Sunday, 6 October 2013

GAB 2013 Day 3: Monday September 23rd - Plymouth, into Cornwall and to Veryan

A little bit of a lazy start giving the Plymouth rush hour traffic time to subside. A breakfast of porridge and coffee - water boiled using meths in the Backcountry Boiler, porridge made by putting the pre-bagged (ziplock bags packed at home) porridge and sugar into a lock-n-lock box, add boiling water, sealing the box and leaving in a radiator foil packet to 'cook'. Coffee made from ground and an Aeropress filter. This is the first trip I've take the filter on - it is a little bulky for my minimalist camping bit it was taken as a treat and it has worked perfectly - my only worry being my being paranoid about keeping the filter papers dry. There is a reusable stainless steel filter available - perhaps a good camping option? Making the porridge first then the coffee - by the time the coffee is done the porridge is ready to go. This isn't the worlds most exciting breakfast but it is enough to get me going for the first hour or two before buying '2nd breakfast' from the first cafe I spot.

Loaded up and rolling the convenience of the Pilgrims' Rest campsite became clear... The first sign I found told me it was only 5 miles into Plymouth City Centre! Joining the slow motor traffic over an unavoidable river crossing the amount of red bus lane paint distracted me and I shot past the ferry turning and the easiest way back was a magical mystery tour through back streets.

Picking up the route again the large roads were suspiciously quiet... 0915... Perhaps those going to work have gone, those going elsewhere haven't moved yet? Cresting a hill a black hatchback pulled past leaving maybe 5 metres clearance, was maybe another 10 metres ahead when, with a loud bang, his wing mirror furthest from me detonated and left the parts in the roadway. No obvious pothole or anything. Just the strangeness of Plymouth.

The ride down to the Torpoint ferry was reasonably straight forward and uneventful. There was a short wait for the ferry to arrive and it was HUGE. I thought I'd taken a photo but there's nothing on the camera, oh well. It was like a normal flatbed 6-car ferries I've used on the smaller rivers but with 8 lanes. The double decker bus just disappeared into the crowd of cars and trucks! As the only cyclist I was last on and even had my own lane.

On landing in Cornwall (only a short crossing over the river Tamar) felt like arriving in another country. Picking up the main road out of town it was reasonably flat. A change from the previous few days! The change in country was obvious from the curious placenames now appearing on the signpost:

However welcome the flat riding was, it was shortlived. Taking the A-road turn towards Looe I was soon climbing again. One long drag. A narrow road - not as wide as many B-roads used elsewhere on the trip. With crazy drivers. The Tredinnick Farm Shop was a very welcome stopping off point. From the couple of small signs advertising a tea shop I wasn't expecting much in this rural location but the cafe was excellent and a well worthwhile stopping off point for refreshments before diving down into Looe. This shop wins the prize for the largest Cornish Pasty of the entire trip - a very healthy 30cm end-to-end! And still change from £5 after the pasty, tea and a couple of glasses of squash.

Back on the road the descent began down into Looe. The first real test of Kate's twin 90mm drum brakes... Rolling into the harbour the best spot was to grab a parking space opposite a cafe. As I got out a shop owner wearing a smart tweed jacket came dashing across the road, asked to put his arm over my shoulder as his colleague took our photo - erm, ok... I'm not used to this kind of welcome!!!

I got a coffee and sat to watch the world pass for a while. The lady sharing the table offered to take my photo so here is the only one of the trip that I'm in! She was waiting for her husband to return from Exeter getting their hire car wing mirror replaced - lost to the same crazy drivers on the road into Looe that had been worrying me!

The coffee did its job and the haul out of Looe didn't seem as vicious as the descent. The ride out of Looe was nothing special, but turning onto the Bodinnick road was a complete change - wonderful rolling country, the weather picked up, no traffic - if you're out this way then this road really must be included!

Sat on the Brodinnick-Fowey ferry waiting for departure.

Fowey and on to the outer reaches of St Austell had me rejoining the world of traffic - with motorists whizzing around randomly, making crazy manoeuvers to overtake just to get to the red traffic light first. The drag out of town was unforgiving and in a motorway stylee. Not pleasant but at least with plenty of passing room. Finally some open road and faster pace. Time was getting on and my legs feeling the earlier hills. A left turn away from the traffic and dropping towards to coast and the Camping&Caravan Club site at Veryan was just too tempting.

As usual - the only tent camper on site...

Great washrooms, a warm welcome from the owners and plenty of choice for a dry pitch. The only problem was that it looked to be too far to be bothered to walk to the pub for dinner so it was a self-catering night - coffee and cake. I was more interested in rest anyway! A couple of ladies were having similar problems looking for the path to the beach - a mile and a half each way seemed to be more than they fancied.

Specs: 60 miles, 1403m/4600ft of climb, 9.7mph average speed.

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