We had a very nice morning making (and eating) a boatload of pancakes before we set off. Our plan was to cycle 40 miles to Plymouth from our campsite in Pentewan, just outside Mevagissey. Our destination was the home of a super-friendly cycle tourist, Sarah, who we met on Holy Island and who was kindly offering us a place to sleep for the night.
We took things a bit too slow heading out; we didn't depart until around 11:30. After checking our email and discovering there was a scenic boat ride from Mevagissey to Fowey that would cut our route by about 10 miles, we took off, quickly covering the 2 miles (straight up) from camp required to catch it. Though we arrived in time (barely) there was no room and we were forced to backtrack up two massive hills, the one leading into Mevagissey and the other back into Pentewan where we had camped.
The rest of the day was much like our morning: an endless series of ridiculously large and demoralizing hills. It was slow going and it felt as though we were at a standstill most of the day. Tara had wisely suggested early on that we take it easy and camp halfway between, while I foolishly insisted we could easily make it into Plymouth in one go. I really, really need to start listening to her when she says things like that. I often have trouble recognizing the difference between a route being physically possible and it being a good (or enjoyable) one.
Our first 10 miles of rolling countryside were fairly manageable and we proudly arrived in Fowey about 30 minutes behind the boat we had missed. Fowey is on the edge of a small inlet and we had to take a very short ferry across the water to continue on to the town of Bodinnick. Though the ride was over in less than 2 minutes, it was a lot of fun!
After landing on the other side we stopped to have lunch. We both devoured several sandwiches and then contacted our friend from Holy Island (Sarah) to let her know where we were and when we thought we'd arrive. Thinking we had about 30 miles left I felt confident we would arrive in 3.5-4 hours while Tara thought it would be more like 4-4.5.
We took the next 10 miles of hills in stride and had an enjoyable albeit difficult ride through winding, rustic country roads. I saw a fox and somehow managed to get within inches of it before it noticed me and tore off like a bolt of lightning. We stopped for photos, listened to music, and worked our way through some of the last rural, English countryside we will see for a very long time. I have definitely begun to take the ubiquitous tree-canopied roads, wildlife-rich hedgerows, and endless miles of green for granted a bit. I made a point to appreciate the scenery as much as I could.
The following ten miles were a far cry from enjoyable. The GPS starting choosing ridiculous routes that were incredibly out of the way and I became very aware of how much I rely on it. For the most part the only thing I pay attention to is "Distance until next" which means the distance until our next turn. The rest of the time I pay it no mind and enjoy the sights. Today I had to do a fair bit of navigating and though the route we took was a fairly direct one, the hills and winding roads made it feel like we were going in circles or nowhere at all.
In the end we were both wrong about our time estimate. It took 4.5 hours to complete the next 25 miles before we called it quits. The route we took had managed to wind enough to add 5 miles to our journey and we were both completely exhausted with 10 miles to go. When we saw a sign for a campground, we collapsed for a rest by the side of the road and were relieved to call it a night. I contacted Sarah to let her know we wouldn't arrive this evening and we rolled into camp completely wiped-out around 6:30pm.
Thankfully our ride into Plymouth tomorrow will be a short one, but I can't stop kicking myself for not listening to Tara. Instead of toiling through the day trying to complete some ridiculous arbitrary goal we could have taken our time and enjoyed ourselves knowing the route was shorter. We would have wound up almost exactly where we are right now, except a lot less exhausted! You can't cycle around the world without working hard at times, but I need to get better at recognizing when those times are.
Here is a photo Tara took of a honeysuckle vine while we had lunch: