Now that the lockdown restrictions have been partially lifted, it would seem that riding in pairs is now permitted, provided social (ie physical) distancing is observed. Some Wheelers have already taken advantage of this, and after a brief exchange on the WhatsApp group, I agreed to meet Ian at the Norway Inn for a ride to Portloe via the King Harry Ferry.
When I arrived, I realised something must be up when it became apparent that Ian was on his bike with gears, rather than his usual single speed. This, together with his remark about being glad that I had selected a flat route, made me wonder whether I might not have learnt my lesson from the previous week about checking out the planned route for hills before starting. My OS Explorer map of the Lizard did not extend beyond Falmouth, so I was a bit restricted on this.
Having already stretched my legs riding up Truro Hill from Penryn, we set off and rode up to Carnon Downs, then across to the ferry. There was very little traffic using the ferry, but the crossing was still slow as we stopped before the other side whilst the operative rebooted his card machine! Still, it meant we had a slightly longer rest before tackling the climb from the river.
We headed through Philleigh and then hit the first real climb on the approach to Ruan High Lanes. Subsequent examination of the OS Explorer map (I just had to have one of this area!) revealed that this climb had a single arrow (between 14% and 20%). They say that madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result each time, and here I was tackling a route with silly hills because I had failed to check it properly beforehand. Lessons had not been learned.
We pressed on towards Veryan, only to be confronted by what I was later to learn was the infamous Melinsey Mill hill. Another single arrow climb! After that it was only a bit up and down until we arrived at Portloe for a well-deserved rest, a drink (only water, unfortunately) and some carrot cake. The climb out of Portloe was long but not too steep, taking us to Treviskey and in a loop back to Veryan. After a brief routing error in Veryan (my Garmin seems to lag a bit – does anybody else’s?), we did Melinsey Mill in reverse – still a single arrow up the other side!
We then had a main road blast from there to Trewithian, from where we headed west. Some fine downhill swoops gave us an inkling of what was to come and – you guessed it – another single arrow climb up to meet the B3289. From there we returned to the King Harry ferry.
The climb up from the river was beginning to let me know that the climbing so far had taken its toll on my legs, but after turning left at the big crossroads we headed down to Point and thence to Devoran, a mercifully flat section. From there we had a swift ride through Perranarworthal, and then turned right to follow the Kennall up to Ponsanooth. I should have know better as we encountered another single arrow climb up under the viaduct. Having grovelled up this a bit (at least that was my experience; I am sure Ian was just purring along admiring the scenery), we crossed the A393 and joined the road to Longdowns. This road is just a long relentless climb that felt particularly brutal, but perhaps it is not so bad if one is feeling a little fresher. But I was glad when we got to the left turn onto Boswin and the descent to the A39. At the junction I said farewell to Ian, who was turning right to avoid a further climb out of Penryn, whilst I carried straight on to Penryn and so back to Falmouth.
I found the ride quite challenging as the constant up and down made it difficult to get into any kind of rhythm. Still, the weather was kind, Ian graciously allowed me to follow my (misguided) route and he refrained from commenting on my home-made carrot cake. It was good to have company, if only to chat when we were stopped.
Total tally: five single arrow climbs (between 14% and 20%); total vertical ascent was 1,360m (4,460ft); distance 67km (41½ miles).