Side to Side – Ride Report

Tim and Kev – St. Davids to Lowestoft by bike.


Day Six 72 miles – Hundon to Lowestoft
Well here we are in exotic Lowestoft. In the Hotel Victoria on the sea front overlooking one of the cleanest beaches in the country apparently – should have brought my swimmers…

380 odd miles finally complete. Which for sure both of us can feel in our legs. Today’s low cloud soon lifted and we had a clear but very humid day for our final flog to the coast. Plenty of undulations again. I could tell we were going uphill when my eyewear steamed up.

There were times today when we were just suffering and counting the miles, but for much of it we were making good speed on busy A-roads again, pointedly ignoring Kev’s GPS which kept offering more scenic but slightly longer variations.

Finding it hard to think of the highlights today as it was more of a muchness, plus the week of cycling seemed to have caught up on us. If we were on a longer ride – if only! – we’d be thinking about a short day or a rest day tomorrow. In the event, we’re not, so all we have to do is to wobble down to the train station and argue with the conductor about putting the bikes on the train.

It’s been quite a week.
What have we learnt?
That cycle touring is a refreshingly simple way of living, for a change. Just route planning, eating flapjacks, finding somewhere to sleep and keeping those legs turning. Monday morning is going to be a bit of a shock for both of us.

That the roads near where I live have got some of the worst surfaces in the country (I think I knew this).

That Suffolk isn’t completely flat and that West Wales is particularly choppy.

Low point for me: winching up the hill from Solva on day one, up off the seat in bottom gear, being buzzed by caravans and delivery lorries. High points: the rest of the trip.

That generally you don’t see as much of the nice bits of the country when you travel on A-roads, but you do get there quicker.
That there’s nothing wrong with going to bed before 10 after a long day (yawn).
That Kev’s race bike has survived as well and been as comfortable as my tourer.
That it’s hard to eat an ice-cream on Lowestoft beach when the bottom of it’s dropped off (the ice-cream not the beach).
That it doesn’t matter what you ride as long as you get out there and ride (we knew this already).
Go fast, drink lots, stop often and eat!

Today we were:
Nearly hit by a wind-driven newspaper rack.
Sad it was nearly all over read more…

Stunning fields of poppies

Day Five. 61 miles – Chez Jasper to Hundon.
Sitting in the Friday night bar at The Plough Inn at Hundon. They’re doing a roaring trade.

Starting from my house this morning meant not just prepping the bikes for the day but also getting the kids ready for school and nursery (well I helped a bit). Seemed strange to be setting off not just for a quick ride but on the final leg of our trip.

May as well tell you about the weather because we’re British… Been good. Plenty of sunshine, clouded over with haze later but not enough to stop us getting mildly sunburned. Wind as usual, helpfully hard astern.

Stuck mainly to A roads today to avoid intricate navigation through little lanes. Meant we made good, fast progress. We seem to be in the land of undulations – no real climbs but plenty of rolling up and down.

Excellent lunch stop in a sort of outdoor recreation centre. We noticed several police cars in the car park, so if the police eat here it’s probably pretty good.

Which it was.

Fast going meant we got here quite early, even after a delaying tactic stop at Haverhill, just down the road.

So, tomorrow is the last leg. 71 miles or so. Then apparently we can have an ice cream – no expense spared in celebration! The week seems to have flown past and yet the first few days of the trip seem a long, long time ago.

Was it really only four days ago we were under a deluge in Llandeilo? Seems at least a month ago. Guess that’s the sign of a good holiday, and one of the great things about a cycle trip because you see so much as you are basically doing the same thing (keeping those legs turning)

Today we saw:
A biplane.
Stunning fields of poppies.
A hawk stooping for it’s prey read more…


Day Four 54.5 miles – Stow-on-the-Wold to Chez Jasper.

Another shorter day because we’ve been aiming to get back to chez Jasper for tonight’s stop. Glad to say we made it. What a day though, even if it was a bit on the short side.

It started off with a unexpected delay for breakfast because they’d locked the dining room and lost the key. This is clearly worth mentioning because just as an army reputedly marches on it’s stomach so also cyclists pedal on their bellies (especially when bent over the handlebars). Anyway, finally fed we were on our way. Let’s organise a little checklist of what makes a great day’s cycling, eh?

Strong, consistent tailwind? Yep.
Blue skies with piled up clouds for maximum scenic effect? Yep again.
Rain showers only falling when you happen to be in a cafe/pub? Check.
Rolling roads with smooth surfaces, apparently mainly gently downhill? Indeed.
No punctures, loose headsets or major mechanicals? For sure.
Not being run down by large vehicles? Nearly no, but yes.
That was the day we had.

