or, The One Where Tony Hits Forty
What. A. Day!
I’d initially planned this trip thinking I’d be up and away from wherever I was staying early doors, and on the road by 07.30ish – giving me time to make as many stops as I felt necessary, yet still getting to my destination for the night with a bit of time to potter around before bed.
This plan was thrown into disarray on day one when it became apparent that breakfast was served from 08.30…bugger! So, after a later than planned breakfast I was out on the road and setting off at about 09.15. With this in mind, and ninety five miles to cover, I estimated I’d hit the Ho! at 19.00ish…I’d be happy with that. A quick check on the YHA website told me that the hostel’s reception closed at 20.30 so I had a bit of leeway.
Much cooler day today, with the sun hiding itself behind a solid cloud cover as I headed off – resplendent in legwarmers and armwarmers…how eighties, although arguably less tasteful!
From the start I was winding through Cornwall’s minor roads. Whilst picturesque, the ‘temporary road surface’ signs were a clue that the roads weren’t great to ride on. Any descent had to be taken cautiously; loose chippings littering every bend, almost inviting the front wheel in before throwing it out.
It was after seven miles of this I reached a crossroads and, after consulting the GPS, made the decision to scrap my initial route plan and simply hit the A-roads. Not anywhere near as nice to look at, but a far, far better surface to cycle on with the minor roads so far giving me no confidence and therefore slowing me down.
So to the A30 I went, and it’s fair to say it was a little busier than the lanes I’d just left! I settled myself into the hard shoulder and set on my way…
…with the start to the day not quite going to plan I’d re-assessed my day and mentally split it into three chunks. St. Agnes to Wadebridge, then to Bude and finally to Wesward Ho! Three thirty-ish mile chunks, although each one containing a fairly big climb.
Whilst on the road, I also made the decision to give Padstow a swerve – not only was it a detour I didn’t really feel like taking, it was also only on the plan for fish and chips at Rick Stein’s restaurant. As I’d get there about eleven o’clock now, I thought it was too early to eat that heavy a meal.
I was making good headway, the A30 offering some lovely sweeping descents and with the road surface much better I had confidence to let the bike do the work without feeling the need to brake.
Approaching Wadebridge I stopped off at some services for some food and drink. Olu (or anyone at the gym that might be reading), I had a lovely egg and nut feast; no carbs. None at all…anyone else, I’m making my way cross country at the moment sustained between meals by Snickers, Coke and strawberry milk – it’s quick, easy and is doing alright so far!
As I filled up my water bottles and snacked on a fine blend of peanuts, nougat and chocolate, drizzle started to fall, swiftly followed by a heavy shower. Someone was obviously looking down on me, as the skies cleared by the time I was ready to set off again…what luck!
Just past Wadebridge I turned onto the majestically titled Atlantic Highway (the A39), which I saw I could just sit on for the rest of my journey rather than meander around the back roads as initially planned. Not the most exciting of plans, but with the distance involved in the day I didn’t want to try my luck too much.
There was a lovely descent as the A39 started and with the road clear I settled in to enjoy it – towards the bottom I knew it was a quick one, a glance at the Cateye once settled I confirmed it was…42.8mph, whoop!
The rest of the second leg wasn’t quite as eventful. I’d go as far to say it was a bit of a slog to be honest and I was starting to doubt if I’d get to my finishing point in time. Dinner was had in the glamourous settings of St. Kew’s service station forecourt – Costcutter’s chicken and stiffing sandwich, whilst nice, probably doesn’t compare with Mr. Stein’s fare!
As I entered the second leg of the day I started spotting some roadies heading in the opposite direction on some really nice bikes. Stopping off at the next garage, someone on the forecourt commented ‘impromptu feed stop, hey?’ which is when I realised it was an organised sportive event. I got chatting to a competitor that had stopped off for a cup of tea (funny how the mind works, hey?), and he’d opted for the medium route which was ‘only’ seventy five miles. We bid each other well an set off in opposite directions.
I passed Bude in good spirits, the last fifteen miles or so having gone really well, and entered the final leg of the journey…and what a leg it was.
From out of nowhere fog descended on top of me, literally descended with visibility down to about two hundred yards at best. To not have a clue what was coming up ahead was a little bit of a concern to be honest, with climbs harder as the summits weren’t visible and descents having to be made more warily. Then, to top it all off, the rain came…
…proper rain, Atlantic rain. Oh well, it had to come some time I guess! After about an hour or so (ten miles) it eased off, but it was ‘fun’ whilst it lasted. As it stopped I reached a layby with a picnic area. My saddlebag had started to swing a bit and whilst it wasn’t holding me up at all I decided to stop off and have a look to see if I could stop it.
Well, for the second time of the day I felt that someone must have been looking down on me…as I took the bag off the rack, the attachment snapped. Sheared straight off. So much for British-made quality!
Now, whilst this was probably quite funny to an outsider…I still had twenty miles to cover, and a bag that no longer attached to the bike. Oh dear.
Remember I said it was a picnic area? Well, I sat myself on the bench and had a think…bodge job it was! Cable ties and duct tape used and, whilst not perfect (ha!), it looked like my handiwork would hold. Hurrah!
I carried on, the bag holding, thoughts running through my head wondering just how I was going to sort this issue out – there’s still nine hundred miles or so to cover!
With about ten miles to go and just as I start to ascend a climb that I’d much rather wasn’t there I hear a squealing from the back tire…my bodge had started to fail and the bag was sitting on the mudguard. I moved over to the verge and started to think about what to do…
…in the end I opted to spend the last spell of the day with the bag balanced on my handlebars. Not the best way to travel, certainly not the safest and I gingerly rolled onto Westward Ho! at around half past six.
I have absolutely no idea how I hit my planned arrival time!
After booking into the hostel, I got changed out of my wet clothes and went for a wander to clear my head. A small portion of chips overlooking the sea (just to test them, of course!) and a chance to think about what to do with my stuff.
I know in a couple of days I go through Bristol, which will definitely have a shop that can help – but ’til then I need to get my kit around. A rucksack’s not ideal for cycling with, but I packed light with just under four kilos of bits (more reason to be p*ssed off with the broken rack…maximum weight of ten kilos my arse!) so it would probably get me through a couple of days. Now, where to get one…
Whilst the iPhone’s capable of browsing the web, it can be pretty painful – so I called my brother and got him in front of a computer. Turns out that there’s an outlet village just three and a half miles out of Westward Ho!, and it’s got two mountaineering stores…result!
Picked up some sandwiches that were on offer and an apple pie with custard for tea (I know how to live!) and headed back to the hostel for the evening.
Ah, the hostel…lovely place, but it does appear to be a haven for oddballs! There’s four people booked in including myself; one lad who’s walking the Devon coastline, a sixty seven year old gentleman who ‘has to leave Leicester at least once a month or I go mad’ and a boy who must be in his late teens that’s been sent here for a week by his mother to ‘sort himself out’. What a world!
So the plan tomorrow is to head out to Atlantic Village for nine o’clock opening time (so pleased it’s not a Sunday), pick up a bag and then head back to the hostel to pick up my stuff and head on my way with hopefully a proper solution available in Bristol the next day. It’s going to be a long day time-wise tomorrow, but I’m glad it’s a shorter one in distance…
Stats for the day
Distance for the day: 82 miles
Time in saddle for the day: 6hrs 5mins
Average speed for the day: 13.4mph
Maximum speed for the day: 42.8mph
Total distance to date: 148 miles
Total time in saddle to date: 11hrs 23mins
Average speed for trip to date: 13mph
Route for the day…
Route profile for the day…