South Dartmoor CTC


Sunday 11 March 2012
Morning ride: Belford MillSunny and warm
5 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
George, Ash, John and Will on the Park path over the River Ashburn, Ashburton (12:10)
The Rogers family had never really done much off-road riding so they were a little apprehensive as we rode along the old Ashburton road and out along the back lane to Belford Mill. We took the woodland track back towards Ashburton which is all gently downhill and George really enjoyed it. John and Will remained unsure of the benefits however.

We called in at Ashburton Park on the way back and, at John’s suggestion, stopped to play Frisbee for a while. The park was quite busy today and Michael didn’t really like the audience we attracted, but the youngsters enjoyed the time.

We returned home along the old Ashburton road for 1pm and then spent a couple of hours playing on Modern Warfare 2 and the trampoline, which made the youngsters very happy. They all left at 3.10.

Friday 16 March 2012
Social: Computer Games
5 present: Ash Freeman, Jerry Johnson, Michael Jones, George Rogers, Will Rogers
The youngsters wanted computer games, so that is what we did, starting with some Modern Warfare 2. Next Michael played Lord of the Rings with George and Will against two medium enemies, but not before Will had vented his frustration at playing against computer opponents: he wanted to battle against real people and beat them! Meanwhile Ash and Jerry played Halo.

Sunday 18 March 2012
Morning ride: Chalk FordSunny, 12°
7 present: Ash Freeman, Jerry Johnson, Michael Jones, Jack Parnell, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
The footbridge at Chalk Ford (12:04)
The footbridge at Chalk Ford (12:03)
Piglets near Chalk Ford (12:23)
George, Will, Jack, Ash and Jerry on the path from Chalk Ford to Scoriton (12:23)
Callum F was still ill at home and Callum O’B was still away on holiday with his family, but we still had a good turnout and the weather was very encouraging despite the risk of occasional showers.

Everyone was up for the big hill to Cross Furzes today, even George, so we powered up the hill and George amazed everyone by cycling all the way with only a very few stops. At Hayford Hall, where the track starts, John took one look at the rough stones and decided to go back by road to Scoriton, but both Will and George decided to ride the track with us. They found the uphill stony track a little challenging but made it to Lud Gate OK. George sadly got wet feet at the stream, which was quite high today.

As we descended the open moorland path to Chalk Ford we noticed herds of deer in the field on the other side of the river. It wouldn’t be fair to say that Will and George really enjoyed the downhill when it began to get steep – George pushed from halfway down and Will pressed on but found it hard work. After photos at Chalk Ford they did enjoy the track up past the pigs however – there was one piglet today – and George loved climbing the wooden lookout frame, although Jerry somehow managed to break the second wooden foothold from the bottom.

Everyone coped OK down the rough track, and when we had met John halfway down we got to Scoriton for around 12.40. In view of the time we went straight home via Hawson Court for 1pm.

There was a games and trampoline social until 3pm today.

Friday 23 March 2012
Social: Tour Preview and Music Quiz
7 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Jerry Johnson, Michael Jones, Jack Parnell, George Rogers, Will Rogers
We started the evening with a showing of the Easter 2009 tour video, useful for those thinking of booking for our upcoming Easter Tour. A shorter edit of the video would have been more useful, but we made the most of what we had. We then had two rounds of a music quiz, one on movie themes and the second on rock music, and finished up with games of Halo and Lord of the Rings.

Sunday 25 March 2012
Day ride: Widecombe-in-the-Moor (19 mi)Sunny & warm, 10-14°
7 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Callum O'Brien, Jack Parnell, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Jack, Will, Ash and Callum on Bonehill Rocks (11:51)
Jack, Will, Ash and Callum on Bonehill Rocks (11:51)
Callum O’B was clearly pleased to be back with us again as we rode out to Ashburton and then set about climbing Ausewell Hill. Michael had to race on to the top with Ash so he could fix yet another rear wheel puncture near the valve caused by sharp rim tape.

