Some pictures of the trip down to Devon to take in stages 5 and 6 of the Tour of Britain. I elected to see the start of stage 5 at Exeter and the finish at Exmouth as I it gave more chance to see the riders, albeit not riding but more time to see them and the bikes and I had never seen the start or finish of the stage although, I didn’t see much of the finish as the it was a high speed sprint finish, about 50+mph so they were past in a flash, no chance whatsoever of a picture but a great atmosphere beforehand.
The signing in podium in Front of Exeter Cathedral about 90 minutes before the start
I then went to the teams parking area to see the bikes and hopefully some of the riders but they seemed to stay in the team buses until the very last minute.
Team Sky's race bikes ready for the 'off'
HTC Highroad spare bikes
Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish's Mclaren 'spare' bikes
Bernie Eisels race bike (4) and Mark Cavendish (1)
Front of Mark Cavendish bike with chunky 'Pro' Stem and Lars Bak and Marke Renshaw race bikes
A mini bus full of HTC Highroad riders
Bernie Eisel emerges, being checked by Allan Peiper..
Ben Swift, Team Sky, last minute checks..
Lars Bak, HTC Highroad
Geraint Thomes leaving the Sky bus in points leaders jersey
Race Start, Lars Boom (Yellow)
Mark Cavendish, HTC Highroad
This is at the finish line in Exmouth and the guy who did a brilliant job keeping the crowd entertained for 2 hours or more..
I didnt manage to get a picture of the finish as they were on us so fast and by the time I got through the crowds to the team bus area all the riders were safely locked away in their buses and preparing for the trip to Taunton for stage 6..
Just a quick apology for my temporary absence as I have been away for a few days down to Devon and Somerset to take in couple of stages of the Tour of Britain cycle race and I will be posting some pictures from there quite soon when I have downloaded and edited them and also details of todays Team MK training ride.
My next Devon ride was to tackle the fearsome (for me anyway) Peak Hill at Sidmouth. It was hard enough walking up it when we were spectating let alone ride it, although the ToB riders seemed to make easy enough work of it.
Peak Hill, Sidmouth (Click for details)
Once again I took a rural route as far as possible with the usual short sharp climbs all the way to Sidmouth. It was a Sunday morning and quite a lot of people about in Sidmouth, making the most of the Autumn sunshine.
All the way to Sidmouth my mind had been on the hill. How steep would it look from a bike saddle, How many people would there be around, How many times would I have to dismount, would it be permissible to walk, where could I graciously dismount unseen?
Soon enough I had started the climb from down in the town and along the seafront past all the people walking along the promenade. Then it was people having parked their cars, walking to the promenade and it was getting pretty steep by now so no getting off allowed yet. The climb progressed, getting steeper all the time past the green spaces, past a couple of houses and or hotels, I wasnt sure as I my focus was mainly on the road a 2 or 3 metres ahead. I had now left the Sunday walkers behind and was alone on the climb. About 100 metres before entering the cover of the trees I just had to stop and draw breath and grab a drink at a convenient gap in the hedge, somebody’s drive way I think? I had turned a bend and saw ahead was probably the steepest part and I wasnt going to make that breathing as heavily as I was.
It was a cautious restart having got my breath back and quenched my thirst. Going so slow made clipping my foot back into the cleats a dodgy business and I missed the cleat as I had no momentum I wobbled and my foot slipped out, landed on the ground and the pedal whipped round and cracked me on my shin. I still have the marks there today!
Eventually, fter a few choice words I got going again and tried to settle into a steady rhythm now, in the saddle and keeping my breathing under control and that seemed to do the trick. I completed the climb up through the trees and out into the open again with no more stops and even kept going over the top and down the other side and through the lanes into Otterton, a picturesque typical Devonshire village.
It was then a matter of cruising back through the narrow roads and ups and downs back to Rockbeare. A pleasant enough ride for a nice sunny Sunday morning and full of smug self satisfaction having done what I think was OK for a 67 year old, climbing Peak Hill. Not quite like the climb of Alpe d’Huez from earlier in the year but the steep parts were steeper albeit a much shorter climb.
Having been inspired by watching the ‘young guns’ riding up the Devonshire hills I decided it was time for me to have crack at them.
Cullompton - Honiton Loop (Click for Details)
The first ride was to trace the route of the ride into Honiton on their way to Teignmouth. I set off across country on a route plotted on GPS software with no real knowledge of the profile. Just based on roads going where I wanted and avoiding major roads.
