This morning we hired the tandem again. The weather was a bit cold and looked like it would rain (it did much later) so we were in two minds about going out. When we got to the hire place we were told that the previous day some German cyclists had returned it with badly indexed gears, and the chain was catching the front dérailleur in certain gears. That was the first clue!
As ever the route was very hilly and after 12 miles we stopped for cream tea. Being in Cornwall that involves jam first followed by clotted cream on top (as opposed to Devon where the cream is first).
We then had a mile downhill, but into a headwind, before hitting a steep uphill. At that point I dropped onto the granny ring and the chain just snapped!
A bit of a walk to get a phone signal and we arranged to be picked up. We’d done 13.5 miles. Bah!
During my lejog I noticed a flier for Lands End Cycle Hire and made a mental note to hire a bike on my hols. Kate decided she wanted to come with me but was pretty daunted by the hills of Cornwall, which are hard enough for regular cyclists, let alone occasional ones. So when I checked out the site I saw they did a tandem. Problem solved!
We picked up the tandem at Trewellard and after a quick spin round the car park to get used to it set off up the B3306 towards St Ives. This took us past Geevor Tin Mine, through Morvah and Porthmeor and up to Zennor. The road varies between narrow for 2 vehicles and single track, and apart from tractors is relatively quiet. Also, not a pothole in sight.
Not that it would matter with the big tyres on the Raleigh tandem. A big heavy beast yet surprisingly manoeuvrable, it had a triple on the front (well, middle) and a 7-speed cassette at the back which actually meant getting up the hills was easier than I thought. Helpfully, Raleigh had inscribed “pilot” on the crossbar at the front seat, and “co-pilot” at the back seat; presumably to avoid arguments. Riding tandem is all about communication and it’s easy to forget that if you stop pedalling, then start again, the person at the back has no idea what you are doing unless you tell them!
There is a long and steepish hill between Zennor and St Ives and near the top, when I was panting and blowing hard, I realised Kate was chattering away quite normally. At which point I realised she wasn’t pedalling very much! As soon as she started it was like a mini-turbo kicked in! Still, suppose it was good training.
We turned onto the B3311 before St Ives through Halsetown and down towards Penzance. The headwind we’d had now became a welcome tailwind. We soon found and stopped at a beautiful little tea shop/artist gallery run by a French lady, where we both had well-earned cream teas.
We followed the road down until the A30 and then turned towards Madron. This involved a 2-3 mile climb which was hard work, but we got a nice downhill back to Morvah in return. A few more miles of rolling countryside saw us back at the hire shop. I forgot my Forerunner so don’t know how far we went – between 20 and 25 miles maybe. Good effort from Kate and very enjoyable. The Tandem was great fun and much easier than I imagine, and Peter from the cycle hire company was extremely helpful – great service. I think we may be back next week for another go!
So we’ve started! The hotel at Cape Cornwall didn’t start breakfast until later than we’d like so the chef kindly agreed to get up early for us. To cut a long story short he made us massive fry-ups which aren’t the best pre-ride breakfast but it didn’t feel right to leave them. So we were late starting, especially after a few more pictures and banter at the sign.
The weather was absolutely brilliant as we set off and we were soon into the first of an endless supply of hills.
30 miles in and we were going great. First stop at Frogpool with refreshments provided by our erstwhile support driver Dave. We’d left the A30 and started riding back roads through beautiful countryside. Sometimes the lanes were so narrow that there was barely room for us and a car coming the opposite way.
At 60 miles we’d done some seriously steep and challenging climbs and were looking forward to lunch in Fowey, which is a really nice place on an estuary. It was a shame, therefore, that the fish and chips we ate were quite disappointing. To get from Fowey we took the car ferry across to Bodinnick. Unfortunately leaving the ferry Rob had a clipless moment slipping on some seaweed on the exit ramp. We were immediately into a series of very steep and sharp ups and downs. The climbs were relentless, the downhills fast and exciting. One thing to say about Cornwall – the majority of the roads are in excellent condition, and it’s only the single track ones that needed any caution. Rob had a second clipless moment near Tavistock. Somebody stopped to ask for directions so Rob leant on the car still clipped in, and the guy just drove off unexpectedly. Just not cricket.
We had a picture taken as we left Cornwall and entered Devon as we went up yet another hill but finally made it to the 95 mile point at Tavistock where Dave was waiting. A long and slow grind up Dartmoor took us the final stage to Okehampton and we arrived about 8-30pm exhausted. The icing on the cake was the hotel cocking up the rooms.
Today was a day of firsts. At 67 miles Pete rode further than he ever had in one go. At 105 miles so did I. Desperately trying to recover now but most of us are struggling to eat enough.
Todays Garmin stats
- 109.7 miles
- 8hrs 25mins
- Nearly 10,000ft of climbing (uncorrected)
- 7373kcals used.
Tomorrow starts early – 130 miles to cover!
One final thing. We must have met half a dozen groups starting Lejog or finishing Jogle. Not a single one of them is trying to do it in 8 days…