It was around 12.00 when we were ready to set off again. Michael offered the shorter alternative destination of Spitchwick but Jack and Callum really wanted to go to Bonehill, which was encouraging. George, who had done really well for his age on the main climb, found the final climb a bit tiring so we left John to bring him along slowly and went on ahead to Bonehill. Here we spent an enjoyable quarter of an hour playing on the rocks and watching Ash do somersaults over a rock.

Ash and Jack wanted to ride the track to Natsworthy but we needed to meet up with John and George so we rode straight down the steep hill to Widecombe. Reunited again we settled into the café for snacks, enjoying a mixture of soups, chips (CoB of course), cream teas (Will and George), cakes and milkshakes. We finally left around 1.45 with Michael estimating an hour and a half to get home.

George did very well on the route home after his refreshments. We rode via Leusdon where Ash called in to see his school friend Patrick Canon but found that he was out and so left him a note. We continued along Spitchwick Common and then returned home via Hembury, but as CoB was getting slower on the way home it was 4.05 when we finally arrived.

Today's ride involved a total climb of 634m.

Friday 30 March 2012
Social: Pizza Hut
5 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Michael Jones, George Rogers, Will Rogers
Everyone was up for pizza hut tonight, so we set off around 7.20 and got our table before 8. We had vouchers that gave us half price on thin Italian pizzas, so everyone was happy with the value for money. Even though some had desserts and drinks the total price came to only £20.

Next stop was Tenpin for Air Hockey. Ash won with Callum F, but George came in third place. On the way home we called in to Tesco at Lee Mill and after unexpectedly meeting the Freeman family we got back a bit late at 10.14.

Sunday 1 April 2012
Morning ride: Avon DamSunny and bright, chilly 8°
4 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Callum O'Brien, Jack Parnell
A tree somewhere near Cross Furzes (12:19)
Callum, Jack and Ash by the Avon Reservoir (11:50)
We had advertised a Dartmoor ride today, and settled on the Avon Dam at the start. It was superbly sunny but chilly at 8 degrees. Callum started fine but slowed to a crawl up Nurston hill – he had been playing a game with his Dad until 1am, and hadn’t had any breakfast as he got up late! Ash suggested shortening the ride to Skerraton but Michael encouraged everyone to continue to the planned destination.

It was 12.05 when we were descending towards Shipley Bridge where Callum and Ash got ice creams. From then on Callum was much faster, taking the lead on the path up to the dam. We didn’t stop at the reservoir other than to take a photograph, pressing right on over the moor – Callum said off-road is his speciality! The views from the top were superb and we got home by 1.30, which was amazing considering how far behind schedule we had been at Shipley.

There was a games social after the ride until 3.15 which mainly involved playing Halo on the Xbox 360, although Michael did also use the time to transfer a rack from the little Trek to Jack’s bike in preparation for next week’s tour.

Friday 6 April 2012
Evening ride: Cancelled
0 present:
Our first evening ride of the season was cancelled in view of the tour starting on Sunday.

Sunday 8 April 2012
Tour: Cotswolds Day 1 Home to Stratford YH
7 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Michael Jones, Callum O'Brien, Jack Parnell, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Coughton Court (14:23)
Unloading the bikes at Redditch Station car park (12:59)
Caption to follow (15:03)
Caption to follow (15:02)
Mary Arden's house (mother of Shakespeare) (15:30)
Mary Arden's house, Wilmcote (15:30)
Mary Arden's farm (15:59)
Refreshments in the café at Mary Arden's farm (15:59)
Will and the others at the start of the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal (16:18)
The start of the path along the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal (16:17)
Callum Freeman (16:21)
Just a few of the 11 locks in the Wilmcote Flight (16:21)
Shakespeare's house in Stratford-upon-Avon (17:06)
The locks continue towards Stratford-upon-Avon (16:26)
The River Avon from the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon (18:21)
The Royal Shakespeare Company theatre at Stratford-upon-Avon (18:20)
Callum O'B, Jack, Ash, John and Callum F at Stratford-upon-Avon (18:31)
A barge exits the final lock on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal (18:30)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to be written from the following notes made by Michael.

