Back on my bike again, the Lifeboat Patrol rides from Ilfracombe to Plymouth, with a stop off at Okehampton in the middle. Nineteen riders started, and nineteen riders finished (although one did have a little rest along the way), and we were joined by two support drivers to sweep up any stragglers, and to provide assistance in the event of any problems.
We had five punctures, three on the same bike, none from the Schwalbe equipped bikes (I ride on Schwalbe Marathon and Schwalbe One tyres, so that’s a spot of fanboyism from me – sorry), and four RUDs (Rapid Unscheduled Dismounts, one from me). I came off after hitting a branch and overcorrecting to avoid going down the embankment (which was painful, undignified and embarrassing). Jason salved my embarrassment by coming off because he couldn’t get his feet out of his cleats quickly enough. Gareth won the style award by coming off when popping a wheelie on a road bike and being unable to get his feet out of the cleats in time, and Hedges slipped on a slick corner (managing to pick up the biggest injury, I think).
The next day, out from Okehampton, started with a kerfuffle about the length of time it took to make scrambled eggs (tool!) and then a nice climb out of Okehampton up to the station and then onto the old railway line. It’s a beautiful ride from there to Plymouth, on old railway lines, nice roads, and (on one or two occasions) tracks which are almost entirely unsuited to road bikes (I’ll be cleaning mine later this week). The railway sections are mostly tarmac’ed and would make for a better ride if the occasional annoying gate and chicane were removed. I guess that they’re there to stop the route from becoming too much of a cycling motorway – but sometimes a little speed is nice.
The route into Plymouth took us past fuel bunds, industry and fish processing plants. In no way was it scenic or promising for a good night out on the town but, much like the awful nightclub the night before in Okehampton, it lowered the bar of our expectations nicely – and Plymouth rewarded us by dispelling our fears and delivering a cracking night out with an excess of booze. Cracking. Pump up the Jam!
Arriving back in the ‘wood, I was greeted delightfully by youngest moppet, his elder brother saving the hug until I was in the pub with a pint. And Sarah gave me not only a cuddle but also a delicious meal (rewards for big bike rides?)
Heaven is made of weekends like these.