I had to walk into Gloucester city centre to the Guildhall to find a WiFi setup ........
Monday, 24th May
Today has been an easy peasy ride down the Welsh Border. I left Pene’s house in Wrexham at just about 8am and was photographed and clapped by folk as I left. Ignominiously, my chain came off just as I rode away! How embarrassing is that?
Anyway, sorted and off south, turn right at the Green Dragon and off via Marchweil, Overton and Ellesmere. I stopped at Ellesmere to admire the ducks and geese whilst I drank a load of water. The day was warming up even though it was 9am, and I slapped some sunscreen on my arms and legs, also my nose - it always goes red and peels!
Off again down the A528 towards Shrewsbury. I never know if it’s Shrows - bury, or Shrews - bury, I understand that even the locals don’t agree on the pronunciation .........
Soon, I was caught up in slow/stationary traffic. I made my way gingerly to the head of the queue only to find a massive canal barge on a long low-loader being escorted along the road. It was a “narrow” boat of the Broad Variety and about the maximum length too - 75ft. It took up the whole width of the road on the corners and the escort vehicle had to be ahead and stop any oncoming traffic. I kept catching the convoy up. Come an uphill section, the barge left me for dead, but as a downhill came, I caught it up again. I can only assume it was headed for the Grand Union Canal somewhere - Shrewsbury? Eventually, it was too far ahead and I never saw it again.
I entered Shrewsbury following the pink line on my Garmin. I am aware that the town is complicated to say the least, and as I’ve cycled through before, I thought I was ready for it. I needed a call of nature, and as I approached the town centre just up the hill from the railway station, I spied a “Toilets” sign but it was pointing down a pedestrianised section with a big sign proclaiming “No Cycling”. So like a good boy, I hopped off and pushed. I found the loos ok, but the gents was closed! So, like a good cosmopolitan chap, I went into the ladies. And why not? I’ve seen girls go into the gents when they’re taken short - I couldn’t see anything wrong, so off I went down the stairs, ready to apologise - but saw no-one anyway.
After the loos, I wondered whether I should retrace my steps back to the pink line, but thought I could find my way anyway. How wrong I was! Every single time I wanted to turn south, there was a one-way street blocking me. I went round and round, trying to turn the right way, but couldn’t, so I decided to follow the signposts. Wrong! They were leading me west towards Montgomery then onto the by-pass to go right out of my way! I was having none of this, so did a U turn and headed back into the town only to find my original route by the railway station! This time, I followed the pink line faithfully and found my way south. Phew! Thank goodness for that!
Then the A49 raised it’s ugly head. The traffic was fast, furious and noisy, but to be honest, quite ok as it seemed to be in “knots” of activity, then nothing and silence for a few minutes. It was like that all the way to Ludlow.
At All Stretton, I pulled off the main road and followed the Old A49 into Church Stretton, there, I found a bench in the shade and sat down with some relief. I tucked into flapjacks and cheese, washed down with water. It was then that I noticed that the bottle that should have been clipped into the cage on the front rack was missing! It must have fallen out some time back over some bumps maybe, but I have no idea where. I’m not about retracing my steps to find it. I have three more bottles anyway.
Whilst sitting on the bench, a chap started a chat and asked me about my ride. He was another one that emptied his change from his pocket for me! That’s another £2.67. People are nice.
I Craven Arms, I found a monument. Three sides had mileages on them. Interesting eh?
I made it to Ludlow via Little Stretton and the A49 again, and found the Cecil Guest House in Ludlow as early as 14:40 - far too early to book in, so turned round back into town and stopped at the first pub I found - The Queens. A couple of slow but wonderful pints later, I returned to the Cecil and checked in. Chopper was wheeled round the back and I lifted out my stuff, showered, and relaxed, and am now typing this.
The chap here said that there’s a pub only three minutes walk away that does food, so I’ll be off soon - I’m starving!
As it turned out, I loved the Queens pub in the town, and I hated the nearby pub - the Squirrel. The Queens had everything I love about pubs - good beer, chatty people, helpful and friendly staff, locals and visitors all getting on together. The Squirrel on the other hand was everything I hate: piped music you can’t get away from, staff that can’t add up and know the prices of nothing because they use an idiot till, fizzy beer, instant food that is obviously bought in and not made on the premises, no-one in there that even looks at you let alone talks to folk. Euch. The only saving grace, is that it was only five minutes away and I doubt I could have walked to town and back instead as my legs are now tuned to cycling, and not walking!
