Archive for June, 2009

Cycling day 15: Princetown to Silverton (Again)

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

DartmoorI continued to enjoy the fantastic scenery of Dartmoor as I left this morning. There were plenty of sheep laying in the road and Dartmoor ponies crossing randomly.

A few miles away from my destination today I stopped for a few minutes, then noticed that a car behind me had stopped in the middle of the road. It turned out that they’d broken down. So, after leaving my bike off of the road and donning a bright yellow jacket I went and helped to push them off of the road. It wouldn’t move and it turned out that a build up of a pressure in the brake hydraulics was forcing the brake on. A friend of the driver resolved that and we pushed the vehicle off to a safe place. I then stopped for lunch in the village ahead.

It was quite obvious that I was going to arrive very early at tonight’s overnight stop (the same place in Silverton that I stayed at on the way down towards Land’s End). I noticed from my OS map that there is apparently a cycle route (regional cycle route 52) nearby (denoted by the green dots along some of the roads), so decided to divert off and investigate it. It’s there, but very thinly signed. Some junctions can only be inferred from the presence of signs a bit further along. I’ve followed it for a few miles; I’ve no idea whether we’ve got any coverage of the cycle route in OSM yet. Certainly the roads showed up in the coverage on my GPS, but I’m not currently using the cycle map variant of the GPS map.

Despite the distraction of following the cycle route I still arrived quite early, so sat around in what is effectively the village square for a bit. The next few days should take longer again as the distance is markedly up again now that I’m heading away from some of the hills. I should also cover some as-yet unmapped portions of the National Cycle Network (that is unless someone has mapped it since I left Canterbury a couple of weeks ago). One bit should prove interesting as it appears to be located on some mudflats, possibly making it only accessible at low tide. I’ve no idea of the tides for tomorrow, but I do have a backup plan in case the route does prove inaccessible.

Cycling day 14: West Taphouse to Princetown

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

My plan for today had the largest amount of cumulative climbing for any of my days – a little over 1500m – onto Dartmoor. So I was dreading the climbing a bit, but greatful that today’s weather was notably cooler.

I took a wrong turn fairly on in the day, so didn’t quite take my planned route. I adjusted my route accordingly and this will actually mean that I did even more climbing than planned in the end.

Looking back on part of my climb into DartmoorNot too long after passing a sign welcoming me to Dartmoor National Park it started to rain. At about the same time a series of cyclists turned onto the road I was following 100m or so ahead of me. It turns out that there was some kind of organised cycle event on Dartmoor today together with marshals at the junctions I encountered. As I climbed into Dartmoor I passed some of the riders, but was slightly slower than the majority of them. One of them commented “I don’t know how you do it with all of that!”, referring to the fact that I was pretty much keeping pace with him on his unladen bike while I was carrying four panniers, a rack bag, and a handlebar bag. I had an advantage on the event riders though in that it looks like they had to go a bit further on the moor whereas I was stopping at Princetown for my accomodation. I also had an OS map in front of me with the contours, which used together with my GPS’s altimeter (even though that’s not entirely accurate) helped me plan my ascent reasonably well. When I’d achieved most of the final climb for today I even had my photo taken by one of the event photographers. I think that having other riders around prove very helpful with giving me a pace to latch onto, the rain was helpful in keeping me cool too. I feel proud that I was keeping up so well, and I hope it bodes well for the other tough climbs I’ve still got in some of the days ahead.

In the end I arrived a little over 3 hours early at today’s accomodation, so I’ve been out to have a snack and found a cafe that claims to have WiFi access. I’ve got a rest day planned tomorrow, so I’ll probably be spending quite some time there catching up on some data entry.

Cycling day 13: Grampound to West Taphouse

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

I made some major changes to the first part of my route today. From my accomodation out of Grampound for the next couple of miles would have been uphill on the trunk road. I didn’t fancy that, so found a route, albeit longer and hillier, on quieter roads. This had many advantages: Safer away from the fast moving and heavy traffic, the roads aren’t mapped so far, so they’ll get added to the OSM data, and it landed me further south on another braid of NCR3, so I got some more of that mapped as well. Even then I got tempted to cycle a little further south still to the outskirts of Mevagissey on NCR3, simply because I stayed there a few years ago without a bicycle and wondered where the cycle route actually goes. Now I know.

Pentewan Valley TrailAfter my diversion to Mevagissey on NCR3 I retraced my steps, got tempted to follow the short cycle route off to the Lost Gardens of Helligan and back, and followed the route towards St. Austell. I then discovered another braid to Pentewan, gave in to temptation again, and followed that there and back as well before continuing as planned to St. Austell.

