Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sexy Hills

Local Co-Op. Mini bottle of wine and chocolate. Walk to B&B. Bed. Drink wine. Eat chocolate. Look at Strava. Write blog. The post-dinner rituals, of which there's only one left. Looking at the elevation graph of todays ride, it looks like a healthy heartbeat. Sharp rise, sharp fall. Slightly sharper rise, slightly sharper fall. We endured the climbs the south coast had laid on for us, and found delirious pleasure on the downs. Fuelled by another full-English, and by a cheeky ferry crossing after just 3km of cycling, we crossed the border into Cornwall and climbed immediately. As usual, the wind was swirling around us, gathering pace and insects, and depositing those, and all it's fury, directly into our faces. This doesn't alter momentum much while climbing, it's all lowest gear and slow rhythm kinda cycling, but when you're having to work and frantically pedal to go downhill, momentum and mood plummet. Cycling into a headwind has often put me into a dreamy trance, and I often think about pedalling in Mallorca, and how so many of the climbs were shaded from the elements by roadside trees. Heading into the aptly named Downsderry, suddenly the roads in my imagination, and the reality in-front of me became the same thing. After sweating uphill and into the wind, a sheltered descent on smooth tarmac was a heavenly gift. More than a few times I heard myself groaning with the kind of pleasure usually reserved for sexual contact, or Galaxy chocolate adverts.

There were two more of those sheltered climbs and descents, and the second one took us into the picture-postcard village of Looe. Cars displayed number plates from several European countries, and accents from all over the UK entered earshot. People were generally jovial in demeanour and dress, as they wobbled between chip shop to cafe, and from cream tea to post cards. Everyone seemed to be eating  as we were, carb overloads and as-many-calories-as-you-can-in-one-sitting, so we joined in. Cappuccino and a scone with a frankly ridiculous amount of clotted cream.

From Looe it was a straight forward B road adventure through to Boddinick, where we caught the days second ferry to Fowey. Rather than viewing these floating vessels as 'cheat kilometers', we view them as our respectful testimony to following the scenic route, and you should, too. 

From Fowey it was more B roads and less hills. We were making great time until the lack of snacks to go became a choice to regret. The coffee and scone wasn't enough, and my biological red light had been on for a few kilometers. As I began to feel quite faint, we saw a Tesco Extra, and salvaged just about enough energy to cycle through the car-park and collapse on a bench at the front of the store. After sitting and groaning for a few moments, i shuffled around the store in my socks, and purchased a cheese and pickle sandwich, two pork pies, some salt and vinegar Real McCoys, a bottle of sparkling water, and some chocolate. We shared most of it in a delightful fury.

Upon leaving the store, Em's progress menacing rear tyre had gone soft again. Luckily, we were on the outskirts of St Austell, and much like most towns in the UK, the big supermarket is located in the same soulless patch of concrete as a Halfords. Endless grey with white painted lines was a showcase for the family hatchback. Almost like a hastily arranged museum of ordinary cars. We skirted the car-park, and passed the usual logos - Boots, B&Q, Next, Argos - and finally cycled into Halfords. The tyre hissed out all the air we'd put in with the pump, so in a respectfully honest admittance, we informed Steve that if we were left to our own devices, fitting a new inner-tube would cause much swearing and a possible break-up, we politely asked if he'd do it. He would, there and then, and for the sum of £9. We were in complete agreement.

After that little delay, the roads to St Mawes were both kind and fast, and one more of those glorious downhills threw us out in continental Europe. White houses, sparkling blue waters, a bright azzure sky with a few splashes of white fluff, and even people swimming in the sea. The sun was out, and Britain was Great. We purchased two Magnums - one espresso and one white chocolate, and two ferry tickets for the 20min crossing to Falmouth.

Falmouth is another quaint gem on the south coast, and our B&B was a short ride along the coastal road. After a shower each, we walked back into town, and requested bread & olives, beer, wine, and the wi-fi code. While sharing all of the above we booked two nights in Penzance for the last day, and a rest day, and reserved a car to drive back to Northampton on Friday. Usually, we'd do no such thing as swap our pedal powered modes of transport for an automobile, but it worked out at precisely £143.70 cheaper than train tickets, and, traffic/roadworks pending, will be much quicker. After the shared starter and logistics chores were done for the night, we found a beautiful Thai restaurant, and shared a Massamam chicken curry, and more wine.

There have been plenty of nights throughout the past 2 weeks where we've collapsed into bed, and declared the days cycling the best ever, and today was another.

The penultimate day's digits...

99.6km's completed (running total: 1560.4km)
5:07hrs riding time
1535m climbed
19.5km/h average speed
68.4km/h top speed
3 ferries used

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