South Dartmoor CTC

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Sunday 1 October 2006Morning ride: Cancelled
0 present:
Today's ride was probably cancelled

Friday 6 October 2006Social: Cancelled
0 present:
This evening's social was probbaly cancelled

Sunday 8 October 2006Morning ride: Cancelled
0 present:
Today's ride was probably cancelled

Friday 13 October 2006
1900-2200
Social: Games Evening
4 present: Glen Fulford, Michael Jones, Ben Parker, Gavin Pearson
Our first games social of the season was dominated by some epic 4-player battles on Atomic Bomberman and Battle for Middle Earth II.

Sunday 15 October 2006
1015-1330
Morning ride: FermoysDull but dry
2 present: Michael Jones, Ben Parker
A selection of the cakes on offer at Fermoys café
Ben at Fermoys, Ipplepen
We set a good pace through the lanes to Caddaford, Staverton and Ipplepen, arriving at Fermoys with plenty of time to enjoy the excellent range of refreshments available. When we had enjoyed pasty and pasta respectively we browsed some of the items on sale in the main shop and were dismayed to find numerous items of festive fare already on sale!

We took a different return route, via Broadhempston, arriving home cold but dry despite the threatening appearance of the clouds.

Friday 20 October 2006
1900-2200
Social: Games Evening
3 present: Glen Fulford, Michael Jones, Ben Parker
Glen was only able to stay for a short time this evening as he was off to London to see his father for the week. Ben insisted on bringing his out of date Grand Prix game for PC and wasted at least an hour trying unsuccessfully to install it on two of our PCs!

Sunday 22 October 2006
1015-1700
Day ride: Converted to SocialTorrential rain all day
3 present: Matt Grute (15, Totnes), Michael Jones, Ben Parker
The forecast rain commenced a few minutes before the start of the ride, so we hastily convened a social at Crofters. There were hot drinks and computer games together with an afternoon trip to Dyrons leisure centre at Newton Abbot for numerous games of badminton.

We were pleased to welcome Matt to club activities, now beginning to get used to his new bike. And with yet another interested youngster ringing today we now have four more waiting to join us on their first ride.

Friday 27 October 2006
1900-2230
Social: Cinema Trip, Click
2 present: Ryan Edmondson, Michael Jones
Just two of us booked up for the cinema trip to Plymouth. The film Click provided a good evening of top quality comedy entertainment.

Saturday 28 October 2006
1500-2300
Weekend ride: Bellever YH Day 1 (3 mi)Foggy with some drizzle
3 present: Glen Fulford, Ryan Havinga, Michael Jones
Ryan and Glen prepare their food at Bellever YH
Ryan Havinga near Laughter Hole
Our last hostel weekend for 2006 was to Bellever, but the weather didn't look too promising on the Saturday afternoon. Ryan hasn't been hostelling before and had been off cycling for several weeks, and when Michael was delayed by another appointment we decided to use car assistance to Bellever.

We arrived at the hostel at around 4.30, although we could only just see it through the thick mist and light drizzle. We were determined to do a decent ride before settling down for the night, so we set off along the track to Laughter Hole farm.

Both Ryan and Glen got excited when they saw a rough track branching off to the left, signposted to Babeny. We explored it for a while, and both youngsters enjoyed the rocks and mud, but eventually they agreed to return to the main track. We were soon on the open moor, although you could hardly tell where you were because of the fog. Glen wanted to explore ahead, so Ryan and Michael watched him disappear silently into the mist. He eventually returned having discovered a digger and a lake, and wanted us all to go on. Ryan finally agreed, and we ended up riding all the way down the track to Dunnabridge. We took a look at the concealed seat behind the wall and then headed back to the hostel at maximum speed as the light faded.

Our evening consisted of hot showers, educating Ryan on the techniques of using YHA sheet sleeping bags, preparing a meal (spaghetti for Ryan and rice for Glen), cleaning the kitchen, walking through the pitch blackness to the village phone box so that Glen could ring home, walking to the nearby bridge over the river with only the light of a fading bike light, enjoying some games of Atomic Bomberman in the dormitory (yes, Michael brought his laptop!) and finishing with some games of Pool in the hostel games room. All in all we had an action-packed evening, and everyone slept soundly - and quietly - until morning!

