Driving down to Devon for a few days in the South Hams region, I was looking forward to riding some new roads. Life is what happens to ruin your plans.

I did do one ride, and the road by Slapton Ley first thing on a hazily sunny, unseasonally warm autumn morning was a pleasure; the climb up to Strete was a satisfying one, and the lanes along the top of the ridge were fine. It was a real pleasure to ride with the sea in view, and almost as good to be up high with great views over the rolling countryside. The trouble is, once I hit the main road and starting heading back towards Kingsbridge (to then head back to Tor Cross), things rapidly because less enjoyable.

Riding main roads around the home counties might not be fun but it’s rarely that unpleasant, and it’s very rare that I’ll feel at risk doing so. In Devon it’s a different matter. Even the ‘A’ roads are pretty tight – two cars passing each other simultaneously don’t leave much room for a bike – and that makes for some nasty squeezes. Make the problem worse with a wider vehicle, compound it further with plenty of drivers from out of the region who aren’t that familiar with the hazards of driving on narrower-than-they-are-used-to roads, and for the first time for a long time I found myself feeling vulnerable just cycling along normally. That’s not something you’ll hear me say very often. It’s not a nice feeling – and it’s sufficient to put me off riding the area any more.

Speaking purely from a cycling perspective, I’ve been happy enough to visit the area but happy, too, to not live here. Studying the maps, I’m not sure even an intimate local knowledge of the roads would help that much. All in all, that’s all a quite surprising outcome given how much more over-crowded the home counties are. It’s also a bit disappointing coming on top of the lack of good riding in Cornwall earlier this year. So it goes.