81 miles and 1,411 metres climbed
So the first thing the window check revealed was a grey overcast and windy day. Disappointing. With the high mileage demands of the next couple of days an early start was in order. (The Premier Inn steer you next door to their affiliate restaurant for breakfast and last night’s dinner wasn’t good enough to make us want to return.) So Peter added some water to our porridge ‘cuppas’.
Soon we were sorted; a photo taken of our fine establishment and at 7.25am we were pedalling away.
The first 5 miles were bliss until we hit the 300m vertical ‘lump’ that was the Old Bristol Road. This was a tough start to the day with the legs screaming but by 9am 15 miles had been covered, we had a reward, and it felt like we were making progress. The countryside was rolling and verdant as we headed downhill off the hills north to the coast and Avonmouth.
Bristol seemed cycle friendly with many paths to assist you more directly and safely through the city. One took us through a park.
Other Lejoggers had complained of the awfulness of getting through a busy, traffic choked part of Bristol to get to the Severn Bridge. As regards directions then with Sat Nav there were few missteps. It was tortuous with cycle paths swapping sides of the road and not without risk when on the main roads with fast and heavy trucks. The aspect that got to me was the noise of large trucks speeding closely by. It was a cacophony for an hour or so. But we saw some iconic sights.
Our bridge to cross the Severn was reached and frankly was a little of an anticlimax.
Over the bridge was Wales and after riding for over 5 hours some food was needed. A supermarket had to suffice.
The road was still up and down and the legs were terribly sore. The new lower gear helped and, as always, the hills were conquered. One anticipated yet unknown delight was the Wye Valley. Quite exquisite in its French like tranquility and beauty. The road ran beside it and if it did climb it did so gently.
Monmouth was another lively market down bursting with tourists. It looked inviting with lots of character and is definitely worth another visit sans bicyclette. Tony was kept happy with an ice cream cornet.
However there was still the grim requirement to get into the hills to bridge the gap to Hereford. To distract me from the legs I put on the headphones and listened to some music. Sadly Robert Palmer and Candi Staton didn’t completely obliterate the sound of Peter continuing to complain about cars going too fast, cars going too close, cars being driven badly, cars etc etc. I thought I could go on and on about things, clearly I need to practice.
Most drivers, in fact the majority, are more cautious around cyclists but it’s a fair point to say that if the mammal in their path was a pedestrian, a horse or any member of their family they’d cut their speed and keep a greater distance. When it comes to cyclists there is a disregard if getting to Tesco’s or to pick up the kids is being delayed by 20 seconds. It is what it is and all over the world the behaviour is the same.
Peter was ahead and got to the B&B first. Access to the property and various instructions, such as how to order breakfast, were delivered by text or email. The owners are ultra cautious/unnecessary about Covid and were not to be seen. Seven hours on a bike and all you want is someone, with a smile, to open the door and show you your room not redirect you to codes and key boxes. We even had to text to get a wi-fi code. Being Friday the choice in Hereford was limited!
We dined on a Chinese all you can eat buffet. We conformed to the protocol of revisiting the selection on multiple occasions. Peter even came away with pockets laden with jelly beans (mostly put there to satisfy the under 10’s with their parents.)
We went out in the dry and it then later rained as if Noah was floating the Ark! To say we got soaked was an understatement. We had a pint of cider (that’ll shock the Favourite Youngest Daughter) at the Golden Fleece on the way back to B&B and discovered, from the publican, why some football clubs have triangular flags on their corner posts and others have rectangular.
Tomorrow is the longest ride so far of 90 plus but should be slightly less climbing. Oh please be true.