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Rideout Report:  Weekend Capel Curig Jaunt

Date: 9/11th May 2008            Distance: 500mls        Conditions:  Forecast rain –
                                                                                                         Actual sunny

Rider                                                      Bike
Greg and Wendy Sullivan                         Honda Varadero XL1000     Ride leader
Dave Williams                                         Honda Pan European ST1300 Tail-end Charlie
Judith Williams                                         Moto Guzzi Nevada 750 Club
Carl and Kim Knight                                Honda Blackbird CBR 1100xx
Lee Owen                                               Yamaha R1
Merlin and Maureen Smith                       Honda Pan European ST1300
Mark and Petra Davies                            Honda Pan European ST1300
Derek and Julie Lee                                 Honda Blackbird CBR 1100xx

 

With a forecast for wet weather and an expectation that Snowdonia would get more than its fair share of rain we donned the waterproof clothing for this weekend trip to Capel Curig.  Gradually members turned up one by one for the 10 o’clock start with the unrecognised rider on the white Pan European being quickly identified on removal of safety helmet as Dave Williams and others not in attendance making their own way up in the evening and also on Saturday.

So with the bikes all lined up the services of a local workman who simply stopped for a quick cuppa were engaged to take a quick picture.  Unfortunately for the “volunteer” other cameras were soon thrust at him to take the same picture and after 10 minutes he extracted himself with his cold mug of tea.

With 6 bikes going up there was no need for the marker system so we simply kept an eye out for the rider behind marking any turning until the following rider could see the way you are going.
The route up through Talgarth, Builth and Llandrindod was uncongested this Friday morning so we soon arrived at Cross Gates for the first break.  Settling down on an outside table we looked on proudly as the bikes were given admiring glances from day trippers boarding their coach.

Next it was the fabulous A483 to Newtown and on to Welshpool.  The briefing was to go to Wales’s highest waterfall at Pistyll Rhaeadr and then Lake Vyrnwy for lunch unfortunately one rider spotted the lake Vyrnwy sign and headed that way breaking the group in half.  Lee kindly volunteered to retrace the route and look for the rest of the group and in fact rode the same stretch a number of times in case he missed them no doubt, nothing to do with it being a great stretch of road of course!
So realising what had happened we headed to Lake Vyrnwy to join the others for a snack.

Then it was off around the lake and over the single track roads through Penllyn Forest to Bala and then on the A4212 past the white water rafting centre at Frongoch and around Llyn Celyn bearing right on the B4391 / B4407 across Alon Conwy  to the A5.  This was all great scenery along deserted roads if a little narrow on occasions then the A5 to a much needed filling station at Bettws-Y-coed and finally after 160 miles on to Cobden’s Hotel at Capel Curig.
So it was a case of being shown to our rooms and having a quick shower and then a pint with Lee before he headed home.  The hotel being spread over three levels seemed to get warmer with every step but thankfully we had a balcony room to cool off – can’t imagine how we finished up with that room!
The evening meal went well with Steak for almost everybody and then retiring to the bay window with Mark and Petra joining us after leaving during the afternoon.

Saturday was planned to be a quiet day with Dave Williams leading a Rideout around the island of Anglesey.

Jaunt around Anglesey
Saturday was to be a ‘restful day’ with not many miles, just enough to have a reason to get out on the bikes but also to visit Anglesey – which many of the group hadn’t been to.
We left Capel Curig and made our way towards Llanberis.  I had copied a map of Anglesey but had also enlarged it a couple of times – to aid reading it without the use of my reading glasses.  This proved useful….however; the scale had altered – of course.  This tripped me up for the first time on the outskirts of Llanberis.  We came across the road to the right sooner than I realised and as such missed it.  Oh well, on to plan B.  I didn’t want to go into Caernarfon and so managed to pick another side road to by-pass the town centre.
We made our way towards Bangor and across the Menai Straight over the Menai Suspension Bridge – a wonderful piece of engineering built by Thomas Telford back in the 19th Century. 
In 1819, a civil engineer called Thomas Telford began working on ambitious improvements to journey between London and the port of Holyhead.  Recognising the danger – and to travellers that crossing the Straits involved, Telford designed a groundbreaking piece of civil engineering – the Menai Bridge.  It was completed on 30 January 1826 and was a triumph of civil engineering – the biggest suspension bridge in the world at the time!  Sixteen huge chains held up 579 foot of deck, allowing 100 feet of clear space beneath.  This allowed tall sailing ships navigating the seaway to pass underneath, whilst spanning the Straits at its narrowest point.
From here we went directly to “Llanfair PG” or Llanfair-pwll-gwyngyll-gogerych wyrndrobwll-llantysilio-gogogoch in full; which translated means: “St. Mary's Church in a hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool and St. Tysil's Church of the red cave”.  We stopped for the obligatory photo – like many tourists before us.  Again, an unsuspecting visitor offered to take a photo (or two) for us.
From here we made our way clockwise around the island, sticking mainly to the main road (A-4080).  We stopped for lunch at The White Eagle pub, which is located on Holy Island near Holyhead.  A welcome break with a delicious dessert (and two spoons!) and wonderful coffee.  Many of the others had a sandwich – more of a small lunch by the look of them!!  From here we continued our tour of the island and made our way back to Menai Bridge.  Here we stopped while Judith and I made our way to my cousin’s and the others went on their way.  Greg mentioned going along the Lleyn Peninsular, as he’d never been there before and quickly worked out a route.  He announced to the rest of the group the onward route and they all looked forward to it.
Judith and I had a pleasant afternoon and made our way back to the hotel for the evening meal.  I dropped Judith off at the hotel while going to re-fuel.  I was surprised that no other bikes were back.  It all became very clear over a pint or two what had happened that afternoon…
                                                                                             Dave Williams

 

With Dave and Judith going off visiting relatives and us not invited I offered to take a Rideout around the Lleyn Peninsula knowing that it was to be a “quiet, relaxing day.”
Navigating the Peninsula along the coastal route the roads were mainly deserted.  The views of the sea on one side and mountains on the other are very impressive but also intent on enjoying the roads we made progress past another rider to then have to wait for what seemed like ages for the rest of the group.
Along came the rider looking rather puzzled as the rest of the group had latched on to the poor unsuspecting sole and followed him for miles, thankfully he followed the same direction but it would have been more amusing if he simply made his way up along his own driveway to park whilst being followed by our lot.
Having regrouped we then pushed on to Aberdaron parking up for a tea break and views of the coastline.

Bearing in mind this was the “quiet day” I knew there would be trouble when one pillion asked “so what part of Wales are we in now” and then when being shown the point on the map exclaiming astonished “so that means we have to go all the way back.”
With the evening meal booked we pushed on to Pwllheli, Porthmadog and then a delightful diversion along the B4410 and A4085 to Beddgelert and finally after 200miles back to Capel Curig.
Joining Carl and Kim for a drink the ragged bunch filed in looking as if they had cycled the 200miles but after a freshen up all soon congregated outside for refreshments.
The evening meal was most enjoyable with most having chicken or chicken wrapped in chicken!

Next day after breakfast and an early morning stroll we packed up and departed at 10:30 for Beddgellert passing Llyn Gwynant and Llyn Dinas then following the A470 Dolgellau.
Along this route I felt a nudge from behind and struggled to hear the message from Wendy who was pointing upwards.  I thought well done darling she must have spotted a police helicopter but when I eventually stopped and asked “what were you actually saying back there” she said “I was saying how beautiful the mountain looks with all the bluebells.”  Hmmmmmmmmmmmm
After picking our way past a few caravans we refuelled in Machynlleth and stopped at a local tea room sitting inside away from the mid-day sun.

Next it was the scenic route through Dylife Gorge this is smooth single track for approx 10mls that chops and changes left and right that can be difficult to concentrate on when there is yet more great scenery to appreciate.  We then stopped at the stunning Llyn Clywedog viewing point with a few riders again tagging along behind a solo biker that turned out to be from the Midlands.  After a chat we coerced another tourist to take a picture of the group with once again a number of cameras being thrust his way.
 
Finally it was the A470 direct route to Builth, Talgarth arriving at Abergavenny Bus Station at approx 4pm. 

Good company, roads, views, weather, food and of course beer all added up to a most enjoyable weekend, with the two evenings being most joyous after some good riding throughout the day. Great to see a lot of pillions attending but why not other Sunday rideouts as well?
Hopefully something like this can be organised for next year so please let me know your thoughts.

Greg Sullivan.

 

 

Vale of Glamorgan


The journey up to Abergavenny was rather cold.  We were wishing we had more layers on to help keep the cold air out.

Theme for today’s ride: “following the coast”.

Route was Abergavenny, B4598 towards Raglan, right at Charthouse to Usk.  Through Caerleon, up over Christchurch Hill stopping before the Coldra roundabout for everybody to re-group.

Along the SDR (the newly named A48) over the new Usk Bridge past the Transporter Bridge.  Then past the Newport tip and the “Big W”.  Left before the Patent Office roundabout to skirt Duffryn.  Along the coast road (B4239) past Wentloog.  Staying close to the river, we past Lamby Way and the Cardiff tip (ensuring we show members the ‘great spots within Newport and Cardiff !!!), exiting to the south of the city centre at the roundabout with the traffic signs on.

Throught the Grangetown Tunnels; Left towards Penarth then through Dynas Powis (A4055) towards Barry (passing a McDonalds by the roundabout).  Then to join the A4050 and A4226 through Barry and then towards the Airport.  Following the B4265 through St. Athan, Wick, St. Brides Major, finally stopping at the Pottery Tea Room at Ewenny.  The temperature gradient was noticeable when travelling through the cities and closer to the coast itself.

