Wadebridge to Land's End

The last day began with a photo call (the adventure was still a novelty for some) before undertaking the arduous task that is the climb out of Wadebridge

It is about a two mile climb out of Wadebridge and, by the time we reached the top, Camilla and Neil were out of site a long way behind us. We were aware that this would probably be the case and had agreed that it would be better to cycle in pairs at our own pace, so Christian and I pushed on.

Today was due to be at least as hilly as the previous couple but, thanks in a small way to the demob mentality and (in a much larger way) the lack of luggage to be hauled, I was feeling fairly ebullient about whatever came our way.

I was also keen to find out weather my previous static uphill progress compared to Christian was entirely due to the weighty panniers. Early indications were that it seemed to be the case.

The early part of the day found us back on the A39 for a fair stretch, then a missed turning at Black Cross almost had us on the A30 (a road I had gone to great lengths to avoid when planning the route). A hasty detour got us back on track to the A3075 for a short stretch and then minor roads to the coastal town of Portreath.

This was the first coastal road since our first sight of England across the Solway Firth and it made a welcome change. I could have stayed and watched the waves crashing onto the gorgeous sandy beach for hours, but we agreed that we would push on after an ice cream stop.

Part of the reason I wanted to watch the beach side spectacle for hours was to forestall the huge looking climb up the B3301 out of town - Portreath being one of those typical picturesque seaside towns beloved by the makers of boxes of fudge for tourists, but not so much by cyclists (or not this one at any rate).

Cornish Coast

I found the climb rather hard going in the baking sun and settled into my the usual position of being some distance behind Christian quite quickly (I guess it wasn't the panniers!)

However, the climb meant we were on a cliff-top road following the North Cornish coast and it was as spectacular as I had hoped.

My A30 dodging route had us following the North coast to Hayle then ducking down to the South coast via St Erth, where Cornwall is at its narrowest. This involved a fair number of short sharp energy sapping climbs that I hadn't really anticipated being as hard as they turned out to be.

I was very grateful for the opportunity to stop when we reached Marazion. This was another 'could have stayed there for hours' moment. As I stood on the edge of the beach by St Micheal's Mount in the warm sun, I realised that in twelve miles it would all be over; a life's ambition achieved. Part of me wanted to stop right there, so that the ambition could remain.

We didn't of course and in a couple of miles normal service was resumed. The hundred meter climb out of Penzance and the steeply undulating road to Land's End had me cursing myself for being so stupid! My head was ready for this to be done with right now and my legs were even more impatient. The last ten miles must rate amongst the most desperate I have ever encountered on a bike.

It's Done

It was early evening by the time we arrived at Land's End to the applause of a reasonable collection of family members. After a glass of champagne and posing for a seemingly endless series of photographs, we took a moment to look around and then, wearily, loaded the bikes onto the car for the journey home.

There was a quiet and sombre mood in the car and the sudden sensation of speed was unnerving. Not far down the road we passed two guys heading north on a pair of loaded touring bikes, I smiled at Christian and he summarised the moment: "It's a long way!"

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Day:13 of 13
Date:11 July 2003
To:Land's End
Distance:117 KM
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