Soggy St Davids

Can you get a neck cramp?

It’s a wonderfully painful reminder of how much I used to motorbike and how little I have done recently that I’m in this much pain. Since becoming a chubby van dweller, I’ve allowed myself to enjoy, and become used to, a vans comforts. 

3-4 hours in the van is boring, because it’s usually a motorway jaunt, but it’s relatively comfortable. You step out at the end and go about your business. 3-4 hours on the motorbike is hard because it’s avoiding motorways at all costs. Thoroughly enjoyable, but physical effort and mentally engaging the whole time, you peel yourself out of your sweaty, or soggy, gear at the end and need a sleep! (And a shower!)

Harry and Little Matt invited me on a 1 night bike trip down to St Davids, in Pembroke. The bottom western tip of Wales. Calling him “Little” Matt is a bit of a joke because he’s stacked and strong, but I edge him out on height and (ahem) bulk. We could more accurately call Harry “Little”, but there is only one of him and his persona makes up the difference! 

Anyone would be forgiven for saying I’ve biked lots in the last 15 years. With over 62,000 miles on just one of the bikes I’ve owned, I’ve covered some distance! But I have to admit most of it was done in the first 7 years of riding and has been tapering to nearly nothing these last couple years. Other hobbies and circumstance have conspired to keep me from my steel steed, as if I had no choice in the matter…But recently Aimi and I have decided to cull a few hobbies and return to biking more often.

However, being back on 2 wheels will take some adjustment. I can’t take a full size bed with me, as with the van, so I’m left with a tent and a roll mat. And because Harry and L’Matt are Army boys, they scoff at the comfort of a tent… so we are under a tarp held up with string tonight. Just optimism, cord and some bivvy bags keeping us dry.

After a boring blast down the motorway to Gloucester, I met them at a Toby Carvery where Harry immediately tested his brakes to avoid crashing into a parked car… A calming and restorative cup of tea later, we set off thru Wales enjoying the only dry roads we would see.

It was good fun riding with these two as they are both very competent riders, over taking neatly and looking ahead for each other to make “good progress” down the road. When we started to hit mist and rain we slowed down a bit and slid our way along the curvy roads. There were a few sketchy corners where we tested the limits of our tyres, but we stayed shiny {soggy} side up. 

The only really scary bit was a driver who came up to a T junction, joining our road and without stopping pulled out across my path… It was wet, so I hit the brakes as best I could and moved to the side, barely squeezing past without hitting him. It sounds closer now I’m re-reading this, than it felt on the bike. When you are in that situation, it happens so quickly you just do what you need to, not to crash. Only after we arrived at the pub later and we were talking about the ride, did Harry say just how close it was to having me off. The funny thing was, I had a 6th sense that someone was going to do something funny at that junction and I had already slowed down a bit, in readiness. If I hadn’t pre-empted it and slowed, I’d almost certainly have hit him… its a good thing I do ride carefully, even when I ride fast.

We tempted the gods of rain and ate dinner outside at The Bishops pub, opting for a classic fish and chips. We got away with it so grabbed a couple bottles of beer and headed back to what they called camp… It was pretty basic but I was excited to try sleeping in my bivvy bag having not used it before. 

I didn’t get much solid sleep, but probably 4 good hours and then another 2-3 hours in 45 min naps when it started raining. It was not comfy, but certainly the most lightweight way to camp I’ve ever experienced. I’d do it again, but maybe take longer to choose a spot where my head was not pointing down the hill.

In the morning we opted to get up and out early, bike for an hour to Carmarthen, before getting breakfast. This was a good choice because the cafe L’Matt chose was excellent! The coffee was great and the sign over the toilet was hilarious. I had pancakes, bacon and blueberries with maple syrup like I was on a road trip in the USA. 

After a good breakfast we headed our separate ways home. The highlight road for me was the A483 from Llandovry to Builth Wells – fantastic!