In spite of a number of disappointing weekends when the weather was against us, rides have been well supported, and a new enthusiasm has entered the club with longer rides at a faster average speed. Accordingly members of the club have found rides both challenging and exhilarating. Plymouth Section AGM was held on 20 September and was very well attended. Main points on the agenda were next year's Section Tour, which will be in Brittany, and a local YHA weekend to be organised by Larry Clarke. Details have to be worked out and the Section should receive more details including cost quite soon. The Plymouth Section was always an informal club in the past, but at this year's AGM it was decided to look into the possibility of purchasing jackets/jerseys for the Section. Many cyclists or potential cyclists see us on the road, but because we have no distinctive livery no one knows who we are. Some form of distinctive dress would serve to advertise the club and perhaps encourage others to join. The runs list is very much at the heart of any cycling club. One goal we have set ourselves for 2015/2016 is to add to our repertoire of runs by picking more imaginative destinations and running car assisted rides throughout the year. Recently we had Milton Abbot as one of our destinations - a little village I had never visited before. The run was highly successful, allowing us to explore more of the wonderful countryside which Devon and Cornwall offer us.
My last report was written in haste while I was on holiday in Germany with Sue Etheridge and Anna Bryant. We were in the Eiffel, which is an extensive region stretching from the borders of Belgium and Luxembourg - which we accidentally visited (but thereby hangs a tale!) - and all the way from Cologne to Trier. Future travellers should be aware that there are three towns/villages called “Gemünd” (doh!) in the Eiffel – so make sure you go to the right one: otherwise you may experience a mighty detour (sic)! The Eiffel is an area of outstanding beauty - mainly wooded, extinct volcanoes and volcanic lakes - with many quiet roads and spectacular ascents and descents. One of Germany's touristic jewels.
At the time of writing my last report in my German flat, I was unable to say anything about the Tamar 100, which Bryan Richardson had kindly agreed to host for me in my absence. We all hoped and prayed for good weather and a good turn-out for the event after the miserable weather for the Treasure Hunt, but, in the event, the weather was again atrocious. Only five riders took part and three of those were from Crediton - James Hatchell together with his wife and son. Yolande Bériot and Andy Easton represented the Plymouth Section. Since all five riders arrived back at the same time, there was no outright winner, but James Hatchell and his family, who are CTC members without an attachment to a local section, certainly deserve a medal for their endeavour or at least a DA Devon CTC certificate. We shall see.
Altogether the last few weeks have proved pretty disappointing weather wise. Mike Willacy was the sole rider to turn out on two occasions and certainly deserves our admiration for his defiance of the appalling weather this summer. Otherwise rides have been well supported – ten out today for Trevor Bradshaw's ride to Tuckenhay. Larry Clarke was unable to lead his ride for 2nd August owing to family commitments, so I took his place and followed the route of the Tamar 100 again. The ride was very well supported and altogether we clocked 67+ miles with more than 2000 metres of ascent.
What has emerged over recent months is that the Plymouth Section is now able to do very presentable distances at touring speeds. 50 miles or more at 12 mph avg. is not a mean feat and should be attractive to prospective members to our Section who don't want a slow or short ride.
PLYMOUTH SOUNDS - May/June 2015
May and June were busy months for the Plymouth Section. Our Section tour to Cholderton YH was well supported with nineteen cyclists taking part in rides over four days. David Newman put a lot of work into devising the routes and ably led us through a variety of terrains. All of us appreciated the gently rolling hills of the Salisbury Plains in comparison with Devon and Cornish lanes. The following weekend was the Devon DA Treasure Hunt, hosted this time by the Plymouth Section. We were fortunate enough to have the Tresillian Centre as our base, which was more than spacious enough for the nine participants who set out on a rather cold and wet Sunday morning. The route and clues were worked out by Heather Boote to whom we owe a debt of thanks. The route was about 20 miles in length and took in part of the Plym Trail as well as historic parts of Plymouth around William's Yard. Currently (21 – 30 June) Graham John, Anna Bryant and Sue Etherdige are touring in the Eiffel and will miss the Tamar 100, which Bryan Richardson is organising for 28 June. I do hope the event went well. No doubt I shall hear all about it on my return to Plymouth on 30 June. Otherwise, A rides on Sundays remain quite well supported and continue to offer challenging and interesting routes. Anna Bryant and a small number of B riders regularly turn out for shorter rides in and around Plymouth.
The last few weeks have seen a number of eventful rides - not least
our Section Tour to Cholderton, which was supported by twenty
cyclists. The first three days of the tour were blessed with fine
weather, and under Dave Newman's able leadership we were able to enjoy
an extensive exploration of the Salisbury plains. The cycling proved
to be a welcome change from relentless Devon hills with almost no flat
bits, and we were all pleasantly surprised by the gently rolling hills
around Cholderton and the superb Spring countryside to boot.
Otherwise, our Sunday rides have been well supported and we have seen
an influx of new faces. I would like to welcome John O'Rourke from
Callington, who has accompanied us on a number of rides since joining
Graham Reed's ride to Liskearde in mid-April. Dave Newman and Nycci
have also joined us as fully paid-up members of the CTC. With a larger
number of fitter members now in our ranks, the pace of our Sunday
rides has increased significantly - the distance, too. Very memorable
rides in April were Andy Easton's to Holne and Princetown and also
Andy's ride to Prawle Point, both of which approached the 60 mile
mark. We were very pleased to see John Durham and Jenny again, who
have recently returned from their holiday on Majorca. Fliers,
advertising the Plymouth Section, are gradually going into shops and
libraries around Plymouth and the forthcoming Sky Rides will be a
useful platform to promote the Section locally. Many thanks to Sue
Etheridge, who has offered support on the day. I shall be away on the
weekend of the Tamar 100, but Bryan Richardson has generously agreed
to manage the event. The route this year is somewhat different from
what we have offered in previous years and will involve an
eye-watering, total ascent of some 1850 metres. Enjoy! By the way –
certificates will be awarded to the three first participants arriving
at the destination.
In spite of the bitterly cold weather in recent weeks, Plymouth CTC runs have been well supported. The battery and motor kit for my Specialised Roadhopper turned out to be more fiddly to fit than originally anticipated, but I received delivery of the finished article just prior to my ride on 8 March. I expected purists to be shocked by seeing me on an 'electrified' bike but in fact it was received with some amusement and approval. After all, some concessions have to be made to age and – yes - proportion.
I chose just about the hilliest route I could find for my ride. It was gentle to start with along Drake's Trail but then went up from Tavistock to the golf course via oddly named Down Road, which just goes up and up, and on to the notorious “Pork Hill” and long haul out of Merrivale. The bike did well, but all credit to John Durham, who managed it to the top at just about the same time as I did.
An 'electrified' bike is not a motorbike – the motor only springs into action when I'm actually pedalling and on a club run I keep it on its lowest setting most of the time, which gives me a gentle push, a range of about 40 miles in pretty hilly terrain and takes the pressure off my back and knees. Over the last few weeks I have been out on my bike as frequently as time will allow; it's such a pleasure to ride it and explore old haunts again. I suspect that electric bikes may well be the thing of the future and encourage a lot more people out of their cars and on to their bikes. That in itself might accelerate plans to lay more cycle paths for cyclists.
The Plymouth Section has had five runs since the last publication of the Highwayman. Graham Black's Seaton run turned into a sixty mile bash and a twilight return to Plymouth. It was lovely to see Yolande Berriot again on Trevor's run to the Chili Farm at Loddiswell. It was a very muddy run, though. Cold weather prevented Larry Clarke's run from taking place. Too many of the Section have had unfortunate encounters with ice in the past. I replaced Mike Willacy on 8th February as leader. We were joined by John and Jennifer Durham who moved into the area last August. Our final run was to Pillaton from the Torpoint Ferry – with a lunch stop by the quay in St German's. On the whole turn-outs have been good and it has been nice to see some new faces. Graham Black, Trevor Bradshaw and Andy Prideaux completed an introductory cycle maintenance course with Bikespaces in Devonport. Bikespaces is a community project which helps youngsters who have dropped out of school to undergo training and prepare for work. It also had a shop in George Street, Devonport, where bike repairs are carried out. The shop is also an outlet for electric bikes and conversion kits. I am having one fitted to my Specialised Roadhopper at a cost of £750. Watch this space to find out how I get on with it. My fear is that it won't have sufficient range to cope with the hills in Devon and Cornwall on a club run. Good job I've got my Van Nikolas, which is a nice bike to ride.
