As keen cyclists and passionate Devonians, the idea to circumnavigate our home county has been going around the studio for a couple of years. Devon is the second largest county in England and is also one of the hilliest, and despite the common assumption that cyclists develop a masochistic attraction to riding up hills, we actually don’t like it all that much! We are lucky that our county has an abundance of great scenery both coastal and countryside, and 3 coastlines with a round trip being roughly 300 miles.
So after a reasonable amount of faffing about the talking had to stop and we put a date in the diary – 16 May 2019
The invitation went out to colleagues who we thought might be interested in an adventure and to those who we thought would enjoy the challenge. 16 riders have signed to complete the challenge and we have a 4 person support team in two vehicles. The food wagon will be run by Kate Allen of Cantina, Goodrington. The sweeper van will be driven by Louise Hart from Fruition. Food and bags will be taken care of, leaving the riders to concentrate on 300 miles and 26000 ft of climbing. (Everest is 29000ft!)
First of all who are we? We are Fruition. A design company based in Torquay and the invited are people who share our office space, clients and business contacts.
The charity we have chosen to support this ride is Above Water. They are the water education and safety charity that sends teachers who are qualified lifeguards into schools to teach and promote adventurous water activity, provide water safety education, teach drowning prevention techniques and aquatic first aid. It is free for a school to book a visit by Above Water. Lifeguards deliver whole school assemblies, single lessons, all day activities, after-school parent water safety awareness & first aid and much, much more!
Above Water is passionate about educating children on water safety and believes the best way to guard against drowning is to send professional open water beach lifeguards into schools. Using our own E.S.C.A.P.E WATER programme to comprehensively deliver drowning prevention and water awareness to local communities.
Day 1 Thursday 16 May – Strava
The Grand Depart is from Beacon Quay, Torquay. First, breakfast at Below Decks, the cafe used as the base for Torbay Business Cycle Club’s monthly networking rides https://www.strava.com/clubs/455205. Then we set off for Dartmouth via the lower ferry and then along the causeway at Slapton and Torcross.
We hug the coast going through Salcombe via a ferry from Southpool, over Bolberry Common into to Hope Cove and Bigbury Bay, taking in as much of the coast as we can before arriving in Plymouth.
At Plympton, we pick up the Plym Valley Trail which will guide us gradually towards Tavistock with 600 ft elevation over 10 miles thanks to using the old railway line.
Day 2 Friday 17 May – Strava
Tavistock is about 1/3 of the way along the Devon Coast to Coast and will be our route for the day. N27 and N3 of the Sustrans National Cycle Network. https://www.sustrans.org.uk/map-ncn The routes have a good deal of traffic-free miles to enjoy. However, this being on the edge of Dartmoor means the first 15 miles of the day will see us climb over the rump of North West Dartmoor, reaching 900ft, before descending into Okehampton via Lydford Gorge. After a brief climb out of Okehampton, we spend the next 50 miles on fairly flat terrain. Again this is thanks to the route being based on the old railway line to Bideford.
We sweep past Appledore into Barnstaple then out on the Croyde Road for the sweeping surf views across Saunton Sands. The days ride is draws to a close when at 70 miles we have to climb around Woolacombe and then back down again into Ilfracombe.
Day 3 Saturday 18 May – Strava
The last day is the big one – 128 miles and 10,700 ft of elevation. The first 30 miles will be the toughest as we make our way from Ilfracombe over Exmoor. This stretch of the ride is least known to me and we are still taking advice on how best get to Honiton and sticking to the principle that the ride travels the perimeter of the county. One consolation is after topping out on Exmoor the general incline is downward for the next 80 miles. From Honiton, we follow the River Otter to the sea then join the coast at Budleigh Salterton. Through Exmouth via the seafront, 20 flat miles up and down the Exe Estuary and then we are back on home turf and the rolling hills go our back yard. With 110 miles under our wheels, we have our last hilly section from Dawlish to St Marychurch along the coast road. It is a cruel twist after what will be a very long day and will no doubt hurt the legs. From the last peak at Babbacombe, we have a 2-mile descent back to Torquay harbourside and the end of the ride party. Below Decks will be open to the public and friends and family are encouraged to wait for riders as they cross the line back at Beacon Quay.