South Dartmoor CTC


Sunday 6 January 1991Day ride (Hardriders): Blackingstone Rock (40 mi)Windy, showers/rain
2 present: Richard Hopper, Simon Hopper
The forecasters had issued storm warnings for the night before: was it this or the nine o'clock start that kept everyone else at home? Simon and Richard had a good tail wind to get them to Chudleigh Bridge, but there was no one there either. We went up past Canonteign Falls and climbed over the ridge to the reservoirs, regretting our lack of recent exercise. We paused on the way to Blackingstone to admire the snow on the higher moorland. By the time we clambered to the top the view was obscured by approaching rainclouds, so we had a quick lunch in the lee of the rock, picking a spot amidst the last vestiges of the snow.

The rain held off as we made our way through Hennock to Bovey. So far we had only had the odd shower, but now it set in steadily. The helpful wind of the morning was in our faces and we made a rather dour and damp return to Buckfastleigh. We considered joining the afternoon ride, but as we'd clearly had the best of the day's weather we decided against it.

Sunday 6 January 1991Afternoon ride (Buckfastleigh): Stert BartonWet
6 present: Joseph Bellows, Luke Hatherly, Martin Luke, Ken Oakley, Paul Oakley, Martyn Williams
Heavy rain didn't stop a few hardy souls from turning up at the start, including Joseph Bellows on his new Trek 800. They 'enjoyed' a short ride along Colston Road and returned early.

Sunday 6 January 1991Afternoon ride (Paignton): Stoke Gabriel WeirHeavy rain
6 present: Ben Hobday, Ken Twydell, Paul Twydell, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Robert Walker
The forecasters had got it right again - rain, rain and more rain. However as Ken had to be at the pick up point as ride leader, he saw no reason why Ben and Paul should not suffer as well. What is amazing is that the male Walkers decided to turn up as well.

Our party of six set off towards Westerland but had to wait for Paul who had already had enough and was insisting on a return home. However the threat of Julie's wrath when he got home gave him new heart and we started again.

The weather got worse as we went through the lovely (and soon to be made into a by-pass) Westerland valley, so we decided to cut back towards home. On the way there was a 'lush' off-road section that the Boys enjoyed to the full - suddenly the rain didn't seem to matter!

A swift return to Ken's house followed by hot chocolate all round prematurely ended the day - could have been better but at least we made the effort.

Friday 11 January 1991
Social: Bicycle Workshop
25 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Jeremy Ford, Richard Gray (11, Devon), Dayle Guy, Martin Hamlyn-White, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Philip Harler, Luke Hatherly, Martin Hills, Ben Hobday, Karina Hobday, Roxanne Hobday, Catherine Hopper, Michael Jones, Luke Kudliskis, Marcus Kudliskis, Martin Luke, Chris Platt, David Platt, Debbie Twydell, Ken Twydell, Martyn Williams
Our first social at South Dartmoor school was a resounding success. We had the exclusive use of the CDT room, with eight metalwork vices and numerous benches. Most members brought wheels, and during the course of the evening they learned how to dismantle the wheel bearings, clean them, replace damaged parts, regrease, reassemble and adjust them. There was adult assistance to guide them, of course, and we also supplied grease, bearings and tools.

Ken was beginning to panic when Martin Luke's Shimano gears came apart, but he managed to complete the job on time.

Sunday 13 January 1991Day ride: Blackingstone RockCold and sunny
13 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Tao Burgess, Julian Duquemin, Dayle Guy, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Martin Luke, David Robinson, Eliot Thomas-Wright, Martyn Williams
This was an excellent ride, taking us through some delightful scenery enhanced by the perfect winter weather conditions. Neil, who had been feeling unwell for half an hour, decided to go home at Bovey Tracey - a sensible decision, as it later transpired that he had German Measles.

