There were two options for today; well, two viable options anyway. My purchase on Thursday narrowed that to one option:
Mine’s the red one – he’s a Charge Cooker Maxi, and I already love him.
I’ve never had a red bike before, moreover, I’ve hankered after a FAT since I rode MrJBs around the Devon Dirt earlier this year.
Today’s options were: tandem ride with the tandem club and a lunch, or take the FATs to the beach, and get chips at the seaside – it had to be the FATs.
Getting them in the car was the first thing, wheels off, upside down and wedged in with blankie and kitbags.
JB has ridden her FAT on the beach before and had it all planned. We set off to Darts Farm, a farm and whatnot shop where the only thing we could afford was to park – so that’s what we did.
We took the Sustrans route from Darts Farm to Exmouth, through Exton, Lympstone alongside the estuary and the train line, and yes – we *may* have waved to the odd train. On arrival in Exmouth there was no messing, and we headed straight for the beach. Unusually, we’d done our homework and knew that low tide was 12:29pm, perfect. These things don’t happen by accident you know.
It was a cold day and the winter sun was milky and pink and we might have spent more time than strictly necessary taking photos and trying to write our names in the sand so they showed up on Stravia.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the FAT or how it would behave on the soft sand and anticipated a dig in and a quick exit for me out the side door. What I got was easy rolling, no digging in: this is what the FATs are made for! Absolutely awesome, it turned where pointed, rolled where pointed, smoothed out lumps and bumps and just rolled and rolled. There are some rocky outcrops which it rolled up, sploshed into puddles and out again, there’s no way my hardtail would have coped as well, if at all.
We made it to Sandy Bay at the far end of the beach and decided to have our light, pre-chips snack. After we take some pictures. And after we ride over there. Actually, we’ll just ride over there for our snack. But first we’ll ride here and take some more pictures. And.. ooh look: ponies! Lets just ride over there…
Us, just riding over there…
And ooh look again – the sandbar’s uncovered, and that dog has run all the way to it: it must be rideable.
JB decided she’d go first and I’d film it. Which is exactly how it happened, except, that dog? It musta had really long legs, cos that sea came right up to the bottom bracket of JB’s bike and proved how waterproof her shoes were. Still, we got the film made 😉 I decided that I was quite happy with her starring in the movie alone, and, after a loop of the sandbar we did more meandering up the beach.Here’s what Stravia thinks we did, and I think it’s fairly clear where the sandbar is!
Once back on the pavement we set off to the LBS Knobblies where JB’s friendly bike man had promised us a coffee if we showed up with my FAT for them to
critique see: they were good as their word and couldn’t find much bad to say about my FAT, especially when I told them it was half price!
JB has been promising me battered chips since I first got my bike and today was to be the day. Just up the road from Knobblies is Krispies – one Large Portion please? Box in hand 😉 we made our way to the seafront again and the feast began. We made a new friend – a friendly dog mixed us up with People Who Share Food.
A glance at our watches told us that we needed to be heading for home, plus, the sun had gone in and it was getting chilly. So, straight home, no messing.
“Now”, said JB, “some folk who are Not Reliable to Make Safe Decisions told me that we can ride all the way back along the shoreline. We probably shouldn’t do that”. I asked “is that the shoreline that we decided against riding on when we were on our way to the beach?”. “Why, yes!” said JB. We decided that it wasn’t a Good Idea, and then did it anyway.
This part of the coast is unvisited really, by people. It started off well, it was a bit unkempt, bigger rocks, seaweed, but thanks to FAT it was all completely rideable. Well, except this bit:
We slipped and slid across in our usual dignified manner! We knew to be cautious though:
After we crossed the shoreline, picking our way over The Place Where Pottery Goes To Die, and past the place I thought we were aiming for… Huh? “Lets just see how far round here we can get” said JB. Meh, in for a penny…
We eventually left the shortline at Lympstone and mooched back to the car…
“Where does that go?” I asked JB. “Just the Goat Walk, at Topsham” she answered, breaking hard. About-turn. Into glamorous Topsham (or Topsam as the locals call it). The Goat Walk is a walk-way along the edge of the estuary and was full of folk out walking in their Weekend Clothes. It’s safe to say that we weren’t what they were expecting to see. You’re not allowed to ride on the Goat Walk, so we didn’t. We pointed the FATs at the estuary shore and rode the length of the Goat Walk, popping out through deep sand at the end, much to the surprise of a smart looking family out for a Saturday afternoon stroll. Quick photo of the FATs leaning against the ‘No Bikes’ sign and back the way we came.
And back to the car, right? Ooooh look – cows! “What’s he looking at” asked JB. “I think it’s the llama”, I told her. The what?? We were back at Darts Farm, they have 2 cows and a llama. It’s a funny kinda farm. They also have acres of Expensive Things, so we went and took a picture of some cabbage:
and a picture of my FAT by the electric car chargey-thing. Charging the Charge. Geddit?
Experts now, we disassembled the bikes and wedged them in the car. Quick coffee and flapjack and homeward bound.
A most excellent day. The bike is just amazing – it would have been nightmarish on my hardtail, the FAT doesn’t turn it’s nose up at anything, but better than that, it makes it all so much quirky fun. It’s a hellova piece of kit and I can’t wait to get out on it again… Am making lists of beaches and signing up for tide-timetables as I type.
I also have everything crossed for snow…