Thursday, 13 August 2009

Cycle around England...

.....well the south coast..

I've managed a couple of trips over the last week from Paignton, both contrasting in the amount of sheer effort and will power used to get from point A to point B (via A1 - the ice cream parlour in Dawlish!).

The first was a 50 mile round trip out of Paignton and along the coast through Torquay, Teignmouth, Dawlish, Starcross and back via Newton Abbott. Blazing sunshine and hideous traffic was the main theme for the day closely followed by endless bloody hills! The south coast along Lyme Bay is lumpy to say the least and the roads helpfully take the most direct route rather than the easiest... this meant the delight at finding a fast downhill was immediately followed by a sinking feeling as the road promptly started to wind its way back uphill again. Usually I love fast twisty downhils runs, the hiss of the wheels on the tarmac and the whistling of the wind past my ears is music only ever bettered by the singing of the birds (or whatever is on the iPod at the time - I can recommend the new Oceanlab album). However by mile ten I had quickly figured out that the fast spin downhill would be quickly followed by a long haul back uphill, so any 'downtime' was viewed with suspicion and the expectation of pain to come.

A puncture just outside of Dawlish forced me to stop and replace the inner tube. Grappling with cheap and nasty tire leavers (the type with extra flex making it impossible to get them firmly under the beads of the tire without popping back out!) it took me the best part of half an hour to get the tyre off and the tube changed. All the time being heckled by 5 year old passers by.. 'look mummy that man has broken his bike' 'look mummy that mans bike is upside down' 'look mummy that man is wearing infeasibly tight lycra...' . I may have made one of those up!

I finished the route at Starcross where I stopped to take in the views across the Exe Estuary and Exmouth. The return route took me back through Teignmouth and then up the Teign river to Newton Abbott - a ferocious final hill almost finished me off. Good wide roads and cycle paths to put Highland Council to shame, got me back to Paignton in time for tea.

Yesterday's trip had the same midpoint as the route I took on the road bike. This was a slightly more leisurely 20 mile trip down the canal path from Exeter to Dawlish and bike. I hired a couple of bikes for my wife and I from the bike shop on the quayside. We just took our time following the canal down to the point where it spills out on to the Estuary. Sometimes it's nice to get away from the traffic and pootle along on something with a comfy seat and suspension!

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