D-Day for Mid-Devon CC

Sunday June 6th was appropriately D-Day for the Mid-Devon Cycling Club – not an invasion of the beaches of Normandy more a recce of the 2010 Dartmoor Sportive Route. 

The forecast for the day was mixed. The weathermen had said that we would have a bright start and finish with the chance of a few showers around Noon.

Well the forecasters were right as riders gathered at Abbrook Park Sports & Social Club. The first group was under the guidance of Stewart Bergman. He was I/C the 100 mile ride and was away at 08.00. An hour later the less ambitious set off for the 100km distance.

It was not long before the temperatures started to rise and the sweat began to flow as the first tests, the climbs from Bovey Tracey to the open moor, were tackled. Once on top of Dartmoor the views were magnificent especially that of Hound Tor with Hay Tor behind silhouetted in the morning light. Just past Hemsworthy Gate those who were wary of the weather could see ominous looking clouds banked up over the tors of the central moorland.

Near Cold East Cross the view extended right down to the English Channel.

The rapid descent to Water Turn was followed by a rough section close to Hele Cross – a mental note was made to advise Devon County Council that some repairs before 27th June would be most acceptable.

One week ago a number of entrants had ridden the route and were most worried about the amount of chippings banked up following recent road surfacing between Holne Bridge and Holne. Seven days later and following a sweeping operation the whole length seemed ‘clean’.

There may have been few chippings but that did not ease the pain of climbing the 25% Holne Chase Hill and then the slog up to Holne Moore. Once again the views from the top almost made it worthwhile. To the north east was the deep valley of the River Dart with Buckland Beacon high above. Soon there was a whole hillside of the West Dart covered in bluebells.

The “S” bends down to the river were exhilarating and the bluebells in the wood magnificent. Once at the top of the climb away from the river the route turned due west and into an everincreasing headwind. In no time the sun was gone. An ever-thickening mist surrounded riders. As each mile passed and Princetown got closer the mist grew thicker. It was soon time to put on the rear light.

A café stop was called for but on leaving all found it very cold especially those on the 100 mile route. The long descent down Peek Hill and into Horrabridge chilled the bones. It was only the climb Batteridge Hill and onto Plaster Down the brought any warmth to their bodies. The 100 milers spent most of the loop through Tavistock, out to Chillaton, Lydford and Brentor in misty conditions.

For all the riders the weather improved once Postbridge had been reached though one of the forecast mod-day showers struck as promised. It was also a good feeling to have a tailwind up the hill towards the Warren House Inn and then over the rises that followed.

The sweeping descents down to Moretonhampstead gave a feeling of having conquered the worst of the route. Only the climb to Cossick Cross remained. Over the top and the 3 miles down to the River Teign soon passed with a slight delay for some as they waited for a herd of deer to cross the road. It was then back to base alongside the river and a satisfied feeling of a ride well done. Most potential road surface hazards had identified so all being well repairs will be put I place in the next 15 working days.

Note to entrants – Be prepared for Dartmoor turning “dirty”. Fit at least a rear light. Carry protective clothing to keep the torso warm.

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