Sunday 29 October 2006
0800-1800
Weekend ride: Bellever YH Day 2 (23 mi)Sunny
3 present: Glen Fulford, Ryan Havinga, Michael Jones
Glen and Ryan on the Postbridge Clapper Bridge
Refreshments from postbridge Post Office
The Proving Canon at powdermills
The Clapper Bridge at Postbridge
Setting off along the Princetown railway path
Refreshments at the Foxtor Café, Princetown
Glen and Ryan on the Princetown railway path
Glen and Ryan on the Princetown railway path
Ryan and Glen on the Princetown railway path
Ryan Havinga and Glen Fulford
Finally back at the hostel
The weather next morning was excellent, with bright sunshine greeting us as we set off for Postbridge. There was time to call into the Post Office and village stores so that the lads could buy some drinks, then we took a look at the famous clapper bridge before heading off along the main road towards Two Bridges. Both lads were very interested in the derelict buildings of the Powdermills that can be seen from the road, so we detoured down the driveway and took a look at the proving canon, originally used to test the strength of the gunpowder manufactured on the site.

As we continued along the main road we noticed that we were picking up cobwebs as we rode! Looking around, there were cobwebs lining the roadside vegetation and huge lengths of cobwebs floating through the air, all glistening in the morning sunshine. Maybe the weather had been good for spiders last night?

Next stop was Princetown, where we checked that the prison was still there before heading for the Foxtor cafe. The fire engine was there, having just put out a fire in the cafe's kitchen, but the cafe was still open for business. There was a special menu on today for riders of the CTC's Dartmoor Devil audax, and well over 200 riders were expected during the day. None had arrived yet so we got fast service.

With plenty of time to spare we then set off along the old Princetown railway, now a very pleasant cycle path. The riding was easy and the weather perfect as we enjoyed the excellent views and scenery. Some sections of the track include long loops to avoid steep gradients, but we weren't in any rush and the youngsters enjoyed the bumpy sections just as much as the smooth bits. Eventually we met the main road and headed back to Princetown for further refreshments, this time meeting some friends taking part in the Audax.

Dark and ominous clouds had spread quickly over Dartmoor while we ate, but fortunately no rain was forthcoming and we made it back to Dunnabridge and over the track to Bellever without getting wet at all. Both lads were quite tired after the day's riding, which came to more than 23 miles, and they were glad to see the car. They were very keen to take part in another weekend as soon as possible, which just goes to show how much they had enjoyed their weekend on Dartmoor.

Friday 3 November 2006
1900-2230
Social: Games Evening
4 present: Glen Fulford, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Ben Parker
Zac and Glen spent the evening playing PC games while Ben and Michael enjoyed Bomberman and Battle for Middle Earth 2.

Sunday 5 November 2006
1415-1730
Afternoon ride: Avon Dam (13 mi)Sunny but cold
4 present: Glen Fulford, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Ben Parker
Arrival at the Avon Dam
Glen, Zac and Ben surrounded by autumn leaves on the path to the Avon Dam
Sunset over White Barrows
By the reservoir at dusk
Our November afternoon ride was headed for one of our favourite destinations. Progress up Nurston hill was hampered by Chris Mabin's wide tractor: Ben and co decided it was too wide to be passed, so they went back down the hill to a wider part of the lane!

It was nearly 4.15 when we arrived at Shipley Bridge. The car park was nearly full, but most visitors were heading back down from the dam as the light began to fade. The only other person heading up with us was a woman on horseback, but her horse had other ideas when she tried to pass us. Apparently the animal was terrified of bicycles, and this was part of the reason she had brought him out today! Well try as she might she could not get the horse to pass us, so with gritted teeth she told her mount that he'd do it backwards then! With that she turned him around and backed him past us, which, whilst a little ungainly, seemed to do the trick!

We soon passed the picnic table that Zac had assured us was there, and when we finally reached the reservoir it was not as deserted as we might have supposed: several people (and dogs) were still soaking up the tranquillity and admiring the views from both sides of the dam. We stopped just long enough to eat some refreshments, then set off at a good pace with Michael chivvying everyone along in the diminishing light.

The sunset over White Barrows was magnificent this evening, and as we climbed the hill we were faced with a bright, full moon rising over the horizon. During the descent of the Abbots Way the moonlight became increasingly our main source of light, so this turned out to be one of the eeriest rides we had ever undertaken to Avon Dam!

It was close to dark when we finally reached Cross Furzes, but we had plenty of lights between us for the final descent to Buckfastleigh. We finished the ride just after 5.30 with everyone having thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

Friday 10 November 2006
1900-2215
Social: Video Night
4 present: Ryan Havinga, Hallam Iles (10, Holne), Michael Jones, Ben Parker
While deciding on a DVD for the evening's entertainment we introduced new member Hallam to the joys of Atomic Bomberman. We finally chose Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit and everyone thoroughly enjoyed this excellent film in glorious widescreen and surround sound.

