Craig’s ride up north

What a ride, probably my most audacious yet, certainly this year anyway. The ride start was from Padiham on the outskirts of Burnley and was packed full of climbs. It was the Tan Hill 200 audax. My aim was to get around and just complete it as I knew already that I had a slim chance of finishing the ride in time. I didn’t quite succeed. There would have been 8 massive Lancashire and Yorkshire Dales climbs including 2 ascents of Buttertubs from each side but it wasn’t to be, Buttertubs proved to be too much and I never made it to Tan Hill. But I bagged 6, not bad for a ride in the area.

The first climb came straight out of the starting gate and was a beast, it was the Nick o’ Pendle, on the other side we rode through Clitheroe and climbed again, next up was Waddington Fell which was a bit easier on the legs. After this was the first control at the Riverside tea rooms in Slaidburn, to show how tough this ride was I arrived at the first control 20 mins over time. After refuelling I set off again and next up was the most spectacular climb yet, Ravens Castle. A real narrow mountain road. First 3 climbs done and I was still in Lancashire, but I soon crossed into Yorkshire and the 4th climb which happened to be the easiest, Newby Head. This had its own challenges, the hoards of people parking anywhere they could to go and see the Ribblehead viaduct. Hawes was rather nice and I set about having a 2nd coffee stop simply cos I need the rest in between climbs. Timing had gone out the window anyway as the time I arrived in Hawes (3pm) was the time I should have been at the Tan Hill Inn. This was a turning point though, to get back I had to ride back over Buttertubs to Hawes if I carried on to the Tan Hill Inn. I gave it my best shot but Buttertubs was 16% from the side I was on and that was tough going after the ride I’d done so far, in fact it was the straw that broke the Camels back and when I saw the other side was 25% that made up my mind and I turned around, headed back down to Hawes. By this time it was now 5:45pm and went in search of more food and had sausage and chips from the local chippy. But I still had one more climb to get over yet, the highest of them all Fleet Moss. Another absolute beast with a very steep final ramp to the top. It was every bit like climbing over a wall it was that steep. Ridiculously steep! After that I still had the ride back which was still a fair way but thankfully mostly downhill. The first part coming down from Fleet Moss was through Warfdale which was absolutely beautiful. After a final stop at petrol station near Gargrave I made it back but with 2 very weary legs it was gone past midnight by the time I returned.

Dartmoor Classic

Several Spinners tackled the Dartmoor Classic in 2024, Rod Inglis and our chairman Tony Peek. Their experiences are described below:

Rod:

A close thing but Gold it was at the Dartmoor Classic. 6hr 44mins for the 106 miles & 3000m of up, one brief stop at Princetown and a euphemism break. Ideal conditions with cloud cover all day and a light breeze with some light, almost drizzle and the temperature just right. I came 3rd on the KoM segment out of 107 in the 60—69 vet group. So virtual podium. A fellow 60’s vet supplied a wonderful tow down the Teign Valley to make the gold time for the both of us, but it was full gaz just to hang on his wheel! For the rest of the route it was Billy no mates all the way.

Tony:

A little while ago whilst on a Zwift ride with Stephen Dabbs I decided to join him on the Dartmoor Classic. I haven’t done this for a few years so my legs had forgotten what it was like. Dartmoor covers 954 km2 (368 sq mi). The medio ride itself Distance: 68 miles / 110 km.  Elevation Gain: 5600ft / 1700 m with a Max Gradient: 20%, setting off from Event HQ: Newton Abbot, TQ12 3A the race course. So I met Steve at the race course for 7am in plenty of time to check in and get ready for an 8am ride start. So off we set through Newton Abbott following a van that kept us all together before we went through the official time check start. After that we were on a roll. Chatting together about this and that, at about 6 miles in we hit a descent of which I flew down and then tackled the 1st proper climb. I pushed on until I got to the top going over the 1st of many cattle grids. Here I wait for Stephen. After 7 or 8 minutes I phoned him. No answer. So I headed on thinking I had missed him. A couple more climbs and then we did a sharp left into a closed road section which was the KoM/ QoM. I decided not to go hard on this section as they use it as part of the Tour of Britain, however I found it to be an easier climb then I thought it would be ! Too late by then so onwards to Ashburton where the climb really hits. A 20% climb before kicking left towards Princetown. That was tough. People were walking it . At Princetown was the feed station. 32 miles done. Now stupidly I never had any ready salted crisps this time. Normally I have two packets before a sandwich. I was really going to regret this later. 

