93 miles & 1,414 metres climbed
Given the absence of the hosts I did wonder how the breakfast would be served? Would R2-D2 crash out of the kitchen brandishing plates of bacon and egg or would the host emerge wearing a deep sea diver suit?
In the end a human being, without a mask, brought the fairly mediocre Full English. Given the requirements of cycling then cereal or porridge would have been preferred. However at breakfast were two ladies (Katrina…women) attending a wedding later in the day nearby. One lady’s husband had ridden across the USA and so that was a common interest and the other lady was originally from Arkansas and so country music was discussed. Bliss! Venturing outside the day was overcast but the horror drenching of last night had evaporated and whilst a little cool it was not uncomfortable. It was goodbye to Hereford Cathedral.
Herefordshire was delightful and whilst the hills were hard they didn’t, unlike Norman Hunter, bite yer legs. There was also the surprising courtesy of drivers who stopped and let us pass on narrow lanes. (Clearly all the higher IQ Cornish had relocated here.) There was an obvious level of prosperity and some attractive properties.
Shortly we’d crossed the border and were into Shropshire and at Ludlow. This town was known to me by name but was a complete delight to discover. Like Monmouth this was another treasure found on the ride. If you travel slowly by bicycle she certainly absorb the sights and sounds.
It was flooded with tourists who were milling about and not least enjoying the Saturday market.
From here it was back into the countryside that was initially beautiful with interesting sights. Things changed!
Despite an expectation that the climbing would diminish Shropshire bared its teeth and combined with the vicissitudes of the Garmin Sat Nav Peter and myself were briefly parted. This was down the soil and gravel strewn precipitously steep lanes. At one point having lost Peter I stopped by a farm to check Google Maps and had a strange sensation on my leg. It was the farm dog having a snuffle!
If that sensation was unusual then near bowel shattering moments occurred for us as we swooped down the lanes at big speed. This is all part of a competition hence the cat (pussy) trophy. There is always risk as the hedges and vegetation are high, the road wet or covered in loose gravel and the twists and turns of the road unknown. First myself and then Peter hurtled down 40 metres and round a corner at between 30 and 40 miles per hour to find in the middle of the road a car coming towards us. Grabbing indifferent brakes and searching for a space either side of the car we avoided carnage….just. I can well imagine the drivers being seriously shocked and probably dining out on the story for a long time to come.
An overdue lunch stop was made at Greggs yes, I had a vegan steak bake, and we then continued north.
This was a day of considerable mileage and I’d feared the worse for my condition. However, I felt great and bowled along at a good pace, helped by the eventual flattening of the road. This was an error in retrospect and I should have eased off but it was heartening after all the slogging to actually move more quickly. (Day 6 has made me pay.)
The Travelodge was conveniently sited near a large and tasty pub/restaurant but the room was a tad small for the cyclists and their bikes! Peter arrived separately choosing to clock up a century of miles for the day. As it was Saturday night and the weather had now improved dramatically in temperature it was busy and we didn’t eat until after 10pm. For me at least sleep was not delayed as I fell into a comatose state.
Tomorrow offers a short mileage and some exceptional hospitality from the Favourite Eldest Daughter and Matt, her husband. The Favourite Youngest Daughter will join us to open her forthcoming birthday presents and Harry, her partner, will join us astride his bike along the route. Anna will come across from York. Lovely.