Second cycle completed!
In August 2018, Ride for Toni completed our second annual cycle tour in Toni's memory.
This time the destination was Cornwall, another place close to Toni's heart. Husband John and Toni's best friend Ellie were this year's cyclists. The first reaction of most people we spoke to beforehand was to pull a kind of worried face and say, "Cornwall is very hilly". They were right of course, it is, but we had a cunning plan. Cornwall also has trails dedicated to walkers and cyclists which run along defunct railway lines and are on the whole flat (ish), so we opted for those.
Base camp was the home of Ellie's lovely parents in law, Bill and Jean, in beautiful Tintagel. They had very generously allowed us to stay and provided meals and good company too.
Preparation the night before day 1 consisted of going to the pub... what else! King Arthur's, just up the road became a second home for the week, serving up hot meals and local beers. This was perfect prep to calm the nerves, especially for Ellie for whom this was a major challenge. Ellie would be first to admit she is not a born sportswoman and was not really in the best shape for 5 days on a bike. Her training had not been as extensive as she had hoped...in fact she hadn't even been out on her bike before! But one thing Ellie does have is determination and she was going to complete this for Toni come what may.
Days 1 and 2 were on the Camel Trail which runs from Padstowe to Bodmin. The scenery is lovely and the route fairly gentle. A good place to start. Now, Ellie and I were in different places when it comes to fitness and preparation, so while I was generally frustrated by being regularly held up by slow moving families and walkers and dogs, Ellie was wondering what she had let herself in for and she definitely wasn't going to change her pace for any one! What's more she had packed about 6 months worth of provisions into her saddle bags just to add to the weight and make it more of a challenge of course.
So we mastered that route and moved on the Tarka Trail for the last 3 days. At least some of this trail is in Devon but it was well worth the extra travelling time to get there. The trail is so beautiful and the pathways were much clearer of traffic...maybe partially due to wet weather. Seasoned pros by now, we upped our mileage and even upped the pace a bit. Day 3 did serve up quite a steep incline which we managed to climb without too much difficulty. Coming back down at the end was much more exhilarating. Quite an adrenaline rush hurtling down and getting bounced about on the stones and pedals. I think Ellie was less thrilled and more terrified but it was a great way to mark another personal best with another fear barrier broken.
Torrington to Barnstaple and back in the wind and rain couldnt dampen our enthusiasm (much) on day 4. We did 26 miles and the end was in sight!
True to form it somehow rained on the last day too (in this record breaking heatwave summer!) but we weren't going to let a bit of rain stop us. And we did it. Back to King Arthur's for some Cornish beers to celebrate and drink a toast to Toni.
An amazing achievement by Ellie: Five days. 120 miles. Lots of aches and pains. Lifetime memories.
The best was saved to last and the next day we went to St. Nectan's Glen, Tintagel; a stunningly beautiful walk to see the waterfall where we laid a commemorative stone and hung some ribbons for Toni.
Special thanks to Mark Cheyney, Roly, Bill and Jean and to random strangers along the route who helped with the bikes and encouragement.