A steep climb past the hospital brought us quickly to the reservoirs, and thence to the Rock for lunch. A few foolhardy members ate lunch on the top whilst the sensible ones sheltered from the wind at the base of the rock, making the most of the sunshine. Moretonhampstead's Mearsdon Manor provided welcome warmth and refreshments before we proceeded to North Bovey and the famous ford. The river was too high for fording today, but the muddy track offered amusement for many - the sight of Paul HW and others gingerly creeping along a high bank to avoid getting dirty was amusing.

Part way up the hill towards the Manaton road we met an interesting old lady and her two rescued dogs. After a short chat we were on our way again, only to be subjected to a mad motorist hurtling down the hill towards us. The icy patches which were causing us problems did not affect the car, but he very nearly overshot the bend: Paul and others were fortunate to survive!

A 'hot snack van' at Hound Tor proved irresistible for some despite the descending darkness - Dave Robinson certainly wasn't going to wait for them. When we finally descended Ausewell hill we discovered that Tao was in a poor state: his fingerless gloves had done little to protect him from the cold. We thawed him out in the Peartree filling station, and then Michael's gloves protected him for the short journey home. He vowed to bring better gloves in future!

Sunday 20 January 1991Day ride (Hardriders): Dartmouth (40 mi)Overcast & dry
4 present: Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Martin Hills, Richard Hopper
While we waited in Totnes for others to appear Richard H took the opportunity to fix his front derailleur. No one else turned up, so we headed up the hill under the still ruined East Gate arch. We had decided that Julian needed some hill work, so the route to Dartmouth took in Dittisham and Old Mill creek, but left him unimpressed with our concern. The return journey involved avoiding some maniacal motorcyclists outside Harbertonford. Harberton itself suffers from the Robin Hood syndrome: every road in or out has an arrow on it. So, once again mindful of Julian's development, that was the way we returned to Buckfastleigh.

Sunday 20 January 1991Morning ride (Buckfastleigh): Pupers HillDry but overcast
18 present: Tristan Allen, Nathan Arecco, Neil Ault, Joseph Bellows, Tao Burgess, Alan Dawson (Junior, Newton Abbot), Matthew Hamlyn-White, Philip Harler, Michael Jones, Martin Luke, Keir Manning, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt, David Platt, Gavin Taylor, Eliot Thomas-Wright, Joseph Watkins, Oliver Wright (Junior, Buckfastleigh)
The first ever morning ride from Buckfastleigh didn't go exactly to plan. First of all, Michael fooled David and Matthew by being early at the start: they thought they'd missed the group and made their own way to Cross Furzes. Meanwhile Michael met Matthew's father, who was somewhat concerned that his son wasn't with us!

We met Oliver and Tom at Cross Furzes as well as David and Matthew. Oliver got permission to ride with us until midday, so we set off along the track to Hayford Hall and Lud Gate. Pupers Hill lay in front of us, and the plan was to ride to the top and then across the ridge towards Water Oak Corner, returning to Buckfastleigh via the Avon Dam. Two successive mistakes compounded to make this impossible, however.

Michael made the first mistake. The leading riders were half way up Pupers Hill while the tail enders were still close to Lud Gate. Looking at his watch, Michael decided to direct the stragglers along a more direct route to the ridge, veering to the left. This should have enabled the leaders to see the spectacular views from Pupers and then meet the others along the ridge. Unfortunately, however, the stragglers took various different short cuts, and several of the leaders changed direction to intercept the stragglers. After a few moments, Michael could not be sure if anyone had gone up to Pupers. He had to spend ten minutes going to the top to check. When he found nobody there he proceeded to rejoin the others along the ridge.

As he approached, he saw a few cyclists riding off towards Water Oak Corner. The others were waiting as they had been directed. When heads had been counted and questions asked it became clear that David and Matthew had been followed by four other members. As we watched them in the distance they turned down the hill towards Cross Furzes, and Michael was powerless to stop them. The rest of us had no choice but to follow them, so we missed out on the Avon Dam.

