Lejog Day 2: "Shallows and Miseries"
Updated: Jan 6, 2020
"There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures."
Well, with this voyage we have most certainly taken the tide at the flood, but today was nothing but shallows and miseries.... or rather ascents and miseries.
We are riding the safe route devised by Royston Woods (see earlier blog). This route keeps us off the main 'A' roads and dual carriageways. However it does take us on lots of cycle tracks and bridle paths. So far the cycle tracks have been OK but the bridlepathes today were unridable.
The first one started off well, firm shingle which is not ideal but is manageable. So a couple of miles in it changed. Much larger rocks were in evidence. It then deteriorated more. The rocks became boulders and the track turned into a ditch. So, imagiine a 'V' shape with the bottom of the V being no wider than a couple of inches. To push the bikes along we had to walk along the steep sloping sides of the 'V' many inches above our bikes. At the same time we had to manually lift our two-ton bikes over each boulder.( I say 'we' but in reality Bob had to lift both bikes over every one as I cannot lift my bike for love nor money!) It lasted for two miles!!!
Why did we not turn back you might ask. When you are following a predetermined route on the tiny cycling GPS computers, you only really see a tiny portion of the route. You can zoom out but it is virtually impossible to re-route positively from the device. So we were well and truly stuck! It took us about 90 minutes to haul the beasts over the boulders. The only positive in this whole experience were the views when the hedges disappeared. On the far left of the image below you will see a large boulder. These were liberally strewn along the whole V shaped ditch that I mentioned earlier. It was a nightmare.
Exhausted, we travelled on. It was the most difficult cycling we have ever experienced. The hills were cruel. We would cycle down one ascent, only to be met by a killer ascent. We had to push the bikes up miles of hills. Our bikes are terrific. Without the laden panniers they can cope with severe hills but with all the additional weight neither the bikes nor us can reach the top.
There were some funnies...
We passed though a place called 'Fiddlers Elbow" where the road was so twisted and turning that you could see where the name originated.. (apologies to all fiddlers!) and then towards the end of the journey we came across this sign...
"Yes please.. "
Eventually arrived at our hotel... Trehellas Country House Hotel & Restaurant. The owner was kind and let us store our bikes in his garage, but he was truly a prophet of doom, taking much pleasure in telling us how many cyclists start Lejog but give up when they experience the killer hills of Devon and Cornwall. He went on to forewarn us about the hills in Somerset, and finished with... "Wait 'till you get to Scotland --- if you get that far!"
We had no internet or wifi. Cornwall is notorious for this but it was actually great to fall into bed at about 8.30 and fall to sleep immediately. Two knackered people
See these hills...
Redruth to Whitecross elevation
Whitecross to Washaway elevation... killer hills!
Imagine how tired we were when we came to the climb on the right of the graph. It was cruel. We could only manage to get up the first quarter of it and then had to push. It was steep and the road twisted around rather like a helter skelter, so around each corner we thought we could see the top... only to turn around the bend to see it climb to the next corner which we were convinced was the top. This went on for a good mile or two, which felt like 10miles!
Day’s Mileage: 39.05 Total mileage to date: 85.45
Day’s climbing: 3,717ft Total climbing to date 7,110ft
Annette & Bob