I think we should also run a small quiz… All this is related to today’s journey one way or the other…

1. Today we visited the most easterly Neolithic stone circle in the country. (Well I insisted, Kev didn’t look too impressed). Where is this?

2. Today we met a man in a cafe who had ridden there on a magnesium framed bicycle from the ‘80’s. Amazing to see that it had lasted more than a year. What was the maker and the frame called?

3. Did we cycle through Winslow or Wilmslow?And finally…

4. What is the only clothing fibre in the world that absorbs moisture vapour!?

Prize? If I feel like it I’ll send you a T shirt made from said wonder fibre. Fair enough? Thanks for reading! read more…

Day Three 50 miles – Hereford to Stow-on-the-Wold.
Due to our plan to stop off at my house tomorrow for a top class Dinner, Bed and Breakfast, we covered just 50 miles today. Which meant we rolled into Stow-on-the-Wold early enough to pay a quick visit to the Rohan shop.

We are staying at the really quite nice Kings Arms Hotel on the Square, which like most of S-O-T-W seems to be pretty historic… It’s also apparently been recently refurbished so probably wise to ignore most of the reviews on Trip Advisor (good advice generally, I’ve found…)

We’ve had a really great day. We’ve discovered that hills no longer hold any fear. According to Kev’s whizzy GPS thing we’ve climbed nearly 3000ft today. Which in Light Years is 9.51e to the -14. Even grinding up onto the Cotswolds was achieved in Zen-like calm rather than with copious swearing.

The biggest event of the day, apart from my egg, beans and chips for lunch and a very pleasant stop in Ledbury (it’s nice there) was The Mother Of All Storms.

This hit us about 5 seconds after we left Tewkesbury. Honestly, if you’d directed a few fire hoses on us it wouldn’t have had a greater effect. Quite amusing. And it’s a known fact that you can cycle faster in the rain – partly due to lower rolling resistance and partly due to trying to keep warm while someone empties buckets of cold water down your neck.

Once we were up on The Cotswolds we had a glorious ride in fresh sunshine through honey-coloured villages and across the top of rolling fields until we – all too soon – ground our way up the hill into Stow and our overnight stop.

Due to this insistence on trying to get me home for tea tomorrow it means that tomorrow will be a short day too, proving beyond all doubt that it’s quite possible to do this route in one less day, even if you’re travelling the way we are. Which we think is actually reasonably fast when moving, but with quite a lot of stops, because – well, why not? read more…

When I get to the border

Day Two 73 miles – Llandeilo to Hereford.
Fantastic flat and fast day, mainly on the A40, through Llandovery and Brecon, eventually here to Hereford. Weather? Well funny you should mention that – don’t normally notice weather when cycle touring… First couple of hours were a variation on wet or very wet. Low cloud and sharp showers, punctuated by persistent Welsh drizzle.Then it started to break up from the west and by the time we were flogging our way into Hereford we had blue skies, bright sun and banks of fluffy white clouds all around. The best bit was the wind: looks like our plan of cycling West to East might be starting to pay off. Unlike yesterday, where against all common justice we had headwinds most of the day, today felt the kindly push of a blustery tailwind.

Highlights of the day included: bowling along north of the Black Mountains with the sun starting to show, the hills in clear sight (we missed all the Black Mountain and most of the Beacons), with that really helpful tailwind encouraging us to cruise along on the top ring, top of the block.

Then lunch was brilliant: stopped at Alan and Yolande’s in Brecon for fantastic hospitality and a great, carbo-loading lunch. Thanks guys! It was hard to leave. Tonight’s lodgings are fine, not as chintzy as I feared. Somewhere on the outskirts of Hereford, so into town later for food and a punch up, no doubt (I remember H as a little edgy, but I’m sure it’s now been gentrified/gone badly downhill) read more…

Tim and Kev Side to Side

Day One 67 miles – Whitesands Bay to Llandeilo.
Woke up to bright sunshine and clear views from the hotel across to Skomer Island. If it had been low, scudding cloud and torrential rain I wonder if we’d have been so motivated to get down to Whitesands Bay (and back) for the proper start. So, wheels dipped in the sea – luckily the tide was in so not too far to walk haha – we set off and straight into the choppy landscape of the coast road.

First stop was Haverfordwest by which time the rain was catching up and the sunglasses were put away. Then on down the A40 dodging traffic to St Clears and lunch part two, caught finally by the rain. Final leg was through Carmarthen on the dual carriageway – good grades and fast, but a lot of traffic coming just a bit too close – then onto the B4300 along the River Twyi, which was an almost idyllic example of what bike touring is supposed to be like.

Final push up the hill into Llandeilo, with the cloud now down at ground level, and to the very wonderful Fronlas guest house read more…

Follow Tim and Kev’s progress as they cross the widest bit of Britain by bike.


Rohan Heritage

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