Today, I took a concrete block onto Dartmoor. One concrete block weighs 40lb, so I removed the puny Yellow Pages and replaced them with a real load! This would give me some training and also show any problems with Chopper. I'd like to think that 40lb would be about the same weight of all the stuff I'll be carrying with me to Land's End.
Off I went, into the cool morning, whizzing down to cross the river into Devon, and up and up out of the valley and through to Tavistock. I took the Princetown road, and I knew that very soon I was going to get to a Real Hill! The road onto Dartmoor is not for the inexperienced cyclist. Pork Hill is a monster.
It starts innocently enough, then Bang! a 1 in 5 just past Mount Tavy School. It levels out a bit, then starts to climb, and climb and climb. I pulled over into a layby at 760ft elevation. My calves were burning, and I was breathing heavily. I leant Chopper onto its propstand and took this photograph:
It was turning into a glorious day, and I was a little over-dressed. As it was chilly when I left home, I'd worn a long sleeved base layer and a long sleeved top. As I rested, I took off the base layer and rolled my sleeves and unzipped the front a bit. It was better, but with hindsight, I'd have been even better with a short sleeved top. I had the stowage space after all! In one pannier I had tools and spare inner tubes, and in the other I had a waterproof top. It would have been simple to have brought a change of top. Oh well, maybe next time.
Off again, and I climbed to the top of Pork Hill. Then it's down into Merrivale and up a wall of a hill back out again! Still up, but thankfully not too steeply, right to the summit of 1460ft at Rundlestone Cross.
All the way up, I'd been listening to the skylarks twittering and singing high in the blue sky. Every so often a knot of traffic would go by spoiling the tranquillity, but the skylarks could be heard above it all, even above my rasping breath!
At Rundlestone, I turned right and headed into the rather un-lovely town of Princetown. The place has had money pumped into it over the last few years, as it was becoming run down. In days gone by, the prison guards all lived in the town, but nowadays, the old married quarters have been sold off and the guards don't have to live on-site any more. Also, Dartmoor prison is no longer maximum security, so it needs less staff. The cash injection has allowed for more building - shops and homes, and perhaps Princetown can thrive again. Tourists are the main thing now, and as I arrived, two coach-loads did too! The people swarmed out and into the cafes and shops. I chatted to a couple who had spotted Chopper, and I regaled them of my intentions. They were suitably impressed.
Off again, and I headed for Peek Hill down to Yelverton. I say 'down' but I still had some miles to do though the bleakness that is Dartmoor. I was starting to tire, and longing for lunch! My ride would only be 30 miles, but it was a hard 30 miles. I knew I'd be home by 1.30. Lunch and a cuppa beckoned!
At the top of Peek Hill I rested again.
This is one of my favourite views. You can see right over to Bodmin Moor, you can see Tavistock, Walkhampton, Horrabridge, Yelverton and even as far as home in Gunnislake. Over the other side, you can see down to Plymouth and Plymouth Sound, right into the English Channel and along the coast both east and west. Photographs cannot do it justice. You have to be there on a day like today, and just gaze!
Down and down and down, through Dousland past the Burrator Inn and into Yelverton. Then onto the A386 down through Horrabridge and up to Grenofen, then down to Tavistock. Phew! I was definitely tiring now!
I rested again at Tavistock and then wound my way along the A390 and home. I paused a few minutes to chat to some people that were gazing at me from the carpark of the Harvest Home. They'd just had a meal and had seen me struggling up the hill. I was only too pleased to pull over and rest! They were fairly local, so I promised I'd hand in some info and leaflets about my ride. They took photographs and one with me posing too!
Lunch and a cuppa, then writing this whilst it all digests.
All in all, the ride has been a great success. The weight, though heavy work, was about right. The ride was just about the toughest I could have done. There is no leg of my JOGLE that would be as tough - longer, yes - but tougher, no. I have a smile on my face, even though I'm tired.
Regards to all,