When we arrived at St Just we decided that we would cycle from there to Land’s End for the start, due to this decision it meant that we didn’t have time to stay for breakfast as we would have been too late leaving Land’s End bearing in mind the mileage we had to complete that first day. Bikes retrieved from the Hotels back yard we were ready for the off, that was until Simon noticed that he had a flat tyre, no problem a quick re-tube and we would be on our way, alas the new tube also refused to retain any air. Rather than go for his hat trick Simon replaced the complete front wheel, now we could set off.
6 miles to Land’s End got us warmed up, unfortunately when we got to Land’s End it was shut, must say it is one of the least inspiring places I have ever been, it has a rundown end of pier type of feel to it. Spirits were raised though when we met Bentley & Wellington, 2 beautiful Newfoundlands brought to see us set off by Michael & Carol Coupe. After the Signpost photo call off we went on Brody’s Tour.
Leaving Land’s End on the A30 we headed for Penzance once there we took the cycle path along the coast, generally this was a well surfaced route with the exception of one section that managed to loosen every filling we ever had. As St Michaels Mount came into view Steve Ashton contacted us to let us know not only had he found a café doing bacon butties but it was on our route. This was the first recorded “major achievement” of Steve’s support duties, a role that he fulfilled with enthusiasm and gusto throughout the ride, a role, it is fair to say, that without which we may not have completed the Tour, he found cafes, pubs, toilets and just places to pull over he was always where and when he said he would be (apart from Thurso) with a drink, something to eat and an encouraging word. Once the bacon butties were consumed we headed away from the coast inland.
Next scheduled stop was at the King Harry chain ferry at 40 miles, although I did have an unscheduled stop after meeting a 4 x 4 BMW on a corner on a very narrow lane just prior to Porkellis after taking avoiding action, which involved a summersault over the handlebars, a quick check of the bike all OK, off I went. We all regrouped at the Ferry once across we were met by a steep but thankfully short climb, then back onto the narrow high sided lanes. The 2nd Ferry crossing of the day which was at Fowey was 65 miles in, again a chance to regroup and again once across met with a very steep but this time longer climb out.
That left approx. 22 miles remaining for Day 1, those 22 miles were an unending series of ups and downs, the weather got damper and duller, we had some riding on the A38 which was not good due to the speed of the traffic passing and the poor visibility. Fair to say that by the time we arrived at the Cardinals Hatt, we were all glad to be there, we always knew that Day 1 would be hard, it was.
Sprits were soon raised when we had a visit from Jo Greeney with Storm and Winston, again 2 beautiful Newfoundlands, Storm the older of the 2, displaying the usual Newf characteristics, laid back and chilled, whereas Winston at 16 months was just full of energy and mischief .
Total Miles 93
Day 2 Saltash to Taunton
September 16, 2018
Day 2 Saltash to Taunton
A wet, misty morning greeted us as we left the Cardinals Hatt and set off for Plymouth, now if I was to change anything perhaps the bit that had us cycling into Plymouth at 08:30 on a Monday morning would be the thing, not a good idea, traffic was very busy and definitely not cycle friendly. My Garmin was playing up so I missed the “hidden” turn onto the Tamar Bridge cycle way and ended up at the bottom of a 1 in 5 hill under the bridge meaning I had to get back to the top of said hill and try again. Second time round saw the cycle way at the side of the bridge, so headed down a footpath in that general direction, only to find a railing fence blocking my way, once that was scaled onto the cycleway and back on track, at which point, I joined Simon and Gill on the bridge.
We navigated our way through Plymouth without too much drama, if you discount Simon falling off his bike at a roundabout, due to him getting ready to laugh at a driver that he’d just had a constructive discussion with moments earlier. We continued on our way and were met by Steve at Yelverton which at 13 miles was just prior to us entering Dartmoor.
Our route took us straight over Dartmoor, now I had been looking forward to Day 2 and the ride over Dartmoor, alas the weather had other ideas, Dartmoor was covered by low cloud meaning you could hardly see your front wheel never mind the expected views, or indeed the Cows in the middle of the road. As we started to drop down out of Dartmoor the weather did start to improve with a hint of blue sky starting to appear.
Next City to negotiate was Exeter, which to be fair was a lot easier than Plymouth, the weather continued to improve to the point that a coffee stop in Broadhembury, a lovely thatched village at 62 miles, was made all the more enjoyable as it was had in very warm sunshine. The drawback to this particular stop was the fact that the first bit of riding after it was up a 15%, mile and a half climb. Once at the top we had a further 12 miles which were relatively flat, on the plus side there was the 6.5 miles of downhill that took us down into Taunton.
Total Miles 83
Day 3 Taunton to Monmouth
September 17, 2018
Day 3 Taunton to Monmouth
A better morning, still a little cloudy, but a lot drier. We had an appointment for breakfast this morning approx. 11 miles into the ride, Wendy along with Bella had invited us, which of course we were more than happy to accept. Those 11 miles were on very, very narrow roads which was bad enough on a bike but poor old Steve was driving the truck, now Steve has done an excellent job in looking after us, he’s arranged stops, got food and drinks in the middle of nowhere for us, all in all he was brilliant, however reversing the truck to try and let a wagon past him might need a little practice, but a least as he drove off the bank it seemed to straighten out the panel so all was good. Back to breakfast, it was very good, full English with the best ever Lemon Drizzle to take away with us, I say us, somehow Simon and Gill managed to miss Wendy’s and were a good few miles passed before we all realised, not being practicable to turn round and come back, Steve headed off armed with bacon and sausage sandwiches for them.
After thanking Wendy and her friends for the hospitality I set off towards Glastonbury, which to be fair was a bit of a disappointment, well at least the bit we saw was, our route took us through a mixture of industrial units, Traveller camps and rundown areas. From Glastonbury we headed for Wells, along really quiet roads edge by dykes complete with Swans. Didn’t see a lot of Wells only managing to see the Cathedral Spire, before we encountered Old Bristol Road, which was a 6.5 mile endless climb, but as they say what goes up must come down as least there was a nice downhill after it.
A quick break at The Blue Bowl at Chew was followed by the ride into Bristol, on which we encountered our first “Road Closed” now “How Closed Does a Road have to be to stop a Bike” is a phrase which I did use a lot during our ride, on this occasion the workmen where more than happy to let us proceed as they were installing pipework along the middle of the road.
Bristol was surprisingly easy to navigate, via the impressive Ashton Court, once we’d passed Steve’s estate we dropped onto a cycle way which took us down to the A4. At this point the heavens opened, thankfully there was a cycle path alongside the road otherwise this would have been a very dangerous section of the route. Next point of note, River Severn then across the bridge into Wales, a quick stop at Chepstow Racecourse then on to complete the days riding, a great ride along the Wye Valley from Tintern to Monmouth.
Total Miles 93
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