Carl, Mark P and Mark S left after Ewenny to go for a spin over the Rhigos.  The remainder of the group left to re-trace our steps slightly but then turning left almost immediately towards Corntown and past the Ewenny quarry.  We then joined the A48, up the hill and then turning left towards Craig Penllyne past a turning to City – probably the smallest ‘City’ in Wales.  Past St. Mary’s Golf Course exiting this short stretch just outside Pencoed.

Along the A473 towards Llanharan, Talbot Green (past another McDonalds) taking the A4119 towards the motorway but turning left towards Groes Faen about half a mile from the M4 junction 34.

Along the A4119 past the BBC in Llandaff before stopping in the UWIC Car Park.  Here we all re-grouped once more.  This was effectively the end of the ride as many people would be peeling off from the A48 to go their separate ways.

Dave Williams

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Queenswood Arboretum

With so many plugged in accessories draining the battery on our bikes then this first ride of the year is usually referred to as the “Battery run.”  But with most riders preventing start up problems by utilising trickle chargers nowadays this run really charged my own battery not that of the bikes.
The 10am start allowed for a warm breakfast and the nine members that turned up doubled those at the bus station that morning.

The direct route is Hereford but not that entertaining so we aimed for Monmouth via Clytha, Raglan and Mitchel Troy.  At Monmouth we took the A466, a road of varying speed limits to join the A49 to Hereford.
With the Christmas Sale shopping frenzy at its peak it was hardly your typical Sunday in Hereford but we made use of limited space to continue on the A49 towards Leominster stopping at Queenswood with the drop off rider making sure no-one sped past on the top of the hill.

The Cafe here is usually quite busy with walkers and visitors to the Arboretum but on this occasion we had exclusive use so could make use of other tables for our various bits and pieces.

The option of direct or indirect return route went to a show of hands with an almost unanimous vote (sorry Dave) requesting the indirect.  So with the roads drying out nicely it was Leominster to Hay-on-Wye which did not seem to take very long so avoiding another stop so soon after we had got going we rode to Talgarth and reached Abergavenny at approx 1pm.

 

Greg Sullivan.

 

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Rideout Report: Bala Weekend - photos here

 

 

With a great forecast for the weekend there was very little packing for this overnight trip to Snowdonia so with the boxes half empty and 30mph restrictions on the Heads of the Valleys road the weekend started well by going the alternative route over Llangynidr Moors to meet at Abergavenny Bus Station.

The 10 O’clock start gave those coming from far away with pillions and luggage time to arrive in comfort.  John Parry-Jones joined us for the Saturday morning only and Clive was due to meet us at the hotel coming directly from the Isle of Man so 23 rider/pillions on 15 bikes arrived promptly for the trip.

We took the direct route on the A40 to Llandovery resisting the urge to stop at the Café even though the bike seemed to pull towards the parking bays as I pass by.  Next it was the A482 to Lampeter carrying on towards Aberaeron, stopping at the 18thcentury Welsh gentry estate of Llanerchaeron now owned by the National Trust.  With ample parking and covered outdoor seating this was a pleasant location to take refreshments and relax for a while though as usual we only got to see the café at this facility.

Soon the soft colours of the housing as typified by a typical seaside town meant we had arrived at Aberaeron where we then headed north on the coastal A487 to Aberystwyth.  Morning mist spoilt what is a normally good view along the coastline so it was a case of picking off the tourists one by one as the group stretched out.

Carrying on ahead to Machynlleth we then stopped to refuel as some were getting rather low by now.  Unfortunately one rider left his ignition on whilst waiting and flattened his battery.  Volunteer team No 1 attempted a bump start which was a rather miserable effort but thankfully a younger team stepped forward to apply some much needed push to the effort and the bike thankfully fired up as I was getting rather hot under the collar sat on the 290Kg Pan being pushed around in the mid-day sun.  If there’s a next time I hope it’s on a hill otherwise volunteers will have to be bribed.

With the heart rates of the volunteer bump start teams getting near to normality we pushed on towards Dolgellau the scenery became dramatic and the road had many twists and turns as we then came to Coed-Y-Brenin (Forest of Kings) where we stopped at the visitor centre for lunch.  With options of sitting inside or out we settled on the veranda to enjoy the views and gently cooked ourselves in our bike gear.

Suitable refreshed we departed after being sure that all had joined us.  Did I say refreshed, well not really more like temperature near saturation point hence desperate to get a move on and the much needed cooling effect of making progress?

An open section of A470 past Trawsfynydd cooled me down a treat before arriving at Ffestiniog where we turned right onto the B4391.
This is a challenging road with tightening corners and magnificent views of Arenig Fawr Mountain, so concentration was necessary to keep to the correct lines.
The B4391 then joins the A4212 and runs along Llyn Celyn reservoir where there is a national white water centre for rafting and canoeing.  This only closes for three weeks every year to restock the river, and the river flow remains the same throughout because it is controlled by releases from the Dam.  If riding a motorcycle is not enough for you then I can personally recommend trying a two hour session of rafting at this centre.
On reaching Bala we rode through a tiny side street to access the rear parking just at the moment a local wanted to deliver trays of plants.  Looking particularly flustered he soon moved his vehicle and we all found suitable places in the car park with some taking time to make use of the locked sheds available.

Once we were all allocated our rooms I had a quick shower and change then popped down to the bar for a quick pint intending to return but alas some had already taken refreshments.  In fact the quick pint developed into a few and then an evening meal, etc, etc, etc and it was 1am before we returned to our room.
The evening meal was very good with Clive recalling his experiences of the previous week in the Isle of Man and the local waitress entertaining us with her general relaxed nature of providing a service.
The following morning brought some confusion as the relaxed waitress hadn’t kept a list of deserts that each individual ordered so once again her natural approach brought a simple solution and she charged everybody and average rate!

With the 11am departure some enjoyed a leisurely stroll that morning and others fuelled up ready to go.
Heading along the lake we turned for the B4403 and then the scenic route trying to concentrate on the road instead of the views.  One driver pulled over for me to pass without realising his courtesy needed to be extended to another 14 bikes I wonder if he will ever allow another motorists through again!
After just a few miles we were at the highest road pass in Wales - Bwlch Y Groes, where we enjoyed the views, read the information board and took pictures.

On again down some hairpin bends we passed through LLanymawddwy on to Mallwyd and then the A470 for some open road to Machynlleth. 
Turning for the scenic route through Dylife Gorge this is smooth single track for approx 10mls that chops and changes left and right that can be difficult to concentrate on when there is yet more great scenery to appreciate.  Riding along Llyn Clywedog resisting the urge to stop again, at LLanidloes we continued on the B4518 to Rhayader where we settled at the Elan Valley visitor centre for all to enjoy a break. 

Finally it was the direct route to Builth, Talgarth and through LLangorse arriving at Abergavenny Bus Station at approx 4pm.  Alas mechanical problems meant one rider pulled over at Llangorse, not me with the battery trick more serious than that and beyond a bump start so breakdown recovery completed the route for one rider and hopefully repairs can be made.

Good company, roads, views, weather, food and of course beer all added up to a most enjoyable weekend, the overnight trip providing the opportunity for a more relaxed rideout with more time to socialise. 
Great to see a lot of pillions attending but why not other Sunday rideouts as well?
Thanks to Mike Odelet for holding together the group at the tail end and to Simon Rolfe for excellent suggestions on places to stop.
Hopefully something like this can be organised for 2008 so please let me know your thoughts.

Greg Sullivan.

 

 

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Hay-on-Wye



The days leading up to the weekend were full of gales causing structural damage to fences etc. I had experienced such damage having spent Thursday evening making emergency repairs to our side fence.
The thought of riding on the weekend in such conditions didn’t look appealing, altogether looking at the forecasts for the Sunday it was possible it could be dry and bright.

Sunday morning peeling back the curtains revealed a beautiful day. For once the weathermen had got it right.
Today was the first time the start venue was at Abergavenny Bus Station. I wonder how many were at Edlogan Way wondering where everyone was….?

A very good turnout for the first run of 2007 – 11 riders in total. Looking at the route we’d be taking, it didn’t look as if there were many junctions to contend with and so I had suggested we wouldn’t bother to use the ‘drop-off’ system. However, it soon became apparent at the right turn onto the B4521 towards Skenfrith, that the group had split up. Here starteth the drop-off system ! Just before Skenfrith we took the B4347 to Pontrilas, then on to Dorstone. In fact, the area between Pontrilas and Dorstone is known as The Golden Valley. I asked
Lee why it was called this and he said that it was due to the fertile soil and the good crops it produced.

An article I found on the web (www.vagavalley.co.uk/goldenvalley.htm) describes the origin of the name and also describes the area itself: The Golden Valley and Welsh Borders The Golden Valley is the tranquil area of gently rolling countryside in southwest Herefordshire between Hay-on-Wye to the north, Pontrilas to the south
and borders Wales and the Black Mountains to the west.

Running through the valley is the River Dore which gives the area its name. ‘Dore’ is derived from the welsh word ‘dwr’ meaning water, but the Norman’s confused it with the French d’or meaning Golden – and the valley became the ‘Golden Valley’. Either (mis)interpretation is appropriate for a valley which is delightfully golden with daffodils in the spring, rich with golden crops during the summer or golden with hay and windswept leaves in autumn. The Golden Valley has retained its agricultural prowess which has continued into the 21st century with agriculture forming its main industry – including breeding of the hardy Hereford Bull. The villages to the west of Hereford are rich with apple and pear orchards for the cider and perry production industry in the city while chicken-farming and processing is another main Herefordshire industry.

The scattered farms grow varied crops and Herefordshire cattle graze contentedly in the fields. More recently, there has been a growth in local, small-scale and sustainable tourism as visitors recognise and appreciate the peace, tranquillity, quiet roads and relaxed, enjoyable pace of life that the Golden Valley and Welsh borders have to offer.

