South Dartmoor CTC

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Friday 5 January 2007
1900-2230
Social: Swimming
7 present: Ash Freeman, Glen Fulford, Matt Grute, Dennis Ham, Michael Jones, Scott Mount, Ben Parker
There would have been nine taking part in this swimming trip to the Riviera International centre at Torquay, but sadly we couldn't arrange transport for late-bookers Zac and Josh. Several hadn't been to this leisure centre before, and everyone had a fun time.

There were races on the big flume (slide) against the clock, and by the end of the session some initially very slow times (from Ben and Scott) had been brought up to very respectable performances. Matt and Michael tied for first place, however, with times of 14.2 seconds.

Sunday 7 January 2007
1415-1540
Afternoon ride: Broadhempston (4 mi)Wet
6 present: Ash Freeman, Matt Grute, Alex Harrigan, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Scott Mount
Scott, Zac, Ashley, Matt and Alex at the end of a very wet ride!
Alex and Zac were showing off their new bikes today, but the early forecasts of dismal weather did not bode well for our afternoon ride to Broadhempston. Several were put off by the weather, but 6 were determined to do at least a short ride as the 2.15 start time drew nearer.

A downpour on the way to the start prompted us to head for home via Buckfast, but the rain proved patchy, so there was some enthusiasm for a spin through the Hembury tracks by the time we reached the end of Grange Road.

We took the riverside track as far as the swing, and then headed back to the car park via the higher track, finishing with a brisk descent of the final section of woodland track to the bridge. A few short spells of heavier rain left Scott and Zac a little less than enthusiastic, but Alex and Matt more than made up for it, and everyone felt pleased to have braved the elements as they posed for the group photo.

Friday 12 January 2007
1900-2230
Social: Games Evening
6 present: Ash Freeman, Matt Grute, Dennis Ham, Ryan Havinga, Michael Jones, Scott Mount
Our fortnightly evening of computer games was once again dominated by Bomberman, Rise of the Witch King and the XBox 360.

Sunday 14 January 2007
1015-1625
Day ride: Stover Country Park (25 mi)Sunny
5 present: Ash Freeman, Matt Grute, Alex Harrigan, Michael Jones, Scott Mount
Frisbee game at Stover Country Park
Frisbee game at Stover Country Park
Alex demonstrating his love of muddy puddles near Staverton
Alex, Scott, Matt and Ashley at Stover Country Park
Four of us set off from the start on this beautiful sunny morning, but we had only reached Furzeleigh Mill when we got a call from Alex's Mum saying he had gone to the clubroom for 10.15 instead of the ride start!

He caught us up in just a few minutes, and soon we were speeding along the A38 which offered the easiest and fastest route to our destination. A piece of barbed wire on the side of the road was hit by a few of the group but miraculously caused no punctures!

Stover Country Park appeared busy as we rode along the woodland paths. We didn't get to see the recently-added air walk, but stopped at the picnic tables beside the lake for some food and Frisbee fun.

Scott was suffering with a back pain, and a shower further dampened his spirits as we headed out along the track to Teigngrace. The younger riders felt proud to find themselves riding as far from home as Newton Abbot, but the climb towards Ipplepen proved too much for Scott on this occasion. We stopped at Fermoys for some excellent food and a well-earned rest, and then Scott's father collected him from the car park at 2.30.

The rest of the group pressed on through Ipplepen in bright sunshine, delayed only by some puddle splashing, led of course by Alex. We paused at Staverton Park for some serious Frisbee practice and then headed home via Caddaford. Congratulations to Ashley on successfully completing his longest and hardest ride to date.

Friday 19 January 2007
1900-2215
Social: Tours 2007
4 present: Glen Fulford, Dennis Ham, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Our special preview of our 2006 tour programme concentrated on the Easter tour, to the Somerset Levels and the Quantocks. Video clips were shown from our last tour to the area, at Easter 2004, which the youngsters found very enlightening.

