After postponing my Devon Coast to Coast cycle for a couple weeks due to fitness (I had come down with a heavy cold that impacted training) and then again due to stormy weather conditions, I finally set off from Plymouth yesterday morning.
With the weather being grey but still, I started positively and quickly found my rhythm and it wasn’t long till I was stripping off my waterproof. Having not been able to prepare the first leg of the route, I was unsure what I would face in terms of terrain, direction and populace leaving a lot of factors in play. Thankfully the start of the route was well signposted and it wasn’t long till I found myself in the gradual uphill forest path leaving Plymouth.
Unfortunately, being a fairly pleasant Sunday morning meant that this route was a favourable destination for dog walkers and families. Obviously I have nothing against either, it just meant a lot of stoppages waiting for dogs and children to be called over. This in-turn interrupted my rhythm and wasted energy by having to repeatedly start on an incline. After a fair few miles of this forested route that seemed to drag on forever, I made it to Yelverton and from their it wasn’t long till Tavistock.
At this point in the Devon Coast to Coast, is where things started to get interesting. Coming from Tavistock, I had decided to follow the cycle path and take the more direct route (direct being the optimal word) to Okehampton through Peter Tavy and the outskirts of Dartmoor. Getting to Peter Tavy was mostly uphill on country roads but manageable as it was fairly sheltered, it was once out of Peter Tavy that things got more challenging. Firstly, the route takes you through an off-road section that was impossible to cycle on anything but a mountain bike so I had to get off and push for a good kilometre, and secondly, once back on the road I was facing the full force of strong headwinds in open terrain, meaning there was nothing I could do but solider on. This obviously had an impact both mentally and physically.
I thought my luck was turning when found a long downhill stretch and I allowed myself to enjoy the mile long freewheel to the bottom. It was only here that I confirmed my fears and realised that I had indeed gone the wrong way! Needless to say I was more than relieved when I finally reached the start of the granite way in Okehampton a bit later than expected.
Upon reaching Okehampton and the Granite Way I knew I was approaching the half way mark and the more familiar parts of the route that I had cycled previously on a training run. The 11 mile cycle path was a vast improvement on the hilly country roads that I had cycled previously near Dartmoor. On reaching Greater Torrington I could visualise the remainder of the route through Barnstaple and on to Ilfracombe along the Tarka Trail and was finding a second wind.
Although the route itself is quite picturesque through forested regions that follow disused railway lines, it is also disconcerting when you’re cycling alone in the eerily quiet with no phone signal and occasionally pass old disfigured wooden statues… I’m unashamed to say I was pedalling quite fast out of those woods!
However, upon reaching the Tarka Trail you are rewarded with a ~30 mile traffic free cycle route all the way to Ilfracombe. This section is mostly flat around Barnstaple but climbs steeply towards Ilfracombe. Having cycled this part of the route before, I navigated the path with ease and pushed myself towards the end and after cycling for close to nine hours, with only short stops to either fuel or relieve myself, I was over the moon to reach the coast and the end of the Devon Coast to Coast. Of course I rewarded my efforts with a good old 99 ice cream!
The Devon Coast to Coast cycle wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my parents who acted as my support team! So thank you to you both for chauffeuring me around, meeting up with me at various points to make sure I was okay and running the Facebook page while I was otherwise preoccupied!
I’d also like to thank everyone who donated either online or in person and I’m pleased to announce that together we raised £418.75 for Macmillan Cancer Support, which will no doubt greatly help families facing cancer.
Thanks for all your support,
Dora[N] The Explorer.