The Golden Valley offers a total contrast to city life - even Hereford city, less than 20 miles away, is a world apart from the leisurely Golden Valley. From the graceful ruins of Llanthony Abbey to south, magnificent soaring mountains to the west and peak of Hay Bluff to the north, the Golden Valley
remains a haven of peace, scenic splendour and tranquillity with its rural villages, babbling brooks, remote farms, quiet lanes and breathtaking landscapes awaiting discovery. The border countryside has so much to offer with its rugged uplands, quiet foothills and wild, barren untamed borderland alongside the softer patchwork landscape of gentle rolling hills of the Golden Valley’s rich farmland.

Exiting from the Golden Valley we took the B4348 into Hay-on-Wye and headed straight for the Tea Shop for a well-earned coffee and one of those delightful cakes. Once refreshed, we took the B4350 to Glasbury via Three Cocks and on to Talgarth, before arriving back at Abergavenny Bus Station. Time to reflect on a good ride with a cuppa before we went our separate ways home. This being the first rideout starting from Abergavenny proved to work out well - even though those coming from Cardiff had a mini rideout to start the day. Looking forward to next month when we will be taken to Llanybydder …(wherever that is….?????).


Dave Williams

 

 

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Llandovery

The original Ride Leader was to be Lee Clark but unfortunately he was unable to attend. The first reserve was Mark Jones but, due to work commitments, he was also unavailable. A phonecall later and I was now the Ride Leader. I had originally debated whether to go or not – since the weather the previous week had been very wet and windy and I didn’t relish the journey between Brecon and Llandovery. Ah well, how plans change !!!

On the Thursday prior to the rideout there were gale force winds forecast and even a mini tornado hit streets in London. The tornado touched down in Kensal Rise area of North London and caused damage to 150 houses.

While waiting for people to arrive, it was soon apparent that the four riders were going to be the only ones daring to go out today. The rain was falling, not too heavy at this point, and the wind wasn’t as bad as it had been forecast. Following the briefing of the route to be taken, we decided not to employ any drop-off system as I would be able to see every rider and also we all knew the route.

Along the main road towards Pontypool and on towards Abergavenny, taking the left turn (B4269) through Llanelen, then the B4246 through Llanfoist. Then negotiating the altered roundabout outside Gilwern, staying on the A4077 bypassing Crickhowell we followed the canal route towards Talybont-on-Usk. Rather than taking the road through Langynidr and over the stone bridge, we stayed on the B4588 and emerged onto the A40 just before the Brecon bypass roundabout. A quick blast on the Brecon Bypass – a welcome change after the twisty lanes…(especially while it was wet with puddles everywhere) then it was on to Llandovery. As always, there were plenty of cars ‘poodling’ along on this stretch of the road and there are long stretches with double white lines - which means that there are not many opportunities to overtake. However, one by one we all managed to pass these cars. By the time we arrived in the car park at Llandovery we were, once again together.

Not many bikes out today – must be something to do with the weather!!

A welcoming hot mug of tea and a custard slice for me – probably not the best thing to warm me up - but the custard slices here are wonderful and ‘a must have’. Others went for different delights on offer. Now refreshed, but still a little damp, we donned our gear and returned to our bikes. I had decided to leave the group at the A470 Cardiff turning and Martin joined me as he wanted to stay out on his bike for a little longer. We both endured the windy conditions as we climbed the mountain (with Cwm Du on our left). Martin peeled off left at Cyfartha before joining the A465 Heads of the Valleys road to make his way back to Abergavenny. Mark and Mike decided to re-trace the outbound journey and split at Abergavenny Bus Station. I must admit that I should have re-traced the journey too, as the wind was very strong on the mountain and there was a lot of spray thrown up on the A470 between Treforest and the M4. Saying that, it was easy riding as there weren’t too many twists and turns.

Although not many people turned out for this ride, it was enjoyable. The A40 between Abergavenny and Llandovery is quite challenging. It helps hone your overtaking skills by way of getting ready to take advantage of the few opportunities along the route. You can also practise your cornering techniques (as there are a lot of them) while maintaining progress through the bends.

Thanks to all who attended the ride – I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Dave Williams

 

 

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Powis Castle


First there were nine
The three Sam members joined us later so nine bikes arrived at Edlogan Way for the 9am start. 
Mark P arrived on a different Ducati declaring that it was a courtesy bike as he had given up on his own after numerous faults, mind you after 14,000 miles in 13 months it had been given quite a test.  
Mark J-G arrived stating that he needed to get some air for his rear tyre before departing but on further inspection a screw head meant the end of the ride for Mark before he even started, that was a shame particularly as it was his first Sunday rideout but better that it should happened close to home rather than somewhere in mid-Wales!!!!!!!

Then there were eight
The heat wave was clearly over with lower temperatures indicating that summer time was coming to an end but that meant we were less hot under the collar and could enjoy the dry conditions and good road surface. 
The obvious direction would have meant dual-carriageway to Abergavenny and then the A465 and A49 northwards but thinking that route a little mundane we were on our way after a quick brief.
Heading down Trehafod lane we made our way on well know roads to Usk, Gwehelog, Raglan, and Mitchell Troy and on to Monmouth.  Then it was the A466 through Welsh Newton and the A49 onto Hereford.  Roadwork’s slowed things down at this point but then we made our way through, towards Leominster and up Dinmore Hill passing those in the Crawler lane and turning left into the Queenswood Arboretum.

Then there were eleven
I was to look out for someone on a BMW GS bike which at one time might have been quite noticeable but nowadays there always seem to be a few of these adventure sports bikes wherever you are, almost as common as Blackbirds.
Thankfully those wearing the Gwent hi-Vis we were spotted and the three members from the Sam group joined us and it was quite a collection at this café at one point as members from the Worcester group were also out and about.

Then there were ten
After a chat, cuppa and refuel it was back onto the A49 for Leominster and Ludlow with Dave Williams heading home at this point.  Busy traffic and resurfacing works slowed us again but didn’t deter the one solo rider that squeezed past our group and the other motorists; i couldn’t help wonder the point of doing that when we passed him parked on the side of the road one mile ahead! What did he gain?
Riding through Craven Arms we turned left onto the A489 for Church Stoke.  This section is normally quiet but slow moving vehicles took some getting past and the group became more strung out but still all on course by using the drop-off system.  Stopping in a lay-by to regroup meant that we all had the dubious pleasure of trying to get past the same caravan; they must have had a chuckle at us.
Soon the signs for Welshpool came into view and finally the brown information signs for Powis Castle led us through the grounds to the car park where the attendant directed us to where we could all park together.

Powis Castle
There were many visitors to this impressive attraction but we simply made use of the essentials for an hour not really having the time to look around inside.
This passed quickly and suitably refreshed we gathered for the photo-shoot and were soon on our way again.

Return
Turning right where the exit pointed left I’m sure a few thought we would soon be getting some “U” turn practice but it was the intended route on single track towards Berriew.
Towards Newtown i’m sure the actions of us ten considerate bikers were completely overlooked by the other motorists as two other riders overtook over the solid white lines going into a left hand corner with others being forced to allow them an escape route whenever an oncoming vehicle appeared. 
I wonder which group left the lasting impression on the other mortorists.

Derek then realised his rear tyre was low in pressure so we made our way gingerly to the Shell garage in Newtown where a screw head confirmed his worst thoughts.
Thankfully Brian Charlton sprang into action and gave an excellent display of repairing a tyre ably assisted by Mike Odelet who was having trouble straightening up after too long on the Blackbird – see picture.
The final snag was that the Shell garage didn’t provide air on weekend’s and as not even Brian had a compressor in his bag of tricks it was off to another garage to inflate the tyre hence save the canisters with the repair kit.

With 70 miles to go to Abergavenny the next stop at Crossgates was cancelled to complete the ride without stopping so we all left the garage thanks to a kind motorist allowing us all out.

Turning left at the lights for the A483 to Llandrindod Wells it was a tight spot to drop off a marker so a few missed the turning and carried on ahead but soon turned round to regroup where we waited on the side. 
All together at this point, next was an unhindered section of tarmac that is amongst the best on offer where all could practice their cornering skills.  Arriving at Cross Gates i resisted the urge to turn round and do it again so turned left onto the A44 for more of the same to Kington, the A4111 to Eardisley and then pulled into a lay-by before Letton.

The group were broken up again as can be expected and I duly waved in the first biker that appeared around the corner.  This turned out to be a complete stranger and so was the motorist that also followed instructions to pull into the lay-by.  Peter expressed his admiration for the drivers classic convertible Westerham (apparently being based on the lotus 7), however he appeared a little irate at this interruption and departed without so much as a good-day.
Carl thankfully then made sure that I didn’t attempt to recruit any more strangers by directing in our group as they appeared, with Mike arriving at the back keeping the group together all arriving with big grins from the previous section.

The final stretch was over to Bredwardine taking the B4352 to Madley and the A465 to Abergavenny for a cuppa at the Oasis at 5pm after 200 miles.

A good days riding on familiar roads to a not so familiar destination, many thanks to Mike Odelet for being tail-end Charlie for the day. 
The standard of riding was as high as expected with the SAM members impressively slotting in as if they always ride with us. 

At this time of year the Sunday events tend to be to destinations that require riding all day, riders can nevertheless join and depart at any time. 
So if a member only has a morning to spare then they can of course depart at any time and similarly if the route has a more obvious place for them to join the group then feel free to contact a member of the committee and you will be directed to the appointed ride leader who can arrange for you to meet on-route.

Greg Sullivan

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Llandewi Brefi.

It's that time of year again when we try to formulate an interesting calendar for the years training ride-outs and I'm struggling to dream up a new destination.

Sat on the floor with the map spread out i'm thinking, been there, been there, done that and all the while my daughter is laughing out loud at something on TV. I look up and Dafydd is bemoaning his lot at being “The only gay in the village.”