I waited at the feed station for 25 minutes in case Stephen showed up. However I decided to carry on as my legs don’t like stopping for too long. I did mention to a marshal to let Steve know if she saw him. Once again it was climbing. It seemed like my garmin kept telling me there was another climb. I knew this next bit and loved the dips followed by short punchy climbs , on one of the dips I clocked myself doing 44 mph around the bend. Boys will be boys. At 50 miles we reached Moretonhampstead and another climb. This is where I started to struggle. Due to the humidity I was sweating a lot and not taking on enough replenishment so cramp set in. From there on every climb or gradient I was to suffer. At one stage I was peddling with just my right leg clipped in trying to ease the pain in my left leg by letting it just hang. However I did make it to the finish line and got my medal and goodie bag. Here I waited for Stephen to finish only to find out he had two punctures before Princetown. And the lady at the feed station said to Steve we had only just missed each other !  Stephen says that unfortunately he won’t be joining me next year for the Dartmoor classic but in true cycling fashion we enjoyed a well earned pint together at the end.

Honiton Spinners’ Women’s Rides

On Saturday 27th April, the first Women’s ride of 2024 took place. It wasn’t raining. It wasn’t windy. Even the sun made a brief appearance. New faces and familiar faces met at the start, with bikes ranging from off-road hybrids to sturdy winter bikes to lightweight carbon bikes. It was good to meet riders from the Women on the Run group, thanks to Gerry who encouraged them to give riding a go. It was a social, chatty and friendly ride, with the only hiccup being a chain that came off. That was soon sorted and off went the group cycling for 14 miles round the lanes of East Devon, finishing with cake and biscuits. Thanks to Kev who was glued to his phone in case of emergencies!

Dates of future rides

Rides take place on Saturdays, starting at 10am.

The next rides will be on 4th May, 18th May, 1st June, 15th June, 29th June, 20th July, 27th July,

10th August, 24th August, 7th September.

If you are interested, please email Jennie at jennie.sleeman@gmail.com for more information.

Tuesday Night Wet so Wednesday Ride Instead

There seems to be a pattern in the weather at the moment with Tuesday nights being wet but a window of dry weather on following Wednesday mornings. Spinners who don’t have to work have taken advantage of this with the Winter mid-week rides continuing into the Spring. Recent rides in April have included Sidmouth, Cullompton and Seaton. It has been good to see Mike Bowring back riding with us after 9 months of recovery and John Burgess back on the bike so soon after his hip replacement.

Spinners enjoying bluebells at Blackberry Camp on way to Seaton
Spinners at Seaton
Spinners enjoying coffee, tea and cake in Cullompton.

7 Spinners ride to Topsham

After many weeks of rain cancelled rides the Spinners midweek social riders finally managed to get out and ride to Topsham in glorious March sunshine. The ride passes Exeter Airport and a newly created wetlands at Clyst St Mary. The destination was the Route 2 Café in Topsham that not only services bikes but serves coffee and cake. The return leg involved sampling part of the Exe Valley cycle route to Exmouth and then many lanes via Woodbury Salterton back to Honiton. Chris James nearly had an altercation with an irate driver who had no reason for his abuse which added a bit of spice to the ride. It was also good to welcome Lyn Grady back to cycling after a long layoff due to an injured ankle.

Routes taken to Topsham
Routes to Topsham

Honiton Spinners 2023 AGM

The Heathfield Inn, Honiton Thursday 9th November 7pm

Chair’s Report

Tony summarised the various events of the year, including the bike maintenance course in January provided by Gary at Ciclo, weekend and evening rides, plus numerous audaxes and sportives. The impact of the weather was a consistent theme, whether too hot, too cold or too windy. Despite this, the club enjoyed a photo shoot in April with Chris Grady Photography, the first Women-only ride, the BBQ organised by Kev Goss and hosted by Steve and Heather Carpenter and a club trip to Italy. The club also supported charities, including the ride for Motor Neurone Disease ride, the Nello for cancer group Force,  and the ride to support the Yeovil Hospital Breast Cancer unit  appeal.

Tony, as Chair, thanked members of the club for all their various contributions, from leading rides, to website development and committee functions. He also thanked  members for their understanding of his personal situation this year, making the point that Honiton Spinners is about all members contributing to what is a brilliant club. There are, he concluded, plans to move the club forward in 2024, plus a pub lunch trip before the end of this year.

