Posted by: Emily | April 26, 2011

Four days of cycling in the South West – the last 30 miles

Having cycled on average 75 miles per day for the first three days of my trip, by the time I got to Padstow I was looking forward to the fact that my fourth and final day was going to be a comparatively easy 28 miles. With my train back to London not leaving Truro until 16:40 I also had almost an entire day to get there. As I went to sleep that night I was having visions of a relaxed ride in the sun along the beautiful Cornish coast. With so much time on my hands, maybe I’d even stop en route for an ice cream or scone – or both.

As I was enjoying a leisurely breakfast the following morning, I started thinking about the route I had planned to get me from Padstow to Truro. Unlike the other days, I wasn’t following one of the official National Cycle Network routes, nor was it a ride that I, or anyone I knew, had previously done. I’d simply gone onto BikeRouteToaster (BRT) and plotted what I thought looked like the best way to get me from A to B. Having encountered some issues getting my courses uploaded from BRT onto my Garmin, I possibly hadn’t spent as much time as I should looking at the profile of this particular ride.  It started to dawn on me that whilst the actual mileage may not be that high, it didn’t necessarily mean that it wouldn’t be hilly. I tried to access the route on BRT via my iPhone with no success, so sent Ian an email to see if he could possibly take a look at the profile for me. He kindly did and replied to tell me that according to BRT, my ride had 1,700 ft of ascent with a hill at mile 7 and another at mile 9 after which it would undulate, on an upward trajectory, from mile 12 to mile 21. He reassured me that I’d be fine. Given I’d cycled 4,500 ft the previous day I didn’t feel too bad about the prospect of less than half that ascent with only two real hills. I continued with my breakfast feeling like I had something of a rest day ahead of me.

Leaving Padstow, however, it soon became clear that my rest day was not to be. The hills came thick and fast. One minute I’d be descending – at a snail-like pace with hands firmly clenched on the brakes – into what seemed like a bottomless pit, only to be immediately followed by a climb of epic proportions. For most cyclists the ascents would be the real challenge, but with my downhill issues I found the descents just as bad, if not worse. Throughout the 14 or so miles to Newquay I only passed one other cyclist. He was pushing his bike up a hill looking as if he’d lost the will to live.

Fortunately things got a little easier once I left the coast behind and headed inland from Newquay to Truro. There was still a lot of ascent, but it was, as Ian had said, undulating.
My rest day

As it turns out, BikeRouteToaster had the wrong elevation info and instead of 1,700 ft, my 28 mile ride to Truro actually had 2,600 ft of ascent. On the plus side, I didn’t have to worry at all about navigation as my Garmin 800 did an incredible job of directing me all the way. I only got off-course once, at which point there was an angry buzz from the Garmin accompanied by an ‘Off Course’ message. Within a minute I had realised my error and was back on track.

I left Padstow shortly after 9am and was at Truro by midday. The 28 miles weren’t exactly the most relaxed I’ve ever had, but in retrospect it was a good way to end a really incredible trip.  After all, living in London there’s plenty of opportunity for a flat 30 mile ride any day of the week.

The view from Marhamchurch


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