Saturday 10 August 2019

How Green Were My Valleys

Next up, a 600-odd round trip to Wales for a bike rally organised by old friends in the MZ club.

As I would be camping this time I had to work out how to cram everything I needed onto a bike without hard panniers, a top-box, or a tankbag. In the end, I used a canoe dry-sack for anything that wouldn't fit in the canvas panniers I had recently fitted, and just strapped it and my new tent to sissy-bar/backrest. It wasn't pretty, but it worked well enough.

I had also added my sheepskin to the seat to see if it would make things a bit more comfortable, and I had came across an old beanbag seat cover I bought ages ago and never liked the look of, which now sits unremarked under the sheepskin and both together help even out the worst of the uneven road surfaces.

As the forecast promised dry and sunny weather for the weekend I opted for an open face helmet, fitting a bubble visor for the motorway sections ahead.

The trip down was fairly uneventful. I used A-roads until crossing the border at Carlisle where I picked up the M6 for much of the rest of the journey south. Then, for some reason my new Garmin sat-nav decided that the best way to approach the campsite was via a series of single-track roads over a mountain. 

It certainly made for an interesting last few miles and was probably responsible for a few more grey hairs when encountering the local post van around a blind corner.

Once on site, as is the norm, I met up with some old friends, met a few new ones, and finally got to meet a Twitter buddy and her doggo for the first time. Afterwards, I got the tent set up and wandered along to the pub for a bite to eat and a beer or two. And such was Friday.

On Saturday, rather than hang about the campsite all day, a friend and I caught a steam train into the nearly town of LLangollin where, after a bit of a wander around, we had a spot of lunch before catching the train back to the campsite. 

The railway is run by the local steam preservation trust and the campsite is located conveniently behind the main station. Unfortunately, the beer train (see poster) wasn't running until later in the year.

Later there were two raffles to raise money for club funds. First one was for a nice little RT125 donated to the club from the estate of a late club member. The second was for the usual motley collection of tools, t-shirts, and assorted bric-a-brac. I didn't win anything in either one, although how I would have explained away yet another bike I’m none too sure.

Sunday saw me pack up early, but not quite as early as some, who cheerfully woke everyone nearby up at dark o’clock before disappearing in a hail of expletives and two-stroke fumes.

On the way home, I once again deserted the motorway once the Midlands were behind me and rode homeward on mostly deserted A-roads up through the North of England and the borders.

The roads I used were familiar from many trips years ago on much smaller bikes, so it was with an air of quiet familiarity that I pootled along in the sunshine almost all the way home. Spoilt only by a brief, but extremely heavy downpour just short of Melrose which saw me pull under a bridge till it passed.

The new bike ran faultlessly and the new screen took most of the wind off of my chest area making the longer trip more pleasant, although it did create a bit of a mini tornado around the chin area which messed up my beard somewhat.

My new guaranteed 100% waterproof jacket, however, isn’t, with said downpour putting paid to that advertising claim, which is a bit of a nuisance. However, I’ve yet to find a truly waterproof jacket, most are good for short periods and for light showers, so I wasn’t really expecting any different. It just means that I’ll have to pack the usual assortment of waterproofs when travelling now.