Clay works lakeIn St. Austell I followed the NCR3 signing and found that I actually followed it a bit too far. NCR3 and NCR2 join at St. Austell. When complete NCR2 will roughly follow the south coast to Dover. I’ve followed large parts of the existing NCR2 in previous days in this trip. My plan was to follow NCR2 for a bit here. After a little searching I found the route and followed it through the Clay Trails. Unfortunately the signing was a little thin here, but there were just enough signs marked with NCR2 that I’m reasonably confident that I followed the actual route out of the possible permutations here. This route took me past some lakes that filled in some former clay works. The water colour has a green tinge here because of the mica particles in suspension in the water.

Eden ProjectEventually the Clay Trails route arrives at the Eden Project, itself sited in a former clay works. I once again got tempted to follow the cycle route down into the project then back out again, noting the presence of the cycle parking on the way. On my way out I met a young couple that were confused a little by the signing of NCR3 at this point. They were hoping to follow some of the routes to Mevagissey, etc. that I’d cycled a little earlier in the day. The map that they had wasn’t particularly detailed. So, having just cycled that bit myself I tore my own map page covering the area in half, such that they could use that for navigating around the Clay Trails etc. themselves. I also warned them about the thin signing, but gave them some clues as to the landmarks I used to find my way through. Hopefully they didn’t get lost.

NCR3 then follows some extremely quiet roads towards Bodmin and a spur heads off towards Bodmin Parkway station, situated strangely a few miles outside of Bodmin itself.

From the station I followed a small road out to the A38 trunk road, another one that I needed to include a few miles of in order to reach my accomodation. Actually it turned out to be pretty manageable, a good surface and reasonably flat. I then had a climb off of the road towards the A390 again, where tonight’s accomodation is situated.

West Taphouse is a hamlet without a pub, so for tonight’s food I needed to make a 10 mile round trip to the town of Lostwithiel. I cycled there and back mainly using quiet country lanes, taking a slightly different route outbound and for my return. All of the lanes weren’t mapped yet, so that’s another few miles of coverage for OSM. The bike felt quite strange this evening; I’ve obviously got quite used to carrying the extra weight now; I found myself slightly overcompensating on my balance whilst cycling this evening.

Cycling day 12: Penzance to Grampound

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

Much of today I was following another braid of NCR3. In Hayle I stopped at a cycle shop. My chain was squeaking a bit so I purchased some oil and we chatted a little about OpenCycleMap. I gave a brief demonstration of the freely-downloadable OpenStreetMap data that I have on my Garmin GPS after one of the shop assistants mentioned that he had a Garmin unit.

Cambourne MinePassing through Cambourne and Redruth it was clear from the numerous abandoned mine buildings that there was once a rich mining industry here.

At Bissoe I stopped at a bike hire centre beside the cycle route to purchase an ice cream. That’ll be on the map relatively soon as well, once I manage to catch up on the data entry.

Once at Truro I headed out on a reasonably quiet road to meet the A390 trunk road a couple of miles outside town. Unfortunately I needed to follow this road in part to get to my accomodation this evening. I reached the junction with the A390, but ended up turning the wrong way onto it. So after perhaps 1.5 miles of thinking that it’s a little hillier than the contours on my map show I realised my mistake, negotiated crossing to the other side of the road, then headed back in the correct direction.

My planned route took me on a brief diversion via the village of Probus, away from the A390, such that I wouldn’t have to climb a fairly steep hill on the trunk road. I took the wrong turning out of Probus, but ended up discovering a paved bridleway running beside it. Judging from the fading road markings on it it may well have been an earlier alignment of the A390. This brought me back to the main road after a little while, but from here on it was essentially downhill to Grampound.

Cycling day 11: Marazion to Penzance

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

If you look at the locations of Marazion and Penzance on a map you’ll see that they’re just a few miles apart from each other. So it’s lucky that today’s trip went via Land’s End to keep the mileage up (although it still wasn’t that many miles).

Land’s EndAt Land’s End I had the obligatory photo taken (570 miles so far. 2378 still to go, if going by my original plan). I took a different outward and return journey with only a minimal overlap, to ensure that I gather as much mapping data as possible. I did manage to make one small wrong turn though, but only realised once I’d climbed most of the hill so just adjusted accordingly.

I had strong winds whilst at Land’s End and it was a headwind for the first few miles of my return journey. That calmed as I got away from the west coast though.

The Internet connection at tonight’s accomodation is broken. It connects to the wireless access point fine, but doesn’t route beyond that to the Internet. So, I’m updating my blog postings via a slow mobile connection again in order to not get too far behind with them. The mobile signal strength is pretty weak though, so that’s dropping out a bit as well.

Cycling day 10: Newquay to Marazion

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Carnon ViaductToday I followed NCR32 and NCR3, and then took a separate cross-country route over to Marazion. On the NCR3 stretch I took a brief diversion of a few miles to visit the Carnon Viaduct, which crosses a cycle route. The cross-country route later in the day took in plenty of as-yet unmapped roads. I’ve still got a large backlog of unentered data though — I’ve just started entering data from day 5.

St. Michael’s MountTonight’s stay is in Marazion, famous for being opposite St. Michael’s Mount, which you may recognise from being featured in one of the BBC1 idents a while back.

