Touring plans for 2014

The Holiday

This year I am planning on doing a bit more cycling than I did last year, and part of this is going to be another cycling holiday in July (I’ve also got a contingency plan for a weekend in September, if I get enough Brownie points 😉 ).

I’ve decided to still stay in the south west and base the ride finishing at home, so there aren’t massive transport costs or the need to use the car to get me anywhere. I’m going to catch the train down to Penzance then ride from Penzance to Taunton over 4 days, with a possibility if I’m not too knackered of carrying on from Taunton to Bristol for a final day (or actually doing Bristol back to Taunton, as that works out better with train schedules and Ellie’s nursery). The route will follow, in the main, the Cornish Way and the West Country Way Sustrans national cycle paths. I’ve got rid of the most egregious of the silly routing decisions Sustrans made to keep cyclists off A roads though.

Many hours have been spent planning these routes, specifically making sure there were decent stops for mid morning cake and decent lunches. Afternoon cake is going to be optional and will depend on where I am at the time!

Routes can be seen here:

Day 1 – Penzance through Hayle, Camborne, Redruth, Truro, and then up to St. Columb Major. 48 miles.

Day 2 – St. Columb Major up to Padstow then along the Camel Trail, up to the edge of Bodmin Moor and past Davidstow airfield, then into Bude. 56 miles.

Day 3 – Bude, through Holsworthy, along the Tarka trail through Bideford and Barnstaple and up to Bratton Fleming to stay the night. 55 miles.

Day 4 – From Bratton Fleming onto Exmoor, across to Dulverton, Bampton and home. 51 miles.

Day 5 – Bristol, down over the Mendips to Wells, then Glastonbury, Bridgewater and on to home. 66 miles.

Bike Prep

Rather than use the rack that’s now Amy’s bike and my panniers I spent a little of my Christmas bonus money and got a nice new Carradice Nelson saddle bag and the matching Bagman support to keep the bag away from my legs. I’m also going to be using my bar bag again to carry all the valuables. That way I’m hoping to leave the saddle bag on the bike whenever I stop as I should only need to take the bar bag with me. If tealeaves want to rummage through my sweaty cycling clothes in the saddle bag more fool them really. Other than that my bike is as was when I toured last year (ok the saddle has change colour but its the same type and I’ve re-wrapped the bars but you know what I mean).

Depending on how well saving goes, and whether I can justify it I may replace the seat post with a nifty layback titanium one from Torus. This is supposed to be more comfortable than the thick aluminium one I have at the moment. At 125 quid though it is not cheap.

Food

Remember I said the cake stops had been planned? You thought I was joking? Well I’m going to be stopping at the following places: Heartlands, Warrens Bakery in Truro, Ring O Bells in St. Columb Major, Rick Stein’s pattisserie, The Old Inn in St. Breward, Weir House Bistro, Filter Through, Yarde Orchard, The Black Venus. Tantivy coffee shop, and Cothay Manor. Views and reviews welcome on any of these!

Fitness

The only thing now is to start training again. I think the last time I had a proper training ride was the 30th of September (with a month of riding on the gym indoor bike throughout October, until I decided it was just too dull) and all I’ve done since then is commute. Thats been about 45 miles a week, with some of those with Ellie on the back but still I need to get some distance rides in.

Day 3 – Taunton to Taunton Coast to Coast

Left Yarde Orchard at about 9:45am, was going to be earlier but one of the mild side effects of eating at a place ran by a nice, slightly absentminded, old hippie is that the service was a little slow. I pootled down the Tarka trail stopping and taking photos of the various sculptures…

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…along the way when it happened. I snapped 3 spokes on my back wheel. In the middle of a cycle trail, in a wood.

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Luckily it was on 1 miles walk to Torrington and Torrington Cycle hire who were after 45 minutes able to hire me a back wheel (“I have no idea what to charge you for this, 10 quid?”) and get me going again. This does mean I have to go back at some point and pick up my wheel. This should have been a sign. I should have got on the train at Barnstaple and gone home. I did not. Anyway back to the ride and…

Stop 1. Fremington Quay Cafe, Fremington.

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A purpose build cafe made to look like the old station building (which were actually originally on the other side of the tracks!) 1 piece of carrot cake, 1 coffee, 1 sprite. The cafe itself was nice, well presented, and clean, the cake was a bit dry and the service was just ok. 6/10

The final leg of the Tarka trail takes you along the estuary and into Barnstaple. It was really busy. There we cyclists, fat people, families, dog walkers, old people, motorised scooters, all of which are seemingly incapable of going above a snail’s pace. I finally escaped in Barnstaple and made a break for the hills. OK, call me stupid but I had not realised exactly how hilly north Devon is. It’s very. It took a long time to get to South Molton. The puncture I got that sapped another 20 minutes did not help here either.

Stop 2. Corn Dolly Cafe, South Molton. Tuna mayo jacket potato, tea, bakewell tart. Really nice tea rooms were they actually give you a decent amount of tea and milk rather than the smallest amount they can get away with. Also the slice of cake was the biggest I have ever been served. Worth going just to get that! 8/10

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The final leg, more hills. I finally called in the support wagon about 15 miles outside of Taunton 2 hours late. I’d had enough and it would have been 8 at least if I’d carried on under my own power. As it was I got home and had a Papa John’s pizza with Amy. Result.

Lessons learnt

  • Always carry change.
  • You don’t need to pack spare shoes.
  • You can’t prepare for every failure.
  • Be realistic about distances

Statistics

  • Total miles – 165.36
  • Total feet ascended – 14,918
  • Total extra calories burnt – 13,124
  • Total weight gained – 3lbs!!

Full photo gallery can be found here