UP at 6.20, Callum F and Jack here between 6.50 and 7.00. Gavin in and ready by 7, nice to see him. I drove us up to Exeter, really quiet roads. AS approaching centre, John rang – their satnav had got them lost on the other side of Exeter. Gavin talked them through it all and they arrived around 7.45. Train left on time at 8am. They played card games on the way up, Cheat and whist, all had fun.

At Bristol we had an hour, so settled in the big café on comfortable sofas for hot drinks and pastries, really nice. Gail rang to say she was at Bristol early with the bikes so would take a coffee break.

Next train to Birmingham left on time, quieter carriage and no table so not able to do so much
Changed at Birmingham, train to Redditch on time too. Gail rang, she was there and it was deserted so she wondered if she was in the right place! We ate lunch on the train.

At the station at 12.50, I changed into shorts, several used toilet, Gail was happy and bikes were fine. So we set off at around 1.10 and the tour had begun.

Weather today was cloudy but dry. Satnav worked perfectly to get us to the start of the cycle path, then it was well signed as route 5. Something I should have done was to note cycle route numbers so we knew we were following the right path. But we negotiated through Arrow Valley park with no problem, great offroad cycle path which John and Will seemed OK with. Nice scenery, quiet, perfect cycling.

Path continued on side of main road, then on a cycle path past the hospital. Great quiet cycling, and we made incredible progress as all flat. Looked at Coughton Court, famous for the gunpowder plot, then more nice lanes. Stopped by a verge for a chocolate break, just past Great Alne I think, then pressed on again. My satnav had been set to Stratford rather than Wilmcote, and when I adjusted it we found we were really close to Wilmcote, just a mile away. So a really easy ride today.

Stopped at Mary Arden’s house, didn’t pay to go in even though they offered us a discount, but we went into the café which was really nice and sampled the whole place from outside on the tables. So a really nice stop. Rare breeds there, and we could photograph the house from the road. Don’t think anyone could go inside though.

Next we started the canal. I gave them a rundown on the canal and its locks, and this turned out to be superb riding. It was actually downhill all the way to Stratford. We saw loads of barges using the locks, and videoed some of them. It was surprisingly quick for the boat to rise or fall – that’s because the lock is very narrow to suit the boats. And the gates can be operated by hand once the water levels are right. They reckon 15 minutes or so per lock if they are on a roll. It was very educational for all of us to see this. And great cycling.

The cycle path left the canal at the bridge, we followed into the centre of Stratford, lots of old black and white house fronts. There was a little sunshine around I think. I planned to see as much as we could of the points of interest now, as it would be raining tomorrow, so we went to Broad Street and saw Shakespears’s birthplace and looked at the shop nearby. Bought Subways and ate them there, which was nice. Went down to Sainsburys to get a few things, then rode all around the RSC which was delightful, nice photos and videos. It was closed of course, but would be open tomorrow morning, so we could look at it when it was raining.

The route to the hostel was over a quiet bridge and along a flat road where there were loads of very expensive houses. Hostel was large and impressive.

We were at the hostel for probably 6.30, they wanted to play MANHUNT so didn’t think it was sensible to shower first. So we did beds and had food first, then at dark played manhunt in the grounds. But this didn’t work too well, as the grounds were large and varied. And Dark! And Will volunteered to be “on” first. Well we all hid, but the others didn’t seem to be taking it too seriously as I heard them all talking from the other corner of the gardens quite loudly. Will couldn’t catch them, and when he did he just touched them and they refused to accept it unless he held them for 3 seconds. So after 20 minutes or more he had still caught nobody, and they all thought this was funny! I think Ash did take it seriously, as he wasn’t with Jack and COB. So I came out and adopted the role of referee to make it fairer. But it wasn’t going to work – Jack had been caught but refused to accept it as he was “stuck up a tree!”, so I cancelled the game, got everyone out and started again. John had been told off for hiding in a bin!