The mistake here was made by David and Matthew, who should have waited with the main group until Michael arrived. They did not know Michael's proposed route, and moving off made it difficult to see if anyone had gone missing on the previous short section of riding.

We now had time to spare, so we decided to ride home via Coombe and Hawson Court. Sadly, however, Joseph Watkins got a puncture at the top which Matthew and David were unable to repair in four attempts. Michael, being without adult assistance, could not cycle up to assist, so he led the other riders home and then returned in his car to collect Joseph. Matthew and David had been very helpful, which made up for their earlier mistake!

Sunday 20 January 1991Morning ride (Paignton): St Augustine's PrioryDull but dry
16 present: Christian Bryant (12, Torquay), Jenny Bryant (Adult, Torquay), Mike Bryant (Adult, Torquay), Luke Hatherly, Ben Hobday, Karina Hobday, Roxanne Hobday, Gary Taylor, Debbie Twydell, James Twydell, Ken Twydell, Paul Twydell, Julie Twydell-Hobday, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Robert Walker
Thanks to Luke's sterling efforts as Publicity Officer we had a photographer from the Weekender who took up about half an hour of our time. Then, just as we were about to set off Luke had a puncture - another quarter of an hour gone!

Finally we set off through Compton, temporarily closed to traffic for pipe laying. Ben went rushing on ahead with the 'Big Boys' but failed to negotiate a slight bend and hit a stone wall at considerable speed. Dad's knowledge of first aid ("Can you wriggle your fingers?") was supplemented by Charlie who is a qualified nurse, and Ben was soon on his way - hopefully a bit wiser.

Soon after this we acquired a dog who followed us nearly as far as North Whilborough. When we stopped for Luke to mend another (or same) puncture the dog amused us by teasing some Heifers into chasing him out of their field.

At North Whilborough we separated into 'trackies' and sensible people. During the route discussion a P**t in a Ford Escort hurtled round a bend missing Julie's rear (trailer!) by inches. It's an interesting question - who would have been at fault if an impact had occurred? We undoubtedly were taking up much of the road, but it was a very quiet route and he could clearly see us as he drove at us like a complete idiot. In future we must ensure that we don't block off roads when we stop, however quiet they may be.

There followed the long climb to the Priory, the steep drop into Abbotskerswell and another climb out again. Coffee was taken at Pick 'n' Park where we said goodbye to Gary and Luke before a nice ride back to Marldon.

Friday 25 January 1991
Social: Indoor Games
16 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Chris Giles, Dayle Guy, Paul Hamlyn-White, Luke Hatherly, Martin Hills, Catherine Hopper, Roger Johnson, Michael Jones, David Robinson, Dominic Robinson, Philip Robinson, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth
Another evening of fun and games at the Southpark centre, including Risk, table tennis, pool and computer games.

Sunday 27 January 1991Day ride: Exeter Ship Canal (51 mi)Cold with drizzle
16 present: Neil Ault, Joseph Bellows, Tao Burgess, Jamie Davey, Paul Hamlyn-White, Dave Humphreys, Michael Jones, Keir Manning, David Robinson, Dominic Robinson, Philip Robinson, David Waldron, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Lorraine Walker, Robert Walker
Uninspiring weather did not deter the entire Walker family or the other twelve participants from taking part in this enjoyable ride to Exeter along the canal path from Powderham. Conditions at Turf Lock were so cold that we shortened lunch to just fifteen minutes, but once moving again we soon became comfortably warm.

The drag up to Haldon from Clapham was not particularly welcomed by the slower riders, but we still managed to get home by about 6.30.

Sunday 3 February 1991Day ride (Hardriders): Hunters' Path (49 mi)Dry, very cold
6 present: Richard Burge, Dayle Guy, Luke Hatherly, Martin Hills, Richard Hopper, Sebastian Lessware (16, Totnes)

Although there was still snow on the ground the council crews had done a good job and the roads were ice-free. Martin and Dayle joined Richard at the start and after picking up Richard B at Alston Cross we found Luke waiting for us at Chudleigh Bridge with new rider Seb. Luke demonstrated his understanding of the word cool by wearing shorts and cycling mitts.

