Thursday 27th September 2012 – Day 46

TIlfracombe – Poughill (Nr Bude)
66.46 miles
5500 feet climbed
3267 calories burnt

Cumulative miles cycled = 2,726.10 miles
Cumulative feet climbed = 141,036 feet
Cumulative calories burnt = 121,346 calories

It’s always tough camping up in a lay-by overnight, not only because of the traffic noise making it difficult to sleep but also the fact that you’re so exposed and you never know what/who may be about! I finally managed to drift off around 1:00am after listening to the usual boy-racers and a moped that sounded more like a hairdryer whizzing up the hill out of Ilfracombe.

The weather wasn’t too bad on waking, a bit chilly but clear and there was no rain forecast for the day. It’s hard to believe how much we are dependent on the weather, basically the whole ride revolves around it – we eat, sleep and breathe the Met Office. Who would have thought that we would be cycling the coast in one of the wettest Septembers in the past thirty years!

Setting off from our lay-by, we dipped down in to Ilfracombe on the A399. It was a rather tired looking town, like a lot of the surrounding area. This is not an area I could ever think to live in, too many dark, dank, gloomy, steep valleys for my liking. After dipping down we had to do the first of many climbs of the day out of Ilfracombe. Instead of taking the busy A361 directly south, we pushed on further westwards to get closer to the coast. There were some mammoth climbs but it was worth it for the view we got from Mortehoe. Cycling through the picturesque village we popped out through the houses to overlook a descent with the beach sprawling out in front of us. It was reminiscent of Scotland and the dramatic coastline we experienced there.

The descent to Woolacombe was helped by my brake cables being sorted by Dad last night, my forearms were no longer screaming at me and I could actually exert enough force to slow down. Once in Woolacombe we followed my Garmin route up Challacombe Hill, and my word it was a blooming steep hill. It was a 25% climb and absolutely relentless. Turning the corners you would think that it can’t continue at such a steep gradient, but it could and it did. With the dull ache of 2,700 miles in your legs it really does take some teeth gritting to churn up these type of hills.

On reaching the top, we stopped to collect our thoughts and we were joined by a lovely Brummie chap who kindly asked if we were ok, we ended up cycling with him for a couple of miles. He was in North Devon for a couple of days holiday in between his shift work, so as he’d never been to this part of the country before he thought he would try it out! We chatted for a while about our ride, he was mightily impressed, which raised our spirits. When we hit Croyde he peeled off and we kept heading south.

To navigate around the River Taw, we took the A361 but as we were cycling along I spotted a sign for the Tarka Trail. In all honesty I had never heard of it, but I remembered I had received a Tweet mentioning the name from Christine Armstrong who has already cycled the coast. We stopped, I checked my Twitter account and low-and-behold Christine had mentioned for us to take the route, this meant we had a traffic free cycle all the way to Bideford! Never underestimate the power of social media, I have learnt so much from so many people over the course of this ride, it has been a wonderful source of information!

On reaching Bideford, we had to come off the Tarka Trail but instead of following my route, we took a more direct course to get us back on the A39 where we would be meeting the Motorhome for lunch. It seems if you try a direct route in Devon, you get ‘rewarded’ with another steep dramatic climb. We crossed over the River Taw on the A386 into Bideford, then took a left on New Road, a right on to Torridge Hill, continuing up Clovelly Road. It was another long and arduous climb and when we reached the top Dad and I had to stop to buy an emergency Snickers.

When we got to the A39, it was the usual case of churning away to get to our lunch-stop. There was a lot of traffic, most gave us enough room, but as per usual the commercial vehicles got a little too close for comfort. As I finished a climb and turned a corner a couple of miles before Higher Clovelly I spotted the welcoming sign of the Motorhome. Mum and Harry had been to the beautiful village of Clovelly, where motorised vehicles are not allowed and kindly bought us devon pasties for lunch!

It was a tough morning’s ride, so we decided to try and take it easier in the afternoon and just head to Bude, about 25 miles from the lunch stop. My route avoided the A39, we could have followed it and cycled to Bude in about 15 miles from our lunch stop, but we decided to commit to my route and head out further to the coast on the country lanes.

As with the morning, we had a spattering of climbs in the afternoon, interspersed with some interesting scenery! The climbs were tough because the terrain was wet from the torrential rain, and every time we tried to stand up – the back wheel would slip out.
We passed the huge satellites of GCHQ pointing out across the Atlantic Ocean and it wasn’t long before we were heading up the driveway of Wooda Holiday Village where we were stopping for the night.

Mum and Harry received wonderful hospitality from the lady at the reception of Wooda and they parked up in the beautiful surroundings. Mum set about washing and drying two loads of laundry and Harry whipped up his usual dinner delight (marrow stuffed with pork and brown rice). I don’t think we’ve ever stayed on a campsite with such wonderful facilities, having a shower was actually an enjoyable experience because the toilet block was nice and warm.

The weather looks good again for tomorrow, we’re just going to get some rain over night, which is always good because hopefully it will be out of the way before we set off cycling again!

Please remember that Kirsty Medlock and her Dad, Stephen are cycling the 4,400 miles round the coast of Britain to raise £10,000 for Clifton’s Children Society (CCS) Adoption, the agency that facilitated an adoption for family friends. Please follow this link to donate as much as you can http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/cycling4adoption

Many, many thanks in advance!

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