After a few hours good sleep, I wake at 6am and start packing everything away. I really want to get to Cardiff quickly to see my oldest friend, so I guess I’m not concentrating properly because the first thing I do after loading the bike up is knock it over!
Disaster! How am I going to pick up what is normally quite a heavy bike when it’s got all this extra weight? I’m [parked by a busy A-road but no-one stops to help, so I take a deep breath, grab hold of the bike in places where it’s unlikely to break and… heave. My god, I think I’m going to get a hernia! But I manage it, the bike settles itself onto the side-stand and I inspect the damage.
There’s some scratches on the pannier and the sticker has come off the R&G crash bung but otherwise it’s pretty much okay; the only serious damage is to the mirror, which looks like it might fall off/fall apart any minute now.
Never fear, I brought the almighty Duck Tape with me! With some shiny silver bandages on, the Ape and the Hammock look like they shop at the same accessory store now.
I take the spill as a warning; it’s more important to enjoy the ride and do it safely than it is to reach my destination in record time (but if I can do both…). The Sat-Nav says it’ll take about 3 and a half hours, let’s hope it doesn’t change it’s mind when I hit the twisties again.
My wish, made last night, for more of the same great roads is largely granted. There are a number of ‘Loose Chippings’ or Temporary Road Surface’ signs on the ascent to Snowdonia National Park and after yesterdays skid, I’m sticking to the recommended 10mph. Once in Snowdonia, the roads are simply amazing – and there’s virtually no-one else using them at 8 in the morning, so I have the place all to myself.
The views are breathtaking, it’s hardly worth me describing them, you have to see them yourself. No, really, you’ll have to see them yourself: at no point was a great view accompanied by a safe place to stop or a designated viewing point, so I didn’t take any pictures! In any case, I was concentrating on the road. The way I’ve redistributed the weight on the bike makes it feel much more sure footed and I’m able to ride the bike as if it weren’t carrying any extra weight – this ride is delicious. I no longer care how long it takes to get to Cardiff; I just put my visor down and ride!
What’s that? You want a description anyway? Well, imagine bottomless valleys lined with dark evergreen trees and bright green grass. Now imagine a perfectly surfaced road, clinging to the edge of said valley in a gradual back and forth tightly knotted descent. You want to stop your bike just to get off and see if you can see the bottom of that valley but the bends don’t relent enough for you to do so – oh and, despite the name, no sign of snow.
>In no time at all, too soon for my liking in fact, I’m on boring straight A-roads, heading for the M4 into Cardiff. The first order of business is to buy a new helmet and get my busted HJC parcelled up and sent back to the dealer in Newcastle (after a quick call this morning, they agreed to repair or replace the helmet, thank you Proto (GB) Ltd!).
It turns out that Cardiff and Newport don’t cater for people, like me, with an extra small head, so my friend Aidan kindly agrees to drive me to Fowler’s of Bristol, where I pick up a Fluro-yellow Box SZ-1 for a reasonable price that just happens to be £25 more expensive than it is back home. I’m back in business!
The rest of the day is spent doing what old friends do best: drinking and putting the world to right. I promised myself that I wouldn’t get too drunk because I want to leave early on Sunday but that promise is swiftly broken. Looks like a hangover and another late start are awaiting me tomorrow!