My route was to leave Rockbeare and head for Cullompton and then towards Honiton up a long hill that got progressively steeper. I don’t know what hill is called but the road is A373. I rode it at the end of last year and struggled quite a bit. That time, not knowing the road I stopped at a road junction for a breather as I had no idea how much further there was to go. I had run out of gears and needed a drink. On restarting and turning a bend in the road I found I was only about 200 metres from the top! This time I was prepared and also hopefully a little fitter. There are several ups and downs on the road from Cullompton as is the nature of roads in Devon. The actual ascent of the final stretch starts quite easily and gradually winds up. I would guess the climb is about a couple of miles in total. This time I managed it non-stop and still had a sprocket not used on the back.
The run down into Honiton was a breathtaking descent. I hit about 70kph at one stage and even had to apply my brakes as I had caught up with a van that had passed me just before I got to the top of the climb. I think the driver was a little surprised to see me in his mirrors and put his foot down a bit more.
After leaving Honiton I made my way across country and back to my base In Rockbeare. It turned out to be quite a hilly route but very picturesque as I avoided all the major roads and stuck to back lanes, which in Devon means steep and very narrow.
Not a great distance but hard work and very satisfying.
Stage 5 of the Tour of Britain was from Tavistock in Devon to Glastonbury in Somerset. We took up position at the top of Coombe Hill or also known as Rosemary Hill, just outside the village of Hemyock. Another 20% climb at the bottom and then it weaves its way up and flattens off to about 15% and a fairly straight run up to the King of the Mountains competition finish line.
We eventually found our way to a spot just a couple of hundred metres after the bends finished to get a view of them approaching and then heading on to the KoM finish line. We passed the waiting time in friendly banter with fellow spectators around us and the time soon went
Eventually the sound of helicopters and approaching motor bikes was to be heard. The Police bikes create a rolling road block, a ‘bubble’ in which the riders are able to go where they like on the road without the fear of approaching traffic. Its quite an impressive feat of organisation and motorbike handling skills when you see it in action.
Again there was a breakaway of three riders including England’s Bradley Wiggins who went on to finish on the stage. They were followed by a chasing group of about 4 riders and then after about 10 minutes the peloton. The peloton came past on our side of the road and very close. The speed they were going up the 15% bit of the climb was amazing to witness, given that they had already ridden a 20% section of about half a mile. They were virtually sprinting to keep in touch with each other, quite amazing from my perspective I have to say.
Thats pretty much it so far as my involvement with the Tour of Britain was concerned apart from going home to watch the highlights of each stage daily on ITV4. Also I had a go at a couple of the climbs myself over the next few days. More of that later.
Well it almost seems like we are strangers again after such a long break. Its taken me a while but I am back again.. eventually..
Apologies for the extended absence there just seems to have been a lot going on recently and writing time has been somewhat limited, along with the lack of impetus to get writing again.
Over the next few postings I will attempt to summarise the happenings of the last few weeks. Including our visit to Devon to visit family and watch the Tour of Britain.
Firstly the visit to Devon and taking in two stages of the Tour of Britain . You can glean most of the information about the actual race and stages by clicking that link. My personal involvement was in watching stages four and five in Devon.
Sidmouth with Peak Hill just beyond the town
Stage four saw us finding our way to the top of the 20% incline ( 1 in 5 ) of Peak Hill just outside Sidmouth. It is a killer of a climb as I can vouch for, see details of my experience a little further on. I decided that would be the best place for an extended view of the riders as they would be going slower there. We got to the top of the climb quite early and found a car park that was remarkably unpopulated. However that may be more than a little due to the fact that we got there two hours before any riders were due. So early in fact that we had time for a walk through the woods to the cliff top and a great view of the Jurassic Coastline. The cliffs are full of fossils from the Jurassic period in time, which even pre-dates me ! Walking back towards our car park we passed a whole lot of guys flying radio controlled gliders in the terrific winds that were blowing there and the updraft from the winds coming in off the sea and up the cliffs. Passed a few minutes there admiring the skills of the ‘pilots’ in handling the aircraft in such testing conditions. By this time the ‘Road Crew’ had erected the finish line barrier for the King of the Mountains competition and the associated barriers.
On returning to the car we ate our picnic and drank our coffee before looking for a suitable location to view the riders. We found a spot about 50 metres before the summit and with a good view down the hill so we could see the riders approaching. There was no pre race caravan such as we saw in the Tour de France to take up the waiting time but the time seemed to go quickly enough.
