Friday, 16 June 2017

A Rather Early Ride to the Coast.

Now before we start on the main content of this post, a couple of random bits.

The countryside is generally a quiet, relaxing and peaceful place. It's a place where one can enjoy bird song, cows mooing and sheep bleating, maybe a tractor toiling in a distant field. A place of gentle joy. Apart from the other day that is when I was out for a quick bimble around my favourite loop. There I was enjoying the sunshine, drifting along the lane towards Four Turnings when suddenly - Phhhhtoooommmmm!!!! I almost found out what adrenalin smells like. Good job I was wearing bicycle clips I can tell you. The culprit is below...

Gas powered agricultural laxative device.
As ever, right click and open in a new tab will see any fuzzy photos, like this one, in all their glory.

A chuffing gas powered bird scarer sat in a field, but rather close too close to the road for comfort and good trouser well being. These things are a common enough sound now, Scarecrows were made redundant long ago in favour of these bird bazookas going off randomly, and sounding like a heavy cruiser letting loose with a full broadside. Guffing 'eck it was loud. Normally though they are placed away from the lanes so whilst still audible, they don't scare the bejeezus out of anyone passing. Quite why the damned device was sited almost in a corner of a field, and pointing outwards across the road towards a wood I don't know. I thought the idea was to scare the birds off the field, not blast them out of the tree tops with a shock wave or something. 

Last time here I posted a link to a rather good talk given by Lee Craigie and how to ride like a girl.

Well I found another video by her that also hits so many right notes for me. Nicely filmed too. Well worth a watch - Escape – Lee Craigie’s inner journey along the Caledonia Way

Right, onto the tale of dawnly derring do.

I've long fancied doing a pre-dawn ride, but even in winter when early rise heroics are not required, I've not quite managed it. It helps that I'm more of a morning person anyway, quite happy to get up early and get things done and still have a big chunk of the day left over for whatever. It also helps that sleep is often hard to come by for one reason and another, but enough of that. Plus of course there would be the dramatic glory of the dawn itself, the light, the colours, the mist, the sheer breath taking beauty of it all...

So I'd been mulling over getting out early and having a bit of an epic ride somewhere, and the recent good weather and my back holding up well at the moment only made me want to do it even more. Where to go was of course the big question, and this is where my imagination/daring deserted me, and I opted to do a ride I've done before, just the once though, to the south coast on the Roseland peninsular, and East Portholland.

So with yesterday (Thursday) being the planned big day, I found myself up and about shortly after 4.30am, and out the door bang on 05.00. Unfortunately I wasn't to be treated to a spectacular rising of the sun, no. Instead it was just the dull greyness getting a bit lighter, as the big day turned out to be, well a bit meh.

Amazing how much light a camera can pick up when it wants to. It was still pretty dark when the above shots were taken, and those lights were much needed, although the front one is a 'be seen' jobbie rather than a see where you're going affair.

Oh well, I was up and out, the hard work was done, so adopting the smoke it if you've got it rule, I firmly banished any thoughts of leaving it for a better day and going back to bed, and pedaled onwards, still intent of making the most of my early start. He who dares and all that.

The lanes are little different at silly o'clock to during the day really, just the same noise from the birds and the wind, but visually everything is in low definition, from both the low light and also my still not fully booted up head. The villages of course, are an exception, and Probus and Tregony were both eerily deserted as I plodded on through.

It was just after Tregony that someone let the drizzle out and I started getting wet. Oh well, it'd maybe help keep pollen levels down a bit, so press on.

While I was tooting along I was recalling an online article I'd read a couple of days before about things you simply must take when going on a bike ride – any bike ride that is, and oh boy did I scoff at one of the suggestions – some sort of sat nav device. Pfft! Pah! And Pfft! again. I use the real manly man's method of finding my way around, the paper map. There is something really satisfying I think about stopping, scratching your chin for a moment before pulling out the map, having a quick check and a loud 'Ah Ha!' before smugly setting off once again.

Not only that, but I've read a book on using natural aids to navigation, how to know which is east and which is west by looking at the landscape, trees and moss n'stuff. Proper Bear Grylls me. Sat Nav? My backside!

I arrived in East Portholland at about 06.45, a little later than estimated having had a minor optimum directional issue. I didn't get lost, no not me, uh uh. I just didn't know which turning I had to take at a couple of multi option junctions and may have spent a little while on some unplanned bonus lane exploration... ahem.

Destination reached - East Portholland.
I'm not always a fan of long exposures on moving water, but thought I'd try a couple here. The water draining off the wall there is a stream emptying into the sea that passes beneath the road via a culvert. This was taken at about 7am, but not all the locals were still in bed, and I was being watched by from a doorway behind the phone box. 