During the interval Hallam entertained us all by finding a novel way to break the segments of his Chocolate Orange: he threw it onto the kitchen floor with no warning whatsoever! Amazingly none of the segments were damaged, so we deduced he must be something of an expert with Chocolate Oranges.

Sunday 12 November 2006
1015-1600
Day ride: Tuckenhay (25 mi)Dry with sunny spells
4 present: Alex Harrigan (10, Totnes), Michael Jones, Ben Parker, David Robinson
Nearing Ashprington on the cycle path
David, Alex and Ben on the Ashprington cycle path
Alex Harrigan and Ben
Ben and Alex cross the stepping stones at Tuckenhay
Buckfastleigh from near Pennywell Farm
New rider Alex kept up an excellent pace along Colston Road and thoroughly enjoyed the Totnes cycle path. As we paused briefly by the weir, a canoe drifted towards us manned by a father and daughter team. They laughed at our suggestion of continuing up the weir but the daughter insisted on getting a taste of the rapids by moving over to the lower edge of the weir. The strong current caught the front of the canoe first, and within a few seconds they were both in the water. The embarrassed father shouted back to us that this was not the way to do it as the unimpressed daughter struggled to the bank and the magnificent heron observed it all from its vantage point on the nearby fence!

We met Dave Robinson at Totnes, out on his first ride for many years, who had arrived early and had been waiting for us for more than an hour. He had to wait a little longer while Ben, Alex and Michael raided Morrisons for lunch, then we set off for the start of the Ashprington track.

This track was recently converted to a cycle path, so the long muddy stretches and steep inclines are now a thing of the past. Autumn leaves were everywhere and we all enjoyed the fabulous views of the Dart and the long descents through the fields. Emerging at Ashprington we detoured through the play park and then headed down the hill to our usual lunch spot by the stepping stones at Tuckenhay creek. We were impressed by the numerous ducks before three noisy but magnificent geese dropped in to join in the fun.

We'd come to see Tuckenhay, so we did a quick ride along the creek to the village and then retraced our steps for the Harbertonford road, a flat valley route that seemed much more inviting than the climb up Corkscrew hill! The village store at Harbertonford was much larger on the inside than it appeared from the outside, with several layers of hidden depths around every corner. Once refreshments had been enjoyed by the river we said goodbye to David and headed off for Diptford, passing Kevin and some of his Torbay Section cohorts along the way.

It was about now that Michael expected Alex to be showing signs of tiredness, but the ten-year-old impressed us all by finding new reserves of energy and powering up the long climb from Rolster Bridge. He continued at that speed all the way home via Rattery, determined not to walk any of the hills. So it was that we got back to Buckfastleigh by 4pm, with plenty of time for computer games to round off an excellent day.

Friday 17 November 2006
1900-2215
Social: Games Evening
6 present: Ash Freeman (11, Totnes), Glen Fulford, Ryan Havinga, Michael Jones, Scott Mount (12, Totnes), Ben Parker
A range of games kept everyone happily occupied this evening, including new members Scott and Ashley.

Sunday 19 November 2006
1015-1445
Morning ride: Dr Blackall's Drive (14 mi)Sunny with occasional showers
9 present: Ash Freeman, Glen Fulford, Alex Harrigan, Ryan Havinga, Charlie Hornsby (14, Ipplepen), Dave Hornsby (Adult, Ipplepen), Michael Jones, Scott Mount, Ben Parker
Scott enjoys his Hot Dog at New Bridge
Refreshment stop at New Bridge
Charlie, Dave, Alex and Ashley on Dr Blackall's Drive, with the Dart Valley behind
The "Track group" at Bel Tor Corner
Charlie, Alex, Ashley, Ben and Dave on Dr Blackall's Drive
Dr Blackall's Drive
Scott, Ryan and Glen back with the group again
Reunited with the younger riders halfway down the track
Final section of the descent
The whole group enjoys the rough track descent towards New Bridge
Joining the lane to New Bridge
Bright sunshine greeted our largest turnout for several months, which included no fewer than four new members. After picking up Ben at Buckfast an almost unanimous vote took us along the lower Hembury track, which turned out to be quite muddy in places after the recent heavy rain. A huge group of walkers cramped our style somewhat near the end, but were surprisingly friendly as we regrouped at the end.

