Camel Toe on the Camel Trail
When I was 18, I cycled the Camel Trail with my ex boyfriend who liked mountain biking, bodybuilding, pimping his Fiat Punto and listening to hard house dance music. As somebody who enjoyed none of those pursuits, it was fair to say that we were fairly ill matched as a couple. The kind of bike I enjoyed riding had a basket and I didn’t really like going round corners on it, let alone down bumpy hills. My abiding memory of the excursion was not the stunning scenery but of riding along thinking “fuck off cocklord” as he shouted at me to cycle faster. I was not, therefore, in any particular hurry to revisit the Camel Trail. Given I am married to a man who is about as enthusiastic about cycling as most men are about catching chlamydia, I thought it was a pretty safe bet that I would not have to. However, we have a six-year-old son who loves his bike and can now read pretty darn well. So when we went to Padstow for fish and chips and he spotted a leaflet about hiring bikes to cycle down the Camel Trail, I knew the jig was up.
The first challenge was working out the permeation of bikes that would enable one cycle mad six year old, two not especially competent adult cyclists, one not yet cycling four year old and a baby to make it from Padstow to Wadebridge and back. The answer was one kids' bike, one adult bike with a baby seat and one adult bike with a ride on attachment for the four year old that made it look like a cross between a penny farthing and a tandem. Sleek streamlined peleton we were not. The second challenge was finding a cycle helmet that would fit my abnormally large head. It doesn’t look that big to the naked eye, but when you start trying to put a helmet on it quickly turns out to be the size of an enormous pumpkin.
Having finally found something to accommodate Pumpkin Head, we popped the baby on the back of my bike to which he reacted about as calmly as a death row prisoner being invited to take a seat in an electric chair. Hoping he would like it more once we got moving, we set off down the trail. Within 200m, it became quickly apparent that my ears were not the only thing that were going to be aching by the end of the ride. The Berlin Wall was still standing the last time I wore a pair of cycling shorts so when getting dressed that morning I had gone with the next best thing: a pair of denim dungarees. However, it turns out that the reason Laura Trott does not wear dungarees for a lap of the velodrome is that they give you an acute case of camel toe on a bike.
With a bad case of flange ache developing and the baby still howling like a hyena, my six year old very sweetly rode alongside us to try and distract his baby brother from his two-wheeled misery. Unfortunately, he tried to do so by holding his hand which caused his front wheel to get caught in our back wheel and him to go flying over his handle bars. Only 10 minutes into the ride and with three out of five of us now howling in agony, we decided to stop for a break. Luckily this being Cornwall you are never more than 50m away from some kind of product containing clotted cream, so we were able to refuel and regain our equilibrium with a quick artery clogging snack of fudge from a beside the road bicycle snack stall.
With the baby having downgraded his protests from completely furious to just occasionally grumpy and the injection of clotted cream having taken my mind off my front wedgie, I started to actually enjoy the ride. The trail is an old railway track that runs alongside the river so there is no need to worry about bumping into cars and the scenery is genuinely lovely with lots of little boats bobbing in the estuary and plenty of lush greenery shading the path. Our four year old loved being on the tag-a-long on the back of his dad's bike and before we knew it we had made it to Wadebridge, our halfway point. It is definitely not your picture postcard Cornish village but it has lots of quirky shops and an independent feel to it that makes it a bit like a Cornish Camden!
Bradley Wiggins could probably have cycled from Lands End to John O Groats in the time it took us to get back to Padstow but then again Bradley doesn't have to keep hopping off his bike every 3 minutes to retrieve a dummy. But we made it in the end and would definitely recommend it for a fun family day out. Just make sure you pack clothing that has a higher lycra than denim content.
Want to try it too?
We hired our bikes from Padstow Cycle Hire and it worked out at about £55 for a half day. Obviously will be cheaper as a family day out if you have a more sensible number of children than us. We were able to just turn up and hire them on the day although in height of summer may be sensible to book in advance. There are also several cycle hire places in Wadebridge such as Bridge Bike Hire should you want to do the trail the other way round.