I left the Admiral Blake at just before 8am. I can't recommend the place highly enough, it's an oasis of calm in a busy town. Outside the front is a dual carriageway route on the A38 to the north of Bridgwater, traffic speeds past all day, but round the back is silent and peaceful and wonderful. There's a small patio area and garden with seats and tables to sun yourself. The arrangement is self-catering with a fully equipped kitchen and attached dining room (with large telly) just off the patio. The larder is stocked with all the breakfast basics, and anything more for an evening meal needs to be brought in. I went for a Chinese takeaway!
My breakfast this morning consisted of a large cheese omelet, buttered toast and three cups of tea.
The place was packed with thirteen(!) workers employed at Hinkley Point power station. Pauline said that she'd been accommodating various trades since September. It put me in mind of the Morrisons rebuilding at Penrith. As Pauline was otherwise fully booked, I had a rather nice room upstairs - or should I say a suite. Double bedroom, lounge with settee and telly, and a separate bathroom too.
Pauline is very happy to take bikes - End-to-End'ers especially, and you can wheel your bike through the alley-way to the rear and park it on the patio! The room off to one side - laundry room - doubles up as a bike stowage.
Anyway, off I went south out of Bridgwater and headed onto the A38 for Taunton. The morning was cool and bright, and even though it had rained overnight, the day was much the same as the previous days and I powered along straight through Taunton and made my way into Wellington town centre. I stopped there - soon after 9am - and slapped on the sunscreen.
Then off back onto the A38. Not long after leaving Wellington, I spied a cyclist coming towards me and he U turned with a, "Hello Mick!" He introduced himself as Roger Bennett and has been following my blog and is also on the CTC Forum. We chatted for a few minutes and rode together up one of the many hills. After a few miles, he peeled off, and on I went alone, but with a smile on my face in the knowledge that there are many folk out there following my progress and taking a great deal of interest.
At Waterloo Cross north of Cullompton, I turned off towards Tiverton and as the A38 turned into the dual carriageway of the A361, I came off through Sampford Peverel and Halberton to take the back roads into Tiverton. There I rested, ate flapjacks and mixed nuts, drank water and sat in the sunshine. It was soon after 1pm.
Off again to Bickleigh, then south on the A396 towards Exeter to turn right for Thorverton. This route I call "Rob's Passage" as Rob S from the CTC Forum suggested it as a good way to get around the Cadbury Hills. These hills are awful. Up and down and busy with traffic and if you're travelling to LE you have to climb Bickleigh Hill. This hill is terrible. It even has a hairpin bend half way up! By taking Rob's Passage, you avoid the climbs all the way to Crediton at the expense of a slightly longer route.
In Crediton, I rested again, then took the onslaught of the Devon hills in my stride - at first! Then they took their toll, and the further I made it towards Okehampton, the more tired I became. This ride was (only) 70 miles, but analysing the figures this evening, the full force of what I've ridden through became apparent. Of all the 12 rides before, this 13th had the highest Total Ascent of them all! Even more than the 90 miles between Inverness and Pitlochry!
Total Ascent today was a massive 4722ft as opposed to only 3969ft for Inverness to Pitlochry. No wonder I was tired! It never ceases to amaze folk how hard it is to cycle in Devon. Cornwall is a hard, if not harder. Total Ascent figures to follow!
I made it to Sourton at 16:45 with Hilary waiting out on the main road to see me approach. I was sweaty and tired, we embraced, and as I rode to the car, she followed with a grin! Chopper was mounted on the rack, Trailer was shoved unceremoniously into the back of the car, and Hilary took me to the Rising Sun for beer! Home later via the chip shop, and here I am typing this lot out. I'm tired, scrubbed clean in the shower, and ready for a good night's sleep in our own bed.
Tomorrow is another day, and Saturday will see me being driven back to Sourton to start the penultimate ride.
4722ft Total Ascent
791.95 miles from JOG.
See you soon,