As I write, the last of the sunset has just dipped beyond the horizon from a campsite just outside of Plymouth. I've just put away a dinner of soup, bread and local cheese to replenish some of those calories burned up today. And there have been quite a few.
Yesterday was Sunday and I'd decided to take it easy on myself with a 30 odd mile ride from Seaton down to Dawlish, stopping off for a coffee in Sidmouth. I like Sidmouth, its one of those towns which kind of encapsulates the essence of a Devon seaside town.
I could quite happily have wasted the rest of the day, just lounging out in a pub beer garden, sampling some local brews. Especially given the size of the hill waiting for me on the next leg;
Yep, that red-ish brown lump of rock was between me and Exmouth. It was a hell of a climb and I wasn't the only cyclist dragging their bike up the latter stages of it.
The view from the top back over Sidmouth was great, and a massive payback was the freewheel down the other side.
Once I had negotiated the next hill (almost as big) I was set fair for Exmouth until that same pesky tyre developed another puncture. Fortunately I was within a few hundred yards of the Exmouth Halfords, so rather than mend it again, I elected to dive in there and pick up half a dozen extra inner tubes. So much easier just to swap them when you get a puncture.
A short pedal from there and I arrived in Dawlish, my chosen stop for the night. A quick check into the wonderfully posh (not) Blenheim self catering studios and I headed out to explore the town.
To say that Dawlish is a little odd is an understatement, but its pleasant enough, if not interesting for it's oddness.
The window display in Gay's had me wishing that I hadn't given up sugar in the main. There were vast quantities of goodies in there that the old me would have gorged on.
It didn't take me long to find a comfortable pub and settle in at the bar for a chat with some of the locals. Within half an hour I'd been invited to make up the numbers on the pub pool team who were a man down.
Fancy new rules (I.e. post 1980) had me somewhat bamboozled and I lost to a young lad who knew exactly which end of a pool cue was which. Still, I had a go and it was a good laugh.
The landlord insisted on buying me several beers after that. Who was I to refuse such generous hospitality?
The following morning I awoke feeling somewhat groggy, and a little later starting than I had anticipated to ride the 40 or so miles to my chosen campsite at Plymouth.
This was a hell of a ride. It took every ounce of determination to get up some of those hills. Another puncture interrupted things, but I still had some spare tubes, so nothing too drastic.
Whilst the ride was physically grueling it was wonderful for every other reason. The countryside I passed through was simply stunning.
One of the larger "main" roads I cycled.
View over the Teign valley. Fog on the Teign?
One of many stunning views from the top of some pretty high hills.
I think on the ride I climbed somewhere in the region of 3,500ft and was pretty glad I had spent some post puncture time adjusting the brakes. Some of the descents were fearsome. Earlier in the day, I had found myself descending a narrow winding "road" (grass in the middle of the two tracks) at around 30 miles an hour, squeezing hard on the back brake with no effect and thinking to myself "If that next corner hides a car around it, I'm gone". A somewhat invigorating experience.
So now I am tucked up in my tent, writing this, thinking about another tough ride tomorrow down towards St Austell. This next one is pretty much up and down all the way, but will see me cross into Cornwall and Cornwall doesn't do flat. St Austell however does brewing, so onwards.....