All members interested in joining the Easter tour should ask Michael for the information booklet which includes colour photos, full details and a booking form. Applications will be considered from club members who have been riding with the club for several weeks and who are deemed capable of reaching Level 3 of the training programme by the end of February.

Sunday 21 January 2007
1015-1215
Morning ride: Spitchwick (10 mi)Sunny, then wintry showers
14 present: Galarina Beriot (10, Devon), Louise Beriot (10, Devon), Yoland Beriot (Adult, Devon), Tao Burgess, Ash Freeman, Matt Grute, Henry Gunter, Josh Ham, Matthew Hamlyn-White, Jill Hockmuth, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Ben Parker, David Robinson
There's plenty of space at Spitchwick for Frisbee games
Matt & Ashley help Josh retrieve the Aerobie - with the help of a football
The group at Spitchwick
We were pleased to welcome three new members today - and the return of some familiar faces who have been away for far too long! Zac was back too, having replaced his new bike for another with a smaller frame.

After riding out through Buckfast in brilliant sunshine we set out along the lower Hembury track. It was wet and muddy in places after the recent heavy rains and storms, but nearly everyone enjoyed the challenge and we were soon back on the tarmac, tackling the final hill to the high road.

The three-stage downhill to New Bridge offered plenty of fun for everyone, but Dave Robinson was slightly disappointed on arrival that nobody else wanted to stop for a cup of tea at the refreshment van! Instead we took the track down to Spitchwick, a surprisingly new destination for several of our members who could just imagine how perfect it would be in midsummer.

Frisbees, football and refreshments joined with the magnificent scenery to keep everyone happy for at least half an hour. The Frisbee kept getting stuck in the branches of a tree, but Josh the Monkey retrieved it for us every time - with just a little help from his friends. And when the football ended up in the icy waters of the river Dart and several youngsters were debating who should be given the task of retrieving it, a passing canoeist, pleased to be useful at last, rushed to the rescue!

We had planned to return home via Buckland to make a circular route, but several had to be home by 1.30 so we headed back up Holne Chase, which Ashley helpfully reminded everyone would now be a three-stage uphill! The single wintry shower that had been forecast for the day chose now to make its presence known, but it held back the worst of its unpleasantness until we had completed the famous "slalom" downhill track through Hembury Woods, a new and unforgettable experience for several members.

Matt was charged with leading the group through Jordan Street and up through Barn Park, so quite why he watched from the bottom of Barn Park while three non-Buckfastleigh members disappeared around the corner towards Hapstead we will never know! Michael quickly retrieved them as the freezing rain did its best to give everyone frostbite, and the warm clubroom then proved extremely welcome with its hot drinks and refreshments.

The huge attendance of 14 for this mid-winter morning ride was the largest we have had for several years, reminding us of the times when we regularly attracted 18-30 riders on half-day rides. We hope that members will spread the word so that we can once again get good such attendances for all our rides.

Friday 26 January 2007
1900-2215
Social: Games Evening
4 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Ben Parker
Zac managed to make our Battle for Middle Earth 2 contest a little more interesting than usual this evening: he turned against team mate Ben on the grounds that he didn't have enough spare cash to help him rebuild his fortress!

Sunday 28 January 2007
1015-1635
Day ride: Haytor Tramway (23 mi)Cloudy but dry
7 present: Matt Grute, Dennis Ham, Charlie Hornsby, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Ben Parker, David Robinson
Charlie, David and Ben enjoy lunch in the quarry
Charlie shelters from the cold wind near Haytor quarry
Ben, Dennis, Matt, Zac and Charlie
A brief spell of sunshine during lunch in the shelter of the quarry
The Haytor Tramway, leading behind the quarry
Matt performs precarious gymnastics in the quarry, watched by Zac and Dennis
The stone clapper bridge at the bottom of the valley, over the Becka Brook
The upper stages of the extreme off-road ride
Ben and Matt near the bridge
Six of us made good speed to Bickington and up the hill to Birchanger Cross. Zac met us here, transported by car at Michael's insistence to make the ride more manageable for him.

