Day three of what is turning out to be an adventure with multiple twists and turns started off with a beautiful sunrise over camp. It was so nice to have the relative luxury of the campervan to rest our bones in, and yet again, Dizzy the Border Collie had the best sleep of all of us.
Despite remembering to put Amys rear brake back on, neither of us could work our mechanical magic so it remained bungee-corded to the frame. A pit stop to Cardiff Halfords was in order once Amy had navigated the most welcome flat-lands of St Brides. By all accounts, Doctor Halfords at Cardiff was just as helpful as the Pontypridd branch and when we met up in Bonvilston after Amys 15-mile leg we mused that maybe they only employ terrific people in their cycle departments. Turns out that Amys rear disc brake was slightly bent, and when she offered an explanation of the past 48 hours, Doctor Halfords was not surprised. There and then he carried out emergency surgery and had Amy back on the road in no time.
In the meantime, I was making my way across Cardiff along the A48 and got heckled by a bloke in an estate car. Not the normal type of heckling this time though, as it was a Welsh Cycling car and the nice man inside hollered “You don’t want to sell me your bike do you?”. Now this might sound wierd if you’ve met my bike, but my trusty old Alpinestars (which was now ratchet-strapped to the back of the campervan) is somewhat a classic. Read some older blog posts for the details…anyway cycling man was called Darren and we had a little chat rolling along at 3mph about how he also owns one but it’s still in the garage. It was great to meet someone as loopy as me with much affection for a 24year old bike.
Anyway, back to Bonvilston and it was my turn to get pedaling. Amy rolled up into the layby that I’d parked in looking quite fresh faced, but happy that her bike was now 100% working. She warned me that there was a bit of headwind and a “bit” turned out to be an understatement. The wind was whipping up the A48 from West to East to the point that coasting downhill was impossible. As Dizzee Rascal was on my ipod singing about his holiday on a bright white beach with a pina-colada, I was trying to eek out some speed in a Chris-Frome-lean-forward-over-the-handle-bars-without-dying motion. Uphill was worse…the wind pushing you back with every pedal stroke upward, as Dizzee Rascal kept singing along about his bloody perfect holiday. I had a vision of him standing at the side of the road, holding out a water bottle, and me giving him a swift punch in the face. I’m not a violent person, but headwind does strange things to you. Sorry Dizzee I’m sure you’re lovely in real life.
I figured that the best way to turn this around on my 18 mile leg to North Cornelly would be to think of the positives of headwind:
1. Headwind is great for a bit of extra resistance training
2. Headwind means that you don’t need to waste energy breathing as oxygen is forced in your face wether you like it or not
3. Headwind instantly dries up your runny nose so that snot doesn’t run across your face
4. Headwind is character building
Next pit-stop-switch-a-roo was good. Quick chat about our friend the headwind, and Amy set off for the East end of Swansea along Route 4 and smack back through the centre of Tata Steel. Driving within a few feet of steel furnaces was definitely not part of Sustran’s vision of a National Cycle Network. As Amy rolled up to a serious looking set of gates thinking she was about to ride into a factory, the gate keeper said “PLEASE tell me you’re working here”….”Umm is this not the cycle route?” Amy said innocently. Turns out that one of the route markers had been nicked, sending Amy into the steel making industry. Mr Gatekeeper was happy to let her out on her merry way.
Just as we met up for the final leg of the day, it started to rain. A lot. Cheers Wales, like we haven’t had enough to deal with so far. Gowerton via Swansea sea front was the aim to finish off day three. This stretch would be a test of how waterproof our kit was….gloves failed, but everything else worked well.
In comparison to day one and two, day three was mainly without incident if you forget the weather and Amys close encounter with a blast furnace. All the while, Dizzy has been chilling out, watching the world go by and offering supportive hugs where needed.
Another aspect to this trip is that Amy is raising money for a little girl who is a relatively of someone she works with. Find out more here and feel free to donate a little: https://www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/solvingkidscancer/miachambers
So far: RCT, Merthyr, Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire, Torfaen, Newport, Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan, Bridgend, Neath Port Talbot, Swansea.12 local authorities out of 22! Yay!