At the start of May Bank holiday weekend Kalf ambassador William King headed to Plymouth’s Rockets and Rascals bike store for the 2018 Trans Devon event, a self-supported ride from checkpoint to checkpoint, at far flung parts of the county, via any route you choose.
The event started at 9pm on Friday night, and on Friday afternoon I was still frantically looking at maps. Having some knowledge of Devon I made the decision to take the most direct route possible between the first checkpoint in Croyde bay, then a U-turn and head for the South coast of Lyme Regis then the home straight back to Plymouth passing over the top of hilly Dartmoor.
A group of forty plus riders lined up for the obligatory start line photo and at 9 set off into evening to get to the first checkpoint. I decided to travel light and fast with minimal gear as I knew I could ride the distance without any major stops, so I made a dash for the front to get a lead on the riders trying to get around in a quick time.
The night soon closed in heading out of the city street lights and I was now following the bike’s light beam. My plan was to ride 115 miles and stop for a couple of hours of well earnt shut eye and wake feeling fresh to ride the other 115 miles to the finish, to get back into Plymouth before Rockets and Rascals closed for the evening at 6pm on Saturday. This gave me 21 hours to ride my shortest possible planned route of 230 miles.
I felt fresh arriving in North Devon and slowly made my way along the coast seeking out promised homemade flapjack at checkpoint one in Croyde. I arrived at about 2am, not knowing if I was leading. I filled my face with amazing flapjack, stamped my brevet card and set off on the road I had just come in on, to head for the South coast.
A few miles down the road I started to pass other riders hot on my heels, also seeking out free food and the first checkpoint, and this confirmed I had a slight lead on the rest of the riders. Speaking to a few of the riders at the start, a lot seemed set on riding the whole distance with no stops, but I knew that to keep a good speed and remain focused I would need to sleep for at least two hours in order to trick my body into thinking it was well rested. Coming into the early hours of Saturday morning, there was thick mist ahead of me which made riding with only a bike light beam hard going and seemed like I was riding into the unknown and felt a little dangerous. Fortunately, traffic was light and I had three rear lights on the go. The flapjacks were soon wearing off and riding 100miles into the night was taking its toll, so I made a sharp exit to my rest stop, a platform shelter at Lapford Cross train station at 4.30am. I unravelled my space blanket climbed in and soon realised riding light and fast has its drawbacks.
After shivering for 40 minutes with no sleep, I binned my blanket put on every item of clothing I had and shivered my way towards the sunrise and somewhere open, to drink coffee and eat everything! On the outskirts of Exeter I ate and drank but felt like I had made a bad decision to stop and get no rest, and most likely lose the lead to a number of riders riding through the night.
Slowly I took off one item of clothing at a time, with what turned out to be a bluebird day and I soon wished I packed sun cream. I made my way up and over to brutal climbs towards the Devonshire boarder and dropped into the amazing Lyme Regis, checkpoint two. I arrived to an unmanned checkpoint, so immediately took a picture to prove I was there, then sat on the beach dreaming of swimming in the sea. I was rudely interrupted by another rider, Rob, who I was sure would have overtaken me in the early hours but who had also stopped to refuel on route. So, not really knowing if we had riders ahead of us we both made a speedy exit and hit the home straight back to Plymouth.
We both started to yoyo each other whilst heading for Dartmoor National Park, which I was looking forward too but knew passing over would be a tough ride with long climbs in the heat. I finally made it to the edge of Dartmoor and, with a belly full of cake, I slowly made my way up. I started to feel incredibly tired, having not slept since Friday morning, but the views of Dartmoor in the sunshine were enough to keep my eyes open. Seeking out yet another café/shop/pub or burger van to keep my legs turning, I had one last feed (one sandwich and three cakes) and set out for the last big climb out of Princetown in the heart of Dartmoor to start my decent toward Plymouth. The roads started to get busier and my legs start to spin faster, to see if I could catch up to any riders ahead of me. I hit Plymouth late afternoon and also hit every red light in the city, which was extremely frustrating and I started looking over my shoulder every 30 seconds.
I rolled in to Rockets and Rascals just before 5pm and was surprised to find I was the first rider in, so quickly collected my stamp to make it official. Although each rider gets to choose their own route, no matter which way you ride you’re hit with hills around every corner which makes riding 230 miles with no sleep tough going. So, I was pleased to have completed this year’s Trans Devon, as last year’s Trans Kernow ended for me after 50 miles, with a broken wheel. Such a great event organised by Steve Toze at Rockets and Rascals. This has been my second 1st in this year which I’m incredibly pleased with and can’t wait for my next event.
Light and fast kit list.
>>Kalf Club unisex Gilet<< Won’t leave home without this item! – Back in stock soon
Macpac Uberlight down jacket
Kask Protone helmet
Alpkit fuel pod
Bontrager 700lumen front light
Alpkit Tau rear light x3
Garmin 820 with battery pack
Camelbak bottles x2
Sorren bars x 100