Someone told us the Camel Trail was like the M25 for bikes, jammed with families crawling along bumper to bumper. But by the time we reached Padstow the bike hire shops were closing and families were heading home for dinner. We had the trail to ourselves as the sun made for its bed beyond the Camel estuary.
It was eight in the evening, and we still had another eight miles of trail to ride to reach Bodmin. We stopped in Wadebridge to give the kids a run-around when during a high level sit-down protest about moving on, Cameron tumbled down a slide and cracked his knee on the metal steps. A large red bump was quickly treated with a packet of frozen mixed veg from the nearby Londis, strapped to his knee with a bungee to reduce pain and swelling. And so the rest of us pedalled on while Cameron rested his kneee and defrosted our dinner with his feet up on the stokers bars of his tandem.
All pedalling stopped when we reached the outskirts of Bodmin and discovered our third puncture in three days. And we’d failed to notice that the only campsite in the area was a three miles detour into town, then up a steep hill with a hundred metre climb. We began to push the bikes up the hill, exhausted, and were soon overtaken by a couple with a dog. I watched them struggle with their consciences for a few minutes before the man gave in first. “I can’t watch you struggle up that hill,” he told me, stationing himself behind my buggy and giving it a helpful shove. “It helps you know,” he motioned to his wife and her conscience gave way too, giving Cameron a helping hand pushing Stuart and the baggage trailer up the hill, leaving the dog to potter along behind.
Our helpers introduced themselves as Bob and Jayne from Norfolk. “We don’t do hills,” said Bob as we puffed along, “in fact we haven’t seen one of these for years.” Bob and Jayne were holidaying at the same campsite and pushed and chatted with us all the way up the hill. “We’ve got bikes with us you know,” said Jayne as we reached the top, “but I think after this they’ll be staying in the car.” But I think our description of our beautiful sunset ride along the Camel Trail may have persuaded them to give it a go.
Bob and Jayne’s kindness extended beyond the hill. As darkness fell and we busied ourselves setting-up camp and cooking dinner, they appeared once more in a second umprompted act of human kindness. “I reckon you guys deserve this,” they said handing over two ice cold Canadian beers. I didn’t know what to say. “Thank you,” I mumbled, “Errr do you want to stay for dinner?“ They glanced quickly down at the empty packet of mixed veg by the stove. “No thanks, we’ve already eaten.”