It’s Thursday 16th March and more adventures lay ahead …we woke up at about 630am with the birds chippering away, after the owls had hooted their way through the night. We both had a rubbish sleep but the night sky in this part of Monmouthshire was stunning – millions of stars in the sky. We were fit and ready for what lay ahead. Well not really, but you can never prepare for the unpredictable.
Let me just rewind a second though, as I missed out a major event from yesterday…we were just half a mile from the campsite, motoring along, and I heard a yell from behind and knew instantly that Amy was in trouble. I looked back to see Dizzy’s trailer flipped on its side, camping stuff strewn everywhere and Amy stood by her bike all bewildered. Dizzy was trotting towards me looking a bit dishevelled as she’d been catapulted out of her comfy boudoir. We figured that her trailer had hit a log in the road but all was OK. No injuries.
Our route plan for today took us towards the Brecon & Monmouthshire Canal which would be a welcome relief from bloody hills. The downside was that to get there we had to go up A BLOODY BIG HILL. But, it also ticked off another county as we wound our way through Torfaen. A short way down the canal it was time for a serious chat. Amy was in frustrated-angry mode and I was limping along with only 7 of 21 gears working. We inspected Amys bike as yesterday afternoon and this morning she was having to pedal to go down hill. Now I’m no bike mechanic, but that’s not a good thing. We figured that the trailer was pulling on her rear axle so much that her disc brakes was jamming on. Solution? Take it off! Yay problem solved! But only for the short term. Brakes are pretty useful things so the thought of trundling through the rest of Wales with only one, wasn’t an option.
It was crunch time and we had to make some big decisions over a mug of tea with a side of Haribo’s. I wasn’t expecting us to hit these major barriers on day two, but 7 gears and 1 brake wasn’t going to get us around Wales. We needed to find a way to finish what we started. It was blindingly obvious that we only had a few choices as you can see above, so we ended up with Plan B. We decided to tag-team our way around Wales on the bikes, with our campervan as our home/kitchen/sleeping space/support vehicle. This meant we could ditch the trailers and camping gear and just ride free as a bird without hauling 30 kilos of crap each!
So, after our cuppa on the canal somewhere near Pontypool at a barge-themed cafe, we limped off towards Newport. Next stop, the railway station. If you’ve ever tried to haul two bikes, two trailers, two humans and a dog onto a train via not one, but two lifts then here’s my advice…stay at home and drink tea. It’s much more therapeutic. Oh then if you need to do it twice, like when you switch trains at Cardiff, then definitely STAY AT HOME. I’m waiting for Amy to remind me that “This was your idea” but it hasn’t happened yet. We made it home for a rapid turn around after having to jump start the campervan and take my bike off to my local Halfords for Accident and Emergency.
As I explained to Doctor Halfords what had been going on in the past 36 hours he didn’t seem surprised. He’d worked on my bike pre- and post-Chamonix ride so I guess he expected news of some hair brained adventure. He replaced the spindle, re-adjusted the gears and sent me on my way with the knowledge that I was pushing this old bike to its limits.
With the van jump started we got loaded up, left the trailers at home and headed back to Newport ready to start our tag team in the morning. That reminds me, I’d better remember to re-attach Amys rear brake….We’ve just cooked dinner and Dizzy was asleep before we’d even eaten – she’s having an amazing time and is loving this comedy-caper-adventure. Tomorrow’s plan is for Amy to ride the flat bit through to Cardiff, then we’ll switch and push on through the Vale and Bridgend. With any luck we’ll do 60 miles between us tomorrow – hopefully without incident. Until then, nos da 😃