Our mini roadtrip consisted of 360 miles, one night in a bed and breakfast, one curry in the terrifying post apocalyptic horror that is Maesteg and various cakes, coffees and beers. Oh and an epic 14 miles riding. That works out about £3 a mile and you could run a Challenger tank on that.
There are mitigating circumstances. Firstly daylight is something that only happens in seasons other than winter. There is a counter argument which goes something like “well you have a set of very expensive lights you could use when it gets dark”. That’s all very well but a dark, cold Welsh forest in the middle of winter inhabited by things that may kill you or at least deliver a light mugging, is not my idea of fun when the option is warmth, light and beer.
Obviously we could have set off earlier but that would have removed one of my excuses for not wanting to ride more than once. MonoLung(tm) and heavy bikes mix as well as Relatives and Christmas. Uphill was actually ok as I’ve learnt to manage my lungs when Asthma strikes. Downhill, working hard to get the most out of the bike, left me breathless and stationary at the side of the trail.
Still it gave me time to wonder how the route could be so dry and so much fun. Man made trails are great in winter, they offer a consistency of experience regardless of the weather. There was plenty of grip and not many people which makes for great riding between desperate gasps for a lungful of clear air.
So once the man with the bike carrying van said no and the night plunged down the hill, we abandoned any thought of riding and instead dreamt of edible recompense for our awesome calorific efforts earlier. A sweep of the local offerings suggested no one in South Wales eats outside their own houses until March. We resorted to a meandering trip through the nearby ex-mining town of Maesteg, which told me everything I didn’t want to know about what happens when an industry dies. Streets full of thrift shops, boarded up buildings and really quite scary eyeballing young people.
Still we ate like kings for a tenner each and were burpingly joyful on returning to the car and finding it still had all the wheels attached. We talked long of a big day out tomorrow and slept the sleep of the worthy.
Unfortunately 8am brought Noah out looking for a lost giraffe.
We bought coffee and watched DVDs in the cafe and silently hoped neither of us really wanted to go out and drown. Eventually we abandoned any pretence of riding in Wales, perambulating in a ziggyzag fashion back to Oxford via other possible riding spots. All of which looked fantastic if your imagination could insert “dry, warm and summery” when your eyes reported “slippy, wet and bloody freezing”.
I felt a little guilty about the whole thing until it occurred to me what a great mood had now rolled over my previously miserable form. I didn’t feel any better physically but mentally the excesses of the holiday period had been properly cleansed.
It’s still cold outside but the rain has stopped and the wind died down to a point where I no longer fear for the fence. I think I’ll take monolung out for a gentle ride.