Second game I had to agree to be on, I found Ash first in a good place where I had planned to be, he joined in with me, we got the others but in the end could not find John and Will. Ash did look at the dark steps by the hostel where they were hiding, but did not go down there. I shouted to them to come out if they were in this section as we could not find them and were out of time, but they didn’t (they said it was because they didn’t hear us). They finally came out when the game ended at 9.30.

Lights out around 10.45, COB snored, others not so much. I was on top of Ash, Jack on top of Callum F and John on top of Will. They played some bomberman before bed.

Monday 9 April 2012
Tour: Cotswolds Day 2 Stratford to Stow-on-the-Wold YH
7 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Michael Jones, Callum O'Brien, Jack Parnell, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Stratford-upon-Avon YH (9:32)
Stratford-upon-Avon YH (9:32)
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon (10:44)
Inside the newly renovated Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon (10:44)
Will enjoying the view to the Avon from the new Observation Tower (10:59)
Our tour of the new Observation Tower in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (10:58)
Callum O'Brien at Harold's Farm, Ilmington (14:58)
Ash Freeman in Ilmington (14:47)
The very wet village of Todenham (16:16)
Harold's Farm, Ilmington (14:58)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to be written from the following notes made by Michael.

Very light patchy rain during the morning, forecast to be heavier in the afternoon. Alarm 7.45, up around 8am, breakfast then ready to leave by 9.30 or so. Rode back into Stratford, went to the RSC, now open. Quickly arranged to see the theatre, went up lift, shown to upper level and given seats and info. Very interesting, Ash asked intelligent questions. Bought tickets to tower, went up lift, howling wind through the semi-closed windows, nice views though. Downstairs the rooftop restaurant was open so we had coffee and cake. At this point I should have advised that we needed to leave, but I did mention the two attractions, boating and MAD museum. John was interested in MAD, so was Jack, so we decided to go and look at it. Could see the bottom half at reception, all but John and Will decided to give it a miss and went shopping for towels, which we eventually found in BHS for £4 each. John was charged around £12 for the two of them to go in, they said it was interesting but nowhere near worth that much.

So now we were late leaving Stratford. Took the cycle route past the theatre and quickly joined the Greenway cycle route, which was a little wet and muddy in places but not too bad. There were 2-3 cafes in old carriages but we had no time to enjoy them. Stopped for lunch 2/3 of the way along at a seat. Then set about non-stop cycling. Followed the cycle route to Ilmington, where Ash found a nice cat, then round the back where COB found a mannequin to talk to over the wall. Crossed the main road to Shipston, a busy village with interesting shops, but we didn’t have time to stop again, stupidly! WE planned not to stop until Moreton in Marsh. Rain began to get heavier now, but still manageable. Problem today was that Jack began to get weak from just before Ilmington, so we took twice as long as planned to cover the distances. This meant we arrived at Moreton in Marsh by something like 5.15 or 5.30. Now it was raining quite heavily and we were all soaked, so we went into the Marsh Mallow restaurant for welcome refreshments – most had soup etc. Then went to Budgens supermarket for food etc.

In view of how the day panned out with jack (and later COB) being slow, we would have probably done better to take the more direct route to Stow via Mickleton. And now I should have decided to take the main road to Stow from Moreton, but convinced myself that we could still get to Stow on the lane route. Well this was easy and flat for the first 2-3 miles, but then became hilly after Broadwell, and now Jack and COB were really slow. So we crawled into the hostel at around 8pm, still raining. There had been some nice Cotswold villages with everything being made from Cotswold stone, and to be fair COB and Jack were chatting and in good spirits at the back. But getting to the hostel so late was not ideal in any way. We had missed the cycle route shortcut too, should have programmed that into satnav instead of relying on it being signposted – it was not signposted at all!

