The Dartmoor Cycle Challenge 2008

Dr Bike Pouring a Drink

Dr Bike Pouring a Drink

Next Sunday, my friend Doctor Bike and I are entered for the Dartmoor Cycle Challenge . It’s a 100 mile bike ride round Dartmoor, which for those who don’t know is an area of moorland in the southwest of England, probably most famous as the home of the Hound of the Baskervilles.

The key thing about the Dartmoor Challenge, of course, is that I haven’t prepared properly for it. Gulp! When it’s 6 months away it seems like such a great idea. May always sounds beautiful and sunny in October, and of course 6 months is plenty of time to get ready for a long bike ride. One week isn’t enough time, and anybody who’s spent the last 2 months in the UK will tell you May isn’t quite so lovely right now either.

Last September we did Stage 2 from the Tour of Britain together, which ended up being 130 miles, and included some serious climbing over Exmoor and the infamous Porlock Hill. There are hills in the Dordogne of course, and in Provence and Tuscany. But there ain’t nothing like this, or I don’t suppose we’d ever have any repeat custom!

In fact, let’s celebrate Porlock Hill just for a minute. It’s the UK’s steepest A road, and they’ve had to build a shallower toll road to enable caravans and coaches to get up the hill. This is the route the Tour of Britain took up the hill. But not me and Andy, aka Dr Bike!

Here are some great photos

Here’s a video of a drive down Porlock Hill.

And here is something wonderful. A bunch of exuberant lunatics freeboarding down the final, steepest corner of Porlock Hill. I could never have done this in my life, and was never brave anyway, but I love watching other people doing it:

Back to Dartmoor

Bernard Climbing the First Hill

Bernard Climbing First Hill

I’ve found some photos of me and Andy doing the last Dartmoor Devil. I wish someone had told me how stupid I looked in my blue hat and Chianti cycle shirt.

It’s a lovely hat, and a lovely shirt (thank you Julian and Tanya respectively, both coincidentally Chain Gang Tuscany alumni), but cycling gear really only suits people in good shape, like Dr Bike. What a fashion disaster!

The ‘Devil is specifically a climbing event, where the organisers try to take you over the steepest, longest climbs they can find. It’s always held on the last Sunday in October, and it’s meant to be very hard.

My only hope is that the Dartmoor Challenge takes a more forgiving view of the Dartmoor hills. Otherwise, frankly, I’ve got no chance. I should be able co-ordinate the clothing a bit better though.

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