Before I start I would like to thank the following people for making the inaugural Fibrax Wrexham r.c. 4 day 250 miles ‘Tour of Cornwall’ a great success.
Rob & Sue McDonald, Roger & Aaron Squire, Malc Giles, Susan Seller, Dave Spencer, Warren Giddins, John Mills, Howard Galloway, Martin Hackley, Mike McCann, Andy Hill, Philip Cooper, Andy Parr, Antony Lear, Marcus Walker, Tony Rowell, Neil Eddy, David Cracknell, Jason Beever, John Allen, Alison Galloway, Viv Bray and not forgetting the fantastic support crew, Alex Giles (driver), Tim Giles (Photo + Vids) and Chloe Giles (food drinks + flags).
Day 1: Newquay-Boscastle-Newquay…85 miles
This was perhaps the hardest day of all the 4 days, with over 1500m of climbing. Worry coupled with a little trepidation was seen at the breakfast table, but soon the mood changed when the stunning view out the breakfast room window, showed a spring like day, which was just what was needed on this tough day ahead.
After a hearty meal courtesy of Alex & Will at the Quies Hotel of the usual coffees, teas, fruit, porridge and cooked breakfast all the riders were fuelled and eager to set-off. Two groups, A & B, were on slightly different outward route, with the B’s guided by Tony (Tri-Logic team) avoiding the unforgiving hills of the north coast, while the A’s guided by Nick (fwrc), took that route which entailed climbing virtually from the start. The idea was the two groups should meet at the Millars Café in Boscastle within 10/15mins of each other!
All went to plan, with no mishaps apart from the normal re-grouping and the support car reporting no incidents. The riders were finding the opening route tough, with some suffering more than others, but with a little easing of the pace and some helpful pushing on the hills, everyone survived and within 5 miles of the café the inevitable speed-up happened and it was a case of getting to café in your own small groups. After 50 miles, the riders were welcomed at the café with complimentary bananas and coffees, which just hit the spot while the main food orders were been taken. The setting was fabulous, all made even more beautiful by the warm weather, albeit a little eerie with the few reminders of the famous floods that hit Boscastle in August 2004!
Once fed and watered, the B group began the ride back leaving the café 10/15mins ahead of the A group. The cruel thing about Boscastle is the Pyrenean like climb out of the village, a 5km at 8% grade, which was not ideal after a filling lunch, it was tough, and once at the top we had a difficult headwind to hinder us the 30+ miles back to Newquay (thanks for the reminder Rob). Both groups were heading back on the same roads, to meet at an allocated point for the start of the planned ‘training segment’ an 8km team time-trial. With just 15 miles to Newquay and close to the t.t.t start, the support car came back to tell me that the overwhelming decision of the B riders was, I quote “they are all knackered and were going straight back to the hotel”…what could I do, but go with the decision! (t.t.t. changed to last day)
We all arrived back at the hotel with 85 very tough miles completed and everyone had a sense of achievement, relaxing with a nice cup of coffee deeply satisfied they had completed, perhaps the hardest day! WELL DONE TO ALL.
Day 2: Newquay-Penzance-Newquay…70 miles
Today, the route was taking-in the stunning views of the south coast. Personally, I thought this day was as hard as day 1, but, with the slightly less miles, I suppose it was a little kinder!
Once again the weather greeting us was fine and spring like, so the riders were happy and keen to get going, albeit still finding their legs heavy after yesterday’s epic. The breakfast was again plentiful, which certainly helped keep the riders energy topped-up. Setting-off as per day 1 in two groups 10 or so minutes apart, the B group were again missing the brutal initial hills of the south coast and hopefully meet at the picturesque village of Portreath for a ‘team’ photo. Luckily, the rides were going smoothly, with the struggling riders helped along as much as required to enable the groups to stay together. Of course there were times when the splits amongst the riders were quite large, but with the wide range of abilities and the nature of the terrain in Cornwall, this was expected, but the support crew doing a fabulous job, driving back-and-forth within the groups, making sure everyone was safe and able to carry on…top job!
The script couldn’t have been written better and just as the A group were descending into the last few miles toward Portreath, the B group came-up from behind, fantastic, and with the speed high it was once again a ‘flyer’ into the village.
Here we had a short break to take a group photo, with its stunning sea backdrop, then, it was matter of the last real steep climb of the day out of Portreath onto the café stop at Penzance. Both groups followed the rest of the coast route together, and just short of Hayle, Aaron had one of a few mishaps endured by the Squire’s. This time his bike totally packed-up with the gearing mechanism breaking, making it impossible for him to carry on, so, reluctantly he had to do the rest of the route in the support car (1st incident). Just out of Hayle to two groups split, while the B group headed directly to the café stop the A group took a slight ‘dog leg’ route towards St Ives, a fairly hilly ride of an extra 5 miles or so.