New and experienced members alike enjoyed the downhill to New Bridge, where the anticipated ice cream van prompted a stop for refreshments - which in Scott's case included a Hot Dog!

Everyone agreed to extend the ride by an hour so that everyone could complete the planned ride, which led us to the next step of climbing Poundsgate hill. The first of the predicted "isolated showers" made the climb even more challenging for our younger riders, so by the time we reached the top of the main climb three were ready for a shortcut. Michael led Ryan, Scott and Glen a short distance along the track to a meeting place on the moorland and then returned to catch up with the others on the final stages of the road climb. Charlie had no difficulty with any of the hills, although he admitted he was impressed by young Alex, on only his second ride, who just kept on powering past him! Ashley got top marks for achievement, however: he opted out of the short-cut and pushed himself on to the top, spurred on just a little perhaps by the offer of a free Hot Dog!

The youngsters posed at the top for photos with some ponies, and Ben, being Ben, left his helmet on the verge when we all set off for the track. We had been riding for a full seven minutes before he realised he was helmetless, so the rest of us braved the strong winds and the third isolated shower to view the impressive Dart Valley from a high overhanging rock.

The sun returned again and Doctor Blackall didn't disappoint with his magnificent drive. Just a few minutes later and we were reunited with the three younger riders, who had passed the time by rolling down the moorland slopes and, apparently, giving directions to passers-by! They had missed the upper reaches of the tracks, but the best was still to come. The final downhill across the moorland tracks provided a rollercoaster ride that left everyone elated - and muddy!

Hot soups and other refreshments from the ice cream van prepared everyone for the climb back to Hembury, although Scott, Ashley and Ryan needed a little encouragement. Once they were in sight of Hembury Woods, however, they all found new energies, and finished the ride feeling justifiably proud of their achievements. They made the most of the reward, by staying for computer games until after 6pm.

Friday 24 November 2006
1900-2215
Social: Ten-pin Bowling
3 present: Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Ben Parker
Michael won the first game convincingly at Plympton's Mega Bowl, but the second was much closer, taken at the last ball by Ben with a margin of just one point! Zac insisted on finishing the evening with a pizza, but there was still time for a game of Bomberman when we got back.

Sunday 26 November 2006
1015-1715
Day ride (Car-assisted): Exeter Ship Canal (23 mi)Sunny and clear
7 present: Ash Freeman, Alex Harrigan, Charlie Hornsby, Dave Hornsby, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Ben Parker
The start of the Exe Estuary track
Preparing for the track near Powderham
Alex and Ashley at Turf Lock
The narrow, muddy track along the Exe Estuary
The first pizza arrives
One of the information points along the canal
Preparing to leave Pizza Hut
Alex and Ashley after their visit to the ice cream factory
The result of heavy rains
The Exe in flood near the city centre
Zac and Alex with the swans and pigeons
Having decided to use the fifth Sunday of November for a very special car-assisted ride to the Exeter Ship Canal, we were very grateful to Alex's Dad for helping with the transport of the bikes from Buckfastleigh to Starcross. Charlie and Dave met us at Black Forest Lodge on the dot of 11.15, and as bikes were unpacked Michael's promises of a totally flat ride were viewed sceptically by some.

The deer at Powderham seemed to appreciate the fantastic weather almost as much as we did, with the entire group showing themselves off by the lake just metres from the road. This all made Michael's offer of a chocolate voucher for the first person to spot a deer rather unnecessary, but Ashley claimed it anyway!

We managed to negotiate the mainline rail crossing without major loss of life, and when Alex and Ashley had finished teasing the Canada geese we headed along the narrow muddy track that runs along the side of the Exe estuary. Everyone splashed through the puddles, but no-one enjoyed them more than Alex - he even went back occasionally to ride the deepest ones again! After a while his lower half was so muddy that we felt Pizza Hut may exclude us all at lunchtime!

Turf Locks provided an opportunity for Michael to explain a little about the workings of canals to the younger riders, then we set off along the narrow towpath that was once used by horses pulling barges along the canal. Now it offered an easy and picturesque cycle ride that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.

The second part of the path was recently "upgraded" to a full cycle path, with the associated loss of a whole row of trees in order to make it wide enough for cyclists to pass in both directions. It was more interesting and secluded before the upgrade, but at least the new path encourages more cyclists to enjoy the sport.

We were soon at Exeter quay with all its bustling shops and cafes, but we had an appointment at Pizza Hut and continued along the cycle route right into the centre of Exeter.

