Whoever said England wasn't warm or hilly...

Trip Start Jul 08, 2008
Trip End Jul 25, 2008

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I woke up at 6.45 and immediately roused the boys.  We managed to be all packed up and on our way by 8.20 or so which was our earliest start for a while.  They were wise to us end to end types in the campsite as even though the woman who owned it wasn't there some bloke who was camping there came over in the morning to get some cash off us. 
Since the beginning everyone had been telling us that Devon and Cornwall were going to be hilly but we thought we knew better having seen all sorts of hills in Scotland...how wrong we were...Cornwall is the hilliest place I have ever cycled by far.  There just never seems to be a stretch of flat at all, you just go up hills and then back down them and it just keeps going like that all day.  This day was definitely the worst (or maybe better termed, the hardest day) day we have had since the beginning.  Carl wants it officially stated at this point that he 'hates hills'.  The plan (formulated by Carl) was to avoid Dartmore but even though we tried to skirt around it on the map we still ended up on the plateau which meant for some beautiful views in all directions.
Not only was it hilly but it was hot as well; hotter than 30oC all afternoon anyway.  Our bodies are a right picture with all sorts of funny tan lines from helmets, gloves and cycling shorts.
Anyway, back to the day.  I set off powering up the 1st hill in the morning determined to try and get to Tavistock without a break and before the lads got there so I could chill for a bit at my mate Dave's house.  So off I powered and was going top dollar till I hit Oakhampton where Devon's useless signposting through me off track to start with (there is a real problem in Devon pointing you in the right direction and obviously this is made much worse by the fact that everything is hilly so even the smallest mistake causes pain).  Just as I was powering up the 'any routes' direction that turned out to be wrong the chain jammed between the two smallest cogs as I was changing down into a suitable granny gear.  Half an hour it took me to free the chain, covered from head to toe in oil I was not a happy bunny.  In fact this was the lowest point of the whole trip for me and I went into a right mood with myself.  20 miles of stupidly fast cycling later (I think this 'powering' resulted in me being so tired the following day) I reached Tavistock and tried to get hold of Dave but couldn't get him on his phone so ended up sitting on the grass basking in the glorious sunshine waiting for the boys to arrive.  It was time to eat some serious Cornish pasties given that we were only 5 miles from Cornwall so we did that and Dave came and met up. 
Dave's house was right on the route over the River Tamar so we climbed up the hill out of Tavistock (this was where things started to get seriously hilly, every town sits in the base of a valley so that as you descend into the town you can see from miles off the hill you have to climb to get back out again) and dropped into Gunnislake where he lives.  After looking round his 'Grand Designs' project of buying a derelict house and barn we had some cream tea and set off again.  It was then that we encountered what has to be the worst hill of the entire trip.  It just went on and on and on.  I only just managed to get to the top without pushing the bike.  There was a fat workman at the top of the hill who said 'hello' to me, 'keep going' to Phil and 'I dread to see what the next one is like' to Carl.  Over the top there were some great views of Plymouth and the Falmouth.
The plan was to push hard to get to St Austell before the close of play to give us an easier cycle the day after and push we had to do.  The day was simply relentless hill after hill for 75 miles.  We reached St Austell, being surprised by a final large hill into the town, around 8.30pm.  By the time we had ourselves camped up (in this massive campsite with a swimming pool the lot) and showered it was 9.30 and we only just managed to make the 20 minute walk to the nearest pub to grab a great tea of stewed lamb and dumplings before literally collapsing asleep (Phil got to the tent 5 mins after me and I was already out cold) as we had resolved to get up early for the final push.
Miles     74.74
Average           11.5
Hours on bike   6.29
Max speed       41.6
Total distance   977.6
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