Sunday, February 14, 2016

British Long Distance Riders - Devon Road Book Feb 2016 Day 1

Day 1

I wanted an early start, but the alarm going off at 0400hrs was not welcome!

Managed to drag myself out of bed and brewed up, got my last few things together and got dressed ready to go.

The weather has not been brilliant so I dressed expecting the worst, many layers including a thick pair of women's black tights! Now, you may laugh, but they are brilliant for keeping you warm!!

I took the panniers out to the bike and clipped them on, I did not bother with the satnav as I had a way to go before I needed that.

I got away at 0540 and headed for Dorchester. I had to stop and put my waterproof jacket on, more to keep me warm than anything else.

By the time I had got to Corfe Mullen the rain had started to fall, nothing to drastic, it was the spray that caused me more bother.

I stopped in Dorchester at Mcdonalds for a brew and a bacon roll, much needed and it warmed me back up.

From Dorchester I headed for Honiton, the rain holding off.

The Devon road book consists of 25 places of interest, dotted throughout Devon. There is no time frame to visit all of the places, but I had set myself a target of two days to complete it.

I roughly worked out that from door to door it would be approximately 600 miles.

My first stop was Dunkeswell Airfield, around 5 miles north of  Honiton. It was used during WW2 initially as a RAF base but later turned over to the Americans. Clicking on the link gives you more details as do all the links in this blog.

Not a great deal going on this early in the morning, so it was just a quick photo and off I went!

Next stop was the Grand Western Canal in Tiverton.

Being off season there was little life here, I had the car park to myself, so once I had used the public loo's I was off again.

It was then a bit of a trek up to Lynton - to look for the Valley Of The Rocks.

As I entered Lynton, I saw a large tourist notice board, so thought it a good idea to pull over and have a read as "Valley of the Rocks" does not come up on my SatNav.

Not that I needed to of bothered, as soon enough I picked up road signs showing me the way.

Must say the valley all though very short was impressive enough, not on the same scale as North Wales or Scotland, but for Devon, not bad at all!

I continued along this road, which leads to a private toll road costing £2.00 From here on the road narrows considerably with a few passing places.

Thankfully I only met one car, I cannot begin to imagine the nightmare it must be to drive along at the height of summer. One to be avoided at all costs.

I put the GoPro on the bike and recorded this part of the trip, so in due course I will get the footage uploaded.

It was a great ride, with some spectacular views.

From here I made my way towards Ilfracombe, a quaint little fishing village, which hasn't changed in years. I was following the A399 and stopped at Combe Martin for my first fill up.

Once at Ilfracombe, down at the end of the quay is a massive bronze statue of a pregnant woman holding a sword called Verity. It was made by Damien Hurst, who has lent it to the town for 20 years.

Climbing out of Ilfracombe I headed for a small village called Georgham, this is where the author Henry Williamson lived whilst writing his book "Tarka The Otter."

After getting directions from a local who told me that he had actually lived in several houses in the village I found the blue plaque, parked up and took the picture.

My next stop on my travels was the Cobbaton Combat Collection. A word of warning it is down a rutted track, so if your driving a lowered sports car forget it!

A really interesting place and this is on my list to go back to, unfortunately it was closed the day I was there, not that I had the time to stop!

However I did speak to the owner and someone who worked there, but that was by pure chance!

After I had taken the photo of my bike by the sign I hopped on and went to start it. Nothing, only the clicking of the starter motor. 

Not a good sign as this meant I had a flat battery. I had only been running the satnav and that would not draw enough current to flatten the battery so there was something wrong somewhere.

So, with the help of the guys from the museum we got a set of jump leads and she fired up. My thoughts now turned to how do I sort this out.

As I left and headed for the main road, waiting to get across the road I spied a BMW GS parked up in a garage, so I thought I would try my luck and pulled in.

They couldn't help me but gave me directions to the nearest bike dealer in Barnstaple who may be able to help.

This happened to be Irelands I pulled in, left it running and popped my head in the door.

I spoke to the chief mechanic who said yes, sure he can take a look but gave no promises as to the fixing of the problem.

He was busy with another bike and I got talking to a customer who spotted my Royal Signals and Veterans badge I wear on my bike jacket. He was an ex Warrant Officer in the Coldstream Guards. We chatted and laughed about our time in, and both agreed that it was different back in our day. Makes you feel old saying that.

With the saddle off exposing the battery, we checked to see what was going on. Not a lot by all accounts! The battery was ok, but there was not a great deal of power going into it. Which was why it was running flat.

Now the reason for this could be one of many things, the main one being a dodgy alternator or the rectifier is fried!

I was hoping that it was the rectifier, mainly due to the fact I just so happened to have a spare with me!!!!!!

I don't think the mechanic could believe it when I pulled it out of my pannier!

So we swapped them over, plugged it in, fired up the bike and the bike was measuring a correct 13.2v going into the battery!

Old Rectifier

Back on the road again!! Yeehaa! Oh I was so happy!

Yet again my spares policy paid off. It so happened that the rectifier was also a Christmas present from Kiera who thought I was mad for asking for it!

On my way and now heading for Bideford Quay and Bridge. I had lost a lot of time with the charging problem, so I made a decision that my next stop would be my last for the day.

I pulled up onto the Quay, had a brew and took the obligatory picture to prove I had been there.

I left Bideford and headed for Okehampton where I was booked into the Youth Hostel for the night.

Unfortunately the A386 was closed at Torrington, or somewhere close by which meant I had to take a detour down the A388 before my wonderful satnav decided that this would be a good time to take me cross country down lanes, and nothing more than tracks, I even went through not one but two farm yards!

I found the Hostel with no problems, but I was expecting it to be a bit closer to the town, but this wasn't going to be a problem as on the website there said there was a restaurant at the hostel that did evening meals.

Access to the hostel was up a steep track which to be honest had seen better days and could of done with a bit of upkeep.

There was some one in reception as I pulled up, so I checked in and found out I was in the lodge, not the main house. Not a problem, or so I thought but the main house was taken up with a private function which meant there was no restaurant operating tonight or for breakfast in the morning! 

This I was not made aware of when I booked on line. So I did feel a little miffed, as this now meant I had to go back into town to get something to eat.

I had booked a single room, which was supposed to have a wash basin and a bed side table, as you can see from the picture it had neither.

It was however, clean and dry, which for £27.00 for the night wasn't too bad.

I unhooked my panniers and settled quickly into my cell!

Looking on line I found the Ma'ida restaurant and managed to park opposite. I wasn't too sure how the they would react to me turning up in my dirty bike gear, but they didn't bat an eye lid and showed me to my table.

Poppadoms and pickles followed by a chicken dansak and mushroom rice went down a treat, I was starving.

After this I headed back to the Hostel, parked the bike up and hoped that it would start again in the morning.

I made a brew, grabbed a quick shower got my laptop out and started to write up my blog, but I was knackered so didn't get too far.

I sorted my gear out ready for the next day, set my alarm for 0600hrs and got my head down.

The journey continues.........

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