So it seemed like a good idea to have a trial run to test that the old legs still worked and the bike was fit – Launceston to Barnstaple is about 85km door to door. Ricky had invited me to talk to a meeting in Barnstaple and offered a bed for the night so it seemed a good idea to go over by bike. Unfortunately I had stuff to do in the morning which didn’t leave enough time to get there before dark, so I loaded the bike on the car and drove up to Sheepwash which is a bit less than half way. I’d cycled out there a couple of times from home anyway – once to meet himself for a boozy lunch in the Half Moon.
The rain had stopped by the time I got there and no significant wind. So heading North from Sheepwash after a few miles cycle route 3 takes a sharp right to cut across and meet the railway cycle path between Huish and Petrocstow. Looking straight ahead to the North – the direct route – I could see a climb ahead and a couple more ridges to cross before hitting the path at Yarde so I decided to follow the NCN 3 down and along the old railway bed.
Unfortunately the section from where the route joins the railway to Yarde is slightly up hill and lumpy with protruding stones rather than tarmac – not a problem for your mountain biker with suspension but not so good or comfortable on my narrow high pressure tyres. Making it worse a covering of leaves so you couldn’t see the bigger stones to avoid them.
After Yarde, where the nice cafe I’d stopped in on a previous ride was closed for winter it does finally turn slightly downhill and although still rough I could keep up a steady 25km/hr comfortably. A few k further on for the section down to Torridge the surface improved and up to 30km/hr. I was carrying a heavy load since I had packed my laptop for the evening and loads more stuff than I needed so as to get the feel for what the main ride would be like.
Past the Puffin’Billy at Torrigton, resisting the temptation to stop for either a good cheap mug of builders tea at the cycle hire, or a china service tea in the Billy continued to make good time through Bideford and round the estuary. A few other users on the path – bikes and dog-walkers and plenty of squirrels.
Hit Barnstaple in little over 2 hours and at Ricky’s after 2 hrs 15min including 5 minutes for a pee stop in the woods and an orange. 47.5km at 20.5km/hr average according to the GPS and feeling fine – Paris should be a doddle 🙂
Need to look at the slight click or play in the drive chain though – chainwheel, crank or bottom bracket needs a bit of attention.