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Dartmoor Devil fails to deter demon riders

By HETinaCrowson  |  Posted: October 28, 2013

The steep start at Bovey Tracey

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Two hundred keen cyclists descended on the town of Bovey Tracey on 27th October, on a blustery morning, to ride in the 21st Dartmoor Devil Audax event.
Audax is derived from a latin word meaning audacious, and with a forecast of 50 mph winds and rain over Dartmoor the riders were being just that, writes Graham Brodie.
However for the start, there was some warm autumn sunshine as the first groups climbed the 1 in5 gradient of Hind Street and out on to the A382 to Moretonhampsted.
A couple of squalls didn't dampen spirits, and produced some fine rainbows to enhance the Dartmoor scenery.
Soon they were into dark slippery lanes strewn with debris and potholes. After the descent to Clifford Bridge it was hard to see where the road was if it was there at all!
The first control point was in bus shelter at Drewsteignton, where cakes were being dished out and riders inside the time limited collected a sticker on their cards.

From here it was down past the plastic clad  Castle Drogo into the valley and then across to North Bovey via some steep grubby lanes. On past Heatree cross and Jays Grave and Houndtor, and here the riders began to get a preview of what the weather would be like later as strong crosswinds blasted between the Tors.
A fast descent into Ashburton brought the riders to Lavender House, the halfway point and fortification in the form of hot soup and crusty rolls!

Several decided enough was enough at this stage, but for the bulk of the field it was time for the long climb back onto the Moors via Holne and Hexworthy.
Some heavy squalls produced very heavy downpours, with a lot of surface water, and there was even the occasional bit of hail thrown in, but luckily these mostly lasted just a few minutes, so people who battled the crosswind into Princetown arrived slightly damp rather than drenched!

Foxtor cafe was busy, the final control point where hot food and drinks were in plentiful supply.
All who reached this point were now to be rewarded, as the final section home would have a predominantly strong tail wind, so riders were pushed past the Warren House Inn. There was a hard section past Grimspound where the wind was curving over  the hill making it a very difficult couple of miles, but after a brief stop there for the final checkpoint, is was plain sailing back to the finish at the Kestor Inn at Manaton.

There were some noteable rides – Annemarie Manley from Bournemouth completing her 12th Devil, John Thacker from Exeter completed his 12th event after recovering from a bad crash only 7 weeks ago.
Mike Steer from Exeter finished and is the only rider to have completed the event 21 times,  George Sandford from Plymouth finished and is the grand age of 79, and a fourteen year old youngster completed the event. Well done to all who had a go at this years ride.

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