There was a stiff breeze on the moor once we reached sight of Haytor. Soon we were on the granite tramway, built in 1820 to transport granite slabs from the quarry to the Stover canal. It is rare to find tracks built of granite. The tramway led us into the old quarry where we hunted around for shelter from the cold wind. Finally we found one spot where there was no wind, and when the sun came out for its only appearance of the day we knew we had chosen a perfect place for lunch. The youngsters found plenty of amusement on the lake, with Ben and Matt vying for the best performance on the log.

Cloud cover had once again returned, but we opted for the extreme off-road route to Hound Tor by a narrow majority. Dave Robinson didn't fancy such antics on his touring bike however, so he headed for Buckfastleigh and the warmth of his car.

The younger members weren't too impressed with Michael's first short-cut across the gorse-strewn moorland beside the quarry, but they soon warmed to the challenging descent to the bottom of the valley. Some walkers warned us of the mud and puddles in the woods, but they didn't really slow us down that much.

After every good descent comes a stiff climb, and today was no exception to that rule. Charlie and Michael helped Zac and Dennis carry their bikes up the side of the hill, and soon we were examining the remains of the medieval village of Hundatora, just behind Hound Tor. Zac searched for and quickly found the Dartmoor letterbox he had hoped to find, and then we enjoyed the exciting descent to the car park where the food van, aptly names the Hound of the Basket Meals, was waiting to serve us. Michael was particularly grateful for their service as he had neglected to bring a packed lunch!

Matt took a shortcut across a corner near Bone Hill, and even though he had been warned of a boggy area by Michael he still managed to sink wheel-deep into the mire! The descent to Ashburton was somewhat chilly, so we were all glad when we finally reached Buckfastleigh. Those who forgot to bring gloves will certainly do so for the next ride!

Friday 2 February 2007
1900-2215
Social: Film Night
3 present: Ryan Havinga, Michael Jones, Ben Parker
The computer-animated film Cars was selected from the range on offer this evening, the first viewing of the film for everyone present.

Sunday 4 February 2007
1415-1645
Afternoon ride: Hembury Tracks (8 mi)Sunny and fairly warm
4 present: Dennis Ham, Alex Harrigan, Michael Jones, Ben Parker
Alex, Dennis and Ben, somewhere in the depths of Hembury Woods
Alex, Dennis and Ben preparing to enter the upper Hembury clearings
Ben and Michael were a few minutes late at the start of today's afternoon ride, and by the time they arrived Alex had gone home! He rang from home and we said we would wait for him to return, so eventually the four of us set off for our romp through Hembury.

During the first climb of the main Hembury hill we noticed several interesting tracks heading off to the left that none of us had explored before, so we decided to explore them later.

From the high gate we headed to the main clearings and then took the left hand track that leads to a path running down the far side of the woods. This was new to most of the group, but Ben got carried away and missed a track off to the left near the bottom. While Michael chased after him the two younger lads were caught answering a call of nature by a horde of walkers who suddenly appeared out of nowhere!

We followed the riverside path back to the car park and then climbed part-way up the hill again to the track we had seen earlier. It turned out to be fun and challenging, bringing us to the lower Hembury track that we often take to the bridge. We saw another wider and less steep track coming out at the same point that seems to demand further exploration at a later date!

Friday 9 February 2007
1900-2215
Social: Games Evening
5 present: Dennis Ham, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Scott Mount, Ben Parker
The usual range of PC and console games kept everyone amused.

Sunday 11 February 2007
1015-1600
Day ride: Ugborough Beacon (17 mi)Windy with occasional showers
6 present: Matt Grute, Dennis Ham, Charlie Hornsby, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Ben Parker
Finally at the top of a very windy Ugborough Beacon
Climbing Ugborough Beacon
Ben and Matt test the wind strength - and Ben is a teapot!
Zac and Dennis find shelter from the wind
The early morning rain had obediently given way to drier weather by the time we met at the start, but a strong headwind made the outward ride harder than expected. We had only reached Dean Prior when Matt realised he was rucksack-less: by the time he had returned to the start and battled the headwind for a second time it was nearly 11am.

