Just the two of us - End-to-end the downhill way - CycleBlaze

June 10, 2024

Just the two of us

LEJOG Day one: Land's End to Bodmin

I'm beginning to think that the best thing about bicycle touring could be the breakfasts. Normally, at home I go for porridge or, at a push, granola. But I've now got the prospect of 14 days of other people cooking for me, and frankly, if they're offering to make me a full english, it would be rude to refuse.

Cape Cornwall got things off to a pretty awesome start on that front. I don't know if sausagebaconeggblackpuddingbeanstomatoesmushroomshashbrowns is what they go for before the mountain stages at the tour de france, but I was very much there for it, if only in the interests of science. I feel as if it would be interesting to see whether 70 miles a day offsets the cumulative cholesterol, but I've no idea how to take medical readings, and perhaps (on reflection) ignorance is bliss.

So, 8am breakfast, 9am start line, and we're off. I say 'we' because although my (far more sensible) wife made off in the car, I was of course left with my bike Raven, without whom I think we'd all agree that a cycle tour would be impossible. Whether or not others name their bikes is a matter for them. But she's likely to be the sanest company I get for a while. If Tom Hanks can befriend a ball, I don't think I need worry about my sanity for indulging in a some harmless bicycle-based anthropomorphism. Tom Hanks is, after all, a multimillionaire, and a successful philosopher to boot. Truly, life is like a box of chocolates.

I think this is the right place. Did I pack my toothbrush?
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The journey started swimmingly, with the uphills gentle and the downhills longer. I was quickly in Penzance, and cycled right along the seafront, which looked beautiful in the sunshine. Past the enormous seawater jubilee pool, onto a well-surfaced coastal path, and along the edge of Mounts Bay and towards St Michael's Mount. 

This was about a mile into the journey. I resisted. I'm not sure whether I'll be similarly resolute when I get to the last one.
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Mounts Bay, with St Michael's Mount in the distance. There might be better ways to spend a Monday morning. But not many.
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From there, I switched back inland, with a slight sense of regret, and headed towards Camborne and the day's coffee stop. Sadly, this brought me into conflict with an unexpected northerly wind which is - apparently - here for a while yet. As you'll know, the UK is supposed to benefit from a prevailing sou'westerly, so this was an unwanted service failure on someone's part. The problem with being an atheist is, you can't readily identify a culprit, and you've no-one to complain to. So we soldiered on.

Camborne (with apologies to anyone who lives there) is at best an unremarkable place. Cornwall has been described as an ugly picture in a beautiful frame, and while that's slightly harsh, it's possible that the sentiment was birthed after a day out in Camborne. So, no photo. The coffee shop staff were lovely though... I always feel a bit like a visitor from space when I clip uncertainly across the floor in my cleats, bedecked in lycra and with a bleeping gps unit somewhere on my person. It certainly starts a conversation. The young girl -inevitably - asked where I was heading, and was duly impressed when I answered that this was my first stop en route to northern Scotland. I'm thinking of telling people that I'm heading towards the North pole, to get a real wow factor, and possibly free cake. After all, it's technically true, and we still don't know whether I'm actually going to make it to either destination. At this point, I'd only done 25 miles.

Getting back in the saddle, the next couple of hours took me further north-east, past huge wind turbines, green fields, and the occasional bird of prey. I'd planned to get lunch at St Columb Major, only about 12 miles from the finish, largely because of a lack of of alternative options. It's a small settlement and as I arrived I met another cycle tourist, heading to Cambridge and bemoaning the lack of cafés. It didn't bother me: I was happy with a supermarket meal deal, which I ate in the graveyard, looking at the headstones for evidence of failed end-to-enders. None found.

The route to St Columb Major. It's election season, and everyone seems agreed that we need to cut immigration, because the country is bursting at the seams. I make no judgement.
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Don't mind if I do. Can I spend all my Mondays like this now?
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The final run in to my accommodation seemed to take forever. I was reassuring myself that I must have covered what I knew to be the final ascent, but I hadn't. And it was a b*gger. The route seemed to go on and on and I was just starting to wonder whether I'd correctly programmed in my hotel - you know that horrible feeling when you think you might have trusted the gps a little too much - and then it loomed into view. 3:15, and stage one was complete.

The hotel is a bit distant from Bodmin, but I know the town already, and so don't mind that the walk is too awkward to undertake. Instead, I've put Raven to bed (she's tired, having done all the meaningful work) and sorted out washing and device charging. This is a long trip, and I'm happy to relax. Dinner's at 7.

The evening's accommodation. Everything looks better in the sunshine. The sunshine doesn't reach indoors.
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Most things look good in the Cornish countryside, with the benefit of a blue sky, and Trehellas House is no exception. Inside, it's a little dog-eared. There's one of those welcome booklets which makes very clear that if you smoke in the room, they'll charge you £500 for a deep clean. I'm confident that if you cleaned my room that deeply, things would disintegrate, or at the very least, fall off. You could probably redecorate it to a higher standard for less, and possibly do bits of the hallway too. But it's a bed, a tv, and someone to cook dinner. I'm happy.

And breakfast is at eight. My suspicion is that this might not be an eggs royale and granola with compote kind of gig. But I'll be sure to let you know tomorrow night. For now, Monday's summary: good breakfast, good ride, and good progress. I'm loving this. It's great to be alive.

Not sure how to hyperlink ridewithgps to this, but you can see the detailed journey at https://ridewithgps.com/trips/188928452
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Today's ride: 63 miles (101 km)
Total: 63 miles (101 km)

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