The Plymouth Section has had six runs since the last edition of the Highwayman, starting with our Christmas Lunch at Staddon heights on 7 December. This was well attended. Though cold, the weather remain favourable all day and Mike Willacy, our leader for that day, still managed to take us the best part of 20 miles. The planned route to Beesands was a disappointment with rain stopping play, so Andy Easton decided to reserve that trip for another day. My own ride to Windy Ridge was far more successful than I had anticipated despite leaden skies and continual drizzle. We were joined by Neil Crowley from Plympton and, spurred on by Mike Willacy, we completed 40 miles. Good going for the time of the year. The mince pie and sherry run was to be led by Graham Reed. Although the ride was shortly after Christmas and I was not expected a big turn-out Mike Willacy, Andy Easton and Andy Prideaux were at the start. Like myself, many Section members were elsewhere at that time of the year.
And so ... into the New Year. The first ride of the year was January 4th and my destination was Seaton. We were pleasantly surprised to be joined by Larry Clarke on the other side of Saltash and we managed just over 40 miles. Our final run was led once again by Andy Easton, who took us to Tor Cross. The route out was easy, through Diptford, Morleigh and on the five-mile lane to Tor Cross. Trevor Bradshaw introduced us to the Farm Shop just outside Stokenham - a must for future rides. I struggled massively on the way back, but Trevor managed to find us a fairly flat route back, avoiding the steep ascent out of Higher Coombe.
Heather Boote, Iris Buckler's daughter, has kindly agreed to take on the organisation of the Treasure Hunt, which will take place on 24 May. We're looking forward to Larry Clarke's route on 5 April, which promises to a bit of a marathon, taking us from Saltash to Louis' café on Kit Hill, then on to Brent Tor and finally Morrison's in Tavistock. I am hoping, too, that some of our more stalwart members may take part in the Mad March on 1st March.
CTC Plymouth managed a number of ambitious runs in November, among them Siblyback, Berry Pomeroy and Start Point. The decision to offer 'A' and 'B' runs seems to have been a good one, allowing riders to find the best level to suit themselves. Membership still remains my main priority. Our Section offers a unique niche in the Plymouth cycling scene, geared as it is to leisure riders of a certain age who are not out for a fast ride but want to maintain their fitness and do social rides of between 20 and 60 miles on a Sunday.
Andy Easton and Anna Bryant are currently in line for the Attendance Trophy to be awarded at the end of the current season. Each have attended 78% of the runs since the end of September ~ so, well done! Kevin Presland tells me that this is a most prestigious award, being made of pure silver and the most valuable cup presently held by CTC Devon.
Arrangements for our Youth Hostel trip have been finalised, with 14 CTC Plymouth members taking part. For those who might like to join us the dates are 15-18th May at Cholderton Youth Hostel; but you will have to make your own arrangements at this stage. The phone number to ring is 01980 629379.
Destinations over the past few weeks for the Plymouth Section have been Seaton, Kingsbridge, Kit Hill and Cawsands. Most of these rides have received good support, though the march of the seasons ~ after a fabulous summer ~ has been noticeable over the last two weeks. The highlight of recent rides was no doubt Roger Floyd's route, which took us over the moor from Avon Dam to Cross Furzes; and Andy Easton took me on lanes I didn't know when he returned to Plymouth from Kingsbridge.
The 'B' rides are taking place regularly thanks to Bryan, Sue and Anna and the Section meets together as a whole on rides leaving from Plympton.