Don't underestimate Devon. I think that would be the abiding memory from today's stage from Liskeard to Taunton. Legs were evidently twitchy for the 9am start as the group lasted precisely 1.5 miles before exploding on the first climb. Thereafter there were riders all over the landscape until we finally regrouped after 16 miles, with CJ actually taking time gaps to find out who was 'more than 1 mile from their room mate' and therefore worthy of a £5 fine. He seemed genuinely disappointed that not one rider had broken any of the 12 Golden Rules, but I'm sure he'll think of something. Looking down and seeing all that effort yielding only 16 miles was heartbreaking, but at least the views were good, for those that bothered to look.
Crossing into Devon via a lethal descent and a picturesque bridge over the Tamar, we were soon climbing another brute. Never mind, there can't be many more, we thought. We soon realised we were right up on top of Dartmoor, looking down on the plains below. As Kevin Rattenberry said "I don't mind going up, I just don't want to go down again". Getting to Okehampton just before 12 it was still too early to stop, so on we went. The drivers (inbetween cream teas) came up trumps, finding us a garden centre in North Tawton. By this point, with 45 miles down and 45 to go, there were some pretty weary faces. Lyndon summed it up by commenting "my only objective is to make it to the hotel".
The hills continued for another 15 - 20 miles, but cresting the last of them we plunged down into Tiverton and met up with an actual major road. The Devon lanes had been narrower than Cornwall, and the traffic hadn't coped as well with us, or us with them, and all I can say about the descents is that I'm very grateful it was a dry day. Tired bodies plodded along the dual to an extra recovery stop at the Costa Coffee, and from there all we had to do was stay on the A38 and look for the Premier Inn. The final prime was an anti-climax on a busy road a full 4 miles short of the hotel. We very nearly avoided getting wet as the only shower of the day started to pour, but the leaders took a wrong turn, and it was an age before the lights changed to let us back. Taunton is a big place surrounded by huge junctions, but at least tomorrow we go to Wales.
Primes: Lyndon Jones - Devon border, Dai Smith - Tavistock, Chris Braidon - Okehampton, Andrew Humphrey - Tiverton, Striker - Somerset Border, Dai Smith - Taunton
Mileage - 90 miles. Time in Saddle - 5:41. Av speed - 15.8mph.