The planning of a journey always starts at the end, the destination, so a quick check confirmed that this is within reach and I'm settled on the idea and start to plan around it.

With the sun shining it's a leisurely start to the day for this 10am launch thankfully the 9am starts will soon be with us and we can be on our way earlier making better use of the quieter roads. Eight riders finally departed amidst blustery winds and a pessimistic forecast taking the direct route to Brecon and meeting Lee at the lay-by on the bypass.

Skirting around the back of Brecon past the Cathedral it was onto the B4520 for Lower Chapel. This is one of the areas best roads going up into Upper Chapel so much so that one rider completely missed the marker and carried on enjoying himself all the way to Builth Wells. The other 8 followed the lead onto the B4519 over Mynydd Eppynt at an approximate height of 1500ft. This is an area used by the Ministry of Defence and the red danger flags were nothing to do with the tightening corners instead they warned the public to keep to the road.

Over this common land the absence of road furniture to assist observations forces the rider to search for any indication to assist in forming a riding plan. This is a useful riding exercise and sharpens the concentration when searching for information.

With impressive panoramic views we dropped down into Garth turning left onto the A483 and stopping at the filling station in Beulah.

The search squad went out looking but our concern was misplaced when the absent rider turned up with a big grin, I can't imagine why.

Turning right for Abergwesyn it was onto unnamed roads over the Cambrian Mountains . This is a 25 mile stretch of single track through 25% gradients up to a height of 1700ft, needless to say winds were strong and we only passed about six other motorists throughout.

A sign “Slow Mud” made me wonder, i'm just glad there wasn't any fast mud out there.

At Tregaron we turned left onto the B4343 arriving quickly at Llandewi Brefi.

Parking up it was straight into the New Inn for refreshments with the barmaid looking pleased but also disappointed as we filed into the empty pub.

What a lovely place, two open fires, friendly staff and pleasant locals made for a relaxing break. Thankfully we refrained from giving too much of the obvious banter, I'm sure they have heard it all before and we were all sensitive enough not to ask for “The faggots” when ordering from the menu.

Back onto the B4343 for another challenging stretch we made our way to Lampeter and then the A482 to Llandovery stopping at the West End café for another cuppa.

Then it was the direct route through a hail storm to Abergavenny with some riders branching off en-route.

When planning a route the objective is often to select roads that will provide a challenge to ride within the posted speed limits.

Within the posted speed limits is not always a safe speed and it is for each individual to know if they are riding beyond their capabilities.

It is impressive to see a group of riders all of a high standard smoothly making safe progress and it is this that we should strive to achieve on these group ride-outs.

Please take the opportunity to read the relevant information regarding Rideouts on the group's web site:

Big thanks to Dave Williams for propping up the tail end and also to Judith for loaning him her bike.

All enjoyed the day and we hope to see you soon for more Wednesday and Sunday events.

 

Greg Sullivan

 

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Cardigan Coast

The forecast for the day was bright and sunny.

A good group of 10 riders collected at Edlogan Way raring to go.  Following a quick brief on what we all expected from the ride and the first stopping point (a tea stop !) which was to be the West End Café at Llandovery.
A couple of riders decided to end their part of the ride here and returned home.  The remainder continued onwards via Lampeter and Aberaeron.  Then along the coast towards Aberystwyth.  The road between Llandovery and Aberaeron is spectacular.  There’s plenty of twists and turns to keep you on your toes.  

A brief stop on the A487 to take in the stunning views of the coastline.  The sea looked very inviting.  There were various shades of blue and no sign of ‘white horses’.

It was here that we explained the next stage of the rideout.  We were to go via Devil’s Bridge and stop in the Elan Valley Visitor Centre for another coffee/tea break.  One or two of the group seemed disappointed that they weren’t going to Aberystwyth for an ice cream on the sea front.  (A suggestion: any alternative routes for Sunday Rides are always welcome.  Please contact a member of the Bike Committee.  – Ed.) 

Having decided not to stop in Devil’s Bridge because it is usually filled with ‘site-seers’ when we arrived it was quite quiet.  Perhaps it was a mistake and we could have spent some time here viewing the bridges.  …perhaps next time?

Along the twisting roads through Elan Valley, there were various groups of riders out today.  The Pan Clan seemed to be out in force, not to mention other manufacturers (of course!).

We stopped at one of the dams for a photo-shoot. 


From Left to Right: Dave Williams, Mark Gornicki, Lee Clark, Mark Parkinson, Carl Knight, Tonia and Martin Sheppard, Paul Stockting and Courtney Purnell

After a brief stop it was a short run to the Visitor’s Centre.  Thoughout the valley a number of Red Kites were circling above.  A very impressive bird.  I must try to visit this area again and visit the ‘feeding centre’ where I understand you can see these birds at close quarters.

Unlike the last time we did this run, the weather was fantastic and we were able to take our food outside.  The draw-back of this being that the sheep were also in this area.  They were very ‘friendly’ to the point of rubbing against you pestering you for food.  There was no way I was going to give up my delicious cake for them!  I’m sure everyone else felt the same way.

The onwards route took us through Raeadyr, Builth Wells ending up in Abergavenny.  At the roundabout immediately after Neville Hall Hospital, one rider turned right and made his way direct home.  The remainder of the group made our way to the Bus Station for yet another cuppa.  We had a short de-brief on the run.  Everyone welcomed the comments and any suggestions made regarding riding and possibilities for the next rideout.

The ride may have been a little more comfortable (a maximum of 23°C) if it wasn’t so hot but not that we wish it was raining – we get enough of that during the winter!!

Dave Williams

 

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Weston Super Mare

As it was trying to snow when I started out I was pleasantly surprised that 9 riders turned out all seeming to say the same thing, “I nearly didn't bother today.”

Dave Elger led the group as he knows the area very well after living there for a few years; come to think of it he seems to know the area wherever we go. With the brief briefing completed and having identified Dave Williams as the tail end rider we were soon on our way.

Heading off towards the M4 and Steve passed everyone pulling over the lead rider and the rest of the group into a lay-by, it turned out that he had spotted a screw in Courtney's rear tyre. Now I know we are all using advanced observations but it is quite exceptional the way Steve performs “roadworthiness checks” for other riders whilst on the move.

Courtney turned for home and the group headed for the bridge. Traffic volumes were very high so it gave us all a chance to make slow speed progress along the M4, filtering through the congestion with ease and heading off on the M49.

We then avoided all traffic by working our way along “A” and “B” roads through Portland, Failand, Flax Bourton, Brockley Combe, Lulsgate, Redhill, and Burrington.

Throughout the route we often made way for horse riders and it should be said that they too must have their own code of conduct because they never fail to indicate a big thanks for us pulling over and being so considerate.

Then it was on to the cliff road down into Cheddar Gorge . Cheddar is unique, its distinguishing feature is the natural phenomenon of Britain's largest gorge, the Cheddar Yeo in Gough's Cave is Britain's biggest underground river, and the Gorge Cliffs are Britain's highest inland limestone cliffs.

Riding through the gorge there seemed to be a lot of people hanging around, on the cliff face off ropes in fact. Riding past I couldn't help but look up and think that they must be mad but perhaps they were looking down and thinking the same thing.

Parking is always a problem in the gorge but we were able to squeeze all eight bikes into a small area not suitable for cars.

Dave E then tried to take a picture of his GS Adventure but had to settle for all of us in the frame – apologies for spoiling a good picture Dave.

Mark, Dave W, Tony, Greg, Lee, Steve, Wayne and Dave E behind the camera

At this point our most observant rider stopped using his advanced observations, after impressing us by spotting a tyre defect he then removed his helmet under the sign “Rocks can fall at any time”. Nothing in the Highway Code or Roadcraft that says you must not do that!

We then moved on through Winscombe, Locking and into Weston following the diverted route into the Motorcycle parking area, I wish all towns were so considerate.

Time for a good break with a hearty breakfast at the seafront café sat around two tables with our jackets, helmets etc stacked up in the corner.

There was something special to celebrate, actually a day late, but nevertheless Mark had a surprise when he was presented with a Mr Kipling birthday cake with one candle and a rendition of “happy birthday” with only the Welsh singing I might add.

With the formalities over we sped home via the M5 in what turned out to be very severe winds which were particularly difficult when side-on. Eventually we crossed over the Severn Bridge and through the tolls with a friendly toll operator waving as through in pairs and Riders dispersing at their convenience at what was the end of the ride.

Another good Rideout, with a wise choice of destination for this time of year, thanks to the two Dave's for a good day.

Greg Sullivan

 

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Lake Vyrnwy

The longer daylight and better weather during peak summer enables the group Sunday Rideout to depart earlier (9am) and reach a peak in terms of distance travelled. With Peaks in mind the destination for this ride was Lake Vyrnwy via Wales's highest road pass.

Excellent weather encouraged 15 riders to turn out for this trip some joining and exiting the ride at various stages. The usual stalwarts were in attendance and a few riders also attending their first Sunday group Rideout, not the easiest ride to select to start with but all coped very well and hopefully enjoyed the day enough to encourage them to return.

Also in attendance for the first time were Budge & Dianne Burridge and Tim Rodway from the Severn Advanced Motorcyclists (SAM) of the Gloucestershire area. It says something about the IAM when riders can come together like this and all ride to the same system and high standard, in fact all looked as if they had ridden together for years.

After a quick chat 10 riders left Edlogan Way using the drop-off marker system with Mark Jones propping up the tail-end. Taking the direct route to Abergavenny bus station we met Tony Morgan and Peter Skelton and headed out on the A40 towards Brecon. Lee Clarke joined the group at Tretower and we headed over to Talgarth and on to Builth Wells . Pulling in to the little chef at Builth, the riders from the SAM group had just finished breakfast as planned and were waiting to join the group - having a chat while everyone else took the opportunity to take in some much needed liquid.