We pressed on to South Brent, meeting Kevin Presland unexpectedly at Harbourneford, and then continued along the back lanes to Wrangaton. The part of the forecast that predicted a dry day after 11 didn't turn out to be too accurate, and when a particularly heavy shower drenched us as we met up with Zac at Wrangaton Bridge there was a unanimous feeling that the planned ride to Lukesland should be shortened.

A grassy verge on the lane up to the golf course made a suitably-sheltered lunch venue. While Michael fixed Matt's puncture Matt generously gave out Breakaway bars, throwing them with remarkable accuracy so he didn't have to get up. The one aimed at Ben caught him on the knee and left him howling with pain, and when people questioned whether a Breakaway bar could really do that much damage he showed everyone the bruise! Matt, being a very naughty boy, saw an opportunity for fun and chased Ben around the lane with another Breakaway bar he had retrieved from Michael!

The climb from the golf course to Ugborough Beacon was challenging to say the least, and by the time we reached the top the wind strength was overpowering. Michael tested everyone on recognition of Brent Hill, an impressive landmark that had been glimpsed all morning but was now laid out clearly for all to see, and everyone admired the extensive views across South Devon from this 371m viewpoint. We then proceeded to the tor at the far side of the Beacon, where Matt and Ben tested the wind strength and Dennis and Zac sought shelter from it.

Next came the fun bit, the downhill moorland ride into the Owley valley. The ground was so waterlogged that streams seemed to be rising from every part of the landscape, but this just made the descent all the more fun for everyone. Charlie managed to do a flip that landed him on the soft ground, but the bike then came down on top of him, making the experience a little less pleasurable!

Now with a tailwind we made good speed back to South Brent and Harbourneford, and the final downhill to Dean made a fitting high point to end an interesting mid-winter ride.

Friday 16 February 2007
1900-2215
Social: Squash
5 present: Ash Freeman, Glen Fulford, Matt Grute, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath
Squash turned out to be a new sport for nearly everyone in the group this evening, and the general verdict was that it was excellent fun! The nearest free courts were at Broadmeadow leisure centre, Teignmouth, and since our court time didn't start until 8.40 we called in at a Newton Abbot supermarket for some refreshments on the way. Zac managed to get one of the leisure centre balls stuck on a high shelf, but there were several more up there to keep it company.

Everyone made good progress, and everyone was keen to play again another day!

Sunday 18 February 2007
1015-1440
Morning ride: Totnes Longmarsh (18 mi)Cloudy with very light drizzle
11 present: Charles Acland (Adult, Totnes), Heidi Acland (Adult, Totnes), Olly Acland (11, Totnes), Sam Acland (13, Totnes), Ash Freeman, Dennis Ham, Alex Harrigan, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Ben Parker, Freddie Tyler (12, Ashburton)
The group at Longmarsh - with Michael
The group at Longmarsh
Fred, Sam, Alex, Dennis, Ashley, Zac and Olly on the boat at Longmarsh (clockwise from front)
We were pleased to welcome the Acland family and their friend Fred, out for their first club ride on a dull but mainly dry morning. As we rode along Colston road it was clear that the newcomers were all good cyclists, so we had no trouble riding along the Totnes cycle path and getting to Totnes before 12.

The Barrelhouse cafe at the top of town once again provided the venue for our refreshment stop. This time we took two large tables on the upper floor and discovered a very homely atmosphere complete with log fires - and of course the usual excellent range of refreshments.

Next stop was Longmarsh, where the youngsters couldn't resist playing on the boat and posing for photographs. When the entire length of the path had been explored in both directions Zac realised he had left his helmet at the cafe, so Charles kindly volunteered to fetch it while the rest of the group continued along the main Newton Abbot road to Littlehempston.

