Thursday, 14 July 2011

England - Bristol Bound

10th May, 89km, Lanner – Widemouth Bay

I wake up groggy with feeling that I could have slept another twelve hours. I breakfast with Matt Sara and Amelia. Once Matt leaves for work I begin to pack my things. With a “toodle pip” to Sara and Amelia I throw my bags on the bike and get going. The monotony of the road soon has me exploring my thoughts once more - obvious reluctance and sadness to leave good friends and a place I love. I sense the steadily developing battle between apprehension and excitement about being home in less than a week. I make a note to savour every moment. Every drop rain, every toot or wave – it all feels more precious than ever.

Out of Redruth I join the A30 (the main spinal road through the county). It ain't pretty, but it is quick. Once through Truro I split left for a more coastal route. Up and down over and over again, the short hills are relentless, but satisfying.

By mid evening I make it to WideMouth Bay. I explore the coastal footpath and sure enough – a camping spot appears. I spend a very pleasant hour staring out at the Atlantic while waiting for darkness to fall.

11th May, 87km, Widemouth Bay – Simonsbath

I wake to the sound of the ocean – taking note that it could be the last time I do so on this trip. Outside the tent the sun is shining. There is no better start to a day. The few clouds there are race across the sky heading NorthEast – signifying a notable tailwind. I pack up the gear and then kill some time talking to my friend Mongy on the phone – old habits dies hard! It's eleven o'clock before I get going.
For those who can't afford Cornish Cream Tea: Bin muffins, bid rice pudding and jam.

I amble along tiny country lanes until I join up with the Atlantic Highway (known to most of us as the A39). I pass the historic fishing village of Clovelly – the resting place of my relatives the Shacksons. I spy a multitude of pretty thatched pubs with their tempting array of amber nectar. But as I've decided to finish the trip in true skinflint style I don't indulge.

I push on out of Bideford (a very cyclist friendly town) towards Exmoor Natinal Park. I battle with the usual ups and downs until the light threatens to leave for the day. It's my first visit to Exmoor and I'm a little disappointed. I'm sure the best of it is only revealed once you get off the beaten track. The hilly open moorland is perfect for camping.

12th May, 85km, Simonsbath – West Huntspil

The familiar patter of raindrops rouses me from sleep. It's early, I can afford to sleep a while longer. When I wake again the soundtrack hasn't changed. I pack away all that I can from inside the tent, by the time I vacate my nylon enclosure the rain has subsided. I finish the packing in double quick time. It's just as well I do as the landowner arrives just as I pull my water bottle form the packed bike.

The top of the moors is not a flat as I'd hoped. The hill are short but sufficiently steep to have me standing on the pedals and gritting my teeth. My progress North is slower than I'd hoped. The land drops away towards Taunton. My broken trailer twitches spontaneously and throws me off balance -  making the faster downhills more scary than “scary fun”.

Once through Taunton I seek out the country lanes and begin the search for tonight’s accommodation. I consider asking at farms, having not tried this approach yet in Blighty. Before the opportunity arrises I cross a river. From the bridge I spy the perfect spot. With several hours of light left I opt to cook for dinner. As my spaghetti bubbles away some locals arrive to test their speedboat. I chat with Oz. He's an ex professional wake boarder who now makes his bread instructing. I spend a very pleasant half an hour sitting on the bridge watching the boat (capable of one hundred miles per hour) kick up huge “rooster tails” and screaming off down the river towards the sinking sun. They tell me this is final test before the race this coming weekend. A race in which they will be representing the UK. Good look fellas.