Exmouth Exodus Conquered

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The challenge is complete. I made it to Exmouth after 9 hours 20 mins of cycling and 114 miles and some extremely tired legs! Thank you to everyone for all your support and particular David who was unable to join me on this adventure. £360 Has been raised so far but there is still time to donate.

The story….

David very kindly drove me to the meeting point at Channings Hotel in Clifton ,saving me an extra 5 miles of cycling and gave me some last minute advice. Once registered  I got myself ready, lights on, wet weather gear at hand and set off at 9:16pm in the direction of the Clifton suspension bridge. I left by myself, which was the mainstay for most of the ride despite the 260 odd people taking on this daunting challenge.

It wasn’t long after the bridge, in fact Beggar Bush Lane that the heavens opened, which last for a large part of the first section of the ride. Despite the rain I was feel good and looking forward to what the night had in store. I arrived at Cheddar for the first of 3 stops just before midnight, after a grueling hike up Burrington Combe and a rather enjoyable but scary ride down cheddar gorge. Tea and home made cakes were waiting all those hungry cyclists. I had a rather large piece of Victoria sponge which was almost as good a Jill’s!

The 2nd part was fairly flat but without any down hill sections it was a long 30 miles. The usual stop at North Curry had been changed to Fivehead and this caused some confusion, particularly to a number of regulars who were disappointed they had a further 8 miles to cycle before food and a well earned rest.

On leaving Fivehead I followed one cyclist who didn’t have any lights…I’m not quite sure how he had managed to get half way in the dark! The 3rd section was the toughest and took me down past Taunton, through West Hatch up Pitminster hill and then the long, long (it felt like an age) drag up Blagdon Hill. I passed a number of people on this stretch, which felt good only to be overtaken at the top by a couple on a tandem. I’m pretty sure the lady in the back seat was asleep. I then turned right and headed in the direction of Honiton and for the last stop on this epic ride. However I hadn’t realised that I had 8 miles to go until tea and biscuits on a very flat, straight road. This was becoming really tough but the thought of all the money donated pushed me on and I finally reached Ewins Ash Cross for that well earned cuppa (or two).

After a good rest I set off on the last 30 odd miles to Exmouth. The sun was rising, the light getting better by the minute and the realisation that I had made it through the night without the need to fail asleep once was great. The first part of this section was mostly down hill, which was a blessing until the heavens opened again and this time it felt like a real storm with gusts of wind too. I took shelter under a tree in Broadhembury but with no sign of the rain stopping I pushed on through Luton, Colestocks, Feniton and Ottery St. Mary. Once I had reached Tipton St. John the rain had stopped and the sun finally came through the clouds just in time for the final ascent of the ride. This one was certainly shorter than either Burrington or Blagdon but after 105 miles was rather painful. Once at the top a smile crossed my face as I knew it was down hill for the rest of the journey.

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A few miles later I arrive on the outskirts of Exmouth. With the short ride down into the town and then around onto the seafront the Harbourside cafe came into sight. What a relief to see the final destination, at 8:45am on Sunday morning after leaving Bristol 11 and a half hours ago. To my great surprise Lucie was there to greet me as I rolled up to the cafe. Legs hurt, arms hurt and my mind was numb but a revitalising cuppa and a full english help the recovery along with the fresh sea air.

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What a ride, what an adventure!!

Thank you all for your support.

Mark Penny

17th/18th August 2013

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