Everyone was hungry by now, so we were eager to place our orders. Unfortunately two of our choices were "off", because they had run out of red onion, mushroom and - wait for it - ham! With so few ingredients on the menu one would think they could manage to keep them all in stock. And as Dave pointed out, even if they did run out of ham you might think someone would pop across the road to Tesco to buy some more!

When the three enormous pizzas were finally delivered everyone loved them, and there wasn't a single piece left at the end. Alex entertained us all with his story of a recent trip he made to the Avon Dam with his friend Edgar. Apparently he had ridden into an elderly woman from behind who had fallen to the ground, dropped her belongings and then picked herself up saying she was fine. Her elderly friend, however, had "legged it", tripped over a rock, fallen into the river and been swept downstream. Alex, of course, rode on!

The youngsters felt the meal, with its unlimited drink refills, had made the day totally perfect. Zac, Ashley and Alex, however, decided it wouldn't be complete without a visit to the ice cream factory. Zac got there first and got a reasonable dessert from the machine, but the other two managed to extract only bowlfuls of liquid white goo! They carried on adding sweets as though nothing was wrong, but when they returned to their seats neither of them could stomach more than a spoonful. As Alex said, with his face covered in liquid cream, it was just wrong! The waitress fixed the machine but we didn't really want the extra delay.

We eventually left Pizza Hut and continued along the path beside the river as it wound its way through the centre of the city. At the start the river was up to the edge of the path because of all the recent rains, but as we headed upstream the water lapped onto the path itself and was soon several centimetres deep! We could see the next exit and decided to press on, but some eager youngsters just couldn't avoid getting their feet soaked.

We crossed the bridge and continued up to the weir on the other side where there was no flooding. When we reached the far end and started to head back across the parklands, Zac noticed that he didn't have his rucksack! Fortunately we were heading back past Pizza Hut on the way home, and it was still there waiting for him outside - much to Zac's relief!

With the afternoon shadows beginning to lengthen we rode back through the quay, this time stopping to observe the huge flock of swans and pigeons that had congregated for the adoring visitors. Zac was getting understandably tired and Michael had forgotten his magic chocolate box, but Dave saved the day by producing some KitKats for those in most need. Zac also got an easier ride by taking the parallel cycle path while the rest of us rode the towpath.

Soon we were by the Exe again, where Alex proved that he could never get enough mud in a day, and Ben discovered the importance of looking ahead when riding along the edge of a steep grassy bank - he was observed picking his way gingerly back up the bank, hoping nobody had noticed!

Darkness was almost upon us when we finally returned to the cars at Black Forest Lodge. Most youngsters had been smart enough to bring lights, but everyone was reminded to bring them on every ride for the next couple of months. Amazingly, all the youngsters still had energy to spare at the end despite having ridden 23 miles, so congratulations to all for doing so well on this very memorable ride.

Friday 1 December 2006
1900-2215
Social: Games Evening
4 present: Glen Fulford, Michael Jones, Scott Mount, Ben Parker
The arrival of a new Battle for Middle Earth PC game, the Rise of the Witch King, kept everyone happy this evening.

Sunday 3 December 2006
1415-1700
Afternoon ride: North Huish (9 mi)Windy but dry
8 present: Ash Freeman, Glen Fulford, Alex Harrigan, Ryan Havinga, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Scott Mount, Ben Parker
Ashley, Alex, Zac, Glen and Ryan, preparing for the track from Marley Head to South Brent
The heavy overnight rain had obligingly moved away by the time our December afternoon ride began, but the strong gales that had brought down many trees still lingered to make the ride up Dean hill a little harder than usual.

During the detour around Harbourneford Ashley, who was riding the new Club mountain bike for the first time, was most distressed when he punctured the rear tyre with a large thorn. Michael, however, was even more distressed to discover that his puncture repair kit was missing a vital component - the glue! Ben and Scott saved the day by generously offering to push the bike back to Crofters while the rest continued with the ride.

It was clear that North Huish was going to be way too far after all the delays, so we contented ourselves with riding the very muddy branch-strewn track from Marley Head towards South Brent, which the youngsters thoroughly enjoyed, and then returning on the main road to Marley Head. We then retraced our tracks to Buckfastleigh, pausing briefly at the top of the hill to splash through the deep puddles and test the strength of the wind.

Ben and Scott were waiting patiently for us when we arrived at Crofters. Some of the muddier individuals went home to change before returning for the end of ride social, where warm fires and good refreshments made a perfect end to a very blustery day.

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