South Dartmoor CTC

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Sunday 3 January 1988Afternoon ride: OwleyRain
13 present: Graham Burge, Richard Burge, Leon Cummings (13, Devon), Michael Giles (Adult, Staverton), Paul Hamlyn-White, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Luke Rake, Nicholas Scott-Maddocks (9, Totnes), Andrew Simmons, Jeremy Weston
A disappointing first ride for our newcomers - we had only got half-way up Dean hill when the heavens opened. The debate at the top ended in a split, with Richard Hopper and Mike Giles leading the brave ones on to the Copper Kettle and Michael pursuing the faint-hearted back to Crofters to preside over another game of Risk.

Sunday 10 January 1988Day ride: Avon RailwaySunny start
10 present: Richard Burge, Glen Dowty, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Mark Lakeman, Mark Morris, Nicholas Scott-Maddocks, Andrew Simmons
After welcoming Mark Lakeman out on his new bike we set off along the usual route through Harbertonford, veering right near Moreleigh to bring us to Crabadon Cross and the Curtisknowle turn-off. We had soon found our way onto the muddy track that led steeply down through the woods to the old railway course, and there we had lunch alongside the swift-flowing river Avon.

Then came the interesting bit - trying to get back to a road. We were really no more than half a kilometre from Gara Bridge, but the railway course turned out to have lost much of its hard core and had certainly suffered under the recent rains. We eventually emerged unharmed, having crossed a couple of bogs and ascended a muddy bank to an equally muddy footpath, but the bikes needed a few spins through the nearby puddles to make them ridable! The owner of the house near the bridge turned out to be a cyclist, and was amused to see the state of our bikes.

In the amount of time it took us to climb the hill towards Lupridge (about fifteen minutes), the sky clouded over to obscure the delightful sunshine that had followed us all morning. Now all we could see was a dark and angry cloud racing towards us from the South West and filling the whole sky as it came. We turned tail and headed down into the valley again to Bickham Bridge, arriving just as the storm struck - but only to find nothing in the way of shelter! Well, there was some shelter in the forest on the way down the hill, but the leading youngsters had sailed straight past it.

It did stop, after we had all got drenched, and this made our return through the picturesque lanes near Diptford a real pleasure.

Friday 15 January 1988Social: Give us a Clue
10 present: Richard Burge, Glen Dowty, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Andrew Simmons
For the third year running this proved to be one of the best socials of the season, with everyone getting involved from the most senior (Richard) to the most junior (Toby). The teams kept changing, so most people found themselves in winning teams at one time or another.

Sunday 17 January 1988Day ride: Haldon ForestClear
16 present: Richard Burge, Glen Dowty, Derek Harvey (Adult, Devon), Jason Haynes (Junior, Devon), Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Mark Lakeman, Paul Lakeman, Warren Masters, Mark Morris, Malcolm Sheldon, Gary Taylor (Junior, Paignton), Mark Williams
Poor Glen Johnson! He had arranged to meet our Marldon group as they came through Newton Abbot, but the first group he saw was Torbay Section heading for Chudleigh. He wondered why they didn't stop, but thought they must be the right group and did his best to stay with them all the way to the pick-up. Finally, when he was eventually informed of his mistake, it was too late to get to Gappah even if someone had shown him the way, so he made his way home on his own. The real Marldon group, meanwhile, were more than a little confused when Glen wasn't waiting at the arranged point.

From the pick-up we proceeded up to the forest for lunch, being delayed only by a puncture from Mark L (it had been brother Paul causing the trouble earlier in the day for the Marldon group!) We then took the left-turn link lane across to the A38 and onwards along the ridge to Lawrence Castle.

Some thought that the track through the forest was 'interesting' enough, but it was nothing compared with the steep track near the forest centre. Malcolm (yes, Malcolm Sheldon, not seen for a year before today's ride) managed to skid a hole through his tyre, keeping his friends occupied for quite a while as they effected repairs.

It was after the descent through Chudleigh that Mark Williams overtook Richard Burge. They somehow became entangled and both came off in a spectacular crash. Both were grazed, but Mark was later found to have also broken a chunk of bone off his elbow. In all my ten years of club cycling I cannot recall anyone sustaining a broken bone, and I hope that we never have a similar incident again. Richard escorted him to Bovey hospital and left him in their capable hands, but tea at the Brookside Tearooms was not quite as lively an occasion as it might have been.

