Gentlemen of Willowby Cycle Club
No hill too steep, no beer too dear!

Date: Tuesday 27th April 2010
Riders - Stephen, Paddy, Martyn, Alan, Greg, Colin ?????
Arrived HQ
Weather - Fine & Dry

The Night Ride (inspired by ‘The Night Mail’ by WH Auden)

This is the night ride crossing the green moor,
Wearing their lycra, to stop being saddle sore.
Well tuned steeds chomp at the leash,
Ready to gallop away on release.
Riders who are rich, riders who are poor,
Some of the riders even live next door.

Heading over Longash, an easy ride,
All riding hard to preserve their pride.
Down Fatherless Hill, our speed does gather,
Past golden gorse and purple heather,
Towards meeting waters we point our wheels,
Dust and rocks fly at our heels.

Crossing the river where waters meet,
Crystal waters flow beneath our feet,
Choices to be made which way to go.
‘ Follow the Tavy’ against its flow,
Over rocky ledge and fallen tree,
Pedals and cranks working efficiently.

A change of pace, a sudden rise,
Its all aching calves and burning thighs,
Scrabbling for grip, wheels spin out,
The laboured laugh, the frustrated shout.
Few make the top as the slope gets trickier,
Many walk, it seems much quicker.

We join the track heading UP to West DOWN,
A gather of breath, a drink gulped down,
On to Grenofen along country lane,
Easy legs now, downhill like a train.
Crossing the road at the Halfway Inn,
The sudden noise of the traffic, a din.

A small lane is taken back to Dartmoor,
The sun highlights the beauty of the skyline tor,
But heads are back down as the road inclines,
Between Devon hedges it bends and winds,
The roads almost empty, the farms are asleep,
As eleven riders past their doorsteps creep.

Across Plasterdown, tough grass grabs our steed,
Put the hammers down, maintain your speed.
To Pewtor we head, skirting the camber,
Over rock and heather, we climb and clamber.
Breasting Pork Hill, we pause for a rest,
Discussing the time, the route, which is best?

Up Coxtor we head, turning west for Great Staple,
Some going fast, some barely able,
Lamps switch on in the gathering gloom,
All under the stare of a brilliant moon.
Tor silhouetted in the night, We all make the top,
Giants’ shadows are cast on the lonely rock

Head down the rock stream slope to the once busy quarry,
All eager to finish, we move in a hurry,
A sudden clash of metal, a thump and a moan,
An anxious moment as flesh and bone meets stone.
Stop for a moment, breath deep, feel the pain,
Check everything works, heave a sigh, go again.

Down the road to Merrivale, enjoying the breeze,
Up the other side, coasting with ease.
Off to Daveytown, via Badger Alley,
Counting the bikers, keeping a tally.
Ancient woodland drifts past, rocks are surmounted,
Tired legs driving the bikes we’ve mounted.

Down the gully, with a leap and a bound,
Loose boulders and rocks strewn all around.
Furrowed brow concentrates above bitten lip,
As tyres struggle to find enough grip.
Then out the bottom we fly on to tarmac here,
And our thoughts turn to home and a welcome beer.

Hurtling home, round corners we peep,
Dodging to miss gravel, puddles, even sheep.
Trying to keep up a good even pace,
Downhill, uphill, past hedgerow we race.
Only one more hill, the last one, the killer.
Bring on the brown stuff, the quencher, the filler.

To the Rock Inn we stumble and call it a halt,
Digesting crisp, cheese and onion, vinegar and salt.
‘ Fair barman! Eleven pints of your finest ale.
Not Bass! Not John Smiths! I demand Jail!’
Another evening ends with jokes and a chat,
Till next week Gentlemen – that is that!’

By Martyn WH

<<Previous ride

April 2010

  Date Route
Gratton, above the pits, split to Ditworthy Warren & Plym Valley, HQ.
Greg's Leap 2, Grenofen Bridge, Julian's Loop, B'stard Hill, Grenofen Bridge, Railway, HQ.
Double Waters, Grenofen, Pew Tor, Staple Tor, Merrivale, Badger Ally, HQ.