What Santa Wants For Christmas

by Rob Hague

(This is Rob’s account of an early ride on his yellow GTS, adapted from his post to the IHPVA trikes list on Xmas Eve 1998).

Yesterday (Wednesday 23rd December 1998) I took my last remaining day of leave for the year and went out for a spin on the trike The weather was horrible - a couple of degrees above freezing and raining. I always find this about the coldest combination of weather conditions in this part of the world. So it was on with the gloves, mittens, overshoes, fleece and the Goretex jacket.

Peter [1] suggested I should try the GTS on the climb out of Dulverton, where there are some of the steepest climbs in this area. That is a none too gentle 20 mile ride from home. At least the rain stopped and I only had spray to deal with. By the time I crossed the Devon border there was a definite cloud base and it looked promising for the rest of the day.

After a teashop break in Dulverton for a warm and dry I came across Father Christmas. He appeared to be selling Christmas Trees, or maybe he just happened to have a sleigh full of them. After a hearty 'Merry Christmas' he called after me 'I'd like one of those'. So there you have it! Santa wants a Greenspeed for Christmas! Or maybe a sociable so he can help out when Rudolf is feeling off colour? Thinking about it, a lot of those pictures do seem to show him on a bent trike, just with those raindeer helping out a little...

Anyway, the ride out of Dulverton onto Exmoor was extremely beautiful. The narrow road through woodland follows the river Exe towards its source. The trees were bare and the damp smell of winter in the forest was strong. The gradients are mainly fairly gentle (maybe I took the wussy route?), hugging the sides of the valley with a view down the 45 degree drop off to the bubbling river below. Maybe all that rain wasn't a bad thing. All through the woodland small waterfalls approached the side of the road and disappeared into little stone grottos as they passed below and down to join the river.

As the trees thinned I could see the clouds held in the upper end of the valley. It seemed strange to be riding up and past them... At the head of the valley things began to change. The trees thinned and there were occasional farm houses. These houses looked as if they were trying to keep out of the wind, like old men trying to pull their overcoat collars up to keep warm. Beyond these was the first cattle grid and the moor proper.

Vast expanses of chocolate brown heathers, asleep for the winter. Dense gorse bushes giving some height. The occasional tree, but what tortured trees! Most are barely 15 feet high and all are braced against the wind. Their windward sides are almost bare of branches, yet the lee sides trail away. Nature’s own streamliners... This is real trike country. A land of rolling hills and good visibility. The road can be seen ahead snaking down the hills only to snake back up again. The gradients are good enough to get a speed of 30 or so mph built up and to use that to climb the next section. I need more practice on the climbing, but it was enjoyable.

All too soon I was heading down into the moorland village of Exford. With all the wet the disc brakes took just a fraction of a second to bite before the dependable braking dumped my speed from the 1-in-6 descent. As seems to be the norm for these moorland settlements, there was a matching climb to get out too... Even in the wet the Comp Pool tyres seemed to be gripping just fine, as long as I kept them clear of the wet metal manhole covers.

The ride home was through more rolling countryside, still high ground but more farmland than open moor. As soon as the road started to level I could put power in to handle these rollers. Even on a gentle climb I could comfortably maintain 18mph and as soon as I hit level that rose to 22mph. On the gentle slopes I was running out of gears at 25 - it could be time to fit that bargain 63t chainwheel before I start working on the fairing.

Peter told me that mileage counts double at this time of year and I think that is especially so when leaving home in the rain. But the hardware was bought to be ridden in these conditions so I wasn't staying in when I had a day off work. The warm bath when I got home made it all seem worth while!

[1]Peter Marshall, another trikes list regular, who has ridden the Paris-Brest-Paris on a recumbent trike. See the
Links page for his site.