Malcolm's tyre needed further treatment before he could ride back to Ashburton, so by the time we all got home it was a good deal later than it should have been. Mark is now making a good recovery, and we are pleased to report that he is looking forward to returning to his bike.

Saturday 23 January 1988Weekend ride: Instow Youth Hostel Day 1Changeable
8 present: Richard Burge, Glen Dowty, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Gary Johnson, Glen Johnson, Michael Jones
Many members had been looking forward to this mid-winter hostel weekend, which had originally been booked with Gidleigh. YHA regional office contacted us eight days before our visit, however, with the sad news of the death of the warden, who had made our youngsters welcome on a number of previous occasions. Reluctantly we had to re-schedule the weekend to Instow, using rail assistance to keep it within the capabilities of our primary-age participants. We still lost a few bookings as a result of the change, however.

In view of the distinct possibility of rain and other unpleasant weather features we decided to take the train right into Barnstaple and try the 'new' cyclepath along the old railway track towards Bideford. A stiff headwind made progress difficult at times, but the journey was punctuated by occasional stops to investigate beaches. One of the spookiest sights along the way was that of a huge derelict power station being dismantled by a single machine operator, the crashes echoing weirdly in the mist.

Arriving at Instow with plenty of time to spare left us with the option of continuing along the track to Bideford and then returning to the hostel through the surrounding lanes. There was not unanimous support for the idea at the outset, but the interesting scenery eventually persuaded them that it was a good idea.

Instow hostel was in the throes of major alterations designed to improve fire safety. Before supper could be prepared we had to clean a layer of dust off the utensils and kitchen surfaces. We really had an excellent evening, however: we were the only bookings, so the youngsters were allowed to run around the spooky corridors and empty dorms that evening without restriction.

Sunday 24 January 1988Weekend ride: Instow Youth Hostel Day 2Sunny with showers
8 present: Richard Burge, Glen Dowty, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Gary Johnson, Glen Johnson, Michael Jones
The group at Instow YH
The group at Instow YH
A rough night was followed by a bright sunny morning, although occasional showers were still in the offing. When duties had been carried out and photographs taken, we set off through the maize of lanes towards Kings Nympton railway station, the route taking us past North Devon's major TV transmitter at Huntshaw Cross. The descent into the steep-sided Taw Valley was grand, bringing us to the station with an hour to spare before the train was due.

After a short lunch we decided to make the most of the sunshine and cycle down the valley to the next station at Eggesford. Sadly we still had a wait, as the train arrived 25 minutes later - on its way up! We amused ourselves for the next hour playing silly 'I spy' games in the ever-chilling air, and certainly appreciated the warmth of the train when it eventually returned.

Friday 29 January 1988Social: Video Evening
7 present: Richard Burge, Luke Hatherly (12, Dartington), Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Andrew Simmons
This evening's video, Mannequin (PG), was the youngsters' own selection, and certainly proved to be quite entertaining.

Sunday 31 January 1988Day ride: LukeslandSunny start
7 present: Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Gary Johnson, Glen Johnson, Michael Jones, Mark Moxham, John Stuart
Gary Johnson near the Avon Dam, probably taken today
It would not be honest to try to pretend that we were not influenced by the weather forecast which predicted torrential rain by mid-afternoon. On arrival at Avonwick we decided to abandon Lukesland (well, he wasn't out anyway) and head for the snow-strewn moors via Aish and Shipley. And that proved to be an excellent decision.

Everything seemed to be perfect on that morning. We stopped on several delightful little bridges along the way, just soaking up the freshness of the moorland brooks as they wended their way between the trees and boulders. Eventually we came to the Avon Dam itself, brimming over with icy cold water and set against a backdrop of snow-covered hills. The sounds of children and an excited dog on the other side of the dam made us feel for all the world as though we were in the Swiss alps!

Of course, there was only one return route that would satisfy everyone's excitement, and so we made our way back behind the dam and over our friendly moorland hills to rejoin the road at Cross Furzes. There was plenty of action along the way, with several people slipping on the snowy slopes, but a grassy foundation ensured that no-one was injured.

We arrived home shortly after 3.30: the rain began at 3.40. And so it was that a perfect day was concluded in a perfect way in a cosy room at Buckfastleigh.

Sunday 7 February 1988Afternoon ride: Ten Commandments StoneRain
9 present: Richard Burge, Luke Hatherly, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Jason Morris, Mark Morris
Well, the rain started ten minutes after we left and showed absolutely no signs of stopping. Various routes were taken, but everyone ended up at Crofters in the end for a fabulous session of entertainments.

