West Country

London Bikers West Country Run 2nd July 2004


- Phil the Spill

Eight of us started from the Ace Cafe this year; Tim, Colin and Andy with me from the first run and we were joined by Grandma, Wildcat, Kelly and Manno. The day started well, but got wetter as we went west. We were using a much more 'scenic' route this year (I.e. smaller roads and much, much, longer). I have mentioned before how badly the Norton reacted to rain and it lived up to its reputation and spluttered and died at the roadside at one point. Manno was having some brake light problems as well and elected to stay with me, while the others carried on without noticing us missing. We knew Wildcat had in-helmet bluetooth for her phone, (still not common today - this was 2004!), so I managed to apprise her of the situation and the others stopped at a Little Chef some miles further on.

After a while, the rain lessened and the Notrun was persuaded to burst into some semblance of life and the two of us limped off and arrived it the Little Chef car park shortly before the others were getting ready to leave. So, I was left alone waiting for the RAC to come and assist while the main convoy went on, informing me when they reached the campsite.

I was not having a happy time as the RAC were taking forever to get to me. At one point I phoned them again and they told me the case had been closed - BY WHO? Eventually a van arrived in the car park.

I finally arrived at the site several hours after everybody else, in the dark, having missed the turnoff for Molton and got lost in the countryside. The girls favoured the B&B idea this year and Manno and I decided to join them as well. A good idea after my disastrous trip. I carefully drove down the unlit lane to the house and parked my bike in a barn, putting my bags in the hallway of the house out of the rain, the owners not being around at the time. I walked back to the pub, just as it closed. We eventually all walked back to our separate lodgings for the night. I went to bed almost immediately after I found where mine was, it had been a long day for me.

In the morning, I surveyed my surroundings. There was a curious picture on the wall of a young lady displaying her jugs. Possibly some classical reference? After our breakfast the four of us drove our bikes up to the pub, where we had to wait for the campers to finish their pub brekkie. There wasn't much of a ride today - luckily - and I kept up with the others and missed most of the splatterings on the roads. What it lacked in length, it made up for with twistiness!

We had an early (10am) start on Sunday, as we were going down into Cornwall to the Eden Project. If you have not been there, do so as soon as you can. There are lockers to store bike gear, so we didn't have to carry that around with us. It is a wonderful place, consisting of giant climate controlled bio domes, (basically greenhouses), full of plants from around the world, each growing like mad in ideal conditions. These are within an expanse of gardens full of plants that need no protection.

Each of the zones inside and outside the domes has examples of what products can be derived from the plants on display. In one jungle clearing, next to a native hut, is parked a Honda C50 and I don't think those use many indigenous products.

In the American zone, not too far from a series of bizarre metal sculptures, is the front end of a Harley-Davidson sticking out from behind a photograph of the rest of the bike! There is now an education centre, but this hadn't been built when we visited.

There is a cafe near the entrance, which serves food grown on the premises, although the coffee was bought elsewhere. There was no desire for a challenging ride in either direction, due to the distance involved, but even using direct navigation, we weren't back before 8pm.

On Monday, we set off for home, deciding to go via Stonehenge, for a look, not an expensive visit. The roads were only slightly interesting, but we enjoyed them anyway. Despite this detour, my home mileage was over 100 miles less than the trip out, and I was home by 2:30pm.

Having now done the trip using both the camping and B&B options, I can say each was enjoyable, providing you take account of the weather.

Phil Drackley - Phil the Spill

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