Le DeTour logo

Le DeTour logo

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Cornwall at last!

Day 15 Friday 19th Sept

This morning we awoke to strong winds, fortunately easterly, and a grey overcast sky. After an delicious breakfast, we were away by 8:45 am. The first 3 miles were all down hill on an excellent road with a tail wind, so we thoroughly enjoyed that. Then we were into the up and down rhythm that would see us through the rest of the day. We very quickly passed our last county border; Cornwall greeted us just outside Launceston. In contrast to 10 years ago, we found a quiet relatively flat route into the town, with splendid views of the castle, bringing us out at the northern edge right next to a Spar, where we bought food for the day. We had some mini pasties as a minor celebration of both being in Cornwall and of passing 1000 miles (see yesterday's post). 

First sight of Bodmin Moor

Then we were off with a climb out of the town and on to Egloskerry. The road stayed relatively high, so not too much rise and fall for a bit. We joined the A395 for a short and unpleasant stretch, turning off at Hallworthy where we almost literally bumped into the JOGLE riders we had met in Ludlow (see day 12).  Had a brief chat and worked out that they will be likely to finish at a similar time to us, so we'll be on the lookout for them at LE.

On the edge of Bodmin Moor

The loop of road that we then took, put us right on the shoulder of Bodmin moor. We had a great view of some of the peaks, but also over an expanse of relatively flat moorland. There were sheep and loose horses, as well as horses being ridden. Part of the road went through an old set of giant runways, both of concrete tile construction. Again, with a tail wind, we sped easily over this section. 
After the wilderness, back in to the melee of the A39 for another short and unpleasant stretch to Camelford where we took a quieter road. This was a route that took the high ground, with views over the Camel valley, a strange road that didn't really go through anywhere. At this stage we were looking for a suitable place for lunch. After some time we decided that there must be a tax on benches, 'cos we hadn't seen one for about 20 miles!

We eventually stopped for lunch in Ruthernbridge, at the bridge in the centre of the village over a small gurgling stream. No bench here either, so we sat on the wall of the bridge, usefully graded in height, for long legs at one end to short legs at the other - just right for our group!

After a while, John C was demonstrating to me a problem he was having with his gear change, when the cause of the problem became apparent when the gear cable snapped. The broken end was frayed, suggesting that it had been on the way out for a while. Unfortunately the broken head had wedged itself in the gear mechanism, so we spent about 15 minutes getting it out. There was a small cheer when we finally removed the offending item. Fortunately John C had a spare cable, although I think it was made for an extremely long tandem, since it stretched most of the way across the road! We fitted it and were ready to head off, delayed by only half an hour. Not quite Tour de France mechanic speed, but not bad in the circumstances.

Roadside repairs on John C's bike

The offending snapped cable head

JR can't bear to watch as apprentice John C finds out how 
long his brake cable is!

We'd stopped for lunch in the middle of one of the most up and down parts of the whole journey, on exactly the same route that we had taken 10 years ago. When we came down the particularly steep descent near Nanastallon, John H was full of reminiscences about the joy and satisfaction he had had when doing it as a climb previously (I might be telling tales there though...).

We went through St Wenn and then on to St Columb Major, where we raided the shop for more food and water (the first time we'd had to buy extra water during the day on the whole trip, showing how hot it was and how much hard work it was today).

Carrying on, the day now became a bit of a slog as we moved into early evening. A look at the maps suggested some route changes; we just had a couple of extra miles on the A3075 to do and then we could cut through to our destination, saving a few miles and a fair bit of climbing. Whilst coming up a particularly steep climb on this road, John C had a bad gear change and couldn't get his left foot out of his cleat quickly enough, so toppled over. Finally we found a use for the high banks of the roads in this area! John C ended up propped up at an angle at the edge of the road. After a brief struggle, he was up and on with the climb with only his dignity slightly bruised.

Eventually we made it to our destination, again rolling up with lights on at about 7pm. We're staying at Illogan YHA, which is a bunkhouse hostel. The lady who runs it was very pleasant, chatty and helpful. We ended up having an excellent meal at the local pub before returning here to write the blog.


On the road - what do we talk about
We obviously spend a lot of time together on the road, and whilst there is a lot to be done during the day (traffic, food, navigation, food, the condition of the road ahead, food etc), we do also spend some of the quieter moments in general conversation. It might be about something we've just seen - there are some fantastic place names and all sorts of conjecture is possible with places such as 'Unthank' (near Carlisle - suggestions welcome) or Portgate (some scandal with Port happened there perhaps?). We found ourselves involved in the Scottish referendum quite a bit in the early part of the ride, especially with all of the YES notices around the highlands. Sometimes we have some serious discussions about, for example;  the state of the world, the country, whether wind generators are a good or bad thing, the finer points of Jeremy Clarkson's popularity. Although we don't agree on all things, it's always in good humour, and there is generally a lot of laughter and leg-pulling going on.

Favourite moments from yesterday for all of us was the Meldon viaduct without a doubt.

Quote of the day
On hearing that the official traditional riding distance for a JOGLE is 874 miles, in the context of our 1000+ miles, John C said "you must have gone wrong a lot JR", referring to my navigational skills. (I knew we should have turned left and not right out of John O'Groats.)

Stats for the day
Distance 78
Average speed 11.5 (max 38)
Total climb 1735 m
Energy 4387 cals

JC 6
JH 5
JR 4
We cleaned out the shop in St Columb Major!


  1. By the time you get this guys you will have finished. Well Done to all of you. Another great achievement. Take some time to look back over your pictures, you've certainly seen some amazing countryside since you set off. Enjoy the moment and remember you will still be recalling the amazing bits in your dotage!

  2. i'm just stunned at the rising banana count....