Over the next couple of days, we climbed the Mendips slowly, and then hit 48 mph on the descent to Chew Magna. We touched the edge of Bristol, crossed the Severn Bridge, rode north up the Monmouth Valley passing Tintern Abbey on the way, and rested briefly at Ross-on-Wye while Martin’s bike underwent repairs at a local shop. It rained non-stop
After five days, we pitched up at the cosy YHA in Clun, Shropshire. Even though meteorological conditions were far from ideal for nomadic touring cyclists, it was difficult not to be struck by the lush beauty of this hidden county. For sure, progress was slow due to the abrupt hills which peppered the route, but there existed a calmness and tranquility which has stayed with me ever since.
We had a pint or two at the Sun. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Day six saw us submerged in torrential precipitations which made navigation difficult as the routesheet was by now waterlogged. Our panniers were beginning to disintegrate under the onslaught. We discovered that is no such thing as waterproof clothing.
Sodden, dripping from the eyes, ears and nose, ever so slightly dispirited and potentially lost, we began to climb the narrowest of tracks that is Norbury Hill. Martin was having a tough time with a painful knee, and began to lag behind.
“I think we might be lost”, uttered The Wattmeister as they scaled the hill.
“For fuck’s sake don’t tell Martin!”, came The Real Deal’s reply.
Fortunately, the tiny lane connected with the road that passes my favourite road sign….featuring Squilver and The Bog, and we then made decent progress towards the Cheshire Plain. In geographical terms, Plain means flat and after so many punchy hills, we looked forward to flatter terrain.
Our arrival at Chester YHA coincided with a pool of water forming on the customers’ side of the counter. We also met Eddie, a man of a certain age who was also riding LeJOG solo. He was a proper cyclist, having ridden the Milk Race at some stage in his career. Nevertheless, after we had chucked EVERYTHING (except the bikes) into the tumble driers, we spent a pleasant hour listening to his anecdotes as he filled us with trepidation about what was to come.