Once we left the road at Steps Bridge the snow on the path became both a visual delight and a challenge to staying upright. The forestry track from Clifford Bridge presented new problems: the deep puddles had thick ice on them, but was it enough to take our weight? Most of the time, yes. Enjoyably Fingle Bridge had only a handful of motorised visitors, and here Dayle found that the Ribena in his water bottle was undrinkable - it had frozen.

Hunters' Path was the usual strenuous struggle to the top, but we were rewarded by excellent views of Castle Drogo in the snowy landscape. Tea at Moretonhampstead allowed the thawing of extremities and fortified us for the return home.

Members may be interested to know that a pot of tea at the Primrose café is now £1 per person!

Sunday 3 February 1991Afternoon ride: AshpringtonCold, calm, dry, cloudy
29 present: Neil Ault, Christian Bryant, Mike Bryant, Tao Burgess, David Cutts, Alan Dawson, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Ben Hobday, Karina Hobday, Roxanne Hobday, Michael Jones, Martin Luke, Keir Manning, Ken Oakley, Paul Oakley, David Robinson, Dominic Robinson, Philip Robinson, Peter Rushworth, Debbie Twydell, James Twydell, Ken Twydell, Paul Twydell, Julie Twydell-Hobday, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Robert Walker, Joseph Watkins
When everyone had assembled at the Totnes pick-up we made an impressive sight for the locals - a huge throng of cyclists that filled a large portion of the Plains.

Our favourite route to Ashprington is along the Sharpham Drive track, but this doesn't suit everyone, especially in the winter period when the track is muddy. Today, just nine of our number opted for the road alternative, and paid a penalty with a prolonged half-hour wait at Ashprington. It wasn't that the trackies were being unusually slow: the track boasted several muddy patches, much to the excitement of many younger riders who managed to get filthy, and there were a number of styles to be negotiated - not an easy matter with twenty bikes! Then there was the gate which looked like a barbed wire fence: several had struggled to carry their bikes over the top before Neil pointed out that it could be opened. And then Christian broke a chain in the middle of a particularly muddy patch - quickly repaired, but causing slight delay nevertheless. To round off the fun there was a steep-sided field to climb (with an awkward style at the top of course), at which point Andrew Walker would have lost his new cycle computer had Dave Robinson not spotted it lying in the leaves.

We returned swiftly to Totnes via Bowden, and thence to Paignton and Buckfastleigh by our separate ways. The Buckfastleigh contingent were feeling so energetic that they opted for the hard return via Rattery. Joseph B had chain problems along the way, but these were eventually fixed when Neil returned to find him.

Friday 8 February 1991
Social: Map Reading
20 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Dayle Guy, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Martin Hills, Catherine Hopper, Richard Hopper, Michael Jones, Martin Luke, Ken Oakley, Paul Oakley, Chris Platt, David Platt, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Robert Walker
Richard Hopper had prepared an enjoyable pair of map quizzes for our members.

Saturday 9 February 1991Weekend ride: Crowcombe Youth Hostel Day 1Cold, sunny
16 present: Neil Ault, Tao Burgess, Jamie Davey, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Ben Hobday, Michael Jones, Martin Luke, David Platt, Ken Twydell, Paul Twydell, David Waldron, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Lorraine Walker, Robert Walker
Crowcombe YH
The entrance to Crowcombe YH
Ben & Paul huddling around the fire
Recent snowfall over the south-west had meant that the final decision about whether or not the weekend should proceed as planned could not be made until the Saturday morning. The forecast was good and the wardens assured us that all main roads were clear, so we decided to go ahead.

