A Cornish Sea to Summit

17 Apr 2017

Wintertime with short days and often rubbish weather can make it difficult to find inspiration for new rides and two-wheeled adventures. With spring apparently now in full bloom however, and a perfect weather forecast for riding pointing our wheels somewhere new seemed like a good idea. We figured our favourite coastal places would be busy with tourist traffic, what with it being Easter .. and sunny, so instead we put together a rather wonderful day out up to the 'roof of Cornwall', if you like, at Brown Willy combining a mixture of tracks, trails and virtually traffic free backroads. As far as route planning and finding goes we were lucky to be blessed with a riding buddy with a phenomenal knowledge of the backroads of mid-Cornwall.  That combined with a bit of map-based pre-planning took us on a wonderful day out of 85 miles taking in all the best that inland Cornwall has to offer from sheltered wooded valleys, flower-studded trails, and chilly, windswept open moorland.  Because I'm an idiot I forgot to have my GPS record the route so I'm unable to share a track for you to download, however should you want to ride this way then the route options are endless so all you really need to do is get an OS map out and draw yourself a likely looking route and go for it.

For our ride fatter-tyred touring bikes were perfect, tyres around 40-45c roll well on asphalt but offer tons and grip and comfort on the dirt sections. I rode my Surly Cross Check, Ash was riding a lovely 'vintage' (i guess 35+ years old qualifies) Concorde touring bike with a highly covetable 8spd Mk1 XTR drivetrain fitted, and Mark was riding his Surly Straggler.. the disc braked cousin to my Cross Check.

Some pictures follow  by way of inspiration for you. Hopefully you've had an equally excellent Easter on two wheels!


Cornwall cycling trails

Spring very much in evidence in the sheltered valleys. Warm sunshine too :-)

Cornish lanes exploring by bicycle

Approaching the moors the cloud thickened and the temperature dropped in the cool northwest wind. When I look at pictures like this I always find it incredible just what a green landscape Cornwall is blessed with. Having cycled through deserts all over the world returning to green and lush Cornwall is always a real treat.

Cycling Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

Bodmin Moor isn't very high, only something like between 350-420m above sea level, it still feels like quite a climb up onto the moor however, and as with any ride in Cornwall it is very easy to accumulate thousands of metres of vertical ascent without even a mountain in sight. The hills are one of the things that makes riding here in the west special. Embrace rather than avoid them and they will reward :-)

cycling Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

Empty moorland singletrack roads, a perfect alternative to the holiday weekend coastal honeypots.

Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, cycling

Approaching our goal for the day. Slightly fatter rubber just perfect for being able to explore pretty much anywhere.

Bodmin Moor Cycling

It's been a long time since I cycled on the moor. Back in my racing days (not that long ago really) one of my favourite long training rides would take me all the way up the north coast to Boscastle before heading inland across the top of Bodmin Moor and then all the way back down the south coast. Well in excess of 200km I used to really enjoy it. Travelling a little more slowly on my touring bike with time to really soak up the countryside and a stove + packed lunch on board brings a very different flavour of satisfaction. One that doesn't involve feeling utterly destroyed by the end :-)

cycling Cornwall camping stove

Brew on. I have a Carradice Pendle bag on my Cross Check. It's just the right size for a down jacket (it was chilly in the wind on the moor), packed lunch, a cake (of course), alcohol stove + pot, and my camera. It looks appropriately retro too and the Carradice canvas bags weather beautifully, in a way that modern synthetics simply cannot, they're waterproof too in case you were wondering... (we have some in the shop if you're interested.. ;-)

cycling Cornwall Bodmin Moor

Leaving the moor, heading back south to the sunshine!

Vintage touring bike cornwall Nitto bars

That vintage Concorde with a lovely Nitto 'cockpit'. Nitto stuff (bars, stems, seatposts, racks, and more) is very much a favourite of ours, pleasingly retro, highly functional and just a little bit unusual. It's available to order through the shop.