Jogle - Day 9. Who needs the Tourmalet when you have Exmoor
Cripes, we’re in Cornwall after an incredibly tough but ultimately, wonderfully fulfilling ride. The day had something of an “end of term” feel to it as we were all starting to wind down and see the finish line – somewhat prematurely as it happened.
With the hotel not serving breakfast until 8.00, we decided to get away and fuel up en route so made the earliest start of the trip so far, leaving at 7.45. The first couple of hours turned out to be a real struggle, not necessarily hard cycling but we were clearly under-energised. When some elite riders from a local club sped past us, we did manage to hang on to their rear wheels for a couple of miles but it couldn’t last and we soon found ourselves back on our own. There was no more welcome sight than that of our wonderful support team at the side of the road with bacon sandwiches, bananas, cake and coffee as we approached Tiverton and it was still only 10.30.
Our climbing stats for the day make particularly uncomfortable reading – 7,720 feet, far and away the hardest day and much of it coming on the road to Crediton. Passing through the pretty village of Bickleigh, we stopped by the side of the river to take in the chocolate box scenery before turning a corner and seeing what amounted to a wall in front of us. The climb was interminable, just as you thought you had reached the top the rode rose up again for mile after mile. Eventually, we reached the lunch stop having covered 68 miles.
The afternoon started inauspiciously as we were treated to an unscheduled tour of Okehampton and threw in some hill climbing practice just for fun as we tried to find our way out. In the event, it turned out to be a bit of a short cut but it did just throw us slightly at the time. We then had difficulty finding the quiet road to Launceston until “Gertie” Garmin the, not necessarily to be trusted, bike Satnav, insisted that we headed up what looked to be the slip road to the A30 and found the planned road at the top.
Tea and scones greeted us just before Launceston which was just as well or we might not have survived getting lost in what is a spectacularly hilly town and making 3 ascents rather than just 1. It was at this point that I really thought that we had broken David and there were discussions about calling out the support crew and cutting the day short – we limped to along Camelford feeling decidedly sorry for ourselves.
At this point I must apologise to Greavsie – yesterday I referred to him as Captain Slow but coming out of Camelford he started a surge to Waderidge which was quite awe inspiring. Coming into Camelford our average speed for the first 100 miles of the day was 13.5mph. By the time we reached Wadebridge it had gone up to 15.2mph as we worked brilliantly as a team and averaged well over 20mph over the last 10 miles. We rode into the town which was a maelstrom of England flags and shirts, with huge grins on our faces, feeling as though we could have taken on the world. (We would certainly have done a better job than Robert Green!!)
1 day to go……..
Miles covered 110
Av Speed 15.2mph
Feet climbed 7,720
Top speed Dunno but it was registered by Greavsie
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12 months ago, shortly after the destructive reality of Covid became evident, I wrote a piece for a trade magazine (recently uploaded to our blog here…)
in which I opened with the very real sense of helplessness and fear which I am sure I shared with the vast majority of the planet. At the time, it seemed almost like staring into a black hole, knowing that you had to take the next step but blind to whatever lay below. I remember thinking (and saying to anyone prepared to listen) that this was “our generation’s war,” we’d never experienced anything approaching global conflict and in 2020 we’d reached payback time, only to be faced with an adversary that responded neither to bombs nor white flags (nor bleach). Frightened for ourselves, for our friends and families and frightened for businesses and careers that we’d spent lifetimes developing, all we could do, it seemed, was to keep washing our hands and hope for the best.
Back in spring 2020, Chris was asked to write a piece for the Wine Merchant Mag, a specialist trade publication, about his thoughts during, what was then, an unprecedented national lockdown. Published in May, we present the text to you here-
In northern Spain, some 95km south of Bilbao and bisected almost laterally by the River Ebro lies Spain’s most popular and famous wine region, a region of some 66,000 hectares of vineyards worked by 14,800 growers and dominated by some of the most celebrated names in the wine world.