September 8, 2011, by Andrew Burden

The VC’s blog: JoGLE Day 13: Exeter to Bodmin

What a day, the toughest of the trip.

Departure from Exeter was a bit un-coordinated. Alan was out first, having opted to go straight along the A30. He was followed on the same route by Steve and Neville (someone told Neville there were no traffic lights on the A30).

The boldest choice was made by Chris R and David W, who opted to go over the top of Dartmoor. Andy went on his own to ride the north coast. That left me, Karen, Kate, Nick and Chris J. We chose to follow the recommended route around the north side of Dartmoor.

Exeter seemed mild and calm. But that did not last. At Crediton we started the first of many long climbs in strong headwinds. That set the pattern, a day of relentless head winds with periodic driving rain. It was also surprisingly cold for early September.

We ground out the first 27 miles before a break at Holsworthy, where we had our first (but not last) ‘country mile’ experience. On the way there we passed four signs over two miles on the same road which read ‘Holsworthy 6 miles’. Once there we dried out and recharged at the Cornucopia Café and Delicatessen. It had to be good old high carb jacket potatoes all round (with cakes to follow for a few).

There were two other cyclists in the café riding a Devon ‘coast to coast’ at 20 miles per day (which sounded very attractive). They asked about our venture and made a donation.

For us the toughest part of the day was always going to be the middle section. Not that we expected it to be any hillier or windier, but because we had to get through it to get to the final third! We did have a little respite for six or so miles after Holsworthy as we passed through an attractive wooded valley, which was relatively flat and offered some protection from the winds. It was in this section that we entered Cornwall, our final county of the trip (and as you can see from the photo Karen was very happy about that).

Our second stop was with the van outside Hallworthy. Another opportunity to dry out, warm up and prepare for the final stage. Just after we left, Nick had a problem, not a puncture this time, one of the spokes on his rear wheel snapped. I stayed back with him and Chris J, Karen and Kate pressed on. The support team advised a change of bike and brought in Chris J’s back-up. That worked for a period, but the seat was not stable and kept sliding down, so we had to call for another change, this time to my back-up. So Nick had three different bikes for the last 25 miles.

We eventually arrived at our accommodation at 19:00, just as Chris J, Karen and Kate were arriving.

Everyone else was in by then, though only Alan, who got on the A30 and cycled till he reached Bodmin, was in early. Everyone else arrived between 1700 and 1830. All had found the conditions a struggle. The most demanding challenge of all was that taken on by Chris R and David W. Although it was 20 miles shorter than our route, the climb over Dartmoor sounded especially tough, but also clearly very satisfying.

Apart from Nick’s problems there were no other mechanical failures. Steve’s expensive new handlebar mounted iPhone holder did not quite do what it said on the tin and his phone ended up under an articulated lorry on the A30.

When the iPhone 5 arrives, it cannot possibly be any slimmer than Steve’s.

Toilets were a luxury today and Kate had none to guard. However when she disappeared into a field to answer the call of nature, she found herself guarded by (curious rather than aggressive) cows. Despite her fatigue she moved pretty fast.

The large grey hound which chased Nick and me in Nanstallon was definitely aggressive rather than curious. It missed Nick, but hit me. Fortunately we stayed on our bikes and a combination of loud yelling, swinging feet and fast pedalling got us clear. Scary and dangerous.

Finally, we were all cheered by the news that ‘Moves Like Jagger’ is top of this week’s download chart. I have not yet had the chance to listen to it, but is great to know soulfull ballads are making a comeback.
We covered 83 miles today taking our total to 973 miles.

It is hard to believe we have covered this distance and are now on our penultimate night with tomorrow’s ride taking us to Land’s End. There were no celebrations over dinner. The weather forecast is for more of the same and everyone knows tomorrow will be another tough day. But the same growing anticipation which I sensed just before our departure from John O’Groats is there.

David Greenaway
September 7th 2011

Posted in Lifecycle Update