The 1st Nello Memorial

Century Cycle Challenge

Sunday July 2nd 2000


Our route is one of the most rewarding, exhilarating and beautiful century rides that you will ever encounter, with lovely, easy valley stretches and only a couple of tough (but very rewarding) climbs onto the roof of Exmoor. You will love it, we assure you!

Distance: exactly 100 miles from Topsham Quay to Topsham Quay.

Start/finish: 7.30 for a prompt 8 am start on the Topsham Quay Sun July 2nd 2000. It would be helpful if you could arrive on time to enable us to register everyone.

The finish of the ride is at Topsham Quay where someone will be on hand to greet you and give you your official 1st Nello Memorial Century Cycle Challenge medal. If you don’t return to the Quay, can you please let the organisers know that you have arrived so that we don’t send out unnecessary search parties.

Terrain: Flattish for most of the way, with tough climbs to the top of Exmoor from Dulverton and again out of Simonsbath; rolling terrain from Copplestone to Exeter.

Refreshments/support stops: Around every 20-25 miles -- we’ll have water, bananas, energy bars on hand, but you will need to carry your own food for the day. We should also have a support vehicle to help with repairs, pick up any casualties (though hopefully there will be none!). If you can make some extra homemade flapjacks, brownies, scones or other such delicious high energy food to share at support stations that would be great.

Route Description: From Topsham go to Countess Wear, then take the by-pass out to Pinhoe and then on to Broadclyst. Past Broadclyst, look for a turning on left to Killerton House which leads across through Silverton to the Exeter-Tiverton Road. Turn right and head through Bickleigh to Tiverton. This road follows the Exe Valley to North Devon.

Above Tiverton, look for a turning left to Dulverton. This is a particularly pretty stretch as it follows the Barle River to that lovely and picturesque foot-of-the-moor town famous for its Lorna Doone connections. This distance from Topsham to Dulverton is 34 miles. We’ll stop here for refreshments on the town green and to catch our breath before making the ascent to the roof of Exmoor. The climb starts almost immediately outside Dulverton, and involves about a half-hour of sustained but never overly arduous climbing (the gradient is steady and not savagely steep, just rather long!). When you reach the top, there is a glorious stretch that continues right across the moor, grandiose scenery, with the shadow of Dartmoor visible to the left on a good day. The terrain is undulating and if it is windy, then this can be a rather tough stretch, though as we keep insisting, it is the best part of the ride! This road eventually ends at a T-junction.

Turn left here to descend eventually to Simonsbath. There is a nice place to picnic by the river here as well as a pleasant pub. From Simonsbath, find a turning left to South Molton, 11 miles further on. The road immediately rises sharply, and this is the second (and last) fairly testing climb, shorter than out of Dulverton but steeper. However, grit in and take courage: once at the top you are then rewarded with a truly magnificent and long, fast descent eventually to South Molton itself. This mid-Devon market town is a good place to pause, pick up any supplies before the final, long haul home.

From South Molton, find the road to Crediton/Exeter which follows a lovely (and flat) river valley before eventually joining the old Exeter-Barnstaple Road. Turn left on this and continue through Copplestone, Crediton, and so back to Exeter and Topsham (either straight through the city center or, if you find the turning right before Cowley Bridge, back by way of St. Thomas and around Marsh Barton).

Sounds easy on paper, I know, but be assured, there are few unpleasant surprises en route and if you manage to complete the whole century (or even if you just ride part of it), you will be entitled to feel more than satisfied with yourself, for this is a challenging but truly rewarding and even inspiring cycle!

Basic route map will be supplied so that hopefully no one gets lost (though there are worse places in the world to lose yourself).

Expected arrival times: We stress that this is a friendship ride, not a race and there will be riders of all abilities and on a variety of different types of cycles (tandem, hybrid, mountain, touring and road). There will, we imagine, be three broad groups of cyclists: brisk, moderate and leisurely and we would hope that cyclists within each group will stay together and help each other along the way. Though the brisk riders ought to be quicker, a realistic time to shoot for everyone to complete the ride is between 8-11 hours (depending on whether you stop at that pub...).

Remember: the major disincentive for going any slower is that you’ll risk missing the evening pasta feast, which would be a true tragedy!

Suggested training: Riding a century is a milestone achievement even for seasoned and experienced cyclists, the physical equivalent, more or less, of running a marathon. It is essential,if you are determined to complete the full circuit in some degree of comfort, that you train accordingly in order to condition your body (your legs, certainly, but also your bottom) to spending all day in the saddle. Regular cycling and miles on the road is the best way to achieve this. We would advise that you should aim to complete a 60-75+ mile ride as part of your preparations. If anyone would like advice on some good training routes in Devon, please call me or Ben (01392 877319).

Want to join the fun but are unsure about cycling the whole way? A number of people have indicated an interest in taking part in this great event, but are unsure about whether they can (or indeed want to) cycle the whole century route.

A couple of suggestions. Why not form a team and ride the whole route in stages, with each rider completing whatever distance you agree on, say 4 x 25 miles or whatever. To do this you will need to have your own support vehicle to carry the team, one or two bicycles, and of course all your picnic requirements! Please let us know on the entry form if you are riding as part of a team.

Another alternative is to cycle just part of the route. Again, you will need to have your own support back-up to take you and pick you up from wherever you join or leave the route.
A satisfying (and challenging) leg of the route would be to join us in Dulverton for the stretch up and across Exmoor, cycling say from Dulverton to either South Molton, or from South Molton back around to Dulverton on the flatter valley route (you could leave a vehicle in Dulverton if you are going to make it a circular ride).

Alternatively, you could choose to cycle out from Topsham sometime in the afternoon to meet those on the return leg, aiming for somewhere like Crediton or Copplestone.
If anyone would like to discuss alternative routes then please give me a call.

What to bring: Waterproof/windproof top (it can be chilly on the top of the moor at over 450 metres and the weather in Devon is always changeable). One, preferably two water bottles (we’ll be able to fill you up at the support stops, but it is very important to keep drinking). Lunch (sandwiches, muesli bars, fruit, chocolate, half a roasted sheep, whatever you like). Spare inner tube, tyre levers, pump, etc. A mobile phone would be handy to keep in touch with others or to call the support vehicle in case of an emergency.

The Nello Pasta Feast: Our pasta feast in the evening will be in true Nello style and spirit: delicious, genuine, generous, with plenty of food to satisfy appetites stoked up by the long ride. This will take place on the Topsham Recreation Ground from around 7-7.30 pm on. If the weather is fine we’ll eat and mill around outdoors (bring a blanket or rug to sit on the lawn). In case of bad weather, we’ll be able to use the Dorothy Holman Centre (but it’s not going to be bad weather, is it?!).

Tickets for the meal will be available on the day or else can be purchased in advance.

Volunteers: We need help on the day, with support during the ride, transport, food preparation, serving in the evening, clearing up, etc. If you are able to assist in any way, we’d really appreciate it if you can give us a call.

The Ride for Life Fund: Ride for Life is the name that Nello and I gave to our fundraising efforts that in 1997 culminated in our cycle from Topsham to Venice. So far more than £22,000 has been raised and handed over to FORCE, our main beneficiary, as well as The Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Hospicare and other cancer-related charities and organisations.
All proceeds from this and other Ride for Life events will continue to support FORCE as our main beneficiary.

Any questions: Call Marc (01392) 873778 or Ben (01392) 877319. Email

Our Mission

The 1st Nello Memorial Century Cycle Challenge

The Ride for Life Topsham-Venice 1997 Trip Diary

Feeling hungry?

Download entry and sponsorship form

Further information contact Marc Millon