Eventually the sound of helicopters was to be heard over Sidmouth, always a clue that the race is approaching. Then the police motor bikes started coming through with headlights blazing. There seemed to be almost as many motorbikes as there would be riders. Next race officials cars started coming through and an announcement that there was a breakaway of three riders with a lead of about ten minutes over the chasing group. Soon enough the breakaway came through, preceded and followed by motorbikes with aforesaid headlights, which under the trees made photography pretty much impossible. However you can’t watch the race and take photos so I settled for watching. The chasing group came through and there must have been about thirty riders in that and they came up the climb pretty easily it seemed to me and fairly effortlessly too it has to be said. After another twenty minutes or so the main peloton came through. They obviously were not too bothered about getting a placing as I expect most where there to work for team leaders and had already done their bit and were content just to get to the finish.
After that it was mass exit of spectators and the road crew wasted no time in dismantling the King of the Mountains equipment. We encountered a lot of traffic through the narrow Devonshire lanes as we made our way ‘home’ but it fairly quickly thinned out as people went their separate ways.
Will detail the next stage in the following posting
Back from Devon now, our first trip away this year that we didnt have to come back early from because of the weather. Totally dry all week.
First few days were spent around Exeter and visiting family. I went for a bike ride with stepson David and another on my own in the week when we were staying at Torcross on Start Bay.
The ride with David was a toughie, being used to the flattish roads around here the hills, both their length and steepness came as a bit of a surprise. Well not really a surprise I suppose I know well enough what Devon is like. One of the hills was a ‘biggie’ that had been used in the Tour of Britain Cycle race a couple of weeks previously. It just went on and on and gradually got steeper and steeper just as my legs were getting weaker and weaker. We totalled about 36 miles at around 16mph, which is a little faster than I would normally average around here, especially given the terrain, but I did spend quite a bit of time close up on Davids back wheel sheltering from the wind. There again, it has to be pointed out that I am nearly twice his age !!
The midweek ride was much shorter and I thought it was going to be easier but it didnt turn out that way.. I went down along the sea front at Torcross and then turned left up into Slapton and then took the Totnes road and it just went up and up in stages for about 5 miles.. interspersed with stops for map reading ( and breathing recovery), as they were very narrow lanes and not an over abundance of sign posts. When i reached the road towards Kingsbridge I took it and then began a descent of about 5 miles. Also with the afore-mentioned map reading stops. Most of roads/lanes had grass and moss growing up the middle as they were only wide enough for one vehicle. When I reached the main road I took that back towards the caravan site and that was another 5 miles, but this time, just for variety, a mix of up and down.
I guess a holiday in Devon would be good opportunity for a get fit camp in another time. Prerably when I wasnt still trying to shake off the after effects of my cough and cold.. or was it ‘man flu’ ?
We had a few local walks while we were there and some trips out in the car, to Bigbury on Sea and to Dartmouth.
Back home now and it turns out my cycling buddie also has a cold so I wont feel the need or the pressure to have to go out on the bike tomorrow. Its really rough outside now and the wind has been really strong all day, so tomorrow wasnt looking very good for biking anyway.
My cold seems to have subsided somewhat now. I have been beating it into submission with a couple of bike rides including today when I took my car into Northampton for a service and then rode home the ‘long way’, 23 miles instead of the more direct 10 miles. A big loop round Gt Houghton, Quinton, Salcey Forest, Hanslope, Haversham, Gayhurst, Filgrave and Olney. I have actually done about 200 miles in the last week. Not a great deal I know but its something to work from.
I have been re-arranging my other bikes with what parts I have. I am equipping the Specialised into a winter/audax/ mucky weather bike by using up some redundant parts I was going to sell plus pinching some bits from the Claud Butler which in turn will get some other parts from my stock. I need some mudguards for the specialised, will get some slim, plastic clip on racing ones and I have some caliper brakes on order that should have been here by now. ‘Fast Parts For Bikes’ dont seem to be living up to their name, shan’t be using them again in a hurry ( no pun intended) !! Just as well I hadnt actually got around to selling all of my bits I suppose. I must have known something in my subconscious.
Going to be away in Devon for a few days next week so no more posts for a while. I will be taking a bike to ride around on and I hope the weather is kind to us for a change., I need to keep on getting the miles in. Not had much luck with the weather at all this year. Every time we have been away so far we have come back early because of the weather