Puncture Alley, which once gave our group 6 punctures when descending its short length, was today thankfully lacking in thorns, so the youngsters were able to enjoy its challenges with no nasty side-effects. As we passed the railway bridge Michael gave the younger riders a chance to rest by telling the story of the steam engine journey that came to a sad end on Dainton Rise.

There was time for a short Frisbee and chocolate session at Staverton Park before we headed homewards via Hole Farm and Caddaford. Everyone did remarkably well and we hope that our new riders will return for many more rides with us.

Friday 23 February 2007
1900-2215
Social: Games Evening
3 present: Ash Freeman, Dennis Ham, Michael Jones
Preparations for our youth hostel weekend kept several members away this evening, but those who came along very much enjoyed their evening.

Saturday 24 February 2007
0900-2300
Weekend ride: Golant YH Day 1 (17 mi)Mainly dry
8 present: Tao Burgess, Ash Freeman, Alex Harrigan, Ryan Havinga, Hallam Iles, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Ben Parker
Torpoint ferry
Enjoying the sun on the Torpoint ferry
Beginning the process of unloading the bikes
Big breakers at Seaton beach
Arriving at Looe
The coast path to Looe
No, he hasn't got stuck in the flood - he's washing his car!
Hallam and Alex at East Looe
Tao follow's the old man's lead and washes his bike
The DIY car wash
Russell's home
Russell makes friends
The Bodinnick ferry to Fowey
Eight members met at Crofters shortly after 9am for our first mid-winter youth hostel weekend since 1991 - there would have been nine if Matt hadn't left his coursework to the last minute! Careful packing and the use of two bike racks enabled us to fit all 8 members and bikes into our two cars, and by 10am we were heading for Cornwall in bright winter sunshine.

Taking the Torpoint ferry made the outward journey more interesting as well as cutting several miles off our journey. At Seaton only Alex, Ryan and Hallam made the most of the short stop at the beach, the rest retreating quickly to the shelter of the cars once they discovered there was a chilly breeze!

The changeable weather and the forecast of heavy showers throughout the afternoon made the decision of where to park the cars all the more tricky. Finally we plumped for a verge near the Monkey Sanctuary, two miles this side of Looe, realising we might only get an hour of dry weather all the way to Golant.

Everyone enjoyed the steep coastal track down to Millendreath beach, but the many steps up to Plaidy proved more of a challenge to the younger members, who were grateful to Tao, Ben and Michael for helping them with their bikes. The coast path then provided magnificent views and a steep descent into the picturesque fishing village of Looe.

The town was surprisingly busy for February and there were plenty of pasty shops open for those who didn't bring a packed lunch. After eating by the river we checked out the nearby joke shop, where Sprite Bombs and Fun Snaps were the most popular purchases! Four youngsters then decided to pay 40p each for the passenger ferry to West Looe rather than riding the 5 minute journey around the bridge! When we met on the other side they were engaged in a hearty conversation with the ferryman who seemed quite taken with their youthful enthusiasm!

The rain started right on cue as we climbed the daunting West Looe Hill, and everyone, including Michael, felt that this was likely to be the prelude to a very wet and miserable afternoon. The rain eased as we neared the top however, and sunshine returned by the time the youngsters were splashing through the enormous lakes of water near the main road.

The fine weather held while we took the cross-country route towards Bodinnick. When we had recovered from the shock of watching Alex pick a daffodil and then shred it in front of our eyes, we came across a major flood at the bottom of a hill. When we saw a smart car partially-submerged in the fast flowing waters and an elderly man walking around it, we immediately assumed that he needed help. Closer inspection, however, revealed that the man was carrying a bucket - and a brush: he was making good use of the surplus water by washing his car! It was all very amusing: Tao joined in the fun by washing his bike, and Alex and Hallam rode through the flood several times just to see how wet they could get!

Arriving at the junction near Trefrawl we were greeted by a very friendly Jack Russell terrier who was determined to get attention from everyone in the group. The owner told us the dog was called Russell and that he had another dog called Jack! When the time came for us to leave he just didn't want to say goodbye and followed us for nearly a mile.

