Wednesday, 14 March 2012

I like hills.... who knew?

Yesterday we went on a little adventure.  Since my Rediscovery and as I live in Cornwall people have often asked me if I have done the Camel Trail.  I hadn't as it always seemed a tad far away (a 90 mile round trip).   Anyway as we have had a few days holiday this week we decided we would finally give it a go.

For those that don't know it, it's a traffic free trail that follows an old disused railway along an estuary.  It covers about 18 miles each way, taking you through the the pretty towns of Padstow and Wadebridge.  The plan was to complete it all.  I know it was ambitious as it would be just shy of 40miles - something I have never done, but what could go wrong? It was virtually flat all the way.

So we packed up the car.  As we knew the trail was likely to be gravelly we decided that the road bikes wouldn't be the best choice but MTB's would be over-kill so out came trusty Ted. I was excited to be riding him as it has been a while since he has taken me on any adventures.

Sadly the weather wasn't the best.  There was a dense fog from the onset of our car journey - getting denser as we got nearer.  At some points we could barely see the car in front.  I had my fingers crossed that it would clear up the nearer we got - I wasn't convinced though considering we were heading towards the Moors of Bodmin.  

We parked in Bodmin and set off.  The fog had half lifted.  We could see where we were going but could see very little of the landscape/scenery.

For the first few miles I could think of nothing other than finding somewhere to pee.  I was busting after the long drive, but the Trail was pretty populated with many a cyclist and dog walker.  About a mile in - we found a cafe. No! It looked very shut!  Thankfully the very nice owner saw us lurking and asked if we needed assistance.  I explained and she kindly let us use the cafe facilities.  Phew. Now I could enjoy the rest of the ride.

On returning back to the trails, we met with a lady on a touring bike.  Despite our cheery hellos she just muttered before accelerating off. Pah! How rude. We stuck 10-30 metres behind her for the next few miles. She kept accelerating off and then looking back in the hope that she dropped us.  After about 5 miles I was starting to tire of following her.  It was boring and I was missing out on the scenery being so determined not to let her go.

Once in Wadebridge there was a little bit of road to negotiate but I was pleased to see that it seemed to be a very cycle orientated place with clear bike lanes and lots of bikes around.

The next section was quite pretty and included going through a slate quarry and then over a industrial looking girder bridge.  I just wish we could have had clearer skies to appreciate all the varying  scenes more.

Padstow was even more bike orientated with hundreds of bicycle racks and even a secure bike park to leave your bikes at the end of the trail. However, not ones for walking we continued by bike into the town centre.  I wish we had left them somewhere, it was hell negotiating all the one-way streets and avoiding oblivious slow moving pedestrians.  My average speed dropped over 2mph from our short time in the centre. It was hell.  I dread to think how awful it is on sunnier days!

Although we didn't go to Rick Stiens cafe as he fries his fish in beef dripping (Yuk!) we did find another chippy and have the obligatory Fish and Chips whilst sat on the sea front.

Then we set off back home.  Ooops.  Now we seemed to have a bitterly cold headwind.  It wasn't a strong wind but there was just no shelter/respite.  I then also started to notice my legs were hurting.  Ouch... as was my saddle.  I then realised that as we had been riding on the flat we had been pedaling constantly. There was no opportunity to free-wheel as there were no down hills and there was no need to climb anywhere and get out of the saddle. Ooooww!  The wind and the discomfort started to get to me - I was struggling now. Grrr! I was no longer enjoying this.  I was just glad that we were parked where we were - we hadn't parked at the very end of the trail so we didn't actually have all of the trail to do.  The plan had been to do it all, but there was no way I could.

With two miles left before getting to the car I was at breaking point.  My thigh muscles felt like they were shearing away from my legs.  My intimate area was excruciating.  With only a mile left to get to the car I was almost crying.

We got back to the car. I wasn't prepared to carry on any further. Sod the rest of the ride - with only 24.5 miles on the clock I felt more spent than I ever had before!

I know I always moan and grumble about the hills around here but now I have experienced the pain of constant pedaling on the flat I have a new found appreciation of hills for the getting out of the saddle more and the joy of free-wheeling.

Who knew how much I would learn to love hills. ;-)


Pedalling Polarcherry said...

Feel your pain mate. Well done for finishing it and not getting mike to rescue you.

Keep at it and your fitness will. resume soon.

Trevor said...

My daughter rode this route last year and she mentioned to me that she found it tough because of no opportunity to freewheel.....


Nosila107 said...

The first time we went for a longer ride in Cambridgeshire we noticed the same thing - "flat riding" gives you no respite at all!

Glad you and Ted got out for an adventure though :o)

Chris said...

I like to be able to get to the bike paths on weekends too. I usually take my folding bike, since it's so easy to put in the car. Headwind can be killer though, especially along the water.

SS:Mntbiker\Olskoolrodder said...

KC,I'm proud of you,my friend! On the flat thing,LOL,yeah,rail-trails can definately be like that. Sounds lots like our own Virginia Crepper,at least the lower part of it (from Abingdon to Damascas,it's dang-near flat,and always,ALWAYS gets Nick when I tae him along,bless his little heart he never complains though,haaha!).

It takes some getting used to. While I enjoy hills much more than in the past lately,I also enjoy the 15 or so flat miles of the Creeper (before it turns steady grade one direction or the other until it ends at the North Carolina border,all33.something miles of it),I just set myself into a steady rythe and go. Like you said though,until the body becomes accustomed to it (non-stop pedal-turning),there can definately be some "tender spots" noticed,LOL!

Chris: I recently bought my first ever folders a (non-matched) pair for myself and finally getting the Wife on a bike (at 39,she's never rideen a bike...). Loving them so far :)

Marsha said...

Wonderful pictures. What a lovely area for a ride!

KatieCake said...

Thanks for all the positive comments, they definitely helped get me back out on the bike after such a beating. :-)