Thoughts and Conclusions - Southwest England in April - CycleBlaze

January 11, 2015

Thoughts and Conclusions

We enjoyed our cycling tour in England. Our accommodations in small hotels and B&Bs were comfortable and always included a generous breakfast and WIFI access. Our hosts and the other people we met were generally friendly and helpful. The food was better than we had expected, especially in Cornwall, where we had some truly exceptional meals. While there was a certain lack of variety in the full English breakfasts, there was always more than enough food (especially bacon) to get us going. (We never understood the peculiarly British custom of serving cold toast in racks.) Once again we were lucky with the weather, experiencing rain for only one full day and one partial day while riding the bikes. In fact we had sunny skies and no rain at all for the first two weeks after leaving Plymouth. All the locals were exclaiming about the unusually good weather conditions.

Sunshine was more common during the trip than we expected, which showed the scenic towns and villages at their best.
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As for the cycling itself, we were not prepared for the many incredibly steep hills, and have never pushed the bikes so much on any of our other tours. Al had planned the routes carefully to avoid busy roads, but the minor roads and lanes often dipped down steeply into drainages and then rose up steeply over and over again. We got used to getting off the bikes and pushing, but had to do it so often that it detracted from the pleasure of cycling. The road surfaces were surprisingly rough, with many potholes, and by the end of the tour our tires were quite worn.

The scenery was pleasantly green and pastoral with dramatic coastal views until we turned inland to Wadebridge, after which there was a certain sameness to the countryside, punctuated by occasional outstanding views, like crossing Bodmin Moor. We were glad to have had the chance to visit two very interesting gardens—the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan—and we also enjoyed exploring Bristol and Oxford—two cities we hadn't seen before.

We found that prices for both accommodation and restaurant meals were higher than in other parts of Europe. Our Canadian dollars bought fewer pounds than euros, and B&Bs cost 60 to 80 pounds per night—including breakfast.

As for equipment, the Bike Fridays performed well as usual. We needed the extra low gearing to help us up the steep hills, and the large number of punctures in Al's front tire were our only mechanical issue. We're still using our trusty Asus eee netbook, and had no problems with internet access.

2014 was Sir Francis Bacon's 800th anniversary -- we were left wondering if that explained the large quantities of bacon we were served at breakfasts.
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