September 1 – Bridgend to Barry
Get out your pom-poms and pull up your bobby socks.
Gimme an M
Gimme an A
Gimme a G
Gimme an I
Gimme a C
I absolutely loved today, every single second of it. It was BRILL-EE-YANT! Simply MAGIC!
Today we decided to resurrect a Team Tassie tradition that we invented last time we cycled in the UK. Today saw the return of “Go Slow Sunday.” This involves a Sunday ride that is not too long, so we can take our time and includes a pub lunch somewhere along the way and, where possible, elevenses in a tea room, if such an establishment presents itself along the way. So today, the first of the month, and also the first Sunday of the month, we decided Go Slow Sunday was to become our weekly tradition once again. It was just one part of a superb day.
We set off along a path out of Bridgend and then we were on roads the rest of the day, but those roads were quiet, country ones, through towns and villages and the sun shone and it was peaceful and fabulous.
Not long into the ride we stopped at a small village store for Steve to gather his elevenses.
“I love days like this,” I said when we’d come to a halt.
“What, sunny ones?” replied Steve, always with one thought to the weather.
“No, peaceful ones, with quiet roads and scenery. I’d much rather be on roads like this than be off-road on cycle paths beside a highway.”
While I waited for Steve, a man walked across the road from the store, looked at me and tapped his leg. I wondered what he was telling me.
“You can sit down over there,” he said, pointing to the tables and chairs outside the shop, “you can sit down and have a cuppa tea.”
“That sounds delightful,” I said, which it did. Unfortunately I hadn’t really done anything to earn a sit down and a cuppa just yet, the ride was in its infancy.
Steve returned and pointed across the road, “We’re going up there,” he said, pointing to a hill. I just nodded. So it begins.
We climbed our first hill of the day, but the top gave us a view across the fields, back over Bridgend and we were on a lovely country road, between hedgerows and it was wonderful.
We pedalled along and the hedgerows gave us shelter from the wind and the sun continued to shine.
“I’m loving it,” I called to Steve, “just sayin’!”
We had some cars pass us, but we have discovered that so far, after yesterday’s ride and the bits of road riding the day before, that Welsh drivers are brilliant. They all gave us distance when they went around us and gave way to us even when they didn’t have to. We would pull over on the narrow roads as soon as we could, to let them pass and they always gave us a wave of thanks and a smile. Wales has been a super friendly place so far. We tootled along, past stone walls, through villages and past fields, stopping every now and again to let cars go past or to take a photo.
“Just beautiful,” I said, on one of our pauses. It was. It was gorgeous and just the ride I’ve been waiting for.
We pedalled into the little village of Llanmaes right on eleven o’clock and the green in the centre of the village had a seat in the sun, so we declared it the perfect spot for elevenses. No tearoom, but a lovely little park will do very nicely.
We rode on, past stone cottages and past peloton after peloton of cyclists. Most of them were ‘mamils’ (middle aged men in lycra), so it was obviously the time for them to be out for their Sunday ride. As we passed each other, they would wave and wish us a good morning or give us a “hiya” and we would wave and exchange greetings. Smile after smile past us, with lycra shimmering in the sun and smiles shining at us too. I mean…can things get any better!
Steve stopped on the side of the road. “That’s just not fair,” he said.
“What?” I enquired, not seeing any injustice in our general vicinity.
“That,” he said, pointing ahead. There was a hill. Oh well, so it’s another hill. No biggie. Up we go.
Actually, that hill turned out to be something of a biggie after all. It was beautiful, riding through the trees, but the upness of it, became quite uppity indeed. Added to that, there was sand on the road, so the wheels would spin as we slogged our way up, with a slow wobble swerve here and there. More groups of cyclists passed us on the their speedy freewheel down, waving and giving us a good morning.
“You need an e-bike,” said one. Yep, there are times that little motor would be quite handy!
I got to the top and waited for Steve who was taking quite a while. When he finally appeared, he said he’d stopped for a breather and one of the cyclists had stopped alongside for a chat and asked about out trip. “That’s heroic, what you’re doing,” he had commented, “I’ve done some touring, but we only carried two panniers, smaller than your front ones.” I thought that was lovely. When we caught our breath at the top of the climb, Steve checked the data on the hill and it turned out we’d just ridden up a 24% gradient. Yep, it was quite a biggie after all!
