Perhaps I should explain. There is a legend among the locals who live on the fringes of Bodmin Moor that tells of people who have been driving across the moor, and felt a strange, hairy grip on their hands on the steering wheel, just prior to them swerving across the road, often resulting in an accident of some kind. Could it be a lost soul trying to get home? Some prehistoric spirit objecting to noisy cars in his/her final resting place? Or perhaps its just a strong gust of wind or what drunk blokes tell their partners after they've driven home from a remote pub to explain away the dents in the bumpers.... (it brings to mind Lord Percy's tale of how his uncle disappeared mysteriously, along with his house and all his belongings...on the night of the Great Fire of London...)
Anyhoo, I have to say, with weather forecasts predicting 65mph winds and heavy rain by midday, and with 40 miles or so ahead of me, I was almost tempted to bludge another rest day at Mike's, but this would have been soft and delaying the inevitable first bad-weather ride, not to mention putting me behind schedule after just 2 days of riding, so I kitted up, got the bike loaded and hit the road at a very punctual 7.45 am.
Once again, the bike was running smoothly - but no thanks to me, it transpired. It had developed an intermittent click on Tuesday, and the back tyre had looked a bit soft after I'd had to change the tube at the start of Tuesday's ride (because I bust the valve trying to pump up it up). I dropped it in to the local bike shop in Liskeard, and the bloke couldn't find a reason for the click other than the end of a stray gear change cable hitting the pedal each circuit (doh!), but he did notice the break pads were poorly positioned - actually half on the rubber of the tyre. As he adjusted them, he asked if I'd had the wheel off for any reason, to which of course I could say yes, I'd had to change the tube. Turns out, I'd not put the wheel back on properly, and ridden the whole way from Perranporth to Liskeard with wheel half out of its mounting and the rear brake pads rubbing on the tyre! No wonder it had been a bit tricky braking in places, and quite frankly I'm amazed I didn't trash the tyre, the bike or me, but he put things right, advised me on how to do it better next time, and only charged me a fiver! Result!
So, Dartmoor beckoned, wheels were on straight and true, and thank whoever it is you thank for these things, the wind was in my back for the first time since I started. I'd been annoyed that whoever had suggested I go south to north on this ride to benefit from the prevailing SW winds had been proved totally wrong all the way up the coast, but today, with strong gusty winds in play, they were in the perfect direction to help me up the hills. I'd looked at the hill profile of my route and was fairly sure I'd be forced to push at some point, most likely either leaving Liskeard, or leaving Tavistock up on to Dartmoor.
The legs were working well though, and with the bonus of the wind, I pushed on through every hill, and was actually rather proud of myself for not caving in. Looks like I may be growing that pair (of strong legs) that Ed encouraged me to grow! Up on the top of Dartmoor, the road was fantastic, and I cruised along making excellent time, only occasionally getting a speed wobble as a stray gust of wind caught me on a fast downhill (today's top speed: 44.9 mph, for the stat-watchers!). Towards the end of the ride as I approached Moretonhampstead, a couple of switch backs and sheltered stretch made it abundantly clear just how much help the wind had been, and how unpleasant it would have been blowing the other way, so I thanked my lucky stars again, and touched down at 1215, far earlier than anticipated.
I toyed with making hay, maybe taking a bite out of tomorrow's 63 miles, while the rain held off, but lacking a signal for satnav plotting, I was unable to find out if any sleeping places were a sensible distance away. Instead, I accepted the good time, and chose to stay in the very nice camping barn and enjoy the well earned rest. It will most likely be raining all day tomorrow, and things will go far slower, so maybe resting up is the best plan after all!
Although I am by no means past the worst of the hills, today was the first day I both felt an improvement in my riding, and enjoyed the hills (no doubt thanks largely to the wind), but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel indicating that things will get better as my fitness goes up, and that was reassuring. It was beautiful riding across Dartmoor, with its windswept character, and I can only look forward to the time when I feel more able to stop and smell the roses, so to speak, en route. Its been a bit about just surviving the riding to date, but I sense that things are changing for the better :-)
Continued thanks to all who have donated, your generosity has got the numbers ticking over far faster than I'd expected, but I should point out that I have hit up everyone I know for cash, so either you all will have to find the rest yourselves to reach the target, or you're going to have to start encouraging more people to pick up the short fall! You have all been great so far. I know you can do it :-) Photos are coming, I promise, but until then, keep 'em crossed for tailwinds and no rain!
Over and out for now.