Travellers' Tales: A south west century

A line of seven cyclists of mixed ages and sexes cycle in a line along a busy road
Second wheel: 11-year-old John Sharp
Graham Brodie reports on South Devon CTC’s 100-mile ride last August

Cycling is an activity that can be undertaken by all ages, as the annual ‘Harman Hundred’ ride around Devon in August demonstrated. Among the ten riders who tackled the event, there was a 73 year age difference between the youngest, 11-year-old John Sharp from Ashburton, and the oldest, 84-year-old Tony Avery from Aller.

John had already completed several longer rides and events, including the Devon Delight and Devon Dirt events locally. Tony has a vast experience in leading and undertaking cycle tours, including several trips in the USA from Oregon and across various states, and before the pandemic he led a cycle tour in the Czech Republic.

The 100-mile route was designed by Paul Harman and intended to be as flat as possible in Devon, but the course involved the ascent of Haldon via Longdown on the way out, and up Zig Zag hill from Ashcombe on the way back. The middle section of the ride was mainly through lanes around Stoke Canon, Thorverton, Silverton, Payhembury and Ottery St Mary, so was relatively flat.

There was also quite a span in the age of the bikes being ridden. Most used fairly modern, lightweight touring or racing bikes, but John Cooper form Torquay completed the event on a 1965 Royal Enfield Revelation small-wheeler.

It was the first century ride to be organised by South Devon CTC. There was also a ‘100 miles in eight hours’ ride in September. The group’s longer rides give riders a challenge to aim for.