Well I left aroung 9ish and instantly hit hills. I went past Boscastle which was just a picture of rural prettiness showing no signs of the recent flooding, but you can see why it is a high flood risk. I found myself going along some pretty rugged single trackpaths and had a discussion with a farmer who cautioned me in a heavy Cornish accent advising that “You don’t want to be going down thart road as it’s nart really a road”. Shortly after I was to hit the only bit of road I would have to walk up. Despite what was to come I reckon it was the steepest road of the entire trip but what made it really hard was that it was 6′ wide with slippery moss down the middle and gravel down the sides. I remembered the words of Alex in the bike shop – “zig zag” he had said, well I got as far as zig and the wheels came off, well the front wheel went straight into the side of the road. I don’t know how you can capture the severity of hills, the all look so much easier on celuloid!
Not long after this I went down and back up a 30% hill. I was screaming at the end of the 350 yards and delighted with myself in a totally puerile way that I had managed to conquer wat must be one of the steepest climbs in the UK. Then onwards – I was struggling to work out where I was. There was an old guy sitting on a bench, his face creased with character, watching the world pass him by. So I asked him if he knew the way to Bude and he politely pointed me to the massive sign painted on the wall just over the road – hey ho.
Then it was onwards until I got my one and only pucture in my puncture proof tyres. “I think you’ll find we said puncture resistant sir”. Anyway Specialized of Ruislip gave me a free replacement when I got back. I used the stupid lightweight pump they sold me to blow up the tyre. It takes so bloody long and you cant’t get it anywhere near the 120psi you are meant to have – nearer to 60psi.
So when I hit a 25% straight bit of downhill I was a bit apprehensive about overdoing it – but nevertheless got up to 51.5 mph, and once again sated my peurility (if there is such a word – if there isn’t there should be).
Anyway, as it said in the title, it was a long and hard day – my hardest ever, not getting in to our next place of call in Brompton Ralph in Somerset until 8pm, which I was shortly to find was not that late!
Well Brompton Ralph. We stayed at Cridlands Barn with a Mr and Mrs Armstrong. What a fantastic place – a beautifully and sympathetically converted barn with exquisite views. Their enthusiasm about the coversion was quite rightly overwhelming and if you are ever that way you must stay there. It’s a little piece of England with a lot of eccentricity. Mrs Armstrong is a very strong character who used to be a vicar, not unlike Dawn French though nt nearly as rotund. Alex Armstrong is a retired engineer and seems to have applied his knowlege to all sorts of “green” gadgets and eco friendly projects aroung the house.
When we first started organising our trip Mrs A was so warm and friendly she immediately said that the children could stay foe free as I was doing the ride for charity, so when we changed our plan and hired the camper van she was the only B&B that I insisted we visited. She was lovely, mad as a hatter but adorable and is everybodys mum.
DAY 3, or should I say PAGE 3
Breakfast with the Armstrongs was a real treat. Bacon like I’d never had before, home made sausages, all from the local butcher. I started to think about the comedy series The League of Gentlemen, especially when she started telling us that you had to put a special order in and that when one of the farmers or “locals” was having an animal slaughtered all the village would know and you would have to get your order in sharpish or miss out. I just hoped she hadn’t treated us to an of the butcher’s “special” meat – for those of you who watched the series – “we only like local people”.
They all lookk so mu30 25 51.5 Bude bad news puncture 8.00 home.