Friday 12 February 1988Social: Map Reading Quiz
8 present: Richard Burge, Richard Hopper, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Luke Rake, Andrew Simmons
Three teams crawled their respective ways around three maps in response to the clues on the question sheet, but Andrew and Mark eventually emerged triumphant.

Sunday 14 February 1988Day ride: Slapton SandsSunny
8 present: Richard Burge, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Gary Johnson, Glen Johnson, Michael Jones, Mark Morris
Heavy rain on Saturday evening had left severe floods in many parts of Devon, and we came across the effects shortly after ignoring the 'Road Closed' sign on the main Totnes road - a huge lake at the bottom of Weston Hill.

The three leaders (Mark M, Gary and Richard B) immediately rode into the flood, and quickly found the water lapping over their hubs and ankles with no way of turning back! The rest of the group watched with interest, then removed shoes and socks and cycled across barefoot .. it was absolutely freezing, but at least they had dry socks and shoes to return to on the other side.

Simon Hopper was following on behind us, having been delayed at home by puncture problems. We waited at Totnes until nearly 1130, but in the end discovered that the flood had proved the last straw when he was already convinced that he would miss us.

Taking the main road from Harbertonford to Stanborough took us through some delightful scenery. One of the right-hand tracks near Halwell proved so tempting to Richard Hopper that he decided to try it on his homeward route (he had to be home for a late lunch). It proved decidedly muddy, but made a pleasant change from the more usual methods of return.

A brief lunch on a verge near East Allington was followed by a hard push for the sea, bringing us to Slapton Ley in time for afternoon tea. But what was this? Our usual cafe was closed, and so were all the others! There was plenty of refreshment to be had from the surf on the beach, but in the end we had to find something. Eventually we discovered an excellent little establishment at the end of the promenade which agreed to open early so that we could sample their toasted fruit loaf and other goodies.

Everything was looking at its freshest best today. As we returned through Strete and Tuckenhay, refusing to stop even at the Forces Cross cafe, we all began to appreciate just how fortunate we are to live amidst such beauty.

There is just one more matter to report, concerning the return across the dreaded lake at Weston. In the semi-darkness it became apparent that there were now several machines working to provide drainage. The gentleman at the near side assured us that the level was now much lower than it had been that morning, and that if we cycled to the right of the pump we could cross without difficulty. He neglected, however, to remind us that the pump's output pipe ran to the right of the pump, under the water: several of us got rather wet!

Sunday 21 February 1988Day ride: Stoke-in-TeignheadDry
16 present: Richard Burge, Glen Dowty, Michael Giles, Luke Hatherly, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Brett Jamieson, Glen Johnson, Michael Jones, Mark Lakeman, Paul Lakeman, Warren Masters, Nonie McKenzie (Adult, Staverton), Jason Morris, Andrew Simmons
The highlight of today's ride was the visit to the Old Bakery at Stoke in the afternoon. We had telephoned a warning from Babbacombe, so the proprietors were well prepared for the onslaught. There was a welcoming fire in the hearth and a set of tables especially reserved for us, all helping to make the stay a very pleasant one.

Of course, the rest of the ride was also enjoyable. The Buckfastleigh contingent rode through the Staverton lanes to meet the Paignton brigade at Marldon, and there was then a brisk descent to Cockington before proceeding along the sea front through Torquay. When Brett had finished advising about the best routes to Babbacombe (the reply was 'it's all right' to every suggestion) we eventually chose one which took us beside Meadfoot Beach, a new one for many of us! There was then time to enjoy the superb views and fresh sea air at Babbacombe Downs over a well-earned lunch.

Return from the destination was via Newton Abbot, behind which the group split to return home along some new lanes towards Denbury and Marldon.

Friday 26 February 1988Social: Games Evening
11 present: Richard Burge, Luke Hatherly, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Luke Rake, Andrew Simmons
Michael wasn't well enough to attend this social, even though it took place in his own home! The original Cycle Workshop evening was therefore swapped with the March Games Evening.

Sunday 28 February 1988Day ride: Lustleigh CleaveDry / windy
6 present: Richard Burge, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Mark Moxham
What a wind: coupled with a delayed start it resulted in us missing Graham and the Highwaymen at Drum Bridges. Kevin left us here - we hope he caught the others up at Chudleigh Bridge.