Cycling day 9: St. Breward to Newquay

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Camel TrailApproximately half of today’s distance was planned to follow the Camel Trail, a fantastic traffic-free route following the river Camel where a railway used to run. However I made such good progress along this route that it was only mid-morning by the time I’d completed it, so I added another approximately 11 mile loop into my journey to take in an alternative braid of NCR32 as well as the one I planned to take.

I also heard the great news this evening that back home the riverside cycle route between Canterbury and Chartham, which will form part of NCR18 and for which campaigning has been going on for over 20 years, has finally been given the go-ahead at tonight’s Development Control Committee meeting.

I’ve managed to catch up with some of the data entry this evening, because I’ve got a WiFi connection at tonight’s guest house again. Just as I started to write this blog posting though some drama has kicked off outside. A girl has just smashed in the front windows of a building opposite. A silly thing to do, particularly as the police station is on the opposite corner of the junction. Two police officers have just jogged out and arrested her.

Cycling day 8: Brandis Corner to St. Breward

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Derriton ViaductAtlantic - 10 milesEarly on in today’s trip I passed over the Derriton Viaduct just outside Holsworthy, whilst following National Cycle Route 3. A Mills type milepost just beyond the viaduct told me that Bude and the Atlantic Ocean was just 10 miles away.
Land’s End 125 milesFirst view of the Atlantic OceanI caught my first glimpse of the Atlantic a few miles before reaching Bude. A bit further down the road I reached another milepost, this time a McColl type, stating that Land’s End is 125 miles away. I won’t be following the exact route that those miles are measured over, but it’s great to see that it’s now signposted! Slightly further still, in the village of Marhamchurch, NCR3 divides to head both towards Bude and a shorter and less hilly inland route via Week St. Mary.

Widemouth BayCoastal view30% gradientI reached Bude via a canalside stretching of NCR3. The route then leaves Bude via a coastal road with spectacular views. This is relatively busy, but shortly after Widemouth Bay the route then follows a much quieter, but much hillier road. At one point along here it has a 30% gradient uphill.

I lunched at Wainhouse Corner, where NCR3 crosses the A39. A few miles further the route joined up again with the Week St. Mary braid of NCR3. A little further still the route crosses the former portion of an airfield. There was quite a strong headwind here, which died down almost immediately after I turned off towards the adjacent evergreen woods which cover some of the former airfield site.

Lower MoorMoorlandChimneyThe route then skirts the edge of Bodmin Moor along the way. Again some fantastic scenery. It also passes what is presumably a chimney from an old tin mine.

Unfortunately I’ve not had Internet connectivity over the past few days. I managed to get a few updates uploaded via a 9600bps dial-up connection via a bluetooth connection using my mobile phone, but that’s extremely slow. So, I’ve found a wifi hotspot at the post office in St. Breward and have brought my blog up-to-date from there. Now to bring the mapping up-to-date too.

Cycling day 7: Silverton to Brandis Corner

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

According to my plans there was approximately 50% more climbing to do today compared with yesterday, and in slightly fewer miles. That said there weren’t any sections of continuous lengthy climbs like yesterday, so I managed quite well.

I had lunch at a pub in the village of Bow, a little ahead of the halfway point in today’s leg. Whilst waiting for my food I quickly befriended a cat, who enjoyed several minutes of strokes. I thought, of course, of my own cat Charley taking her ten-week holiday at a cattery near to home.

The village of SheepwashBy the time I reached the village of Sheepwash, a few miles from tonight’s accomodation, I was running ahead of schedule with quite a bit of spare time. So I decided to visit their “Strawberry Tea” event going on in the village. This turned out to be strawberries and tea, rather than strawberry flavoured tea. I don’t like tea, so opted for some squash instead. I got chatting to some people there and they were all very interested to hear about this Three Corners Cycle Ride in aid of the British Heart Foundation. I left with a further £50 of generous sponsorship. I also took the opportunity to plug the OpenStreetMap project and showed how I had OSM data on my GPS.

Unfortunately tonight’s B&B again doesn’t appear to have Internet access again, so the blog and mapping backlog is building up even more.

Cycling day 6: Chilthorne Dorner to Silverton

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Today’s cycling essentially involved climbing lots of small hills, one large hill, staying on a plateau for many miles, descenting back down a large hill, followed by several small hills again to reach my destination. The climb up the large hill took quite a bit of time, but I made very good progress on the plateau, and of course the downhill sections.

The route today took me along several as-yet unmapped roads, so I’ll be adding them to the OSM data once I manage to catch up with the backlog. Unfortunately I’m again without Internet connectivity, so the backlog is building up now.

Most junctions in Devon appear to be namedInterestingly most of the T-junctions and crossroads in Devon seem to have junction names written on the post. I’ll be adding all of these to the OpenStreetMap data of course, but as far as I’m aware it’s not rendered yet.