kipperfish: (thinking)
[personal profile] kipperfish
Land's End to John O'Groats day 2 - Fowey to Mortenhampstead 61 miles.



Today was advertised as one of the toughest days of the tour. Comparing it with day one, I'd have to agree, this was one of the toughest days so far. It included two ferry trips, a carvery lunch, and speeds approaching 40-odd miles an hour on the downhill stretches of Dartmoor. It also included climbs. Lots and lots of climbs. According to our route notes, and various recording devices of people on the tour. We climbed some 2,100 metres today. That's a lot of metres. We felt every single one, especially the people who took a wrong turning into Looe and then had to climb out again.

Now, you'll remember that yesterday, gravity played an absolute blinder. It was always there when needed and was on top form. Today could not have been any more different. Today, Gravity was cocky, overconfident, and it wasn't until after the final brew stop that it got its act together. Before then it simply refused to take into account both the under-tyre conditions and the overhead conditions, and tried to pull us down tight, very slippery, very narrow roads, and was also unrelenting on the climbs. After the afternoon brew stop however, it finally got its act in gear and the descent into Mortenhampstead was done with panache, elan, and more than a little speed induced terror and holding on to the bike for dear life, hoping you could keep it upright!

For most of the day, the weather was crap. There was a solid drizzle, save for a couple of hours over lunch, and once we hit Dartmoor, well, the weather could have been doing anything and we wouldn't have seen it, given that we could barely see the bike in front, let alone anything more than 10 yards away. In fact, the fog almost caused most of the group to miss the second brew stop, and frantic cries of "Cooee! Here we are!" From our brew van driver Tina were required to grab most people's attention that it was actually there. I did feel a little sorry for the tandem though as they were going at a fair lick down the hill when they were alerted to the stop, and stopping the tandem is akin to stopping an oil tanker! They did eventually make it back up, so that was good.

The morning ride was not that memorable really - it involved lots of shortish sharp ups, and then some tight narrow downs that you couldn't take at any speed for fear of hitting a hedge, a car, another cyclist, or the floor, or multiples thereof. In fact, there was a longish climb straight out of Fowey just after getting off the ferry, although we did have a welcoming committee at the bottom as on of the group lives nearby, so a few of his family, and his dog, came to see us off. He was most pleased to see the dog, even if the family had stuck a random Great Britain flag on him. At the top of that hill, I was actually second out of the whole group! This pleased me greatly, although I knew it was the closest to the front I would be all day! This turned out to be an accurate prediction as people then started going past me, including our speedy group who are apparently disappointed when they are going uphill at "only" 25mph!

Things of note from today - I didn't carry rucksack today. After much peer pressure from everyone else, it was put in the van, and left there for the day. This was a good thing. We went past the wonderfully named Fort Picklecomb just before lunch, and went on an odd route through Plymouth after lunch, before getting to my second favourite part of the day.

For the past few years, part of my training has involved cycling the camel trail from Bodmin or Wadebridge (depending on whether we were too late to get bikes from Wadebridge) to Padstow (13miles from Bodmin, 5 from Wadebridge). That route is essentially the old branch line (old steam trains for those who don't know what a branch line is) Today, the long game I was playing with that training paid off. We went on an old railway line! We even went through a tunnel - yes, I made choo choo noises in the tunnel! It was a fantastic ride, and I really enjoyed it.

I am told we went over Dartmoor today, although how we got there I have no clue. This is mainly because when we hit the end of the railway line bit, the weather turned "a bit misty" and visibility went down to an all time low. This is fun when you are riding on roads with cars zipping past on them! Happily, I was in GM mode so was wearing a high vis vest. I never did find my monster crew......

However, after the brew stop, the weather lifted, and suddenly the sun came out, and as mentioned above, Gravity got back on the home team, and lots and lots of descending quickly happened! That was amazing fun! Mortenhampstead is a nice little town, with bugger all phone signal, and the food at the pub was inexpensive, and bloomin' massive in size! Having said that, we were all ravenous, so that's no bad thing!

Tonight promises to be hot and sweaty, even with the windows open.... but we can sleep well knowing that tomorrow should be an easier ride....... apparently we start with a 2 mile climb out of here.... Oh boy.

K.
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