On to Bovey to find no Paignton contingent waiting for us. After a brief wait we headed off for the Primrose cafe in Lustleigh via the old railway track. The surface seems to be gradually improving over the years. The owner told us Mark had been and gone, but would return, which he did. We dragged Richard B away from his second pot of tea to have lunch down in the Cleave - an idyllic spot. A few spots of rain threatened as we dropped down Bone hill to Widecombe, but came to nothing. Ponsworthy Splash gave Mark a chance to clean off the mud from the Cleave, and the tailwind blew us home.

Sunday 6 March 1988Afternoon ride: Combe FishacreDry
7 present: Luke Hatherly, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Mark Morris, Luke Rake
Colston Road upheld its reputation for being somewhat rough and ready when Simon hit a pothole near Velwell. His injuries turned out to be relatively minor, but the owner of the nearby farm was understandably furious that the holes hadn't been repaired by the council despite her many months of complaints!

Simon didn't feel much like completing the ride, but the rest of the group enjoyed a pleasant excursion through the Newhouse Barton lanes, returning through Ipplepen and Broadhempston.

Friday 11 March 1988Social: Road Safety Quiz
9 present: Richard Burge, Glen Dowty, Catherine Hopper, Richard Hopper, Toby Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Michael Jones, Mark Lakeman, Paul Lakeman
Richard Hopper's specially-written questions proved popular with the youngsters, who no doubt learned a good deal about the ups and downs of road safety. Sadly, however, some of the people who could have benefited most from the discussions were not present this evening.

Saturday 12 March 1988Weekend ride: Maypool Youth Hostel Day 1Dry
16 present: Richard Burge, Glen Dowty, Steven Hills, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Gary Johnson, Glen Johnson, Michael Jones, Mark Lakeman, Paul Lakeman, Warren Masters, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Vicky Sanders
Maypool hostel was in a state of turmoil when we arrived, the electricians having been in residence for some two weeks on a massive rewiring programme. The weekend proceeded only after extensive warnings not to touch any wires that may be found poking out of wall sockets or attic covers, but sadly the warnings failed to stop a certain group of individuals from fusing the hostel immediately prior to the games!

When light had finally been restored everyone tired themselves out in the now-traditional method by posting letters all over the hostel, and then there was time for light refreshments and a birthday celebration for one of our North Devon friends before exhaustion eventually overcame even the youngest members.

Sunday 13 March 1988Weekend ride: Maypool Youth Hostel Day 2Dryish
16 present: Richard Burge, Glen Dowty, Steven Hills, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Philip Humphreys, Gary Johnson, Glen Johnson, Michael Jones, Mark Lakeman, Paul Lakeman, Warren Masters, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Vicky Sanders
Now joined by Philip (and having lost the Lakemans and Glen Dowty) we set off from Maypool for the Dartmouth ferry and light refreshments at one of our favourite establishments in the town. A fabulous climb and subsequent descent brought us to Blackpool Sands just in time to see a courageous gentleman remove his clothing and dive into the icy sea - the same gentleman, in fact, whom we saw on this very ride last year! He told us then that he had a dip on every day of the year regardless of the weather, and now we began to realise that perhaps he was serious after all.

Toby, Gary and Co managed to get wet feet in no time at all while other more sensible souls enjoyed their lunches, and then it was time to set off once more. Delightful lanes near the destination (Bowden) successfully managed to puncture Jason's tyre, but otherwise our progress to Hemborough Post was unimpeded.

Gary brought his walkie-talkies today. Now these devices could actually prove useful on a popular cycle tyre for communications front to back. Today, however, they succeeded only in annoying those who weren't playing with them - all the way back to Totnes.

Sunday 20 March 1988Day ride: Whooping RockRain
8 present: Richard Burge, Michael Giles, Brett Jamieson, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Andrew Simmons
The rain came down with maximum force shortly after Mike and Brett's arrival. We did not, however, take the most direct route home, as has been known in the past, preferring instead to enjoy a short excursion towards Haytor and homewards via Ashburton. It often surprises younger members when they discover how enjoyable a rainy ride can be once they are soaked to the skin.

Friday 25 March 1988Social: Games Evening
11 present: Richard Burge, Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper, Toby Hopper, Gary Johnson, Michael Jones, Chris Lock (16, Devon), Jason Morris, Mark Morris, Luke Rake, Andrew Simmons
The final social of the season saw nothing more spectacular than a few computer games and a mammoth game of Risk ... but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

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