Praa-ing for better weather

OGIL ride report: 29th May 2024

The weather forecast looked quite reasonable.  A bit cloudy but no rain expected until early afternoon.  There was also very little forecast wind so we arrived at ToP quite optimistic for the conditions.  Jan had already posted a suggestion of Praa Sands for our destination, and as no one could recall having ridden there on an OGIL ride any time in the last five years or so  we decided to give it a try.   At this point, Steve declared he would take a slightly shorter ride on account of him still suffering from breathlessness and lack of energy, which left an elite group of five.  And so we set off, heading towards Carnkie, then Porkellis and then towards Releath .  As we progressed it became obvious that the atmosphere was becoming distinctly damp. We seemed to be in that strange no man’s land between mizzle and light rain,  so that although most people were in jackets or gilets we were still getting quite wet;  but we pushed on to Nancegollan, then to Godolphin Cross and up to Balwest.  Here, instead of following the road round to Ashton, which we would normally do on our route to Porthleven, we took a right just past the Methodist Church to go down a very narrow lane towards Germoe.   This represented the first of lanes that nobody could recall having ridden before (although memory is not a particularly strong point in this group, and one lane looks very much like another).  After Germoe the lane met the main Helston to Penzance road where we crossed to ride down the hill into Praa Sands.   Rather than riding on to the cafe everyone knows on the beach, we stopped before the bottom of the hill at a new cafe called SISU which Jan had identified as a possible venue.  This turned out to be quite spacious and modern and had a good selection of snacks for us to indulge ourselves,  although I’m not convinced the quality of the coffee was quite up to our usual strict standard.  At least the coffee was wet and warm, which was the most important feature as we had arrived slightly chilled following the damp descent.

OGILs in SISU at Praa Sands
OGILs in situ in SISU struggling to look happy

The weather had definitely made a turn for the better when we emerged for the ride home, and some of us even removed our protective layers.  To avoid retracing our steps (or rather, wheel tracks) we carried on down the hill towards the coast and then bore round to the left to follow the lane along the top of the cliff.  This particular lane is pleasant enough apart from some rather injudiciously placed sleeping policemen which required a bunny hop to negotiate.  Only Dean the Elder had a vague memory of riding along here before, but he couldn’t remember anything about it.  This turned out to be fortunate as a little distance along the lane turned decidedly uphill.  Yes, it was steep and quite sustained.  My head unit recorded 17% at one point although it was more consistently 15%-16%. Checking later on the Ordnance Survey map, I saw that the lane displayed a single arrow.  Those of you that remember paper maps and your school geography lessons will know this means the hill was between 14% and 20%,  which confirms my observations on the day .  I suppose the lesson learned is to check the map before we ride, which might have prevented the moans that people had on the day.  The moans were nevertheless fairly good humoured (I think), and I like to think that retracing our steps would still have resulted in a tedious climb if not quite as steep.  After a brief stop to let a car down the very narrow lane, we carried on through Hendra to Ashton, where we met  the main road again.   A short stretch along the main road was followed by a right down onto Rinsey Lane.  We followed the road round as if we were heading to Porthleven, but after about a kilometre we turned left to take us back up to Breage.  Straight across the main road and up to Carleen where we took a right to bring us back onto the main Helston to Leedstown road just above Sithney.  From there  we took our usual route through Sithney Green to emerge at Coverack Bridges.  From there we rode up to Wendron School and then the usual route back via Wendron Cricket Club.

All in all,  a good ride, especially once the weather cleared for the return leg. We explored a couple of lanes which were unfamiliar to most of us and we enjoyed good company and food.   About 66 kilometres for me with 1,130 metres of elevation gain.

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