Today we had one of those ‘reality check’ moments, a ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ occasion; a ‘we’re just kicking the tyres on this one’ experience; brought about within the first half hour of our mammoth day. The morning had started well, the alarm went off as usual at seven and, as usual, I’d been awake for ages waiting for it. We had a leisurely breakfast, psyching ourselves up for the big day ahead. We’d packed up, paid up and set off. The landlord of the Rising Sun had explained that, by going up the lane behind the pub, we could join the Torrington road a mile further on and cut out a big hill – too good an offer to refuse! We pushed our bikes up the steep hill, got on and rode off feeling rather smug that we’d already reduced the day’s target by a whole mile. And then it happened – within another mile we were faced with a 1:5 hill, which we struggled to climb, but having done so and descended an equal amount on the other side of the hill we were immediately faced with a 1:4, which completely defeated us! This crazy switch-back of a ride continued for the next few miles putting us into a ‘psychological tail-spin’. A black cloud of doubt and despair was rapidly descending. We took an early coffee stop at Torrington to rethink our strategy. By this time we’d covered just seven of the seventy mile in an hour and a half. At this rate we’d still be riding at midnight – we urgently needed a ‘plan B’! Our various alternatives ranged from find a B&B in Torrington and sleeping for the rest of the day to catching a bus. Eventually we decided to abandon following the ‘scenic route’ via the NCN 3 and take the main road to Holsworthy where we could decide on the direct route to Bodmin or follow the coast road. The road to Holsworthy became increasingly more manageable and we made it there in good time for lunch. Our spirits, uplifted by the increased speed of the run-in and possibly more beneficially, the homemade pasty, we decided to take the direct route to Launceston and the A30 on to Bodmin. Fortified by lunch we set off to cover the 14 miles and seven hills to Launceston. On the approach we had another uplifting moment when we cross the river Tamar and entered Cornwall, the last county of our epic journey. We climbed the steep hill on the approach to the town, quickly found the excellent cafe No. 8, Westgate, and ordered up a pot of tea and cakes. The proprietor, a biker himself, gave us some good advice about the various options for our final leg to Bodmin. A modicum of self-belief now restored, we tackled the remaining 22 miles along the A30 into Bodmin. We survived the traffic, potholes and strong cross winds to arrive at the Westberry hotel at 17.40 – a distance of nearly 100k and a total climb of over 4000ft., a minor triumph, given our starting point earlier in the day. A pint in the superb Hole in the Wall opposite the hotel, a good meal and we’re already talking about the challenge of tomorrows route. Funny thing the mind, much stronger (-and weaker) than the legs! Like Bry says ‘it’s dealing with those daemons’ that really matters. Anyway, with all this going on, not so many interesting photos I’m afraid, but here is a selection:
..and this was even before we started!
The old bridge over the Tamar at Launceston and the entrance to the kingdom of Kernow
View over Bodmin Moor, taken on one of our ‘breather’ stops on the final leg of the day
..and the sign which, at the beginning of the day, we doubted we would ever see!
The grim statistics of todays ride (ordeal)!
Sorry for keeping you all waiting. Happy reading. I’m off to bed!
Great stuff chaps, but I worry that your GPS has led you off-piste: bryam loooks like he is pushing his bike up a track in the Amazon rain forest.
And I’m gald you’re at last tuning in to your readers’ interests: “leisurely breakfast”, “early coffee stop”, “home-made pasty”, ” a pint and a good meal”. That’s the stuff, enough of your corncrakes and willow-warblers! Have a good day tomorrow.