The café was situated on the beach with a spectacular view of St Michaels Mount. It was a little breezy with few riders taking shelter inside the small ‘shack’ like café, while others (mainly A group late arrivals) had to sit outside, but no moans thankfully, and the food was fantastic…oh, and Roger doing a demolition job in the café, with a shelf full of trinkets taking a nose dive onto the floor!
After lunch was the planned ‘training segment’ of the day, the 16km group power training (riding big gear, 100rpm on front then change, staying seated at all times). We all rode together, albeit it seemed like cyclocross, with muddy lanes and tracks to take us to the start back near Hayle. The decision was to start in small groups of 4 or 5 riders to prevent congestion on the road. It nearly was text book effort by all, but for the local ‘plod’ stopping some of the riders to read the riot act regards riding in a safe manor (on a course which is used all summer for time-trials…yeh right). We all eventually got to the chequered flag, with some teams arriving successfully all-together and some teams splitting or taking the slip road too early!
From here, it was a matter of a supposedly easy ride back, so as not to ruin the effect of the training, but alas, the nearer we got, the faster it went, but truth told, everyone just enjoyed the moment!
Arriving back, it was again a matter of a sit down and a welcome cup of coffee and chat about the day’s riding…all good! Once again WELL DONE TO ALL
Day 3: Newquay-St Mawes-Newquay…60 miles
Tired legs was the call of today, but spirits were still buoyant as once again the weather was favourable. Today the routes took us inland, from north to south coast & back with a stunning café stop at the St Mawes hotel. The routes again were slightly different on the outward leg with the B group taking a slightly easier direction but roughly the same distance. It was a case of tempo today over the rolling roads of mid-Cornwall, which made everyone happy as sore legs were making riding at speed a tough proposition. A few showers greeted us on the way, but were short lived, and we all arrived at the quaint fishing village with the sun shining and a good 30 miles completed. The café was very nice with a buffet style lunch awaiting the riders, bacon butties, chocolate/plain croissants to satisfy even the hungriest rider, which as it happens wasn’t the riders but the support crew, or more direct, Alex & Tim, polishing-off several butties each!
Setting off for the highlight of the day, the King Harry ferry crossing (top 10 in the world) we stopped at St Mawes castle for another group photo and then rode the 3 miles or so down to the ferry, which unbelievable was already waiting on our side. The crossing is slow, but that is the whole point, to allow people to take in the view and take photos. While on the ferry we had a hail deluge which was stinging, but once on the other side, sun was out and it was warm again…incredible!
The return back to Newquay was quite hilly, but with a short stop in Truro to admire the awesome cathedral no one was worried and just got on with it. Nearing Newquay, it was time for today’s ‘training segment’, 3 x 2km’s back to front sprints (Sprinting for the back of group to front on small gear…high cadence). Riding in one group to allow plenty of rest between sprints, the first passage was, to say, erratic, the second passage was better although the group pace was too slow causing bunching, the third and final passage was great, with everyone sprinting well, it was good to watch (I’m sure no would mind if I mentioned Andy Parr taking the flag at the finish, arms aloft…good effort).
Luckily, it was only a short downhill ride to Newquay, ideal to spin-out the previous efforts! Again, coffee and chat at the hotel, before going different ways for the evening…Valentines Day for some! WELL DONE TO ALL
Day 4: Newquay circuit…30 miles
At breakfast, some riders decided to not ride today, due to tiredness or just wanting to travel back home early. The weather was not so good today, with heavy intermittent showers, so it was decided to shorten the ride and stay quite local. So, with a dozen riders setting off we headed out of Newquay to ride the short but undulating route, culminating with an 8km t.t.t. (high cadence medium gears 53 x 17-14). The pace was nice and steady with the group staying together until Aaron had his final incident, a rear wheel puncture. I rode back to meet him but he was already in the car, calling it a day, leaving me to retrace up the hills once again to catch the group back.
Arriving at the start, and with the weather closing-in it was unanimous vote to ride the t.t.t. as one big team…so be it…with the support car setting-up at a lay-by 8km’s away, just shy of the Newquay welcome sign, we set off, all looking good with every rider doing a turn and powering through, only to split on the one and only hill on the course. Slowing slightly to allow all to get back-on we were soon up-to-speed touching 52kph and really moving, it was fantastic and once we saw the flag the speed went up again…motoring!
A nice relaxed 2 mile spin to the hotel was ideal and perfectly timed, as by the time we were entering the hotel car park the heavens opened and stayed the same for the rest of the day.
The remaining riders sat down in the games room, the usual coffees in hand and chatted freely about their epic 4 days of intense riding over some of the toughest terrain in the UK.
I realise I didn’t mentioned particular riders on the rides, except for a few incidents, but I think that is how it should be, BUT, I will take this opportunity to say, that I was overwhelmed with every rider, with their determination, spirit and effort to complete 4 very hard days riding. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of riders, all of which made the ‘Tour of Cornwall’ a great success. WELL DONE AND THANKS. Hopefully see you all next time. N