A good downhill from Lanteglos Highway brought us quickly to the Bodinnick ferry, where Michael managed to negotiate a good discount for our group to cross the short distance across the river Fowey. Tao, who doesn't like boats at the best of times, felt distinctly queasy during the windy crossing. Once on the other side we headed into Fowey for a final refreshment stop, and now, finally, the rain began again.

We paused on the climb to admire the view across the estuary to Polruan between two tall buildings and were promptly accosted by a female resident in a woolly hat who informed us that the view would soon be blocked by the owner of the hotel below who planned to raise his building to the same height as the others! We presumed she wanted us to add our names to the petition, but with the next shower on the way we just didn't have time.

Another vicious shower got us drenched by the time we reached the higher roundabout, but the final climb and descent to the hostel was relatively dry. We were greeted by an Australian receptionist who wasn't quite up to speed with the latest YHA membership regulations: he wanted to charge the youngsters extra because they weren't YHA members, and he didn't believe Michael when he told him they were covered by the two adult membership cards. It was two days later before the matter was finally resolved with a call to head office!

We were allocated to an excellent twelve-bed dormitory on the top floor. Four of our youngsters were new to hostelling, and apparently Michael had neglected to remind them to bring a towel! When apologies had been made and the youngsters had discovered the location of the showers, Michael apologised again, this time to our two room-mates, for having to share a dorm with all these noisy children. To his surprise, one of them burst out laughing and said that we were the ones who would be suffering, as his friend was probably the world's worst snorer!

The youngsters coped well with the self-catering kitchen, managing quite successfully to boil the kettle and add the water to their pot noodles with only minimal assistance! Alex, who always seems to have a problem recognising healthy food, managed to buy 20 lollipop sweets from the hostel shop before Michael discovered what he was up to and closed off that particular avenue of unhealthiness!

There was high drama later in the evening when the youngsters saw a strange man enter our dormitory and lock the door. They were sure he was rummaging through our panniers, but suspicion turned to panic when they got the door code off the warden, went into the dorm and discovered that Michael's laptop was nowhere to be seen! They were sure they knew what had happened to it - until they found Michael and he told them it was hidden under his pillow! It turned out the warden had allocated two more people to our dorm without telling us.

The predicted heavy rain drenched everything outside while we enjoyed games of pool in the games room and Bomberman in the dorm. At 10.15 the youngsters discovered that Michael had the first episode of the new Doctor Who on his laptop - still there from our 2005 Easter tour - and from that moment up to bedtime Michael and Tao didn't hear a single peep from any of them!

Ashley reckoned this felt like a massive sleepover and all the youngsters were having a lot of fun, but when the time came to be quiet they all did their duty. During the night the snorer was a good as his word, one of the other two hostellers joined with him to make a duet, and Ben discovered that he had gone to bed with a wasp! He struggled manfully with it on his own without waking anyone but was sufficiently concerned to text his parents during one of his trips to the bathroom. Nearly all evidence has disappeared when they rang during breakfast to see if he was ok!

Sunday 25 February 2007
0800-1630
Weekend ride: Golant YH Day 2 (17 mi)Mainly sunny but breezy
8 present: Tao Burgess, Ash Freeman, Alex Harrigan, Ryan Havinga, Hallam Iles, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Ben Parker
Golant YH
Sunday morning at Golant YH
Golant YH - we weren't even THINKING of parking here!
Golant YH
Ashley makes a new friend on the hostel driveway
Golant YH - ready to leave
Ben, Tao, Ryan, Alex, Hallam, Zac and Ash at Polperro Harbour
Lunch at Polperro harbour
The steep climb out of Polperro
The coast path above Polperro
Coast path to Talland Bay
Michael takes a short break
Ashley Freeman
Hallam enjoys a well-earned KBG
Leaving Looe on the coast path
Zac McGrath
Morning dawned bright and breezy. We liked the sign outside the bike shed: "Don't even THINK of parking here" and took several photos around the impressive grounds. Everyone seemed much faster today, including Alex who was back to his usual form, and Hallam who completely vindicated Michael's decision to allow him to join the weekend trip for his first ever ride with us. The winds were stronger than yesterday but they were behind us, making everything a real breeze!