The existing committee was dissolved, with thanks going to Lin Grady, who stepped down from the role of Vice Chair.

The new committee was unopposed and now stands as

  • Chair – Tony Peek
  • Vice Chair – Claire Barrow
  • Treasurer – Hannah Dingle
  • Secretary – Jennie Sleeman
  • Website, social media – Roger Saunders, John Burgess
  • Lin Grady
  • Richard Harvey

Treasurer’s Report

Hannah Dingle, having succeeded Ben Greenland as Treasurer, provided particulars of the income, expenditure and funds over the last four years.

Income and expenditure account for the year ended 31st July 2023:

  • Income (membership fees) – £635
  • Expenditure (affiliations, website, trophies and events) – £964
  • Funds carried forward – £2,058

For further details, please contact Hannah.

Italian Holiday Report

John Burgess identified some of the many highlights of the enjoyable club trip. Please see the full report on the club website here.

Quiz

John then entertained members with a club-focussed quiz, with Strava data, photos of popular ride locations, a map and disguised images of club riders.

After all that excitement and activity, everyone was ready to tuck into the buffet provided by the Heathfield Inn.

Trophies

The much-anticipated awarding of the trophies concluded the excellent evening.

Tony introduced each category and gave reasons for the choices.

  • KOM (King of members) – Dustin Riley
  • QOM (Queen of Members) – Liz Polley
  • Huff + Puff – Jennie Sleeman
  • Annual Achievement Award (special trophy for 2023) – Craig Boyde
  • Members’ member – Kevin Goss

Ride to 4 National Trust sites in Somerset

Roger Saunders having been inspired by a conversation in Payhembury Provisions devised a route across south Somerset to visit four National Trust houses and gardens and a select group of John Burgess and Sue Jones joined him to enjoy the Somerset lanes as a mid-week social ride. It was 37 miles in total on mainly quiet roads and happily no big hills.

Starting the ride from the free car park at Barrington Court the first destination was Montecute House at 9 miles with a ride through the village of Montecute with picturesque brown stoned houses to reach the entrance. It is an impressive mansion and John informed us this was where Sense and Sensibility was filmed. It was then a short 3 mile ride to Tintinhull Gardens which happened to be closed but all we needed was the entrance sign for a photo.

We then set out to Lytes Carey Manor at 21 miles into the ride which had lovely gardens and topiary and chimneys. This was a good place to have lunch being just over half way and Sue was in need of sustenance by then. The NT staff were keen to get John and Roger’s cards scanned even though we were nominally only visiting the café. More visitors helps them fund the site apparently.

After being fuelled up we then set out on the return leg to Barrington Court via Somerton. John and Sue kept recognising part of this leg being the Spinners Glastonbury ride. Sadly we experienced the 10% rain forecast from the Met Office cycling through Somerton but it soon dried up again. Almost inevitably one lane on this leg was signed ‘closed’ though we managed to squeeze past the road works. On reaching the final destination at Barrington Court we celebrated with a well earned cup of Tea! It was agreed to repeat the ride next year to allow more riders to enjoy the route.

Yeovil Hospital Charity Ride Sept 10th 2023

Start of the ride

All was set: the sun had been shining all week, the detailed route description and maps were downloaded onto various devices, transport to the start was organised. What could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot it seems.

Before she left home, Lin discovered a puncture, which was swiftly fixed by Chris when they met in Honiton. Problem one solved. Liz arrived at the start on time, despite having cycled 27 hilly miles from Axminster, and all riders moved towards the start line when a deluge sent everyone rushing for shelter under trees. The sun reappeared after about 3 miles, so raincoats were removed. Problem 2 solved.

All three routes followed the same road until the first route split after 2 miles, with John leading the Spinners. At this point, Lin and Chris abandoned the Spinners and followed the shorter routes, but after several frantic phone calls re-joined the Spinners. Problem 3 solved.

The route was beautiful: Iain Crabtree had obviously chosen a route through the prettiest villages in Somerset and then selected lovely settings for the three food stops. At the first, in an orchard, Jennie ate the best walnut cake ever and Sue decided to check that the cider was good: it was.

Tubeless tyres are the best. Until they aren’t as Liz discovered. Ten miles in, near Ilminster, Liz had a puncture. Again, Chris came to the rescue. Although the other four riders set off without them, Liz and Chris rode at a great pace to re-join the group at the first food stop. Problem 4 solved.