Onto the A470 we headed for Rhayader making good progress as the roads were unusually quiet, Peter Skelton headed back from this point while the rest turned right on the B4518 for Saint Harmon, a smooth open road with panoramic views working our way to Llanidloes .
With the B roads getting tighter and the scenery even better we continued on to Llyn Clywedog pulling into the car park for a short break.

Llyn Clywedog is a man made reservoir owned by Severn Trent and boasts the highest concrete dam in Britain at 236ft (72m) high and 750ft long. Holding back 11,000 million gallons of water it is up to 6 miles long with a maximum depth of 216ft.

On we pressed to Staylittle turning left through Dylife Gorge along an unnamed road. This is smooth single track for approx 10mls that chops and changes left and right that can be difficult to concentrate on when there is yet more great scenery to appreciate. Dropping down into Machynlleth we turned right towards Welshpool and pulled in to a garage in Mallwyd so that all riders could fill up and have a full tank for the return trip. More drinks were consumed whilst other bikers warned us of spot checks in the Barmouth area that were taking 30mins to clear.


Thankfully we headed the other way towards Dolgellau again on the A470. Within a few miles some variety was introduced by going into the car park of a community hall where good slow speed control meant a perfectly executed synchronised “U Turn” by 14 riders. With the Olympics 7 years away surely this could be introduced instead of the synchronised swimming.

Back onto the A470 we took the next right for Dinas Mawddwy (correct one this time) on un-named roads passing through Llanymawddwy. From this point the roads become narrower as we tackled some hairpin corners climbing the 1:5 incline to reach Bwlch y Groes .

Bwlch y Groes is the highest road pass in Wales with views to the Arran Mountains and the Dyfi Valley that during medieval times was used as a Pilgrims route from North West Wales to St David's in the South. Thick black lines on the edge of the mountains show the sections of peat bogs worked by those in less affluent times.

Setting off again we aimed for Llanwddyn on what proved to be the narrowest section of road with Lake Vyrnwy soon coming into view. Thankfully a number of cars made use of pull in areas and allowed us all to pass with the Lake looming larger and larger during a long slow descent.

Arriving in Lake Vyrnwy it was over the Dam and a case of park wherever we could, then straight into one of the local cafes for a lengthy rest.

Lake Vyrnwy in the heart of the Berwyn Mountains was created by the Victorians as a water supply for the growing city of Liverpool. The village of Llanwedyn was lost when this first large masonry dam in Britain was built to create the lake.

The dam is 357m long and 35.5m thick at the base and the perimeter road is 11.75 miles long being used for annual half marathon races.

Four riders needing to get back early departed while the others relaxed a while longer and then gathered themselves for the return route.

With Tony Morgan volunteering to go tail end we passed through Llwydiarth and Llangadfan using the excellent B roads which unfortunately had been recently re-laid at one section. On through Llanfair Caereinion we turned for New Mills and eventually reached Newtown for a toilet stop.

Newtown to Llandrindod Wells must be most riders favourite and the group became more strung out as we enjoyed the fabulous A483 to return to Builth wells and take a rest in the grounds of the little chef.

Everyone regrouped at this point as we did throughout the ride hence the Drop off system worked as intended without losing any riders. All took the opportunity to take some more liquid which was the purpose of the number of stops planned, this being necessary for a mixed group before any section became too uncomfortable for any rider possibly causing a lack of concentration.

The guests from the SAM group offered an invite for us to attend one of their ride-outs and bade us farewell. The route home was well known for all remaining riders, so we all made our own way back - some going straight home and a few finishing up at Abergavenny Bus Station at 6pm.

A good turn out for a good day riding to a new destination with a bit of variety, so hopefully something for everyone to enjoy.

Greg Sullivan

 

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Cheddar & Brean Sands

Seven riders met at RSC Edlogan Way congregating in the far corner to stay out of the way of Biketrain Wales conducting their CBT's, with temperatures being unusually high for this time of year the cold morning reminded us that autumn is well and truly here.

Whilst many regulars were missing, there were however three attending their first Sunday Rideout and hopefully they benefited from the experience and enjoyed it enough to make use of our events that run throughout the entire year, every second Sunday of the month.

With the formalities out of the way, “ride for yourself, be in control of your machine at all times” blah, blah, blah, we were on our way down Trehafod lane, past Cwrt Bleddyn and onto Usk . Passing through the village centre the drop-off system ensured that all riders turned onto the B4235 for Chepstow as to miss the marker would result in filtering onto the A449 dual-carriageway.

A short stop to regroup opposite Chepstow Racecourse and we continued on the A466 through Tintern and into the Wye Valley .

The usual traffic lights over the narrow bridge were not in operation and with a policeman fiddling with the controls if they weren't broken then, they probably are now! Waved through, taking it very cautiously we passed the queue of traffic waiting to cross from the other side and turned right for Coleford .

Following the B roads through the Forest of Dean we reached the A4136 turning right through Mitcheldean and down onto the A40 junction for Ross/Gloucester.

A quick right/left took us onto the B4224 for Newent along a good stretch through Dymock and into Ledbury continuing on the A449 to our first stop at Malvern Hills .

Parking was difficult as usual, particularly when we don't want to pay, but I suppose it's an easy mistake to make when the “No Parking” paintwork is covered by so many bikes parked on it!

So after travelling 80 miles for almost two hours on a cold autumn morning what is the first thing you need to do? After the group toilet visit we relaxed with a warm drink (each) for 30 mins.

Away again down the B4232 and then an array of unnamed roads through Mathon and Cradley . The articulated hedge trimmers added to the usual agricultural debris which meant some hazardous patches were negotiated successfully but without complaint of course after all what should we expect in a rural area? Left at the junction onto the A4103 for Hereford , a smooth open road begging to be enjoyed past the scene of an accident where a car driver had possibly tried too hard to enjoy it .

Negotiating Hereford proved difficult probably due to the Christmas warm-up but we regrouped on the A465 where John bade us farewell and the remaining six headed for Hay-on -Wye.

The B roads in the not so Golden Valley had a temporary road sign warning of, “ditching in progress.” After passing through I can only assume that means digging ditches in the fields and throwing the muck over the hedge onto the road.

Arriving in Hay I organised the now obligatory group slow speed u-turn (who needs Satnav) and we utilised every available space to park and relax at our usual café.

The final push took us to Talgarth where we broke with the unofficial Gwent Group tradition and headed on the B4560 for Llangors and on to Bwlch . Regrouping at the junction I selfishly (ha) took the opportunity to join the A40 before a convoy prevented the rest of the group but at least they had the chance to practice the overtake procedure.

Through Bwlch and descending with one of my favourite views ahead spoilt only be the lone rider that passed everybody (including a few cars) going into a right-hander which I'm sad to say is all too often the case on this road on a Sunday afternoon.

Nearing Abergavenny whilst passing the old army camp a small hatch back approaching in the opposite direction got in on the act by straddling a dedicated right turn area to pass a line of traffic, forcing me across from the see and be seen position. Hmmmmmmmm, so it's not just motorcyclists (some allegedly) that cause concern on this road.

Arriving in Abergavenny the bus station was packed but it was now 4pm and after travelling 160 miles a third cuppa was needed and worth the wait. An enjoyable ride along many new roads, thanks to Lee Clark for volunteering to Tail the group without incident.

You may wonder what happened to Cheddar Gorge and Brean Sands. Well an executive decision was made based on who was available, and as I ended up leading the ride believe me if we had gone to Cheddar there would have been more than just the one u-turn. So familiar destinations in Malvern Hills and Hay-on-Wye were reached by not so familiar roads and I for one intend going that way again some day.

Greg Sullivan

 

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Yamaha MT-01 and Me.

The Motorcycle section were to hold their first Mobile Display Unit event of the year on Easter Sunday 2005, and in anticipation of many bikers having their first ride of the year the venue was to be Abergavenny Bus Station.

It was the Thursday before Easter and I was making the final arrangements with Black Mountain Yamaha to have their MT-01 demo bike in attendance with the MDU. The dealership are most supportive of our activities so we were only to pleased to help them with their promotion of this new bike launch in anticipation that it would also generate some extra interest in our group on the day.

The conversation went something like this:

Me - Hi Jonathan how are you going to get the bike to us on Sunday,

Jonathan- We're closed on Sunday,

Me - oh that's a shame, never mind maybe another time,

Jonathan - Why not pick the MT-01 up on Saturday and bring it back on Monday,

Me - oh ok then if that's what you think is best.

My wife then enquires why I have a grin 2 foot wide across my face and I reply “no reason”.

Saturday morning arrives and I go to meet my associate, most of the morning is taken up with offering advise and guidance, funnily enough we ended up in BMY but sadly the MT-01 was out on a demo ride and I was told to return at 3pm.

3pm arrived and there I was swapping the Fazer keys for the MT-01. The keys go in and the clock dials do a little dance then the engine thumps into life.

I gingerly guide the beast toward the open road expecting to have my arms pulled from their sockets if I released the clutch too quickly, but was pleased to find that this was a very ride-able machine. Don't misunderstand, this thing will pull if you want it to but if you just wanted to cruise around for a few hours it will do that as well.

I did find that you had to keep an eye on the speedo, as it was very easy to creep over the limit.

The power kicks in from 1500 rpm to 5500 rpm, Yamaha are trying to create a new niche market “Torque Sports” bikes and this machine is certainly in that category.

During the event on Easter Sunday having the MT-01 outside the display unit was like a magnet to the bikers calling in to the Oasis Café. As a result of the event GGAM had quite a few enquiries. During the day I had to take the MT-01 out for a few runs so that the gathered throng could sample the sound of the machine.

As we know all good things come to an end and I had to return the MT-01 to Black Mountain Yamaha. Of course I had to take the long way from Newport to Abergavenny and grudgingly returned the keys.