Some “chavs” wanted to ride Ash’s bike, he told them no. Some problem finding the bike shed, which was not in fact down the side alley but through the hostel. Had an 8-bed dorm tonight, but two of the bunks were drawn together, which meant the four lads had to go in the middle. Only a single shower, off our dorm, so we all did our own things in our own order to get meals eaten etc. I had an ocean pie, Ash had a chicken tikka. Ate in the dining room, quite nice, had two yoghurts each but then too full to eat the big chocolate pudding we had bought.

Did a little bomberman and some more card games. Windows open well, sleep around 10.45 again. COB had lost his wallet.

Tuesday 10 April 2012
Tour: Cotswolds Day 3 Stow-on-the-Wold to Oxford YH
7 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Michael Jones, Callum O'Brien, Jack Parnell, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Stow-on-the-Wold YH (9:46)
Stow-on-the-Wold YH (9:46)
View eastwards from the bridge over the River Windrush near Asthall (12:33)
Will Rogers at Paynes Farm near Swinbrook (12:15)
The group on the bridge near Asthall (12:34)
View westwards from the bridge over the River Windrush near Asthall (12:34)
The Thames canal path near Swinford (16:50)
The group on the bridge near Asthall (12:35)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to be written from the following notes made by Michael.

Forecast today was much better, sunny with chance of an odd shower in the middle of the day. We were up 7.45 as usual, had breakfast, out on the bikes for 9.30 or so. Went to delightful-looking bakery and coffee shop, lovely pasties and cakes. John and I really wanted to stop for a coffee, but after yesterday I dare not risk it. Sadly. COB got in a strop during packing when he could not find his wallet, and refused for a while to do anything except lay on his bed. He had apparently searched his panniers but could not find it there. Well actually it was there, he just didn’t look properly, although we didn’t find that out until tomorrow morning.

We set off around 9.45 or so, determined today to cover at least half the distance by lunchtime. It really was a lovely sunny day. Started with downhill to Bledington, all really easy. Then fairly easy to Shipton, although I blindly followed the Satnav past the left turn near Lyneham all the way up the hill to the main road, an unnecessary climb. Still, they all enjoyed the downhill.

Satnav helped us easily find the right road out of Shipton. Stopped for a bite to eat, COB had some of his hot pasty. They saw sign for Witney 7 miles and wanted to go that way, I pointed out it was a long climb and poor scenery. Then partway up the hill he slowed down and started walking. I had to go back, he said he was feeling sick after the pasty, and tried to blame me for making him cycle right after eating! He was the one who insisted on eating in a short stop. I went on, then soon he started to ride, and was fine when he met us again at the top.

Lovely downill through Payne’s farm to Swinbrook, delightful road, lovely house and lake at one point. Beautiful sunshine. This was perfect cycling, we came to a bridge and riverbank at Asthall that they wanted to stop there for lunch. It was the best lunch spot we would find all day, but it was only 12.30. I suggested they could stop for 15 mins but Ash said he only wanted a full lunch stop, so we went on. I agonised about that decision, we should have stopped there, but they had started the climb so we carried on.

COB was slow up that hill too, stopped and pushed. Then down to Minster Lovell where we made do with a bank by the river again for lunch, nowhere near as nice as the last spot but it was OK. Crazy that it had taken 25 mins to cover two miles. Nice stop, although a little chilly as clouds came over.

Now I made another mistake, following the planned cycle route to Crawley instead of the marked Route 5 along the B road. The Crawly road was hilly and not very attractive and much longer, so we should have gone along the B road. And then, we didn’t follow the right road out of Crawley, bringing us down to the B4047 just one mile from where we had lunch! Should have had more maps and points in Witney. Mind you, it wasn’t signposted, I think because this was an old Route 5, replaced by the B-road, so best to get up to date route maps and not to rely on signposting.