There is no WiFi or any internet at Cecil’s, so this is off-line and Hilary will be filling you in with the salient details. If there is internet at the Georgian Guest House in Gloucester I should catch up and you’ll get a double whammy tomorrow.
61.15 miles (including being lost in Shrewsbury)
06:35:10 total duration
05:29:43 active time (this means I stopped a total of just over an hour)
2,460ft total ascent
Average moving speed of 11.1mph (I was flying!!)
I got in touch with AlanS when I was in Shrewsbury, but sadly he had to work, so I never met up with him to ride with him. It’s so nice to meet up with folk. Perhaps Si from the CTC Forum will turn up tomorrow, he said he might.
Regards to all.
Tuesday 26th May
Breakfast over and I was gone. Cecil’s Guest House is basic, to say the least. What else can you get in the lovely town of Ludlow for only £26? Breakfast was fine, but the pot of tea was far too strong, and I only managed a couple of cups. I think there were three tea-bags in the pot.
Up the road to the A49 and turned south and heading for Leominster. I was to turn off at Dinmore and head down the A417 towards Ledbury, but follow the A4172 and the B4215 through Newent to join the A40 for Gloucester city centre. I found the Georgian Guest House easily but it was only half past one! I’d only done 47 miles, and sped along.
Luckily, there’s a pub only 50 yards before the guest house, so I waked back and bought a beer. I also took in this laptop, camera and Garmin and stuff, complete with leads to steal a march on getting the blog sorted. Sadly, no WiFi.
The day has been easy again with a following wind. I seem to have had a following wind since leaving Inverness! I pity folk thinking that the prevailing winds will blow then to JOG, they seem to be blowing me to LE!
When I planned all this, I mixed in long days with short days in the hope that the short ones would be light relief, but what seems to have happened, is the the short days are too short. Here I am in the room, typing this, and its only 15:15. I couldn’t have made it to Bridgwater today, but I could have made Bristol.
Traffic wise, the roads have been busy-ish and quiet-ish. Quiet bits and busy bits. There seems to have been times when there was no traffic at all, then all of a sudden, there would be 20 or 30 cars, vans and lorries thundering past, then nothing again, sometimes for 5 minutes or more. I wonder that all those drivers think that the roads were busy, but in reality it was silent and empty! Perhaps they all bunch up because they like it.
The day warmed up as I travelled south. It was cool enough for me to wear a long-sleeved top for the first few hours, but as the sun came out, a short-sleeved top was the order of the day.
Highlight of the morning was meeting Richard whom I know of on the CTC Forum. He’s been following my blog and waited in a layby south of Ludlow in the hope of spotting me. He wasn’t disappointed, and after a chat I whizzed off - down wind of course - and sped away.
All the way from Ludlow I would see patches of white cobwebs in the hedgerows. At first I thought it was wool from sheep, but it couldn't be as it was too high off the ground. Then I thought it was a load of cobwebs, but there were too much. So I had to stop and look.
Any ideas of what sort of grub they are?
“Highlight” of the afternoon was getting into the Georgian Guest House. What dump! What can you expect for the bargain price of £20 for goodness sake? I doubt they’ve even heard of the internet, let alone WiFi! I’ll ask anyway, in the possible hope ........... no.
The place is grubby and run-down, but friendly enough, so I can’t complain. All I want is a shower, a comfy bed, a good night’s sleep, and a decent breakfast. The first two seem to be ok, the second two are yet to be confirmed. Oh, and to stow Chopper and Trailer away ok. That’s been fine as they’re locked in the garage round the back.
Next task is to get WiFi, as don’t have some method of connection, perhaps I should take this laptop and wander round the city looking for signals! It seems I’m less than a mile from the city centre, so I should find somewhere.
Today's maps and profile:
Here I am, on line!
Gotta rush, as I haven't much time. Hopefully there'll be more from Bridgwater tomorrow. I'm fine but tired, and feeling a little jaded. The bulk of the ride is over now, and all I have to do is finish off. Longer rides tomorrow and Thursday, then a day off at home to charge my batteries!
Distance from JOG - 655.47 miles
Distance to LE - 237 miles or thereabouts
Bum still sore due to awful saddle, but I'm managing.
Regards and thanks for holding on for an update, and thanks to Wonderful Hilary for keeping the system running.