The ferryman couldn't help commenting "They're back again!" as we boarded the ferry for the return journey. After climbing the next hill however and starting out on the detour route to Polperro we saw a sign to the Polruan passenger ferry - we'll have to explore that one next time.

After a short climb and a minor incident where Ryan was forced into the verge by an inconsiderate driver, Tao proposed an alternative route through Lansallos that had a good deal more climbing than anyone really wanted. It was nevertheless a pretty village and we were soon enjoying the helter-skelter downhill to Polperro.

We stopped at the pasty shop for some very nice but very expensive pasties, including rhubarb apple and custard, steak, and banana and chocolate. Zac then insisted that we stop at the Chocolate Dream shop to look at the many ridiculously expensive chocolate treats before we pressed on to the harbour. Here there was sunshine, sea, boats, seagulls and seats - a perfect setting for lunch. Ryan's discarded piece of pasty led to two seagulls entertaining us for a full 5 minutes with their cat-and-dog chase around the harbour.

There was time to buy some fudge before we set off up the steep climb to the coast path. AS we neared the top and looked back at Polperro harbour Tao immediately recognised the view as the picture on the front of the Plymouth and Launceston OS map that we were using. By careful comparison he was able to tell us which houses had recently been extended or repainted!

The coast path to Talland Bay offered dramatic sea views and challenging off-road riding, although a few youngsters led by Ashley seemed to manage the final rocky downhill sections without too much difficulty. Michael had been letting word out about the forthcoming MOAH (Mother of All Hills) however, so there was some apprehension as we arrived at Talland Bay. In fact it didn't turn out to be so bad after all: it was no bigger than yesterday's hill out of Looe, and everyone was faster today.

So we got to ride down West Looe hill, and at the bottom we managed to persuade the owner of the Tasty Corner cafe to reopen just so that we could buy loads of his fabulous Knickerbocker Glory ice cream desserts. As Michael tucked into his, Tao noted with some amusement that the KBGs were listed in the menu under "Children's desserts".

The passenger ferry was not running today so the Lazy Brigade had to ride around the bridge. We retraced yesterday's route back to the cars, wishing we had time to go down to Looe beach which looked very inviting in the afternoon sunshine. Some took great pleasure in riding down the steps from Plaidy, and a challenging final track climb brought us back to the cars by 4.45. We repacked the bikes quickly and, remembering the delays on the Torpoint ferry last autumn, headed home via the Tamar Bridge.

This had turned out to be a remarkably exciting mid-winter adventure for everyone and a great introduction to hostelling for our four new hostellers. We're taking bookings now for our four-day Easter tour to Somerset, so get your booking in early before all the places are taken!

Friday 2 March 2007
1900-2215
Social: Video Evening
6 present: Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Zac McGrath, Ben Parker
With no suitable films on show at the cinema, our cinema evening was hastily rearranged to be a DVD evening, with the suspense drama Flightplan forming the main entertainment.

Sunday 4 March 2007
1415-1800
Afternoon ride: Converted to SocialTorrential rain
10 present: Olly Acland, Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Matt Grute, Dennis Ham, Michael Jones, Jordan Knight (13, Totnes), Zac McGrath, Scott Mount, Ben Parker
With torrential rain flooding the land for hundreds of miles in every direction we had no choice but to convert today's afternoon ride to a well-attended social afternoon at Crofters.

Friday 9 March 2007
1900-2215
Social: Games Evening
6 present: Sam Acland, Ash Freeman, Dennis Ham, Michael Jones, Scott Mount, Ben Parker
Ashley's birthday social
Today was Ashley's birthday so we made our games evening a little special by bringing back some special chocolate cakes from the local supermarket and sharing them out between games!

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