Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Barnards Green to Aberystwyth

This is a new one, I am cycling long distance with someone!!

The planned route:

  1. Barnards Green to the B4129
  2. St John the Evangelist : A4103, Storridge, Herefordshire, WR13 5EY
  3. through bromyard
  4. turn right onto the b4220 towards suckley  until it turns into the A44 towards bromley
  5. Bromyard Community Hospital, Wye Valley NHS Trust, Hillside Road, Bromyard, HR7 4QN
  6. keep going on the A44 worcester road 
  7. Leominster Railway Station, Worcester Road, Leominster, Herefordshire,HR6 8AR keep going on the A44
  8. Rhayader 2000 Ltd., The Arches, West Street,Rhayader, Powys LD6 5AB keep going passingover the A470
  9. ~The A44 becomes/joins the B4518  follow this going past:  Penroc,Aberystwyth, Ceredigion ,Y23 4AD
  10. Follow this onto the b4343 past: The Miners Arms, Pontrhyd-y-groes, Dyfed SY25 6DN
  11.  follow to aberystwyth and the castle:  
  12. Aberystwyth Castle ,New Promenade, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion,  SY23 2AU

I woke up, had a quick shower and stumbled downstairs I am used to getting up early but felt a sluggish because of a few recent late nights.  I had prepared all my kit so there was no packing to do just a last minute check for train tickets etc..

I eat some breakfast (porridge with some honey) and got ready to head off to Barnards Green to meet up with Marc.  I grabbed my spare trainers and packed them last (note).  I pushed my bike as quietly to the car as I could to avoid waking everyone.  I reached inside my trousers to get my keys and they weren't there "bugger" I thought, I had left them on the table, fortunately I had put the front door on the latch so I wouldn't need to wake everyone.

I got inside and they were nowhere to be seen! DONT'T PANIC, the usual useful questions went through my head "where where you when you last had them" (this has to be the most pointless annoying response in the world and guaranteed to get a smile through locked teeth with a deep wish to choke the person offering it.).

I began to search high and low, a thorough turnover of the living room that CSI would have been proud of proved fruitless.  I checked the kitchen, my shed, the bathroom, toilet...  I knew that i had them in the living room that morning.. or did I... paranoia or early senility made me doubtful..  A text from Marc arrived  "are you still coming on time" well I was already 10 min overdue.. did I mention that I pathologically hate being late and usually arrive early mostly because I detest having to wait for other people..

In a panic I began to go through my panniers, the first thing I pulled out was my trainers and I heard that familiar jingle of my keys...  I had put them in my trainers so I wouldn't forget them.. "that's nice I thought"...  which couldn't be further from the string of expletives that actually went through my head, they would have made the most hardened salty sea dog blush.

A hurried call to Marc and I got a joking "I got up for 5:00 for you", I got into the car and finally headed off, I was supposed to be at Marc's for 5:00 it was about 5:30 now.... we were due to leave at 6:00.  I took some deep breaths, and tried to breath away the stress, I hate driving when im not relaxed and I won't break the speed limit anymore I would rather leave early.

I arrived at Marc's and his head popped out of his garage door smile on his face, he was wheeling his bike out as I pulled mine out of the car and attached the panniers.  I let off a tirade against all the ills in the world gnomes hiding my keys etc.. Marc just looked at me in the way I imagine he looks at mental cases I said "that's good rant over I feel much better now".

We set off almost immediately it was now 6:30,  Marc had driven the route the week before so knew the best way out to the A44 which we would spend most of our time on.   I would like to make a point here and that is Marc is very different from me in how he approaches these trips.  Marc sees it as a mission get there and get the job done, where as I am all about the journey.  We had discussed these differences and Marc said he would very much take my lead on this one as he hadn't cycled this distance etc.. before  (I am sure he believed this inside.).

As we left Marc explained that he had decided not to cycle back and had booked a train ticket from Aberystwyth, I was a little disapointed as I had expected to be riding back with him as well, crossed wires as I had suggested gettng an advance ticket for £20 just in case because a ticket on the day would be around £70.  Marc stopped at the end of his drive and extended his hand, "come on we can't start a journey without a handshake".

The weather was great, I was in high spirits now and we moved on.  You will notice I have basically no photographs of the first part of the journey, as I said Marc likes to push on and this wasn't really compatible with the way I ride taking photographs of everything that catches my eye.

The weather was amazing and the cycling felt great, my bike was heavy, I was carrying extra water the cooking gear etc..  front and rear panniers, Marc was only taking rear panniers.   Marc hadn't changed his tyres they were the knobbly ones he got when he bought his new bike, 700 x 42c so a lot more drag than mine.  I was running Shwalbe Marathon Plus (the flat-less ones) and in my opinion the best touring tyre out there I have been through a few different ones now.

The upside of all this was that being fitter an lighter Marc could climb faster than I could but on the flats and downhills I was faster, in fact and this is something everyone should take note of, on the downhills Marc was pedaling and I was flying past without so much as a single rotation, it was a real demonstration of the difference a good tyre and the correct pressure makes.  Just for reference I was running 80 psi on my tyres and I am pretty sure Marc's were nowhere near that, I think he mentioned 60 psi.