Decided to not go to the park now, satnav guided us too far road along busy main roads. I tried following a sign to the town centre but the satnav kept telling me to go back, so in the end that is what I did. Poorly planned, as Witney could have been an interesting stop. There is some cycle route across the river, so we could have gone that way if I had researched it properly. Must take detailed maps next time.

Well we were making good time, the lane to Stanton Harcourt was flat and easy in the sunshine. Then the B road to Eynsham was easy, with me at the front and COB following fast. Will needed a toilet stop, so we had to go in to Eynsham to find the toilets – nice affair, paid 10p then we all went in. COB also bought the most expensive toothbrush he could find, for £3. Then on to Swinford where we took a gamble on the Thames path being OK.

Lovely sunshine, and the path was great – and quiet! Passed the lock, then everyone enjoyed the path, at least the first half – very scenic. Stopped for rocket throwing and snacks by river, then on again to first bridge in Oxford. I offered them the choice of switching to cycle route or staying on the Thames footpath, majority voted for cycle route even though it was roads and longer! Stupid lot. Anyway, a shower had put my satnav out of action, but we found the hostel OK, right next to a railway line and major road. Very nice inside, although more like a café/bar at reception. Bike shed through hostel again.

COB had a very nice 3-bed dorm to himself which had a double bed in it.

One shower in each dorm, so we took it in turns. Our food was .. well I had a restaurant meal, Ash had a burger he got from Callum. If he had come earlier when I asked him to look at the restaurant we could have planned together what to eat, but he was late and I already bought mine before he decided he didn’t like anything.

Finished with some Bomberman in the dorm. Hot room, I left windows open but it was very noisy from traffic. Ash shut them after we had put lights out. Then I was hot all night.

Wednesday 11 April 2012
Tour: Cotswolds Day 4 Oxford to Home
7 present: Ash Freeman, Callum Freeman, Michael Jones, Callum O'Brien, Jack Parnell, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Ready to leave Oxford YH (9:32)
Oxford YH (9:32)
"Hogwarts Hall" at Christchurch, Oxford (10:26)
"Hogwarts Hall" at Christchurch, Oxford (10:26)
Lunch at Abingdon (13:09)
Christchurch, Oxford (10:29)
Didcot Power Station (13:55)
Lunch by the Thames at Abingdon (13:09)
Didcot Railway Centre (15:21)
Ash Freeman on one of the engines at Didcot Railway Centre (15:11)
The signal box at Didcot Railway Centre (15:27)
Callum Freeman examines the signal box at Didcot Railway Centre (15:27)
HD video footage from today's ride
Report to be written from the following notes made by Michael.

Up at 7,45, I had been way too hot last night, felt slightly sick as I got up, had to open window as Ash had shut them last night. Noisy night next to road and rail line, don’t stay at Oxford again. COB came in at 8.10 or so after I knocked him up. Breakfast was fine, although Ash and Jack had to borrow chairs from the library. CoB found his wallet in his pannier! He said £20 missing, as only £10 left in it, but this was covering the fact that he has overspent on the first day. Got away at around 9,30 after paying for our meals last night (me and COB). Went past theatre, on to Broad Street which had very few shops and was therefore a bit of a disappointment. In to Radcliffe Square, I didn’t quite recognise any of it from the Golden Compass but took some photos and video.

Straight through to Christchurch College, got entry for £16 for all of us. Great Hall was a highlight of the tour for COB and others, with staircase as per the Harry Potter movie. Will be interesting to compare video with movie. Looked in cathedral (smallest in UK) and shop (COB bought a horcrux chain), then forced to take long route to exit! Nice visit though.

Got food from Tesco Express, then headed on to access point for cycle route. Followed it, but wrong turn following cycle routes, had to double back and follow the Thames path even though not marked as cycle route. This was delightful cycling, so much better than roads. Had a shower under a bridge, then followed path through to Abingdon and the Abbey Gardens area which made a perfect lunch stop in the sun.