All was well and we settled into an easy spin, although we were joined by Graham, the ‘sweep wagon’ (a man on an electric bike) at Long Sutton, who patiently followed us all the way home, even posing for photos with us and pointing out the last thatched windmill in the country.

Following a route in reverse can be disconcerting as we found when, between Low Ham and High Ham (yes, the names are a clue) we suddenly and unexpectedly faced the steepest climb of the ride.

The next challenge was ‘the worst farm in Somerset’, according to Graham: imagine the combination of mud, slurry and rainwater about 3 cm deep. The bikes were so clogged up with muck that John suddenly shot off the road into a hedge, leaving only a rear wheel on view. No lasting damage was done. Problem 5 sorted.

After 65.5 miles – with a bit more for Lin and Chris – we arrived at the Finish, only to find that the BBQ and refreshments had been packed away and the raffle draw was underway. Luckily, Liz had her own supply of flapjack to fuel her journey home, which totalled a staggering 110 miles!

It was a great day out with lovely, friendly company in a beautiful part of the country, with the added bonus of supporting a worthy charity appeal for the new breast cancer unit at Yeovil Hospital. Thanks go to Iain Crabtree and his vast support team for organising a wonderful event.

Spinners BBQ

Good to see so many at the Spinners Summer BBQ at Steve Carpenter’s in Broadhembury on Sunday 20 August. Thanks to Steve for hosting and Jennie and Kevin for helping out with the food and the weather for staying dry at least during the BBQ.

Craig’s latest Audax

I wouldn’t say my latest attempt at a 300km audax was a disaster, I did after all make it back to Warmley station under my own steam (no pun intended).

The fact I took on one that was packed with Wills Hills after back to back weekends riding the same distance may have been enough keep the odds of success on a knife edge, but add to that a few navigation issues mostly at roundabouts that seem to confuse RWGPS navigation (and the rider), I caught a delayed Sandbanks ferry (about 40mins wait) to let a tanker out the harbour then swiftly followed by a deluge of rain that didn’t really let up for the next 3-4 hours!

Before I conclude some highlights were meeting Peter Corfe, Kevin Daffey, Mark Harding, Phil Collard, Owen Wood at the start. The fact I actually rode down to Lulworth Cove from Bristol to begin within such a good time I find mind boggling (probably went a bit to hard TBH) and an ice cream that cost me £6 and not even a cone I find equally staggering!

The ferry crossing was enjoyable but so is any ferry especially crossing with bike as well. Plus I’m glad I chose to eat on Poole Quay as there was very little if no choice thereafter aside from the odd village pub and one shop.

In truth the ride down was fun but the ride back was far from it, the only highlight was riding another section of the Castlemaine trail I haven’t previously ridden. Aside from that it was a bleak, very rural, very very wet and a long slow slog all the way to Devizes.

The only shop I saw was in Sixpenny Hadley, my ever sinking mood was compounded by a slow puncture I found at Fovant and the only saving grace was it had finally stopped raining, it was still daylight (just) and I had the luxury of a village social club patio to fix on.

The final blow came when I arrived at Ginny’s cafe and they were closed and it dawned on me I was already out of time only 2 hours through the struggle and that I’d miss already the cut of times for the last 2 controls as being 10:30pm and 12:30pm whereas they were in fact 20:30 and 22:30 (bloody 24hr clock!)

Although I was ready to throw in the towel and head to Warminster Station I was it seemed so close to Moonrakers in Devizes that it felt daft quitting just yet. Little did I know that getting there meant traversing Salisbury Plain, yet another long drag after several others on the ride north from Poole.

At 12:30am I found Moonrakers, closed as it was gone midnight and without yes-was-here to mark the occasion selfie or bike photo I slipped away a 24hr gangtok find food, then ditched the navigation in favour of following the road signs to make B-line back to Bath.

Crossing Bath City centre at 2:30am in the morning was an experience in itself although it compared little in comparison to the ordeal I’d just been through and I was soon back on the Bath to Bristol cycle path and rolled into Warmley Station at about 3am in the morning.

My B&B was only 10 mins down the road and after all the rain, mud and muck, the debris and floods in got out of my damp kit and in the shower looking as black as if I’d been down a coal mine that day!

So disaster no, bad luck yes. The conditions we endured on the Sunseekers and Moonrakers yesterday was enough to break the most audacious and strongest of riders. The fact I got round and back without quitting was a victory in itself.