The surroundings continued to be perfect.
“Loving it! Still loving it!” I called to Steve. It was simply magic. We pedalled over a stone bridge, turned a corner and then we had another climb. Up the hill we went, then through another lovely, quiet little village of stone cottages and stone walls. That hill was a meagre 19% climb! The legs were getting a workout, but the rewards were the beautiful scenery, the lovely peaceful surroundings and all sparkling in the glorious sunshine.
As we made our way along another narrow, single track road, with hedges either side, I heard a car behind me and turned to see a big four-wheel drive approaching. I stopped and pulled over as far as I could into the hedge to let it past, as we’d been doing all day and gave the driver a wave. This time though, the driver didn’t go past, she simply smiled and gave me a wave as if to say, “You’re right, keep going,” and stopped and waited for me to pedal on. Jeepers creepers, talk about pressure now! That car was behind me and I didn’t want to hold it up, even though the driver had kindly and patiently told me to keep going while she sat behind me. I took off, still on a bit of an uphill, frantically trying to get my road runner legs to go as fast as they could. So, there I am, pedal…pedal…pedal…puff…puff…puff, going as fast as I can to get to a spot where I could get off the road and get out of the way of the car, while it just sat on my tail, quietly following behind. I eventually made it to one of the passing bays beside the hedge, where I could pull in and get off the road. I gave the driver a wave of thanks and she and her passenger both gave me such a friendly smile and a wave, not worried at all that they’d been held up by puffing, pedalling me. It must have looked a sight, me frantically pedalling away up front, with a huge car slowly crawling along behind me.
We came to the outskirts of Barry and the view ahead was spectacular. It was the most amazing looking viaduct I’ve seen. We’ve seen railway arches and viaducts along the greenways we’ve been on, but this one I could have just stared at for ages. It was huge and the span of it across the fields below us was incredible. Just an amazing, enormous landmark in the middle of the countryside.
We joined a walking/cycle path, after squeezing through another barrier and pedalled along, saying hello to the dog walkers and others out for a Sunday stroll, then we were back on a road.
Steve stopped and checked the route.
“Through there,” he said, pointing off the road and along a path through a big park.
We turned around and after about twenty metres, the path ended and became just grass.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“That’s where the map’s telling us to go.”
Oh well, on we go. We bumped along the grass and then onto a track that was part of a heritage trail. The walkers were fabulous and stepped aside for us. There was a family walking just ahead of us and, not wanting to give them a fright by ringing my bell at such close quarters, I just said from behind them, “We’re just going to sneak around you if that’s OK.”
Dad and the little girl stepped aside. “Thank you very much,” we said as we bumped past.
“You’re welcome,” he said with a smile. Then mum added, “Well done guys.” Friendliness, helpfulness and then some encouragement to boot. Lovely, lovely people!
After squeezing and twisting through another doozy of a barrier, we pedalled up the street, and through some neighbourhoods. So far Go Slow Sunday had been delightful, with a leisurely (if somewhat hilly at times) ride with glorious scenery to take in, but now we needed a pub lunch to cap it off.
We pulled into the Colcot Arms and the day got better still, when we found the perfect table, right by the window where we could park the bikes outside and easily keep an eye on them and all our worldly goods, while we settled in for our Sunday pub lunch. We both enjoyed the lentil cottage pie, which was perfect fare to top off the day and then we pedalled off to find some digs.
What an absolutely sensational day. I loved it. Absolutely loved it! Every bit of it, even with the hilliest of hills. We had a beautiful warm sunny day, on peaceful country roads, with lovely scenery and friendly people, then some enjoyable and leisurely pub fare. The best of Go Slow Sundays and a perfect one to restart the tradition. Wonderful Wales was simply magic today…M-A-G-I-C…MAGIC!
Distance ridden: 40.9 km
Time in the saddle: 3 hours 4 minutes
Weather: sunny, warm, windy but sheltered thanks to those hedgerows, 18C