“It’s all gone a bit Bodmin” Day 13: Okehampton to somewhere on the A30 near Newquay

We spent last night at Okehampton YHA. Next to the railway station, the main building is a converted goods shed. This one was full with school kids so we were placed 5 minutes away at another YHA building called ‘The Filter House’ on the edge of Dartmoor. A fairly recently converted barn/outbuilding with two single sex dorms, it was tucked away in woodland on the very edge of the National Park. We were put in an 8 bed dorm but we were the only 2 male guests and ended up having the whole room to ourselves! A tasteful conversion in a quiet location with good self catering facilities, and a powerful shower, it was only let down by rock hard vinyl mattresses! Both Jer and I didn’t manage an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

The weather ended the day yesterday in sunshine so we took the opportunity of taking the van up as high as we could into Dartmoor. The weather was calm and the visibility was so good that we could see to the very distant horizon. The scenery was stunning. Sheep and ponies were grazing on the lower pasture slopes with the green fields giving way to the distinctive purple and browns of the heather and the yellows of the gorse as the landscape ascended to craggy tors. Marred only by the distant rumble of the A30, we marvelled at the stunning vista and captured it on film to remember it all. We even put on a little music and had an impromptu dance…to White Horses. It was the altitude you know. A spectacle to be sure.

We were both up with the lark the next morning thanks to our lovely mattresses and busying away with preparations for this penultimate (hopefully) day of the challenge. After all the cycling and in all conditions, Jer was visibly apprehensive about the ride today. The long hills in Devon yesterday had taken their toll and his legs were tight, the tips of some of his fingers had lost sensation, and the general lack of a good night’s sleep was making him very fatigued. There wasn’t much left in the tank and Jer knew the day ahead could be as bad as yesterday. The mileage may be less today but it becomes irrelevant if all you’re doing is climbing hills.

We agreed to adopt a shorter stop strategy today, and start promptly, so if it did turn into a long day, he could get enough breaks and also have the hours to complete the leg.

We set off at 7:35am in Okehampton town centre. For the most part, we would be following the A30 all the way down to Mitchell, close to the turn off to Truro. The Sat Nav predicted 57 miles in 4.5 hours cycling time but with all the hills, we think TomTom must have used Lance Armstrong as the measuring stick.

So, we ignored the predicted time and Jer set off. I waited for a while and caught up with him as he had just finished a long climb out of Okehampton. Next was the A30 and being an early Saturday morning, the traffic was light. For once the lay-bys were predictably placed with good warning before they were reached. This would help me measure out 5 mile stretches and wait to see if Jer wanted to stop. He pulled in to the 5 and 10 mile lay-bys but was happy to go on despite cycling up some long inclines already. I stopped again at 15 miles and this time Jer paused for a cup of tea, a banana and cereal bar. At this point there was a fairly brisk breeze and overcast skies that looked like they might drop a shower at any time. It was rather fresh too and Jer felt it even though he was exercising hard.

The next 5 miles crossed the border into Cornwall, our last county in this epic journey. Cornwall greeted Jer with a shower and 2 incredibly long climbs just short of Launceston. He declined the stop at the next 5 mile stop but pulled in at the next for more food. Jer had now cycled 27.5 miles and the road had steadily climbed nearly all the way. The reason – Bodmin Moor. Not as dramatic as Dartmoor perhaps but bleak nonetheless, and windy too – very windy! And sure enough, it had pitched round to hit Jer square in the face.

My next stop was up on the highest point that the road passed over Bodmin and it was both windy and cold. I took a video of Jer climbing the long hill towards me but he didn’t want to stop. He just wanted to “get off the hill”. I went on to the next stop which was at 40 miles and knew he would want to rest there. It was lunchtime when Jer reached me and he did stop for a bite to eat and a rest. Jer declined a stop after the next 5 miles and the one after that principally because he wanted to see the back of the dual carriageway as soon as he could. It had also started raining, not heavy but that persistent drizzle that can soak you in no time.

I moved on again to the next stop at 54 miles just 2 short of the end for today. Jer paused this time for a final cup of tea and then said he wanted to carry on for another 8 miles. This would push Jer past 60 miles for the day and leave just 34 miles for the last leg tomorrow. Jer completed the extra miles in quick time and had cycled a total of 62 miles in a little under 6 hours. Not bad for a very tired man and a road that presented more ups than downs.

The 15th different stopover in as many days would be the ‘Trewinda Lodge’ in Newquay about 10 miles away. We arrived at the B&B around 4pm and was greeted by Paula, the owner. Our accommodation for the night is a very comfortable, if compact, room with bunk beds. That takes us back – we haven’t shared bunk beds since we were kids. For old times sake, Jer had the top bunk. A really big thank you must go to Paula for giving Jer £10 back from the room charge as sponsorship. The generosity from perfect strangers throughout the course of this journey has been truly astonishing. It restores your faith doesn’t it. All we can do in return is shamelessly plug the Trewinda Lodge. You can visit their website at http://www.trewinda-lodge.co.uk/index.html.

Well, here we are, on the eve of the final leg of an amazing 880 mile cycle challenge from John O’Groats to Lands End in just 14 days. It doesn’t seem like 13 days ago that Jer pedalled those first metres at the other end of the UK. So many miles, so much wind and rain, so many highs and lows and so much money raised for Never Give Up. We have an idea of the total raised, and all we wan to say that it has surpassed our wildest expectations. But…there’s still time to pledge your support and raise an even bigger total so please, please, please, if you haven’t yet had a chance to sponsor Jer, why don’t you do it now. It only takes a minute to fill out the online form on the website at https://www.jeremysbikeride.co.uk/support/. You can also download a sponsor form and print it off if you wish.

Tune in tomorrow to see if he pulled it off. For those who want Jer to fail, pledge a huge amount of money and I will promise to let his tyres down!


One Response to ““It’s all gone a bit Bodmin” Day 13: Okehampton to somewhere on the A30 near Newquay”

  1. Regan Family says:

    Well, what can we say…we are totally in awe of you Jer, we are so very proud. What a wonderful thing to do for Abbie and ‘Never give up’. We will be with you in spirit when you cross that finishing line tomorrow – GO JER! We love you! Hugs & kisses to you and Rich from Sissy, Kev & Marg xxx

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