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.
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.