The weekend began early for the Walker family: we were using a Luton van to transport the bikes, and the lot fell to the Walkers to collect it from the hire firm. Ken was bringing his personal mini-bus for the passengers, so when the Paignton contingent had loaded up, the strange convoy set off for Buckfastleigh and Heathfield to collect the other participants. The loading was not straightforward because Charlie took great care to secure the bikes with blankets and ropes, but the whole operation still proceeded right on schedule - much to the surprise of David and Jamie, who are used to waiting for an hour or more for the South Dartmoor brigade, especially on cold mornings!

The van's engine had only just warmed up when the crew in the mini-bus decided it was time for a pit-stop and promptly rolled into the Happy Eater on Haldon Hill. The youngsters definitely wanted a café stop, and this seemed like the only place we could be certain of getting it, but Charlie was not a happy eater today!

The closer we got to Crowcombe Heathfield the whiter the fields became, but the main roads remained clear and safe as the wardens had predicted. The half-mile lane from the main road to the hostel, having recently been salted, was covered with various textures of snow and slush, but Ken decided it was too white for the vans. We parked opposite a nearby garage and coasted precariously down to the youth hostel, only to find that the warden's 'opening after lunch' was actually going to be 4.30pm! We shivered on the doorstep as the warden walked off and left us - his heart must have been made of stone.

A short ride was attempted in order to keep warm, covering a roughly circular route around the hostel. The lanes we used were thick with snow, which offered plenty of scope for amusement. One of the amusements was the sight of Matthew riding over a snowy mound and discovering a steep drop on the other side which ended in a gully. He somehow managed to avoid serious injury, but ruined his front forks. Meanwhile, Ken decided to risk bringing the vans into the hostel grounds: they offered welcome comfort when we returned, keeping us warm until we were eventually allowed into the hostel.

The warden gave us a belated 'warm' welcome. We all clamoured round a glowing Parkray fire in the common room - except for one illustrious member, initials KT, who was doing his 'Scott of the Antarctic' routine as the snow fell. Apparently, where there's no sense there's no feeling! He finally returned as darkness fell to find everyone enjoying board games, magazines and quiet conversation in the cosy common room.

The dormitories were very cold, but that didn't stop the inevitable blanket fights from taking place. Perhaps the most memorable sight of the evening was that of David Waldron consuming vast quantities of food after supper!

Sunday 10 February 1991Weekend ride: Crowcombe Youth Hostel Day 2Cold, sunny
16 present: Neil Ault, Tao Burgess, Jamie Davey, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Ben Hobday, Michael Jones, Martin Luke, David Platt, Ken Twydell, Paul Twydell, David Waldron, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Lorraine Walker, Robert Walker
Snow fun by the roadside
Getting ready to leave the hostel
Snow fights
Martin, Luke and Neil
Packing the bikes back into the van
Riding through Dunster
After a comfy night's sleep we arose to a little confusion in the dining room: apparently Michael had ordered a 'veggie' breakfast even though he was self-catering. He returned to the members' kitchen to finish off the remainder of Ken's porridge - not one of his better concoctions.

We were greeted by a fine but cold day and decided to make the most of it by cycling to the sleepy fishing village of Watchet for refreshments, exhausting all the 'watch-it' jokes along the way. On arrival we descended upon the unsuspecting proprietor of a local tearoom who, when he had pulled himself together, provided us with excellent fare. As we were preparing to leave for Dunster, David Platt, clearly disappointed at the lack of tracks on the ride so far, decided to wallow in the mud of Watchet harbour! There was considerable delay while he changed his attire.

After a steep pull out of Blue Anchor there was much high jinks in the deep, drifted snow by the roadside: several people received snowy missiles from their 'friends'. When we finally reached Dunster we had to agree that it was picturesque, but all the tearooms were closed so we gathered under the famous yarn market and dug deeper into our remaining provisions.

We made a swift return back to Crowcombe via the main roads, quickly learning (after two close encounters with four-wheeled vehicles) that high jinks and main road cycling don't mix. We packed the bikes into the van and returned to Devon, all agreeing that we couldn't have had a better mid-winter weekend.

