The Dartmoor Devil celebrates its 25th birthday

Ben Fox
Ben Fox

The Dartmoor Devil – a 106km iconic, and extremely tough, cycle ride – celebrated its 25th event last month.

The ride has taken place every year since 1993 and sees riders scale the heights of some of the moor’s toughest hills and plummet to the depths of its deepest valleys. Its famous ‘finishing leg’ has a triple helping of hills, with the climbs at Dartmeet, Ponsworthy and Widecombe coming consecutively in the last handful of miles.

The event took place on Sunday 29 October and was organised for a 25th, and final, time by volunteer Kevin Presland, before new organiser David Twigger takes over in 2018.

Secretary of Devon Cyclists Touring Club, Graham Brodie, describes what happened on the day: “The ride started from Brookside Tearooms (Bovey Tracey), with two waves of 100 riders, and the usual early morning scrabble up Hind Street Hill.

“On into the lanes around Liverton through some early morning mist and drizzle; as riders pulled hard up through Ilsington to Halshanger, the weather began to improve, and by the time the first wave had gone through Ashburton, it was breaking into a glorious sunny morning. The first control point was at Cross Furzes, where cakes were available, as were expansive views across the moors.”

The ride continued, up and down, through the likes of Michelcombe and Newbridge, along the River Dart by Spitchwick, before eventually arriving in Chagford.  From Chagford, it was back up onto the high moors climbing through Jurston to hit the B road to Princetown for a good fast tailwind section.

At Princetown, the Foxtor Café was hosting the final control point and doing a roaring trade in food and hot drinks, with the staff

in fancy dress for Halloween. The final section had a slightly different twist, utilising the hill past Bonehill Rocks instead of the usual main road climb. At the finish in Manaton, the atmosphere was buzzing, especially as some long-awaited riders neared the time limit.

Mike Steer rolled in on his 25th ride, the only rider ever to have done so! He was presented with a special framed display of the badges for all 25 years.

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