Up at 6am, porridge with rhubarb and out the door at 7am. Against expectations, we were full of energy and the first 20 miles, which on the profile chart seemed to go up and down like a toast-rack, were good fun and passed relatively easily. Overcast skies and gentle drizzle helped.
We joined the Granite Way at Sourton. Disappointed to discover that it’s not a 10-mile stretch of polished granite work-surface, but I guess also relieved. I didn’t have the tyres for that.
We met four fellow riders in Crediton and were greeted with a little gentle abuse for arriving behind schedule. Harsh, but I would have done the same in their shoes. Ally, Nick, Colin and Jools all had shiny racing bikes and preceded to zip off up the hill out of town, leaving Tom and I behind. Luckily they left in the wrong direction and it took them 10 minutes to catch us up. However, this set the theme for the day, much of which I spent watching the other five disappear up various Devon hills. As I chugged along I had plenty of time to consider why this might be. Are they fitter? Better bikes? More aggressive attitude to hills (certainly true for Tom who is much quicker and more attacking uphill than me)? Their projected distance must account for some of the difference but not much, I fear. I suppose that my old hybrid really isn’t built for boosting up hills, but again, I think that’s only part of the story. Perhaps I should work on my approach to climbing, but I’m pretty sure that to do that at this stage in a 1000mile trip would be foolhardy.
It was good to take in the stretch from Langford to Broadhembury, which is pretty much home territory for me, although it was with regret that I turned away from Honiton where, at this time on a normal Sunday I’d be locking up my bike and meeting Jo for lunch. Instead, today, Jo and Karen, Tom’s wife, were meeting us with a picnic. We waited for about 45 minutes before realising that the shop we were sat across the road from was actually an open tea shop.
When the car, families and picnic arrived it was very welcome but continued the emerging trend of taking a too-big lunch just before the biggest climb of the day. The climb to the top of the Blackdowns was just short enough to keep lunch in its proper place.
From there we skipped over the top, shedding fellow riders as they turned back to Exeter at regular intervals. Down into Somerset and pushing up to Tom’s parents at Stocklinch. Half an hour later I was fast asleep on the landing floor.
176 miles down.