The Velvet Highways From The Land Of My Fathers
As Patrick, Matt and Stace get closer to their journey to Russia, more practice ride outs seem the way forward for the intrepid crusaders. From Dartmoor or bust and now to Matt’s homeland of Wales, the journey continues...
Fully loaded the CBF600 is starting to feel like she's wallowing, and frankly unless I get more training, that's exactly what I'll be doing all the way to Moscow. The problem I think is a simple one of too much weight combined with too little experience sledging around pristine Welsh tarmac right into the heart of the Beacons; something I solved this weekend.
We headed out from St Albans bright and early just before noon, why we never manage to leave on time is beyond me, we plan well, we all have good intentions, but we always head out on the first day stupidly late. Fortunately this time round the nights are longer and the prospect of pitching tents and cooking in the dark wasn't a realistic one. Heading out through Hertfordshire, into Oxfordshire and beyond I started to get really excited about going home, there's nothing as beautiful as the Welsh hills in the evening light.
As we crossed the border (somewhere in Shropshire) I punched the air with Joy - I was home. The joy was short lived however, five miles later we passed back into England and seemingly away from God's own land. Fear not, we slowly snaked our way round the A-Roads and crossed once again into Wales. Now we were really training, passing fields of gold, rising so fast into the mountains that our ears popped every mile or so. The air cleared, the pollen receded and was replaced by the sweet sound of new born lambs chasing each other across fields of short grass. I started to relax, and rather forgot the veritable trailer of stuff on the back of my bike, it's amazing how badly a bike can corner when you're heading into a 90 degree hairpin at 60 miles an hour.
The nights entertainment was helped along by a field of horses who took great interest in our attempts to get our new Trangia MSR burners working. But we were the ones laughing once we'd got them fired up, rice, tuna and asparagus soup kept us warm and full as we played black jack, smoked our cigars and kept the chill away with a small tot of whisky. All of this took place under the latest addition to our kit list - a 20 foot awning that will keep all but the most determined rain off us come the worst.
Riding back down the A470, A469, and other well known Welsh roads it occurred to me how well they were being looked after. None of the usual dips, holes or ripples; just smooth comfortable and grippy tarmac. If the roads on our trip are half as good we wont have a problem, but I have a feeling Poland may have a different opinion on how roads should be looked after. Getting home was a welcome relief, as was the warm bath and glass of wine - I wonder how I'll fair when there's no sign of a hot bath or decent wine for three weeks?