As Bonnie Tyler so famously sang “It’s an arse ache, Nothing but an arse ache, Hits you when it’s too late, Hits you when you’re down”. I don’t know whether she has ever cycled 130 miles but I shared a very intimate experience on Sunday, during Martyn’s equally famous Lizard and Camel Audax.
Unusually I arrived in good time, but without my water bottle, so a return trip to Falmouth meant that everyone was ready for the off when I returned. Not so many starters for “the big one” as I expected. The fast boys, and a few others made off at a rapid pace, leaving Fred in charge of the rest of the FW contingent; Sonjia and Kath, Vic and myself. Trevor tagged along with us for a while, waiting the arrival of Raymondo, but why he was delayed I don’t know. We were not to see him until we were well into our coffee stop at the Lizard.
We had passed Robin, Dene, Ian, Phil1 and Phil4 on the way to the Lizard- they were coming away, about 6 mile ahead at this point. The first third of the route, to the Lizard and then across to Gwithian, taxed neither me nor Mr Garmin. The drop down to the beach to the check in, and back up, was dispensed with this year, instead gathering at the Gwithian Church hall. Pleasantly surprised to see Dale and Jim there, on the shorter of the three rides, and spotted Mr Gunner out for a tootle at Bridge.
From Gwithian you have Hells Mouth to look forward to, and to look up at, but the main concern was choosing where we were going to stop for lunch. Last year it was Goonhavern Garden Centre, which is just about at the half way stage, and that seemed as good a place as any. Though Mystic Meg had suggested warm and cloudy, she forgot to add “Cornish Mizzle”, which did nothing to add to the enjoyment. Not too heavy to need a coat but made its presence felt. Perhaps the weather did put off the Sunday lunch crowds as we found no problem in being served and our more unusual Sunday lunch choices were not frowned upon. There are one or two long hills in this middle section, up to Padstow, and I am not sure whether those after half way are more numerous, and steeper, than the first, or just seem that way.
The route sheet does have more twists and turns, on one of which we met a speeding Mini, and Mr Garmin earned his keep in keeping a check on Fred’s memory skills. Sonjia, Kath and I all had our moments of falling behind, a bit, on this section but we stayed together pretty well. The sun was out in Padstow and after battling through the crowds we found Walkers Fish and Chips café, our tea time stop. From here it’s only an OGIL ride back home, and the first 12 of which is as flat as can be, along the Camel Trail. Again, this wasn’t as crowded as last year and we managed to keep up a reasonable pace. There is a bit of excitement in using the footbridge over the A30 to Lanhydrock but after that, up to Indian Queens, it’s a bit boring. However, Kath was not looking too well, and was finding the going a bit harder, and we pulled into the Cornwall Services for another hot drink and she, wisely, with 108 miles on the clock, decided to call it a day and rang Clive.
We pressed on, along the old A30, round the back of the Owl Sanctuary, and down into Indian Queens. From then on, with Vic close on Fred’s heels, they were mostly dim red glows in the fading light. Sonjia and I followed, down the Laddock valley, through Tresillian and up to Waitrose. Just a couple of hills left; up to the top of Lemon Street and then the little matter of the back road to Playing Place. Sonjia had almost stopped chatting by then but perked up as we left Carnon Downs, Devoran in sight. Martyn and Margaret were waiting for us, Martyn to stamp our cards and Margaret to treat us like the prodigal son, with cake and rhubarb crumble and custard. It was worth it just for that. “See you Wednesday” I called as I made for home.