Sunday, 6 October 2013

GAB 2013 Day 4: Tuesday September 24th - Veryan to Land's End

The weather... Late September is heading towards Autumn. Cornwall is the at extreme South and West of the UK. The week before this trip had been wet and windy but fortunately for this week the forecast was clear, bright and warm. They forgot humid. Temperatures were around 18C but each morning started foggy. This morning the after breakfast the tent went away damp. The road atlas I was using for navigation was damp around the edges. No real problem as I had a Garmin Edge 800 with me with all of my campsites programmed in. The daily plan was to navigate from memory or using the road atlas as far as I felt like travelling and then use the GPS to find the nearest site and guide me in. Some of the Camping & Caravan sites are members-only so aren't always that easy to find. The reason for not using the GPS all the time was to conserve battery power as when camping I can't be sure when I can next get access to mains electricity to recharge.

Kate was covered in condensation. Riding in the day just added to that condensation - I'm not sure if that was the tent drying or me sweating, but everything not in dry bags was starting to get a little dank.

Last night I'd steadily dropped from the main road for a couple of miles down to the campsite. It wasn't a long or hard hill but looking at the map it was a couple of miles of climb back up to the road to then double back south. Or a small 1 mile road to pick it up further south nearer the coast. 4 miles or 1 mile. The answer seemed easy. Heading down into Veryan village confirmed that it had been too far to walk for dinner. Taking the right turn on the 25% climb was a little tough but the road then headed down to the mill. One quarter mile to the main road. Upwards. 25% is tough but climbable in Kate. Right hairpin turn into woodland. Wet road. Muddy wet road. Back wheel spinning. Pedals spinning. Going backwards. The 26in Durano is making no impact. So, for the first time ever riding a velomobile there is only one answer. I got out and tried to stand. With cleated shoes that was only working as long as I hung onto the side of the bike... So after a shoe change I pushed Kate 100m up though the woods and back out into clear air and drier, cleaner tarmac.

That '3 miles' that I saved would have been easier than that quarter mile. Oh well.

I have developed a theory that councils in Cornwall only buy 3 road signs. There is the '3 miles to ...' which clearly means it is a long way yet, there is the '1 mile to...' which is a tease and means you are nearly there and it might be just around the next corner or there might be a 25% climb and it is still 20 minutes to go. The third class of sign is the '2 miles to...' which comes with a variety of fractions - initially just 2-and-a-half, but then they sneak in 2-and-three-quarters and 2-and-one-quarter. I was waiting for the next step and distances in eighths of a mile. These signs are doubly frustrating when there are signs opposite each other for the two side roads at a crossroads as the two rarely are in agreement and might be as much as a mile different (see the Newquay signs each side of the main road here). This is not helped by riding another 10 minutes to find the next distance sign reads more than the previous two...

Heading down towards St Mawes I picked up the King Harry Ferry signs and, due to the pretty tiny roads, it became apparent my 'short cut' had missed the main road to the ferry. Oh well, more adventure.

'King Harry Floating Bridge' approaching the Western Coast

 There was a fair bit of climb and height gain before joining the main road to Falmouth. I didn't take a photo but here is a link on StreetView of the exit from the ferry. The gradient wasn't an issue, but that corner was rather tight for the limited steering lock that Kate has...

The main road was heaving. Initially rolling which at least meant fast miles. It was a drag up to the Helston turning but at least there was a tea van here for a refuel. The Helston road, whist still an A-road was quieter, with plenty of passing space and the run into Helston and on to The Lizard was possible the fastest section of the whole week.

Kate parked at Lizard Point - the most southerly part of the British mainland.

Whilst the roads were good - the last stretch was troublesome with drivers who didn't want to use the car parks but rather insisted on going down the single track lane and then fight it out for the 10 or so available spaces. With pedestrians and cyclists here too this seemed rather a crazy arrangement.

Also rather crazy was The Polpeor Cafe at Lizard Point - with a big sign saying 'Table Service' I grabbed a window table so I could keep and eye on Kate and waited. After five minutes I wandered over to the counter but with staff wandering back and forth I couldn't grab anybody's attention. I returned to the table, waited another few minutes before giving up. In my experience service can be slow in some cafes but a complete fail in this way is unusual!
 Lizard Point Lighthouse and car park of the crazies...

I returned to Lizard village and the rather excellent Coast Coffee Bar & Bistro - service was prompt, friendly and fast. And the coffee refreshed tired legs.

With The Lizard being a peninsula the way out was to retrace the route up to Helston past Goonhilly satellite ground station. There didn't seem to be much of it to be seen from the Helston road and I didn't have the time for a diversion for a better view.

Into Helston and on to Penzance. Fast roads making up for the earlier drags. Until reaching the A30 where the volume of traffic just brought things to a halt. Again if I'd had more time I'd have taken the B-road to the south and out to Land's End but wanting to press on I continued on the A30 around Penzance and westward. The thing I couldn't work out is where everybody was going - there is nothing of any consequence beyond Penzance - just small villages and holiday homes - but the traffic here was busier than anywhere else on the trip.

Things were finally getting quieter as I reached Sennen Cove for the now almost expected Camping&Caravan Club official warm welcome. Again as the only tent camper I had the 'lightweight' field to myself overlooking Land's End airport until the mist enveloped it. Not quite at the 'official' Land's End - I was too lazy to ride down this evening, but hey, pretty much there!

Specs: 70 miles, 1354m/4420ft of climb, 10.8mph average speed.

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