Continued on again past Didcot power station, very impressive, no way to look inside though. Got to station around 2.35, locked bikes and then al went in to Didcot Railway Centre for £4 each.. Interesting as we could walk on all the many engines and get a real feel for driving them. Broad gauge at the far end. Just got back in time for John and Will to catch their train at 3.53, I gave him their tickets and instructions. We got the 1616 train to Reading, I saw John off just, then we had food on the station and bought things for the train. 5.32 train on time, COB slept most of the way back, everyone quiet, Ash played LOTR campaign.

Arrived NA on time at 7.42.

Friday 13 April 2012
Evening ride: Hembury WoodsDry
4 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Callum O'Brien, Will Rogers
We did a fairly short ride to Hembury Woods this evening, riding quickly to the top and going around the fort before descending the slalom track. This was Will’s first real taste of off-road cycling, and he did well. He decided to try the less steep alternative to the slalom with Michael’s assistance: at first he pushed, then rode it slowly and was OK on the final bit.

We got home for 9pm and played some games of Modern Warfare 3 until 10pm.

Sunday 15 April 2012
Morning ride: South Brent (12 mi)Sunny & warm
5 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
George, Will, John and Ash at South Brent Play Park (11:57)
The group at South Brent Play Park (11:56)
On a fabulous sunny morning we rode fast up Dean Hill, watching some people flying radio-controlled helicopters around the Buckfastleigh horse-racing track. We continued down the hill to South Brent where we bought pastries and doughnuts from the Co-op and ate them in the Play Park.

Michael had planned to go on to Avonwick and maybe even Diptford, but it was 12.00 when we left the park so we returned home along the main road to the Edeswell viaduct. The owners of Edeswell Farm house under the viaduct must be very fond of poultry as the field beside the river was absolutely full of geese and chickens.

We continued via Rattery and down Pennywell hill, arriving home by 1pm. There were some interesting games of Modern Warfare 3 after the ride until 2.30.

Today's ride involved a total climb of 314m.

Friday 20 April 2012
Evening ride: Belford Mill (11 mi)Sunny but chilly, 7°
6 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Callum O'Brien, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Ash and Callum insisted on Ashburton this evening even though they had all done that ride recently, so we took the old road out to Ashburton and then rode out towards Belford Mill.

John and Will gave the woodland track a miss this evening but George did it and kept up well with the group. We returned home via Druid for a change. It was really quite cold now so we rode straight home for 9.20 and enjoyed some games of Modern Warfare 3 until 10pm.

This evening's ride involved a total climb of 248m.

Sunday 22 April 2012
Morning ride: Broadhempston (11 mi)Sunny start, then showers
7 present: Lawrence Buttress, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Jack Parnell, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Jack, Will, Ash, George and Lawrence at Broadhempston Park (11:35)
Broadhempston Park (11:34)
It was good to see Lawrence and Jack on the ride again today. While Lawrence was eating his usual toast and marmalade he revealed his middle name was Michael – an excellent name by any standards.

The forecast was for a mixture of sunshine and showers, but it was sunny all the way up Green Lane to Broadhempston where we played in the park. Michael was only planning to stay there ten minutes before moving on, but when John went to check out the village shop and returned fifteen minutes later with two takeaway coffees it was clear that we wouldn’t be leaving any time soon. So Michael enjoyed his first ever cappuccino while taking some photos of the youngsters playing happily on the park equipment. Then Ash wanted to check out the shop too, so we all went in there and finally left at 12.00 after a very enjoyable 45-minute break.

Michael’s original plans of skirting around to the back of Landscove for a café stop were now dropped in favour of the shorted route past Ron Greet’s tractor yard. When we got to the start of Beaston track there were some dark clouds looming ahead so we made the sensible decision to skip the track and head for home. We only got halfway up the hill to Memory Cross when the heavens opened, so we took shelter in an old barn.

