While our morning rituals have remained the consistent in content, weather check, route check, Deep Heat, Savlon, breakfast etc, they have gotten later in the day. A combination of rainy mornings and heavy legs are to blame. This morning was no different, but did stand true to the old Scottish saying that, 'if it's wet at 7, it'll be dry by 11'. Indeed, 7am saw a heavy drizzle, but we only caught the tail end of it wobbling away from Bampton at 10am this morning.
The morning, though grey and drizzly, started brightly in terms of route. Bampton is a tiny village located north of Tiverton, and was chosen as a nightly stop-over purely because nothing was available in Tiverton. Returning to something resembling civilisation proved tricky from this B-road hide-out, and Google maps had suggested some tiny countryside tracks. Think Alice in Wonderland but without the LSD-inspired talking animals. These tracks would have been sublime had it not been for the recent rainfall and persistent winds. Mud, dirt, grit, and bits of tree certainly don't enhance a bikes performance, or look, but just as we do, they soldiered on stoically. After crossing and by-passing some more major roads, there were 45km's on the clock before we registered a coffee and cake stop. There are many benefits of stopping in a garden centre. Firstly, they're usually very close to the roadside, which means less walking and wearing down the cycling cleats. Secondly, they usually provide that rare but delightful petting corner. On the way to the bathroom, after drinking something doing a questionable impression of a cappuccino, I was able to have a chat and a cuddle with several guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits.
With a few more km's under the proverbial belt, we'd ploughed on through anything resembling a respectful lunchtime, and found ourselves in what has recently become an all too familiar moment - too late for lunch, too far from home, and un-able to stop. After following the very sincere delights of National Cycle Route 3 through Dartmoor National Park, we agreed to stop at the next readily available supermarket for a snack. The committee responsible for placing the Spa Local on the outskirts of Tavistock will never know the depths of our gratitude. At 16.45, I consumed everything that is good about England; beef flavoured Hula Hoops, a pork pie, and some sparkling water, bottled at it's source in Buxton, Derbyshire.
Somewhat inevitably, a late start means a late finish. We didn't quite match yesterdays frantic race against fading daylight, but at times it sure felt like it. Gary Wilmot, (UK actor and singer) once stayed at our B&B home for the night, and he said Rob and Sue were probably the best guesthouse hosts in the world. On the evidence of our brief evening encounters so far, he'd be correct in such a lavish assumption. Sue provided a more than detailed explanation of how the keys work, gave several dinner recommendations as part of a map-based tour of Plymouth, and has even allocated us a room with a view of the bikes. They're stored, somewhat riskily un-locked in the back yard. Rob agrees, testifying that it's a very quiet cul-de-sac around the back. We like Rob because he's just offered us wine, and he's a bit of a cyclist himself.
Here in bed, the wine has been paired with chocolate, which has fuelled the booking of tomorrows accommodation in Falmouth, and a car to drive us and the bikes back to Northampton on Friday. Tomorrow will be the penultimate day on the pedals, our 14th day taking us from John O'Groats to Lands End. Forecast; sunny spells and a drop in wind.
We can only hope.
The daily digits...
119.4km traveled today (1460.8km since Monday 13th July)
6:27hrs pedal time
18.7km/h average speed
54.7km/h top speed
2812 calories burned