OGILs go on safari

OGIL ride report 13th July 2022

Little did we suspect when we started the ride that we would be witnessing more Cornish wildlife in one morning than we would usually see in a season, although the ‘life’ part of that phrase turned out not to be entirely appropriate. But more of that later.

First, the UC contingent was surprised to see Mike (the American) waiting at ToP along with the others with what looked like a large vacuum flask bolted to his downtube. Closer inspection of his bike revealed what appeared to be a biscuit tin mounted between his left crank and the frame. However, it turned out that this had nothing to do with him wanting to minimise the costs involved in coffee stops by bringing his own supplies with him, but had everything to do with making getting to the coffee stops as easy as possible. What this improbable collection of bits amounted to was in fact an electric bike conversion kit from renowned German manufacture Pendix (yeah, me neither). After listening to several lame jokes which all involved the phrase ‘I’ve had mine out’, Mike explained the virtues of supercharging your bicycle, and even let Simon have a try (a bit risky that). However, despite now being able to fly up hills, he elected to keep to a short ride to Via Ferrata with Phil3 rather than join the rest of the OGILs for their ride to Wheal Coates.  For those interested in electrifying their steeds, Mike has promised a review in the near future.

That left just six of us to head north, our number no doubt depleted by the popularity of the Audax ride the previous Sunday and the toll in must have taken on the participants’ legs. In true OGIL fashion nobody wanted to accept the responsibility of leading the ride, so it was make it up as you go along time again. After reaching the Helston road we turned right and then left at Longdowns. It was along here after the quarry that we laggards at the back were surprised to come across Simon shuffling a dead squirrel to the side of the road. He insisted that he had not been responsible for its demise – was this animal compassion in action or just keeping the road tidy?

We continued on the normal route past Burley Aquatics and the Greek Church to Burncoose, from where we turned toward Gwennap and then along Sunny Corner, which was in fact quite sunny for a change. Having agreed that we should head for Twelveheads, we rode along Coombe Lane. Somebody joked that we should take the left fork up the impossibly steep hill (you know the one), but of course we’re not that mad. That didn’t stop Simon (yes, him again) insisting that we turn up Race Hill, the left turn shortly before Richards garage. This turned out to be a not quite impossibly steep hill, but more than enough to get the heart rate up into the red zone. When we paused at the top to get our breath back, we heard that more squirrels had been sighted running across the road. This prompted the telling of tales of people coming to a sticky end after various small furry animals had run into the spokes of their front wheels. This did nothing to inspire confidence in the naturally cautious among us, and the descent down to the main road to Twelveheads was taken at a rather sedate pace.

On reaching Twelveheads we did our usual check to see if Richard753 was in Bon Appetit, but he wasn’t so we pressed on to Chacewater, thence to Blackwater. We took the right before Mount Hawke and headed to the Big Dipper. As we jostled for position to gain the most speed on the downward section so as to minimise the pain on the upwards section, some cyclists coming in the opposite direction waved their arms energetically at us. After a while we realised this was not some kind of greeting, but they were flagging us down, presumably because of some obstruction ahead that it would not be wise to approach at full pelt with your head down. And there, at the bottom of the dip on the opposite side of the road, were three police cars with flashing blue lights and everything, and a couple of other cars stopped in the road. As we passed we rubber-necked to see what the fuss was about. There in the road was a deer, presumably hit by one of the cars, with its head being cradled by a woman as they (again presumably) waited for the animal ambulance to arrive (the alternative is unthinkable). Satisfied that there was nothing else to see we grovelled up the other side, trying not to look too closely at a dead badger at the side of the road. Clearly not an animal-friendly stretch of road.

The rest of the ride to the Wheal Coates tea room was uneventful, and we settled in to our orders of food and drink. Despite witnessing the animal carnage on the road, several nevertheless still elected to have dead animal flesh in their sandwich. Considering we were supposed to be on the brink of a devastating heat wave, the weather was overcast and with a stiff northerly blowing it felt distinctly chilly. We didn’t linger, but still had time to tell tall tales and discuss the iniquities of the age groupings in sport and how a five year span is too much when you get to our sort of age.  It was also agreed that the term ‘veteran’ was demeaning (especially as it kicks in at the youthful age of 40), and that ‘master’ is much more in keeping with the respect due to the grey peloton.

Wheal Coates
Don’t be fooled by the sunglasses, it was cold

Unusually, on departing we re-traced our steps rather than heading into St Agnes, as somebody needed to get back home sharpish. But when we got to Mingoose we carried straight on at to arrive at the Victory Inn, where we turned right to descend to Porthtowan. From there we rode up the valley to Wheal Rose, Scorrier and along Treskerby and then around the Redruth by-pass to the top of Lanner Hill. From there it was the usual route to Penhalvean, where we had the customary discussion about route and decided on the causeway road home. All was fine as we pootled contentedly homewards, until Adrian and myself were coming down Trescobeas Road by the fire station. A white van overtook us at speed when there clearly wasn’t time to pull in before the approaching traffic reached us. The driver chose to take Adrian out rather than have a head-on collision, and only missed Adrian by the smallest margin. Adrian quite justifiably shouted some rather choice phrases, but I doubt whether anyone other than me heard them.

So the tally of wildlife sightings for the day amounted to at least two (and possibly more) squirrels both dead and alive (separately, not in some weird Schrödinger way), one deer probably heading to intensive care, and one badger (deceased). Luckily, Adrian was not added to the number of ex-wildlife on this occasion.

An interesting ride, zoologically speaking – about 76 km for me.

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