(pics and lessons learned at end)
Pete back from London and disappointed to learn we are taking an early train with the bikes to Plymouth. I love the way the train extends what we are able to do with our bicycles – our return journeys to Plymouth at peak times £6 each. There is no charge to reserve a place for your bicycle but mostly I find there is no need to pre book to put the bicycles on unless it is an obvious holiday week end or a summer Friday evening. The mainline First Great Western trains take six bicycles; Cross Country take three; and the local trains take two but will often allow one or two more. If you are worried you can, of course, pre book – and can do so on line if you book your tickets through the First Great Western site.
Once in Plymouth we cycle down the hill to the cycle café, shop and workshop, Rockets and Rascals, on the Parade at the Barbican. Scenic setting for a great café (cycle storage inside the café) and the only drawback the cobbles outside. Once refreshed with a second breakfast and a free adjustment to Pete’s bike in their workshop we set off on the Gran Fondo Piccolo route – downloaded thankfully to Pete’s Garmin.
The route, officially 42 miles but in reality 44, takes us out via the new cycle way on Laira Bridge to Saltram; back up to Plympton, Sparkwell and then Cornwood before swinging left up onto the moor and then on to Cadover Bridge, Sheepstor, round Burrator reservoir, Douseland, Yelverton, Crapstone and down the hill to Buckland Abbey for lunch. The people on the gate were welcoming and keen to tell us about the arrangements for cyclists, including the tethering post outside the main couryards. We had a good stop here (jacket potato and pasty). I was suddenly overwhelmed with the need for a nap and Pete allowed me ten minutes with my head on my pannier. Then back up the hill to Yelverton and down the Plym Valley cycle trail with its new tarmac track replacing the muddy rocky bit at Clearwater where we used to have to carry our bicycles. Impressive that so much money has been invested in cycling along this trail.
Having watched an oil tanker manoeuvring surprising quickly into dock, a stop for tea (?) at Cap’n Jaspers and then up to the station for the 1704 train back. 44 miles with at least two thirds of this climbing with our End to End packs – so a good training ride.
When we did this route in May as a sportive, I found the ride relatively easy. However, with the weight of our panniers and doing this just a couple of days after our Lands End trip I did find it more difficult – we also needed more stops. Still very pretty ride.
Once off the train, Pete just had time to cycle home with me to drop his bags and then go out with the CTC Wednesday evening group (including Geoff) for another sunny evening pub ride. This time it was via St. Cleer to the White Hart, Menheniot where they were joined by Kath and Steve for a drink. I, however, just about managed to have a shower, make a cup of tea and get onto the sofa for a good sleep with an ice pack on my knee, just in case.
Our next ride is on Sunday, after Vicky’s wedding, when we attempt to cycle home from Gloucester with our full end to end gear.
Lessons learned: 1. Panniers feel heavy if there is a lot of climbing 2. Important to allow enough rest, if possible, after a long ride before embarking on another 3. Train travel with your bicycle is an easy way to extend the range of your cycling adventures.