We were truly dreading today. In the book, describing this days' route the narrative goes...
"The first 30 miles are some of the toughest on the whole ride. Everytime you grapple your way to the top of a climb, you plunge down the other side and then start climbing again. The lanes are very quiet though and, to be frank, that's Devon for you. If you begin to despair keep in the forefront of your mind that when you reach Tiverton it is pretty flat for the next couple of sections." (Royston Wood)
Well... we nailed it! The thrill of reaching Tiverton was immense. The days' riding was indeed very hilly and there was little flat, but we managed every hill without having to push the bikes. It truly was elating.
We cycled along the main 'A' road from Holsworthy to Hatherleigh, not nearly as scary as it could have been as it was a Sunday morning and the traffic was light. There was a long and steep climb up from the town with a 10% gradient. It was hard going but we made it.
We stopped for a breather on the top and were joined by a group of road cyclists from Oakhampton Cycling Club, out for a jolly. They were terrific, full of fun and interested in what we were up to. How they could chose to ride these hills for fun was completey beyond our understanding! We spent a lovely thirty minutes with them before we parted company and went on our way.
The rest of the ride was through quiet country lanes amid beautiful rural Devon. The weather was perfect, sunshine, fluffy clouds and a tail wind. Perfect! The only downside to the day was that, once again in the whole journey, we did not pass a single place where we could get a drink or some lunch.
We had to leave our route to get to our accommodation. We slogged up Long Drag Hill, a notorious and seemingly never-ending climb on a major 'A' road and turned off to face a jaw dropping helter-skelter ride up and down a partially paved track to The Fishermans Cot. You can see the severity of the last downhill on the graph below.
The Fishermans Cot is set alongside the river Exe and is quite beautiful. We arrived feeling ecstatic that after a long climb up from the accommodation here to Tiverton on Tuesday we will have conquered the evil hills of Devon and Cornwall.
So, a pretty perfect day. Not so much for Bob who got stung yet again - this time on his ear lobe!! He thinks that his bright red cycling jacket is the attraction for the stingers, whilst I am more inclined to think it is his sweet smelling aroma..... !
Tomorrow, Day 5, is a rest day, although amazingly we really don't feel we need it. Neither of us can quite believe how good we feel at the moment. Lets hope it stays this way. However we need to some basic bike maintenance, tackle our laundry and sort out the myriad of IT problems we are experiencing.
Day’s Mileage: 40.35m Total mileage to date: 172.66m
Day’s climbing: 2,424ft Total climbing to date 12,824ft
Annette & Bob