It was quite eye opening how different our styles were, I tend to make my goal for a day to be just going as far as I want until I decide to stop, very rarely do I have a "make it to that particular point" type of goal.  Marc was very focused on reaching Rhyader as our mid point for the trip, I did point out that getting to Rhyader would leave us with only about 35 miles for the following day but he kept giving me phrases like "we need to break the back of this" and "let's push on".

I could see that he was doing his best to be "more relaxed about it" but a leapord can't change his spots overnight and it made me laugh that Marc had expected to become relaxed and less mission oriented for this trip.  I think that's why we have been so compatible on our one day trips, it's almost commando style get to a point and back, overcome any obstacles commando style.

All in all we had a great day, it's a pity I didn't take any photos but it's all in my head.  In the end I decided not to cycle back, and booked a web ticket back as well.  That didn't sit to well with me and I had that deep disquiet that means I won't be satisfied until I actually carry out what I said I would.  (Note:  I have now booked a ticket for Aberystwyth this Friday so I can do the cycle back which made me feel a lot better).

We had stopped off before Rhyader to get provisions for the evening meal, one of my pleasures when I go camping is cooking outdoors and Marc was happy to go with my suggestion and my cooking a few good meals and cooked breakfasts outdoors had sealed my reputation and squarely put the cooks hat on my head, which I was grateful for because I just plain prefer to do the cooking.

Theres a litle island off the A44 which we detoured off to get to the Kington High street.  Kington is a nice little village in Hereford and I bought the provisions for Liver and Onions, a local told us not to bother doubling back to get to the island and back on the A44 and pointed the way via Church St and Montfort St to get back on to the A44.

We headed back out onto the A44 and agreed we would stop about 4 miles short of Rhyader, We found a nice field with a good flat area and camped down for the night Marc began putting up the tents and I began my cooking duties.  I had recently collected my msr whisperlite back which was a godsend because my other portable cooker was just not as good.  The pictures below show my "field cooking".

Sealing the Liver

Three Spanish Onions

The onions and gravy mixed

Ahh Bisto I grew up with Bisto and in the field
it really makes your meals meaty!  Though I am
not sure if the local cows appreciate it.

Peas Anyone :-)

Liver & Onions need peas

Smash Mashed Potatoes,  I added a little more water than needed
so the meal took a little longer as I reduced the water and thickened up the potatoes.

Waiting to eat


Already Gone

Pitched up near the edge of a field

A quick read of the Moomins

I got up early and packed my tent before Marc Awoke with
the intention of going off to grab some water.

Last bits to pack
I had a bit of a problem, I discovered a puncture...  when I took off my tyre I found it wasn't a puncture but a patch had come loose.  I was a bit surprised as I don't normally keep an innertube that has been patched after a trip.  I repaired it with a new patch and fitted a new innertube keeping the old one as my spare.  I headed back along the way we came and spied a garage.  Here's a tip for anyone touring, most garages have a tap out back, it was very early no one was about I went round the back and sure enough there was a tap.  I filled up my bottles and took the opportunity for a quick cold shower and then headed back to meet Marc.

We finished packing together and rode our way into Aberystwyth, there were some tasty hills on the way, however it was well worth it as there was an amazing downhill section that I am sure was about 5 miles long.  A great way to end the days cycling!

Arriving in Aberystwyth

The Promenade & Pier

That was fun

A73 waitig to get off the bike

See you later guys im going for a swim

Ahh Lidl the perfect partner 

The Aberystwyth tram up the side of constitution Hill

Turst me getting your bikes up the stairs t the tram is bad enough,
pushing a fully laden bike up the side of the hill, is not recommended

The Tram costs around £3.50 and I highly recommend it, they are a
charity and it's worthwhile taking a ride just to support them, it's a great
little experience and some great views of Aberystwyth

The Tram starts to climb

It had been a scorching day but the sea mist was rolling in, the
temperature was still great

Arrived at the top of Constitution Hill

some views around constitution hill

The view from my tent in them morning, this was only a
bush but there was a growth on top that looked just like a
miniaturized Japanese Bonsai tree

Pics at the top of constitution hill

back at the bottom of Constitution hill with the entrance to the
tram on the right.

Some tourist information at the foot of the sea fort

The ruins of Aberystwyth Castle

A minature stone circle in the castle grounds.

Apparently like the outer stones of the great pyramid the
locals had used most of the castle stone to build their houses.

To old boys came up to talk to us about cycling, a real
pair of likely lads, brothers.
The older brother on the left and the younger on the right.  They had
moved down from the Midlands originally, the older one telling us a few
stories of his younger brothers escapades whilst drunk, turning up looking bruised and
battered after stepping on a wasp nest drunk and being found frostbitten and half
dead by a neighbor drunk in the middle of winter :-)

I will gaurd the coffee

A 4 port USB charger one of my most useful devices
These photos are out of sequence and taken just before the final climb into Aberystwyth

A quick Bacon Sandwich

A view of Aberystwyth from Constitution hill at nigh

I will update this post with my notes when time permits!

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