Day 17: Taunton to Lifton (67 miles)

I felt a lot better in the morning. I had slept well and felt a lot fresher. The day played out as a blur until the hills started.

The narrow roads and increasing traffic from the beginning of the vacation season caused a lot more stress on the roads than normal. People started passing very aggressively and either getting very close to me or very close to oncoming traffic.

The hills during the day just got worse and worse. Each hill seemed steeper than the last and the extra weight on the bike became more and more obvious. I could tell that my legs were still feeling the effects of the dinner in Bristol by the amount of time they took to recover from the exertion after reaching the top. One hill was particularly steep and I was moving at about 3 mph. This caused the bike to wobble a bit and my pulling on the handlebars caused little swerves back and forth. I took to the middle of my lane to give myself more space, but never crossed over to the other lane (there were two tracks on this road). About halfway up the hill a car came up behind me and honked at me as he passed. Finding that a little shocking and very annoying I flipped the car the bird.

About thirty feet in front of me the car’s brake lights came on and then the reverse lights. I had angered the motorist. The best thing to do in this kind of situation is to not stop, just keep on trucking. Stopping in that kind of situation puts me in a disadvantageous position standing on a hill with an angry motorist and holding onto a heavy bike. At the same time stopping would send an aggressive signal to the motorist and possibly escalate the situation.

The motorist leaned out his window and shouted at me, “what the fuck is your problem?!” I replied with, “why did you honk at me?” That may not have been the best response, but I was tired and trying desperately to haul a heavy bike up a steep hill. His reply was, “you’re all over the fucking road!” All I could think was “duh!”, but decided to state the simple fact that “I’m climbing a fucking hill!” By this point I was passing him and nearing the top of the hill. He must have decided at this point that it wasn’t worth taunting a guy on a bike anymore and so he drove off.

The day ended with much nicer dealings with other humans. As I was looking for a place to stay I passed through a town that had a sign as I entered that stated that the town had inns and hotels. I couldn’t find any so I asked a woman who I saw on the street if she might know where they are. Should didn’t think there really were any in the town, but admitted that she hadn’t been living there long. As we were talking she noticed a couple walking by who she said had lived there a lot longer and called them over. They thought a while and considered having me go across the street to talk to the sister of a woman who runs a B&B that is back the way I had come. Eventually they decided that I should just carry on about four more miles to Lifton.

In Lifton I found the Lifton Hall Hotel where I enquired about a room. The man asked how much I was hoping to pay. I was a little surprised by this question and so gave him what I was truly hoping to pay (£40) and he said that was a lot lower than they would normally charge this time of year and so he would have to call someone. He made a call where I think the key words where “cyclist” and “£40” to which the answer was “yes.” Now, that was cool!

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