My overall impression of the bike was very favourable and if money was no object and I could afford more than one bike then the MT-01 would definitely be in my garage.

Steve Williams

 

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Great Malvern

A good turnout for the time of year, 14 riders arrived at Edlogan Way R.S.C. for the first of the 10:00am winter rides to the Malvern Hills.

A special welcome to those associates who attended their first Sunday group ride, we hope that riding in such a group aided their preparation for the advanced test as well as having a thoroughly good time, and look forward to their company at other events.

We departed Croesiceiliog and made our way along Treharbour lane to join the Caerleon to Usk road, care was needed as there were still patches of black ice in the shaded areas of the road, through Usk we moved on to Raglan via the Gwehelog road.

These are some of my favourite roads with a good selection of bends with varying degrees of difficulty. We regrouped at Raglan and made our way for a short distance along the A40 then through Mitchel Troy and on to Monmouth. As we approached Dave Elger took the lead for the ride up Stow Hill and through the Forest of Dean onto Ross on Wye.

I once again took the lead as we left Ross, after a short ride along the A40 we joined the A449 toward Ledbury. A few miles past Ledbury we reached our destination Great Malvern.

The group descended on the snack bar, some in desperate need of a hot drink to warm their cold bodies however those of us that have invested in heated clothing took a more leisurely stroll to the snack bar and though it pains me to say "revelled in their discomfort".

After a leisurely break we plotted a return route via Leominster, Hay-on-Wye, Talgarth, The Black Mountains and Abergavenny where we regrouped at the Oasis Café for more coffee.

Recent guidelines on ride-outs forwarded to us from IAM indicate a requirement that we make every effort to ensure that each ride should have an experienced Observer at the tail end, many thanks to Mike Odelet for volunteering to back up the group by unselfishly riding tail end throughout the complete duration.

Whilst everyone maintained a good pace it was essential that the large group kept together, hence the drop off system proved to be very successful with good progress being maintained.

For those unfamiliar with the drop off marker system then all is revealed on the group web site.

Judging by the looks on the faces of the group everyone had a good time and all is looking well for the remaining 2004 events.

The complete list of events for year 2005 has been finalised with something for everyone as listed in this newsletter and on the group web site. Please note that there will be two different start times for Sunday ride-outs dependent on the time of year.

(www.gwent-advanced-motorists.org)

Steve Williams

 

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Broadway

The low temperature meant that I left the house suitably dressed to keep me warm and comfortable on a cold October morning.

Within just a few miles however this contributed to my poor response to a near miss. At Aberbeeg roundabout I passed the second exit indicating my intention to take the third when out popped a car from the second exit heading straight across my path. I tried to sound the horn but nothing, again I tried but still nothing so I headed around one more time whilst the car stopped in the middle of the lane. When I came around again he mouthed the inevitable "sorry! I didn't see you."

There is nothing wrong with my horn, my point is i never use it and the one occasion i needed to i couldn't find it with my thick winter gloves on. Complacency has set in so this has reminded me to make sure I can find all the controls immediately when required, particularly after changing to thicker gloves in the winter.

At Edlogan way Mike Odelet arrived to make his apologies for not being able to lead or even attend due to illness. As the remaining three had not prepared for this route to Weymouth we made an executive decision to change the destination to an old favourite, Broadway in Worcestershire.

The route took us through the lanes to Usk, Chepstow, Tintern and along the Wye to Monmouth. Heading up Stow hill into the Forest of Dean the sun started to break through and we could appreciate the views across the Severn while dropping through Mitcheldean.

Traffic was light and we made easy progress by by-passing Cheltenham, going through Down-Hatherley.
Riding up Cleeve Hill there were a number of properties for sale but with the impressive views across to Tewkesbury I don't think there was much point in even considering it. On we pressed through the quaint village of Winchcombe finally arriving at Broadway at 11.00am.

Once we found parking spaces Lee noticed that the sidewall of his rear tyre was covered in oil and realised he had hastily adjusted his Scottoiler before leaving. As I had already primed both Lee and Courtney about the delights of going up to Broadway Tower he was most concerned about ruining the highlight of the ride but he then managed to remove all traces of oil by a technique that can be best summed up as being normally associated with "men and motors."

A light lunch in a local eatery filled a gap but the prices had something of a mark-up, I suppose it usually costs extra to dine at premises with crooked walls and sloping roofs.

Before returning home we had to take a ride up Fish Hill to the Broadway Tower. Those who have been on this ride-out before know what a good stretch this is and the purpose I must admit was simply to go up and down without getting to the tower.

Homeward bound we headed back through Winchcombe again and off to Tewkesbury. Next up was Ledbury on a series of impressive B roads many at national limit.

On one stretch restricted to 50mph a few public spirited drivers warned me to expect something unpleasant in the near vicinity. Even though I was prepared, as I turned the corner to be faced with the speed camera van I was about to ride smugly past at bang on 50mph, but the van really caused quite a distraction and I nearly missed the 40mph sign on the opposite side of the road.

These cameras can be very distracting and really should be positioned a few meters beyond the restriction.

Moving on to Ross-on-Wye we stopped at a motor-home dealership for Courtney to price up some parts, not for the Triumph ST of course but for his latest addition, a German motor-home.

We finished the route the obvious way to Abergavenny via Skenfrith arriving at approximately 2.30pm. A very enjoyable ride with good roads, scenery, destination, and company.

We really should head this way at least once every year as there are so many picturesque villages to visit.

Greg Sullivan

 

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Silverstone

Opened the curtains expecting to see the storms and gales that had been forecast to see a bright and clear sunny morning.

Arrived at the RSC. Edlogan way at 8.45 thinking that I may be the only participant for the Silverstone run, then Lee arrived and I no longer felt like Billy no mates, shortly followed by Tim.

We left shortly after 9am. And took the direct route toward Abergavenny then onto the Skenfrith road. I was expecting to see a lot of debris washed onto the roads from the fields but was pleased to see the road clear which meant a fun filled ride toward Ross.

We picked up the Ledbury road (A449) with the intention of taking the Eastnor road (A438) the other side of Ledbury however my in built compass was affected by magnetic interference and took the A417 to Staunton instead.

We then took the B4211 to Ashchurch where we stopped for the obligatory cuppa in the Road Chef after which we donned our wet weather gear as rain seemed imminent, then we joined the B4077 to Stow on the Wold, these were very good biking roads and deserve to be revisited.

On our approach to Stow their was a road closure forcing us on to an unclassified road, what a bit of luck that was, the road had some great sweeping corners and listening to the roar from Timm's Beemer I knew he was having as much fun as me.

The next road we decided to use was the A436 and then the A44 to Chipping Norton, and then onto the A361 toward Banbury, we branched off just past Swerford onto the B4031 through Croughton then onto the A43 for the last leg to Silverstone.

We arrived at Silverstone at about 13.30, we turned into the car park with the intention of finding somewhere to have some lunch, I approached a young lady in a booth that had a sign saying pay here, where I was asked for £15, I gracefully declined the young ladies request.

After a brief discussion with Timm and Lee we decided to head into Silverstone village and find a pub for a bit of lunch, we headed off and true to form I took the wrong turn and we found ourselves on the A43 going back the way we came.

Remembering what someone once said "the riders in the group will only know you're lost if you tell them, just make out you intended to take that route" so that's what I did. Further along the A43 we arrived in the village of Brackley where we stopped at the first pub we saw.

The Bell Inn turned out to be a good (lucky) choice where we enjoyed a good meal in pleasant surroundings.

After we filled our bellies we donned wet weather gear again for the trip home, I had decided on a more direct route home, we reversed our route to Chipping Norton then took the A361 to Burford, this route took us along some high ground where the wind picked up and heavy rain followed. We then joined the A40 where the weather eased for the last leg back to Wales through Cheltenham and Gloucester.

Their were roadworks on the approach to Cheltenham and we were delayed at a set of temporary traffic lights for what seemed like an eternity, one of our group who I will not name had drunk one shandy too many and found that he could not wait to relieve the pressure on his bladder, so he abandoned his bike at the side of the road and ran up an embankment and took refuge behind a tree and did what a man has to do in that situation.

As I stated I would not name the person as it may cause unnecessary embarrassment, however I will say it gave both Lee and myself the biggest laugh of the day (ooops) along with the occupants of the cars in the queue with us.

We left Gloucester and headed for the Forest of Dean and then to Monmouth where we parted company.

My thanks to Lee and Timm a great trip and good company, look forward to the next one.

Steve Williams.

 

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Group Appeal.

The Gwent group of Advanced Motorcyclists are appealing to the public for any information about their Chief Observer. Dave Elger was last seen at a Wednesday night Rideout on 29th September 2004. Webmaster Steve Williams who led the ride that evening says "Dave volunteered to go tail end Charlie because he was running in his new bike, so we all thought great, now we can leave him behind for a change."

Dave however was never seen again and although seven riders searched Powys that evening still he could not be found.

In what turned out to be a related incident a group of young boys doing some night fishing reported seeing a man on a motorbike. 12 year old Jamie said "all of a sudden there was this man on a motorbike pulling up by the side of the river, we thought at first that he was a Sheep Fiddler but he only warned us that we should carry a torch to increase our visibility to other field users and suggested we consider joining an Advanced Fishing Club."

Public relations officer Greg Sullivan urges anyone with information to contact GGAM and says, "Dave would not normally leave the position of tail end Charlie but he recently purchased a new bike and has been behaving strangely ever since.

He has been riding up over kerbs and has even been seen posing next to his bike at Abergavenny bus station, we think that now he may even have started riding through fields Since buying that bloody German bike he's not the same bloke."

Thanks to the quick thinking of the young lads fishing they took a photo of the rider using their night cam. If anyone has seen this man then please get in touch.

