I set off bright and early, in the cold and foggy Pembrokeshire drizzle. The XT was the weapon of choice today (more on that in another post) and I had a damp but pleasant ride up the coast and through the mountains to Dolgellau. 100 miles, give or take a few, which is a decent distance on a bike designed for tracks and trails. Nikos was already there (I had somehow missed his bike in the car park) and we discovered that we also shared a love of strong coffee and a loathing for the usual watery Little Chef offering. Nikos bullied (nicely) the serving youth into bringing us Americanos "with a double shot". I have no idea what that means, but it was the best cup of coffee I have ever had in a Little Chef. Then we tackled a couple of mega-breakfasts.
|Nikos and the Invisible Beemer|
The conversation ran around bikes and potted life-histories, and the joys and pitfalls of running a blog. It turned out that, despite coming from very different backgrounds (I am plain Yorkshire; Nikos is of much more exotic stock) we shared a number of life experiences. Details are, of course, confidential, but there was a lot of nodding and 'yeah, me too'. It's always reassuring to find one's experiences are shared by other, apparently sane, people.
We decided to take a run up to Bala and back over the mountains on a favourite road of mine. My promise to Anna that I would be 'back by three-ish, maybe' was certain to be broken, but the day was improving and it would have been rude not to take full advantage of the sun and the drying roads.
|Just follow me. It'll be OK, honest ...|
|Little and Large|
|The spectacular Arans|
I left Nikos heading East and tried to find a pretty way home. I must have had a bad attack of men's I will not look at a map syndrome, because I ended up way past my turning (when I pulled off the road, it was in defeat, mate) and eventually went home by a very circuitous route. However, by this time the sun was baking hot and I had to stop by a quiet roadside to strip off all the thermal linings and layers. I rode home with jacket half-open and visor half-up, which is about right for mid-August but was still a surprise.
On the road between Newtown and Llandrindod Wells I came across this remnant of someone's ruined day:
|Dead FireBlade - "Rider Failed to Negotiate Corner"|
I hope the rider was OK. The absence of a cheap bouquet sellotaped to the forks suggests that he survived it. The scrapes on the road and the furrow ploughed into the grass verge tell what happened, although I am at a loss to explain how anyone could have lost the bike on a gentle corner.
Back home with a severe case of Trail Bike Bottom and John Wayne Syndrome. 280 miles covered, and the XT managed an average of 64 mpg, which I can't say I am displeased with. Another blogger met and befriended; some fabulous scenery clocked, and a day out on the bike. Nikos even generously paid for the breakfasts (thank you again, Nick). Not bad, all in all.