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September 9, 2014

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Stay southward

September 9, 2014

I admit, at some point the days begin to melt together as you settle into the riding routine.  It gets hard to distinguish the miles or events of one day from the next.  You remember the miles and events, but they are attached to a part of life, rather than specific days - attached to the part of life on the road.  

However, there are notable events that need dates attached to them.

This date was attached to a few.  Thursday, the 22nd of May, year of our Lord 2014 - today was a day of: 

Magical repairs

Competitive chugging

Harrowing stories of the Sailor Sarah at sea

the "Family size fruit tart"

and... Ice cream

 

The ice cream was Matt, as he waited for we slow Americans catch up.  The pie, (British speak: Family size fruit tart), well, you know who had that.  Sailor Sarah's harrowing tales, now that was the story that came out of our little coffee chat at McDonald's, waiting for wheel repairs from the wonderfully obliging fellow at Halford's.  Sarah must have quite missed her phone while on the road, so she was oogling it's little light as we had coffee and chatted.  Somehow I got a couple of sailor hats made of newpaper on her head without her noticing.  Here's the tale that came of it.  Hold on to your seats, dear readers... 

Ah, and the last of the notable events that must have this date attached to them:  The Halford's Chug: We had started a habit of emptying our water bottles as quickly as possible at stops during the day.  The goal was the be the first to chug the full bottle, or whatever happened to be left.  For some reason, the one outside Halford's was exceptionally epic, as may be noted in the photo below:

 

Mechanic Matt was somehow unphased by the excitement...

So off we went, tanked up on coffee and water, bikes repaired and tuned up and pointed south again.  We hit a ridiculous hill coming out of Aberystwyth (pronounced: A-ber-UEHst-OOEUHth), one of those hills that sears your legs and lungs at the same time and the only distraction you have is thinking about a new crankset with lower gears... and then... whoosh! there goes Matt, flying back down it for another go!!  I tell ya, the guy lives for punishing hills - he just loves them.  I must admit, it does beat riding a flat road all day.   

The rest of the day was rolling hills along the coastal road to Cardigan.  Fields of incredibly green hues folding on themselves into valleys leading out to the sea.  

Zara drove solo the whole day, to give Matt a full day on the bike, and Sarah stayed in the saddle right through to the little Bed and Breakfast we crashed at that night.  The hostess was very accommodating, I remember, but the B&B was all stairs...  It had the footprint of a one room apartment, but was three stories high, and then a loft!  You'll never guess where we were...  the loft.  Three flights of stairs....  well, we just thought we were through climbing when we got off the bikes.  Sarah didn't even want to go back down for supper!  In the end, though, hungry bellies prevailed and we had curry (except Sarah, she was still refusing anything not "normal").  She had pizza, and even ate most of the crust with only a little bullying.  But I've gotten ahead of myself...  There was that beautiful stretch of smooth downhill road coming into Cardigan...  

There's this reeeeaally annoying thing that happens now and then on the road.  Sometimes you get an amazing downhill run, and just as the speed starts giving you a rush, you see a traffic light ahead.  Or a stop sign.  Sometimes it seems the traffic engineer put it there just to be a cyclist's killjoy.  It happened on this particularly beautiful stretch of downhill finishing off the day's ride.  I had just let out a couple of warwhoops at the surge of speed when I see those three hideous red lights ahead, hanging ominously over the road.  "Please turn green, please turn green, please turn green..."  "YES!!  WHOOOOT!!"  Green they had turned and off I blazed down the road, flying so fast I was keeping pace with the lories going down the same stretch.  

At the bottom, was another roundabout, but no Matt... no bike... no sign of the car or Zara pointing the way.  I meandered over to a bridge above a little tidal inlet just off the roundabout.  I waited.  A lady pulled up that had confused me for her brother, and asked if I'd seen someone that looked like myself.  I asked her if she'd seen someone that looked like Matt or Sarah or Zara.  

Then along comes Zara, worried she'd lost one of the team.  In my excitement for the green light I'd completely missed Matt standing at the intersection guiding us to the right.  Ah well, it was worth it for the rest of that downhill!  Thank goodness for a logistical genius on the team.  Zara was a lifesaver.  

She was the one that had volunteered to drive support the whole way, being injured a week or two before the trip started.  She was up first every morning making hot tea, porridge, and taking stock of the Welshcakes, homemade flapjacks and cookies for the day, and mapping out the route.  Anytime there was a hiccup in the navigation, in the planning, in the route, she was all over it - making secondary plans, checking the implications of the issue, etc.  I must say, the four of us made an exceptional team.  I couldn't have asked for a better one.

 

I hope you’ll continue to follow our journey, and perhaps begin your own between the covers of your Bible with nevercease.org.

 

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