 

 

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Porthcawl Chip Run via Brecon

Wednesday 29 th September

Upon arriving at Edlogan Way at 7 o'clock, the darkness was beginning to shroud the night's sky. There were 12 eager members who were willing to have braved the elements and made it to the meeting. Of these, four decided not to join us on the run.

The destination was changed at the last minute from Porthcawl to Brecon and Talgarth, with a re-grouping point at Black Mountain Yamaha. Then a quick phonecall to one of the group, who had decided to make their own way to Porthcawl and join meet us at the chippy, but hopefully we would have caught him before they left their house. (Aren't mobile phones great!)

Having decided on the destination, a brief discussion on the route and where we were going to re-group and we were off. Eight riders decided to brave the darkness.

When Andy Lamb led off he seemed to be getting faster and faster but Steve and I kept with him.  Finally he pulled over in a lay-by to say "what are you all following me for, I'm going home." Lucky he did stop otherwise he would have seven other bikes on his driveway.

The decided route took us on the main road to Pontypool and then towards Abergavenny. Then a section through the lanes by Llanellen and Llanfoist, bypassing Abergavenny centre. We joined the Brecon Road at the other side of Abergavenny by Neville Hall Hospital.

I was riding in position 6 in the group with Mike and Dave Elger (on his new bike) at the rear. During the ride to Brecon, cars split us up and the tail ender seemed to falling back quite a way. By this time, the main group had long since disappeared into the darkness. I slowed so that Mike could catch up but when he did there was no sign of Dave. We stopped and waited in Brecon but still no sign of Dave. So Mike and I decided to re-trace our route in case there was any problem, having first sent a text message to the leader informing them of our intentions.

Along the route, I was suddenly aware that there were additional headlights following us. These were definitely not cars - as they were moving about too much. It was the main group.they had caught us up!

We stopped at the agreed meeting point only to find that Dave had already been there a while (we had receive a text from him) after going to Talgrath first, Brecon second.

Now that we knew everyone was safe and well, it was back home. Once again we took the main route to miss out Abergavenny town and it was back on the main road via Pontypool and Cwmbran to Newport and beyond. With riders peeling off at various points along the route back.

All in all, a good ride. The rain didn't materialise even though the roads were a little wet in places. Now that we have all toned our riding in the dark technique, I don't think we really relish the idea of doing it again in a hurry!!!

We're all looking forward to the next Wednesday group meeting when we shall have Sgt Brown talking to us about traffic cameras.. I'm sure that should be an 'interesting' talk.

Dave Williams

 

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BikeSafe

Hi everyone. A big thank you to you all for the turn out today, it was a big public relations success with regards to raising our profile in the area. Two riders joined today and i am sending off their applications on their behalf this evening. The one first made contact with us when we manned the MDU at the Blackwood balloon festival, and the other first made contact with us when we handed out information packs and did a short presentation to the group involved at last weeks bike-safe weekend workshop. A third indicated that he will complete the application at home where he had his payment details and he also first met us last week at the bike-safe weekend.

A fourth had a free assessment and has every intention of forwarding his application ASAP and was in fact making his first contact with the group today. It proves however that most take away the information at hand to think over at their leisure and return on a second occasion to take the step to finally join.

During that period they have the web address that they can view at any time and can use to download an application form long after the paperwork has been misplaced. They also have our contact numbers that they can call if required.

We are therefore putting in the ground work that will reap more benefits in the near or not so near future. Today a large number spoke posatively about persuing becoming an advanced rider and took all the info available and i expect we will be seeing some of them again in the future. We also took enquiries from visitors to our area and we passed on the contact details of the following IAM groups:

This was possibly the last MDU bike event of the year. Next year however we will look to have a presence at the bike-safe events again and also take up the invites we have from the MDU events organised by the car group.

I will also explore the possability of having the MDU positioned at the two biggest events in South Wales, the Welsh Bike Show in Builth Wells and the road races at Aberdare Park. There will be a cost involved for those that may be prohibitively high and if it does go ahead then we may also discover that we get more interest in Abergavenny where it is free for us. But without trying we will never know what response we will get, so it would be good to attend these events at least once.

Special thanks to those from the car section for once again giving up their free time for the bike event. I hope you appreciate the benefits to our Gwent Group from these activities and all enjoyed today sufficiently enough to continue with the support in the future. Cheers

Greg Sullivan

 

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Brecon.

Always a popular ride 18 riders assembled for this run to Brecon, Dave Richards planned the route and headed out from Edlogan way up to the Cwmbran by-pass.


A steady pace took us along the A4042 turning off for Llanellen, Llanfoist and heading for Govilon. Deciding to go the scenic route Dave headed up the B4246 passing the Blorenge (1811ft) on the left, up to the Keepers pond and on to Blaenavon. A nice clear evening meant great views across to the Sugar Loaf (1955ft) but required rubber necking to take it all in, this scenery is better viewed in the opposite direction.

Over to Brynmawr, along the A465 towards Ebbw Vale we then turned off over Mynydd Llangynidr (1804ft). This is a good road that is not often used by bikers perhaps due to the sheep on the side of the road. However, as I was behind Dave the sheep seemed to scatter away from the road I think maybe they recognised me as I am a local to this area. That would be understandable as I have had some interesting experiences with them in the past, nothing sordid I must add and thankfully I was on four wheels on that occasion.

We then dropped down into Llangynidr, rode on to Talybont and regrouped in Brecon.

As the newsletter indicated this was a two-tiered ride, so with everyone being aware of the route and meeting place Dave Elger headed out on the A470. Being the nominated tail end Charlie for this section I stayed at the back of the second group and had a pleasant ride as darkness set in returning via Bronllys, Talgarth, Tretower, Crickhowell, and regrouped at Black Mountain Yamaha.

Now I can't really comment on the first group that went off and whether they enjoyed their ride. But after two hours and 85 miles and judging by the big smiles all round I have no doubt that they did. Hence the two tier system keeps everybody happy with there being something for everyone – so come on you missing members, it's simple, just turn up and enjoy as all are catered for.

Greg Sullivan

 

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Bala Lake.

What a lovely morning, the weather forecast had been good but as Snowdonia can be very changeable I had a Givi top box full of extras, just in case. However, the conditions turned out to be so good that I shed layers not added to them.

Seven riders met at Edlogan way, some of whom can be considered to be dead certs, after all it is a Sunday, and some others that don't attend so often for the Sunday run so it was great to see them there again.

After a quick chat we left slightly late, which is normal for us in case there are any stragglers, yes I know that's usually me.

We took the direct route to Abergavenny bus station to meet Tony Morgan and headed out on the A40 towards Brecon.

It had been decided that certain routes would be thrown open with a clear meeting point decided upon, after all we are all advanced riders so no need to use the drop off system all the time. A sixth sense told me someone would like to go over Talgarth so that was the route to the first meeting point at Builth Wells Little Chef, the twisties begun and off we went.
I would like to think that my advanced riding technique warned me that the road surface was unusually hazardous for this time of year, but the truth is the “grass cutting” signs and great big articulated hedge cutter gave the game away. So the last couple of miles to Talgarth were completed in a manner befitting the conditions. We all arrived at Builth together and bade fond farewell to Dave Williams, he had indicated he would be branching off at that stage because chores were building up with a lack of time to get them done.

Using the drop off system and with thanks to Steve Williams for volunteering to stay at the back we headed for Rhayader on the A470. This is a good road, smooth and wide that begs to be ridden fast, yet smoothness without reckless speeds is what the IAM expect and that enabled us to pass the mobile speed camera on the right hand side without trepidation. We then trailed a car with a Police car in front of it for the last few miles to Rhayader travelling at approx 55mph. I deciding that I would have to open up too much to pass them both and maybe split the group up in doing so, hence we sat it out until the four wheeled obstructions headed off in another direction.

Straight through Rhayader heading for Llangurig we took an immediate right onto the B4518 to Llanidloes , a smooth open road with panoramic views. Passing through Llanidloes we continued towards Staylittle with the road and scenery getting even better, the group swept along the dam wall of Llyn Clywedog at water level and up to the viewing point. Now this was not a scheduled stop but the scenery is so good that it would have been a crying shame not to take time to appreciate it.

Whilst removing my helmet to cool off I heard the shout “HAIR.” Mark and I looked at one another and I thought great mine must have started growing back, now I can grow a pony tail as the next stage of my mid-life crisis. My hopes were dashed when I saw the HARE scampering across the road and into the bushes.

We rested for 10 minutes and took a number of photographs whilst watching the activities on the reservoir and admiring the wonderful panoramic view.

Llyn Clywedog.

Owned by Severn Trent the Llyn Clywedog is a man made reservoir formed by the construction of the Clywedog Dam. The dam was built between 1965-67, the structure being the tallest mass concrete dam in Britain, standing fully 236 ft (72m) high. It is 750 ft long, and holds back some 11,000 million gallons of water.

The lake has a surface area of 615 acres, is 216 ft deep at its maximum depth and stretches in all a distance of some six miles. At its maximum, it is just 500 yards wide.

On we pressed turning left through Dylife Gorge along an unnamed road. This is smooth single track for approx 10mls that chops and changes left and right that can be difficult to concentrate on when there is yet more great scenery to appreciate. Dropping down into Machynlleth we parked up to seek refreshments at a local café.

Plenty of space in the café meant service was quick yet we relaxed for half an hour enthusing about the roads and scenery and debating various manoeuvres, whilst watching regular groups of bikes going by.

Suitably refreshed we headed out on the A487 towards Dolgellau . This road has many twists and turns but we could not enjoy them due to three sets of traffic lights controlling the flow of traffic around road works. Traffic volumes being what they are, these are much needed improvements so we must not whinge about a slight delay, not when we can make such good progress when we get going again.

