66 miles & 1,784 metres climbed
The curtains opened and revealed another sunny day, in fact the temperature eventually soared to 25°C around the middle of the day. After the climbing of yesterday we knew worse was to come today, in fact, shortly after leaving the B&B (and the garden shed) we found ourselves on a beast of a mountain before we got to Fowey for the first of two ferries of the day.
The landlord revealed that Fowey was pronounced ‘FOY!’ This pronunciation entertained us all day with comic interludes of shouting this randomly. Yes, simple pleasures and juvenile! Less comic was the nonsense of COVID rules on the Fowey ferry. A five minute ride on a ferry, that sailed about 150m, necessitated wearing a mask, even though we were outside! This was selective as a motor scooter rider wasn’t asked to wear one. Peter was about to launch into a full scale dispute before I intervened to ensure we weren’t chucked off the vessel.
The roads were wider and the traffic was less as we rose and fell toward Looe. It was still very hard work but ‘kiss me quick’ Looe appeared at the bottom of a long descent and we stopped to look round. First I came across a chap from Otley wearing a Leeds United away shirt, I was wearing my Leeds United cycling jersey. We bonded. Then came Kathleen and Mavis, one nearly 90 years old and the other a decade younger. Kathleen was looking for her sister who’d wandered off. She was, in fairness, hard to spot at under 5 feet tall! In assisting in her recovery I got into a conversation with Kathleen and in 10 minutes got her life story. She was delighted at the banter but eventually Plymouth beckoned and we bade farewell (not before buying a pastie or two.)
Plymouth was reached by a ferry and after crossing the Tamar we stopped to eat our lunch in a park. By this stage another 800m had been climbed in just over 30 miles. Goodbye Cornwall, I won’t forget you (or miss you!)
Peter procured a scone, jam and clotted cream as the dessert.
We had a long break before letting the Garmin guide us through Plymouth. Most places look better in the sun: Plymouth didn’t. Faded historic glory, little wealth, a tatty city centre: things only started to pick up after we found an old railway line turned into a cycle path that was part of National Route 27. This rose gently as we headed north of Plymouth. This route bore no relation to the Cicerone Guide, which put cyclists on busy roads.
After leaving this gentle climb to head to Princetown (where Dartmoor prison is located) I was fried. Another 1,000m already climbed, hot temperatures and generally spent after two demanding days. We left the trail to experience the brutal 15% plus short climbs again. I cycled past a pub in Meavy where one cyclist enjoying refreshments asked “How are you doing?” I replied “Desperate”. Encouragement was offered that the imminent hill was short. It wasn’t really and the climb was the usual ‘granny gear’ grind.
This was the nadir but gels were consumed, temperatures fell and the climbing ahead was immense but the gradients eventually eased off. Peter is stronger and rode well all day, he kindly hung around to be my ‘domestique’ on many climbs. Overall, however, I rode well and it made me wonder how folk do this whole ride with so little preparation. Soon we were onto the moor. I’d no idea of what Dartmoor was like; it seemed quite open, featureless but grassy with lots of animals including the famous ponies. As a comparison then maybe something like parts of the North York Moors.
There was more climbing after Princetown but there were eventually great, fast descent where I managed to reach over 38mph. Sadly this, on the day, was slower than Peter but the descent madness continues tomorrow. It’s become a ‘jersey’ competition!
Moretonhampstead was reached and the B&B found at after 6pm. The landlady regularly hosts Lejoggers and commented that this stage is apparently the worst day. It has to be!
Tomorrow it’s Somerset, bring it on.