Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Dartmare !!

So, to start I will advise that the blog title is tongue in cheek. Dartmoor can indeed be a Dartmare, but actually, it is a place I am learning more about riding wise and overall enjoying the test, which it undoubtedly is.  As I have said many times, it is unrelenting, sharp, steep, long, busy, but above all a great place to ride your bike once there and when the conditions curry favour.

We set off from Steve's house three up, which today included Mark, who is prepping for the Dartmoor classic - 100 miles of hill after hill. In isolation, each climb is doable, but when you string them together, it can be pretty hellish and very fatiguing on all body parts, legs, lungs, neck and shoulders. Today's highlight is a rapid and big improvement for me with reference to what is known as the Doccombe climb, a climb which equates to approx. 6 miles from Steps Bridge, peaking at Mortonhampstead. I shaved 9 minutes 30 seconds off the climb today which is born out fitness rather than profound weight loss.  It is a wonderful climb. Evidently the road was re-tarmaced for the tour of Britain. Smooth and as close as you'll get to a French col within the UK in my opinion. 

We had a quick brew in Morton where bike chat ensued with other cyclists outside the cafe and we were again on our way, slightly stoney legged after a stop. Mark took us across country on one of the Mid Devon secret rat runs, which in turn warranted gravel bikes !!! This brought us out on the base of Haytor, but at the far side, passing Hound tour before cresting Haytor from 600 feet up to 1300 feet approx. Much easier than the ride up from Bovey. All three of us rode 'down' Haytor full gas with Steve really letting his Dogma fly. Fearless. It really is a fast descent and riding smart required.  A bit like Burrington Coombe, but far more dangerous.

Interestingly, once out of Bovey, I started to feel very strong and the ride back from Haytor to Newton was great, I felt fit and lively after all the climbing and could have gone into TT mode for a while. In all, another great day on the bike in Devon. 43.6 miles, 3035 feet ascended and some lovely descents encountered too. The sun was out and on the whole the wind was a non issue. It is days like today we 'train' for. The first tan lines of summer have been cultivated on Devon's answer to Moordor. The bike's performed wonderfully, but in reality, there can be only one. Overall, getting around these hills a huge success. I had a third of the veins removed from my left leg 15 years ago and the right leg is as bad. It makes climbing harder than it should be or could be due to a lack of oxygen moving around in the old pins, but hey ho, life goes on.