The South Hams Hammer REVIEW
An enthusiastically supported charity ride with some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ridden in. Open rolling fields dropping into a dramatic rugged coastline and picture perfect villages connected with hedge lined lanes. If the scenery didn’t entirely take your breath away then the course did the rest, no mammoth climbs to speak of but 2400m gain in 130km meant the short, punchy digs were unrelenting.
Distances: 130 km
Entry fee: £25 (Includes a 25% donation to Diabetes UK)
Participants: 340 (No entry on the day)
Start: Kingsbridge Community College, Kingsbridge, Devon
Feed-stops: 2 (Hammer nutrition, cakes, doughnuts and Burt’s crisps)
Catering: Hog roast and free beer at the finish
Timed: Yes (Ankle tags)
Signs: Green arrows on a black background, marshalled at key points and hazards. Issues with sign visibility lead to some taking minor de-tours
Roads: Generally OK, Some rough surfaces and quite a bit of gravel. Narrow hedge lined lanes possibly aren’t for everyone but are part of the character here
Swag: “The Hammer” commemorative t-shirt, Hammer nutrition and Burt’s Crisps. Free pre and post ride massage.
I arrived for the event on the preceding day, the picturesque train journey from London giving me an early taster of the ride scenery as it hugged the coast from Exeter. My Saturday night was spent at the Kings Arms hotel in the pretty town of Kingsbridge.
I was joined for the evening by Richard Thompson and David Hamilton of Cicli di Tomsoni a supplier of custom tailored bikes and a ride sponsor. Richard tried to set my mind at ease that the ride wasn’t all that hilly, however after then going on to casually mention his placing at last year’s 330km 8000m Tour du Mont Blanc I concluded our definitions of ‘hilly’ may differ somewhat. In retrospect, I was right.
Signing on at Kingsbridge community college
In the morning the weather was doing its best for the 1st of April with clear blue skies, though still a little chilly due to a reasonably strong wind. Ride HQ was Kingsbridge community college; a smart, modern building overlooking the town. As all riders were pre-booked the sign on was straight forward and queue-less. Free pre and post ride massages were available on site, an unusual and welcome touch.
The start of the route lead us down through Kingsbridge immediately leading us east towards the coastline where in exposed sections we were buffeted a little by the wind. In a particularly beautiful part we dropped down to the village of Slapton Ley and rode along a spit of land between an estuary and the fairly wild looking sea though the wind was blowing strong enough it was necessary to lean into it to ride.
Sea views aplenty
Turning in land where the wind left off, the hills tagged in and kept on coming thick and fast. None of the climbs were particularly remarkable on their own it’s just that they never really stopped. The scenery here was again something to behold as views of the sea gave way to rolling green and brown fields in all directions, both colours much deeper than those of Surrey and Kent I’m more accustomed to. We followed the course of the Dart skirting the edge of Dartmoor near Buckfastleigh before heading south again and crossing the Avon.
'Rolling' doesn't quite do the course justice
A very steep hill with an opportunistic photographer marked the spot of the second feed station where I called in to fill my water bottles and couldn’t resist the custard filled doughnuts. Leaving, we dropped into Modbury and headed back coastward again crossing the Avon. The ride took a sadistic turn here swinging down to the coast and back again repeatedly to try and maximise the hurt. First near Bantham, then Thurlestone before a brief stretch of strade bianchi beside the beach at Milton Sands.
A short trip to the beach at Milton Sands
The legs were beginning to tire and climbing up from the coast I met some riders coming the other way. There seemed to be some confusion over the course at this point, the signs were a little easy to miss in the bright low sunlight particularly if you had your head down and were cracking on. Fortunately I had the provided .TCX route in my Garmin and that kept me on the straight and narrow as I had no energy for extra miles. In continued style the ride ended with a short sharp dig to the community college for the welcome sight of the finish line.
Back at HQ they had put on a great spread with Hog Roast and complementary local beer. I took advantage of the free massage and headed off straight back to London, wishing I had a lot more time to spend in this beautiful part of the world.
Post ride Hog Roast and beer
- 01/04/2012 - Kingsbridge South Devon
Rating: 79.6% based on 6 reviews - See Previous Ratings
- 14/04/2013 - Kingsbridge South Devon
Rating: 77.6% based on 6 reviews - See Previous Ratings
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