Why East Portholland? I don't know why or what first drew me there many, many, years ago, but it was a favourite place to escape to when I was first riding a motorbike back in about 1979, and it hasn't changed at all since then. It is still a collection of a few houses, a cliff and a beach, and being well off the beaten track, still takes a bit of getting at, more so on a push bike of course. For a bit of invigorating and refreshing peace and quiet, it ticks all the boxes.

Right, this blog page is going to utterly marmalise the photo, so do the right clicky thing if you want, but I'm going to lob in a quick panoramic that shows pretty much all there is at East Portholland (there are a couple more buildings behind me, but this is pretty much all there is to see).

No flat roof pubs, no surf shops, no acres of sun burned flesh waddling about. You could almost imagine old Ross Poldark wandering down the coastal path on his way to have another barney with a damned Warleggan...

After the obligatory look around and the taking of a few photos, I plotted up on the small headland to the west of the village and settled down to brew up a coffee on the mini Trangia. One light rain shower passed by quickly while the kettle was on, seen off sharply by an emerging blanket of sunshine that spread colour and warmth all around. Despite the drizzle, the undramatic dawn and getting lost route option disorientation, and all the effort involved in the early start, it was all suddenly worthwhile as the ride went from just something I was doing, enjoyable though it was, to a proper 'wow this is brilliant.'

 A cracking place to sit while the stove boils a kettle for coffee. Look closely and you can see rain drops as a shower was just starting. Nescafe Toffee Nut Latte was again the beverage of choice.

 Breakfast! For various reasons I don't eat much the night before a ride, and not normally at all during one, but I thought I'd have a treat and indulge in a small snack. I need to get brave and experiment with eating while on a ride, as I might not tire so readily on these longer rides. I was hooperchooped by the time I got home.

 Hayup, is that the sun coming out?

Woo yeah!
Now I must admit here that the Jamis is looking a tad grimy. I normally extol the virtues of running a clean bike at every opportunity but while the Jamis here has done several rides recently, they've all been on dry(ish) roads. So with just a light covering of road dust I hadn't bothered to crack out the pressure washer and give it a scrub up. The drizzle and a few sloppy farmyards en route left it looking a tad gribbley though.

The lanes I was riding were all very nice, especially in the sunshine, but also they were a tad featureless, just like as above, high banked with little to see, so I didn't take many photos for large parts of the ride. 

Rather than simply go back the way I'd come as I had done last time, I made my way through West Portholland (there are even fewer houses there) and along lanes lined on one side with acres of vibrant pink Foxgloves and Campion, and after only a mile or so riding in completely the wrong direction after confusing one main road for another (how much are those sat navs again? Ahem...), I was back on roads I traveled only last Sunday, through Lamorran Woods and St Michael Penkevil. This is an area I have quickly grown rather fond of! A quick glimpse of a young Deer, and also some Raptor or other swooping out of the trees and soaring effortlessly and gracefully along the road ahead of me under the trees only made the day even better, and enhanced that new found fondness even more.

 Above and below: Sett Bridge just west of Ruan Lanihorne.

 You don't see a car for 40 minutes, then just as you've set up the tripod for a selfie, one comes past, then stops on a bend while the oldies inside take in the view, and get in the way of my photo... I gave up waiting for it to move, and had thought I ought to ride up to it in case the elderly driver had just expired behind the wheel or something, but true to form, the car moved on as I approached it... Gah!!

Before the selfie, so out of order really, but still. The road through Lamorran Wood.

It doesn't look it, but is slightly down hill here, hence the extravagant speed, but after a grey and drizzly start, it turned out to be superb riding weather.

Back home well before lunchtime made it a day with a great feeling of accomplishment, albeit one with knackered legs, but that's a small price to pay.

I do get frustrated with my map reading/navigation skillz though! A lack of useful signposting and roads that all look alike don't help mind you. There is a time and a place for getting lost – it can be very rewarding in fact, part of the appeal of a good bike borne ramble, but when riding with a set destination in mind and getting lost even after looking at the map and being unable to translate what's on paper to what was in front of me is just flat out annoying. A big loss of Man Points there, and I will beat myself with a copy of the Adventure Cycle Touring Handbook by way of punishment.

But unplanned excursions apart, it was a damned good ride and drinking steaming hot coffee while looking out to sea, just as the sun burst through, lighting and warming all around, was a rather special moment for sure.

As usual, the better map along with other details of the ride can be found Here