that we arrived at the pre-planned lunch stop at Hatherleigh too early and had to keep pushing on (although some of us did avail ourselves of the chip shop for a quick “refuel”).
We eventually joined up again at Okehampton for a welcome lunch and a chance to dry out a little. After this Glenn and Andrea decided they’d had enough rain for one day and jumped in the van (good job we have space for up to six people and six bikes)!
To be continued….