Sunday 17 February 1991Day ride (Hardriders): Down the Avon (51 mi)Sunny & warm, windy
1 present: Richard Hopper
This was a non-event, as only Richard H attended. Well actually, Luke Hatherly and his friends would have been there too, but they were a few minutes late (as usual) and missed the ride! Fortunately they only had to wait an hour for the Whiddon Farm Tracks ride.

Sunday 17 February 1991Morning ride (Buckfastleigh): Whiddon Farm Track (14 mi)Sunny and cool
13 present: Neil Ault, Stuart Benns (16, Devon), Tao Burgess, Alan Dawson, Luke Hatherly, Mark Hedges, Mark Hiscutt (14, Kingsteignton), Roger Johnson, Michael Jones, Sebastian Lessware, Keir Manning, Peter Rushworth, Michael Young (14, Kingsteignton)
The road through Rew towards South Dartmoor School was delightful today. We had just begun the steep climb towards Whiddon Farm when a loud explosion signalled the end of the ride for Keir. Closer inspection revealed that a particularly bald patch on an otherwise good tyre had finally given way. Keir is not the only young member who enjoys skidding on his bike. Be warned, all you skidsters, that skidding costs a lot of money in new tyres, ruins your enjoyment of a ride, puts someone to considerable inconvenience to collect you, and holds up the entire club. Don't do it!

Keir walked the ridge road and the track, and then Peter, Roger and Mark Hedges escorted him back to the telephone box at Ashburton while the rest of us climbed to Cold East Cross. Luke and his friends took the short cut up the track, and then regretted it when Michael turned out to be right about it being 'all uphill and unridable'. We returned to Ashburton and Buckfastleigh across the moor, arriving just in time to see Keir passing in a van. Congratulations to the new riders, who all performed admirably.

Sunday 17 February 1991Morning ride (Paignton): Torbryan CavesCool but dry
17 present: Ben Hobday, Karina Hobday, Roxanne Hobday, Martin Luke, Unknown Rider 1, David Robinson, Dominic Robinson, Philip Robinson, Debbie Twydell, James Twydell, Ken Twydell, Paul Twydell, Julie Twydell-Hobday, Andrew Walker, Charlie Walker, Lorraine Walker, Robert Walker
We chose a route through the back lanes to Ipplepen where we were stopped by an intrigued resident who said he may come out with his family in the future. As he had six children (and a white minibus) the Twyfam may yet be outdone.

At Torbryan Dave Robinson led the tracksters past the caves (?) whilst the others went round by road to meet at the next junction. Here we said goodbye to the Robinsons who had to be back early. As the weather was not too bad we voted to continue through the lanes with no particular purpose, going through Denbury before doubling back to Broadhempston and home via Red Post.

Friday 22 February 1991
Social: Give us a Clue
13 present: Neil Ault, Richard Burge, Julian Duquemin, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Paul Hamlyn-White, Catherine Hopper, Michael Jones, Martin Luke, David Platt, David Robinson, Dominic Robinson, Martin Rushworth, Peter Rushworth
This is always an enjoyable evening: using the Southpark Centre gave us even more space in which to perform our strange mimes. We were so engrossed in the game that we lost all track of time, and were quite surprised when parents started to arrive at 9.30.

Sunday 24 February 1991Day ride: Bantham SandsVery wet after 10.30
8 present: Neil Ault, Dayle Guy, Martin Hills, Michael Jones, Sebastian Lessware, David Robinson, Charlie Walker, Robert Walker
Nobody felt like riding to Bantham once they had been drenched by the unfriendly downpour, so the Copper Kettle café at South Brent seemed to be the obvious alternative. They had been expecting us after seeing the Buckfastleigh starters half an hour earlier, and some old carpets had been laid out in strategic positions to protect the café furnishings! We felt a bit miserable with such wet feet, but the proprietors did their best to make us feel better.

The weather cleared up for the afternoon, but we didn't venture out again.

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