To keep the ride fresh we detoured via Landscove on the way home, but we got a few more showers along the way and were a bit damp when we finally arrived back at 1.20. Everyone did really well on the ride, especially Lawrence. There were the usual games of Modern Warfare 3 after the ride until 2.45.

Today’s ride involved a total climb of 273m.

Friday 27 April 2012
Evening ride: Staverton (11 mi)Dry
7 present: Lawrence Buttress, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Callum O'Brien, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
It was good to see Lawrence joining our evening ride today. We started out along Colston Road, but George had a pain in his back for some reason. When we got to the Steiner school and started the climb up the cycle path he really couldn’t cope, so John took him home.

The rest of us continued down to the riverside path at Staverton. Unfortunately we couldn’t cross the stones to the island because the river level was too high, so we went into the park and spent a little time on the equipment before heading home at a good speed. We took the usual route via Abham, then as we descended the hill past Caddaford a number of bats got perilously close to us in the semi darkness.

We got home for around 9.30 to find John and Will waiting with several packages of fish and chips from their shop in the town. They were shared out in the kitchen amongst a number of very grateful youngsters – thanks John for the nice surprise. There was time for a few games of Modern Warfare 3 before everyone left at 10.05.

This evening's ride involved a total climb of 189m.

Sunday 29 April 2012
Morning ride: Converted to SocialWet and windy
7 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Callum O'Brien, Jack Parnell, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
It had been very wet and windy overnight and the bad weather was forecast to continue until late afternoon, so we had no choice but to convert the ride to a social today.

We played MW3 together in the PC room for the first hour, then everyone was keen to play badminton, so Michael booked a court at Ashmoor and we played there for an hour from 11.30. We had some good games, and the Rogers family did well even though they had never really played the game before.

We got back at 12.55 and played games and Ash’s electronic drum kit until 2.10.

Friday 4 May 2012
Evening ride: Hembury WoodsGloomy, cold & slightly damp
5 present: Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
On a cold, damp and gloomy evening we rode to the top of Hembury hill and through the shortcut path to the fort where everyone had a lot of fun. Ash was very good with the youngsters and John couldn’t resist taking a photo.

John went back down the road but the rest of us rode the Slalom track down through the woods – George and Will went cautiously but made it to the end with no problem. We got home by 9pm, glad to get indoors and out of the cold. We played some games of Modern Warfare 3 until 10pm.

Sunday 6 May 2012
Morning ride: HolneSunny
7 present: Lawrence Buttress, Ash Freeman, Michael Jones, Jack Parnell, George Rogers, John Rogers, Will Rogers
Will, Jack, Ash, Lawrence, George and John at Holne Park (12:13)
The group at Holne Park (12:13)
George arrived early this morning so he could play on the trampoline, then Lawrence joined in so we didn’t get away until 10.35. We headed for Venford at Jack’s suggestion, but Will and George were slower than usual up Hawson hill, probably because Will had done a long ride with John yesterday to Princetown and Dartmeet. It was 11.50 when we finally arrived at Holne Park so we gave up on Venford and Michael offered either park or café (with no hot food). Well the youngsters wanted both, so they got both.

We had much fun with Ash’s tennis ball, Michael’s Frisbee and the swings. George also went on the big tyre swing at the far end of the park, pushed by Michael. Unfortunately as we were leaving, Lawrence scooped up some water in the Frisbee and aimed it in Will’s Direction. This was apparently in response to Will splashing Lawrence and some other people earlier in the park, but it still took some time to resolve the ensuing disagreement.

We enjoyed drinks and cakes in the café. Ash’s cake seemed half the size of everyone else’s cake so he asked the volunteer serving behind the counter and she kindly agreed to upgrade him.

Will went home with John but George came with the rest of us through Hembury Woods. Today he rode the easier downhill track with Michael, meeting Lawrence at the bottom of the Slalom track so we could all do the final section together. After also riding the section on the other side of the road we got home for around 1.25. Jack and Ash played Halo while the rest of us played Modern Warfare 3.

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