If you like cycling, the South West is the place to be. Over 150 miles of the National Cycle Network is in Devon, with safe routes through beautiful countryside and spectacular scenery. The Exe Estuary Trail on Route 2 is a regular course for me, but this weekend I cycled it in a rather different fashion
to usual, as part of the Velo Vintage cycling event.
Velo Vintage sees hundreds of vintage and cycling enthusiasts come together and take time to ‘cycle, take tea, converse, and dress with style’. Forget lycra and hi-vis cycling wear, this is all about old-fashioned British style – for the gentlemen: tweeds and plus fours, waxed moustaches and pipes, and for the ladies: pretty dresses and hats, pin curls, lipstick, gloves and handbags.
It was a wonderful sight on Sunday morning as we gathered in Manor Gardens in Exmouth, where a ‘velo vintage village’, festooned with bunting, was our base for the day. Here you could have your photo taken with a camera obscura, rummage amongst the vintage clothing and other shop
stands, or simply people and bike watch as people, in all their finery, came to register for the event.
With our registration gift of a thruppenny bit in our pockets (the price of a cream tea later) we were seen on our way by the town crier, and a throng of cyclists on bikes dating back to the turn of the century (the one before last!) made their way along the Exe Estuary trail, from Exmouth, through Topsham, and on to the first watering hole, the Double Locks near Exeter.
With a band playing and lunch and tea served (though some went for something stronger to quench their thirst – it was a hot day after all), it was time to chat, or converse, with our fellows. One chap we spoke to had come all the way from Edinburgh for the event, and another couple were from the
Bexhill Cycling Group. There were cyclists of all ages, and even a cycling teddy bear!
The return route to Exmouth saw a few people stop off at some of the other establishments en route that offered liquid beverages, but we all regrouped at the Manor Gardens for a cream tea (paid for with the thruppeny bit). The Exmouth Shanty Men sang us some ditties while we partook of our
refreshments, and then it was time for some prizegiving. There were prizes for the best moustache or beard, best hat, best decorated bike, and best dressed lady and gentlemen. It can’t have been easy choosing, their were so many wonderful contenders!
Those who had come from far and wide to attend the event spoke of what an amazing cycle route we have here, and though I cycle it all the time I agree, and never take it for granted. Cycling home after the event, with the Exe Estuary like glass on my right, foxgloves lining the verge and rabbits darting
across the cycle path, I thought how lucky we truly are.
A cycling event like Velo Vintage is the perfect opportunity to take time to really enjoy the route, and step back in time to a more civilised age, where speed and Strava PBs were unheard of. What could be nicer than cycling, taking, tea, conversing and dressing with style, all in beautiful surroundings when on holiday in Devon.