We’re going to Poldhu (so is everyone else)

OGIL ride 4th August 2021

The count at TOP was a dizzying seventeen, which meant that a few reminders needed to be shouted out to keep the road clear as riders greeted each other like long lost relatives recently discovered after extensive investigation on Ancestry.com. Ian helpfully quipped that we should save our energy for our legs rather than our jaws! The usual culprits were supplemented by Thornbury Colin, out on his last ride with us before heading home the following day, and a new face in the shape of Shropshire lad Nick. Nick seemed a bit apprehensive at first, noticing that we all looked a bit fit (which proves that looks can be deceptive) and worried that his gravel bike would not keep up with the lithe race machines favoured by certain Wheelers. As it turned out, he was probably riding the most appropriate bike judging by the surfaces we were to encounter later.

Our Illustrious Leader cut through the usual debate about destination by demanding a show of hands in favour of Poldhu. Despite there not being a count, and no poll of any alternatives, Poldhu was declared the winner and we set off for Gweek. We settled down to our usual route, passing through the Trelowarren estate. Shortly after leaving the estate, there is a short stretch of main-ish road where we witnessed a heart-stopping display of idiocy. A car driver decided that the best way to get past these pesky cyclists was to drive flat out on the wrong side of the road, even though he (I make an assumption here) was approaching a blind bend. Almost inevitably, a giant tractor and trailer appeared round the bend, which had to make an emergency stop and I am still amazed that the car managed to brake and pull over to the left in time to avoid a collision. Thankfully, we turned off right shortly after, and soon a detour was proposed to enable our visitors to experience the unique Cornish wildlife in the form of the famous Cornish Camels. The lane we took comprised more grass and debris than tarmac, which I am sure pleased Nick with his knobblies. The said camels were duly located grazing in a field. Photos were taken from the road, although Thornbury Colin decided to go off-road on foot to get a better view. Now doubt he was regretting not packing his Camelback in his backpack.

Cornish camels
Cornish camels at play

We regrouped after the usual mad dash across Goonhilly Downs and headed towards Mullion. Our lane meets the A3083 Lizard road and we have to take a right then almost immediately left to head for our destination. This junction is a little hazardous at the best of times as there are bends in both directions, but today the volume of traffic was immense, with barely a break in the flow of traffic. Where were they all going? At this rate, the Lizard and Kynance would be full to overflowing by mid-morning. We had to wait a considerable time before gritting our collective teeth and making a dash for it. Thankfully, everyone got across without incident.

Poldhu was lovely and sunny, but oh so crowded. “Never seen it as bad as this before” was an oft-repeated comment. Luckily, we had arrived before the lunchtime rush so the café was not too busy. The staff took our orders pretty efficiently and the food and drink arrived quite quickly.

Crowds on Poldhu beach
Crowds on Poldhu beach

Despite luxuriating in our beachside idyll, we had to start home at some point, and so we laboured up the hill to take the usual route home through Cury. When we got to the roundabout by Culdrose, Ian made the shocking suggestion that we should make another detour through Gunwalloe to avoid the main road and the insane traffic. Some decided they had had enough and carried straight on, while some obviously didn’t hear and carried straight on, and so the first split in the ride happened. The main body turned left and went down into Gunwalloe then back up the hill to the main road by the married quarters, accompanied by grumblings from some about unnecessarily adding extra hills. Around Helston and then Muddy Lane to Wendron school, and then the lane towards the usual short dash along the A394. On the way though, probably inspired by Ian’s earlier brave suggestion, Simon proposed taking a left to Porkellis to avoid the main road and the insane traffic (again!). Amidst much mental calculation of the additional distance and climbing this would entail, the second split of the day happened, with Simon and company heading for the delights of Carnkie hill and the rest of us sticking to the tried and tested usual route. As it turned out, the A394 did not seem any busier than on any other day.

Our descent on the Halvasso road was interrupted several times by vehicles coming in the opposite direction. It has to be said that whereas once the question when riding down this road was “will I meet a car coming the other way?”, nowadays it is more “where exactly will I encounter the 3 or 4 vehicles I am bound to meet?”. A shame, as there is now a need to exercise considerably more caution on this nice run homewards.  I am tempted to blame Via Ferrata for the increase in traffic, but it may just be locals avoiding the main roads (like us).

The final bonus of the day was drafting a vintage tractor along Hillhead Road all the way from the Argal crossroads to the turn into Falmouth at an unwavering 24kph. The driver actually turned round and apologised for holding me up; he later put up two fingers to a car that zoomed past aggressively sounding his horn!

Apart from the insane traffic and the crowds at Poldhu, an excellent ride with camels. 81 km for me.

Protagonists: too many to list

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