On reaching the Dolgellau by-pass we filled up ready for the return run rather than leave it until we reached Bala because fuel provision is painfully slow in the one garage in Bala high street.

Now the quickest route to Bala is the A494 which is a good road that runs along the length of the lake, but a better road is the A4212 from Trawsfynydd to Bala. However, the best road is the B4391 at Ffestiniog so onward we ploughed up the A470 through a wooded valley at Coed Y Brenin (Forest of Kings), past Trawsfynydd and into Ffestiniog where we turned right onto the B4391.

This is a challenging road with tightening corners and magnificent views of Arenig Fawr Mountain, so concentration was necessary to keep to the correct lines. The B4391 then joins the A4212 and there they were once again, two speed camera vans laying in wait for the café racers, once again no cause for concern to us as we swept past in an orderly manner.

The road then runs along Llyn Celyn reservoir where there is a white water centre for rafting and canoeing. This only closes for three weeks every year to restock the river, and the river flow remains the same throughout because it is controlled by releases from the Dam. If riding a motorcycle is not enough for you then I can recommend trying a two hour session of rafting at this centre, it's where I spent May bank holiday.

On reaching Bala we rode through the high street and on out to the lake side where we parked with about 50 other bikes.

We then refuelled our stomachs at the café overlooking the lake, relaxing whilst watching the sailing activities. During this time it was noticeable that a Police rider came in and out of the parking area twice, whilst a helicopter hovered overhead. Even the waitress commented on the amount of Police activity that day.

Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid)

This is the largest natural body of water in Wales, fed from the Dee catchments it stretches for over 4.5 miles. It is home to the only known population in Wales of the Gwyniad which is a whitefish - a kind of land-locked herring that lives at the very bottom of the lake.

Now I like to think that I welcome our neighbours from over the border, I even cheered them on in the Rugby World Cup. But as the area attracts many from the Midlands, Merseyside and the Northwest of England I began to tire of all the St Georges flags flying from car windows. Recent publicity questions the legality of these but I must say they help to increase the visibility of the cars; nevertheless it was a struggle to resist the temptation of pulling the odd one off whilst at a junction. Glad to say that none of the bikers defaced their machines in the same way.

The return trip was a different route and as it was now 3:00pm we had to push on. All decided to ride as a group except for Ian as he had to get back to Bridgend so once again we relied on the drop off system, special thanks to Mark Jones for riding tail end.
Heading out on the B4391 we were treated to a mixture of hair pin bends, forestry and open moor land as we passed through Llangynog, Llanyfyllin and into Welshpool .

Whilst on the A490 south of Welshpool the group became increasingly spread out so Tony and I finally pulled over. Minutes later Steve pulled up to say that Tim's BMW had snapped a clutch cable so we headed back. Tim then passed us by so we turned and caught him to hear him shout that he needed us to direct him through junctions so that he would not have to stop. This was a useful exercise in planning ahead as we manned different junctions and waved Tim on if the way was clear, eventually taking a break at a little chef in Newtown.

Then it was onto the much anticipated A483 from Newtown to Builth Wells. As there are little by the way of junctions the drop off system ceased to be and it was a case of make your own way back.

Again we met in Builth Wells only for Tim to pass by moments later so we got ahead of him to head on to Talgarth , thankfully the grass cutting had finished and Tim once more passed by as we paused.

It must be said that Tim performed admirably and made excellent progress whilst being handicapped with the clutch-less changes. With the BMW now showing 90k miles the gearbox must also be a fine piece of engineering.

The incident also highlights the merits of continuing as a group, where possible, for the return trip, as it would have been more difficult for a lone rider in such circumstances.

All headed home but Mark Gornicki and I pulled up at Abergavenny bus station. As usual someone came up wanting to talk about Triumphs, I happened to mention where we had been for the day only to be humbled to hear that they had been on a ride from Weston Super Mere to Anglesey and were now heading home. And I thought we had had a long run!

All in all a good day and if required can be included again next year. Alternatively a run to Llyn Clywedog taking the scenic road all around the waters edge may be a better option.

Speed camera activity was a bit tiresome; I much prefer to see road traffic police patrolling as they are highly skilled and not just looking for speeders but also bad drivers. Still the time to debate this subject is Wednesday 27 th October at Edlogan Way – See “Bike events” in the newsletter.

Greg Sullivan.

 

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Cardigan

Sunday 11-April-2004

Sunday 11 th April, Easter Sunday - a day for the family to get together and enjoy everyone's company. .Not for us dedicated bikers. The pull of an enjoyable ride in West Wales and to top it all, good weather, was too much to ignore.

We made out way towards Abergavenny, turning left at Llanelin (just before the hump-backed bridge) towards Gilwern and ??? rejoining the A40 just before Brecon. Staying on the smaller road which runs parallel to the main A40, we all enjoyed the twisting bends and the new tarmac. Boy, this makes a difference!

At Talybont-on-Usk a number of riders decided not to follow but to take an alternative route. We continued along the B4558 and re-joined the main carriageway (A40) on the outskirts of Brecon.

We waited at the roundabout for about five minutes but since no-one had passed we assumed that the rest of the group were probably in front of us. So it was a case of catch-up. I didn't realise how much of the road between Sennybridge and Llandovery had double white lines in the middle of the road. I found this out when stuck behind the " Sunday Driver " people out to enjoy the scenery, with the trail of cars behind them like a long caterpillar.

About five minutes after parking up in the car park in Llandovery, the remainder of the group arrived. It transpired that they had decided to follow us after all. There were quite a few bikes already at the West End Café but not as many as there would have been later in the day. It was a quick stop for a mug of tea and we were off again.

We made our way towards Lampeter along the A482 and then onto the A475 towards Newcastle Emlyn. The road between Lampeter and Newcastle Emlyn was very quiet. Perhaps due to it being Easter Sunday.

Just outside Newcastle Emlyn we pulled into a layby to decide exactly where in Cardigan we wanted to go. It was suggested that we divert North towards the coast, to the small village Llangrannog.

We made our way towards Aberporth but there was nowhere to park the bikes and have something to eat. So we made our way towards Llangranog through the narrow coastal roads . plenty of slow driving practise.

Once in Llangranog we descended on a chip shop on the front. Placed our orders and then enjoyed them sitting above the beach watching kids get absolutely freezing in the sea. Many of the sensible ones wearing wet-suits others making do with T-shirts.

A number of the group wanted to return via the fastest route possible (maybe to salvage as much of the day as possible..to keep in the 'good books') so they made their way straight to Carmarthen and then on the M4. The remaining few re-traced the route back to Llandovery where we split again. Two of us went over the Black Mountain (A4069), Glanaman and Pontardawe to join the M4 towards Bridgend; the others back along the A40 to Brecon and Abergavenny.

Along our return route, we encountered a little rain around Lampeter but not enough to warrant donning the wet-weather gear. We were skirting the outside edge of the cloud and before long we were out the other side.

Although the original destination for this rideout was Cardigan, I believe we made the right choice in diverting to Llangranog. An enjoyable day was had by all. Looking forward to next month's rideout to Newtown.or rather the roads to Newtown.

David Williams

 

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Bourton-on-the-Water

14th March 2004

Reviewing the weather forecasts, especially after the snow we had on Thursday evening, I had decided that if the weather wasn't very good that morning that I would elect to stay in bed in the warm and dry.

Upon looking out of the window at 7:30 it was a bit overcast and raining slightly. There were lighter patches of cloud and so I decided to go for it. I persuaded myself that if it did rain it would be an opportunity to brush up on my driving in wet conditions. Little did I know that I would have to contend with more than just rain!

Upon arriving at Ed Logan way there was only one other motorcyclist there. Within ten minutes we had a complement of 8 riders. The next decision to make was who was going to lead. Steve decided he'd prefer to not have spray in his face and so led the pack.

While waiting the rain had decided to ease a little, there were still the patches of lighter cloud but now there were more dark patches than light. Not a good start.

Off we went down the great Tre-Herbert Lane (which I must say is fantastic in the wet!) to join the road to Usk. Then it was on to Monmouth via Gwernesney and Mitchel Troy. A quick zoom up and down the dual carriageway in order to take the route through the Forest of Dean. Apart from a couple of us who got left at the lights at the Monmouth junction, we all met up and travelled in a group through the Forest.

A quite uneventful journey through to Coleford, Gloucester and Cheltenham.

Travelling along the ridge (A436) to Bourton-on-the-Water the wind was very strong from the side. Many of us found it difficult. What made it worse was the fact that the first encounter of it was following a 'right-hander' being close to the grass verge, avoiding the mandatory man-hole cover (why do they insist on putting them in the middle of the road on a bend ???) and then having the wind blowing us even closer to verge. Not a pleasant part of the journey! I found that the larger screen on my bike acted like a sail - but unfortunately the wind was from the side instead of behind.

Once into Bourton', it was the usual search for somewhere to park. There was a large car park behind the petrol station but quite a way from the main street. So it was the customary slow ride up and down the main street. Once parked we made our way to a tea-house for a well-earned cuppa. On the way to the café we chatted to an equally wet traffic warden. I don't think she enjoyed having to be out in this weather either.

There were a couple of bikers in the café but they left just as we started to 'disrobe'. I wonder if we frightened them off?

We made use of their heaters to dry out our gloves and enjoyed the coffee and a bite to eat. We managed to deposit a great deal of water on their floor from our jackets. We thought of it as being a good excuse for them to mop the floor.I don't think the owners thought of it that way!

Once refreshed it was back along the same route back to Wales. Just passing Gloucester and on to the A40 the sun actually managed to peep out from under the clouds. This didn't last long - it was back to the dark cloud and rain.

Typically, when it's chucking it down in Wales, you cross the Severn Bridge and the rain stops - today was an exception on the return journey...once we approached Monmouth, the rain had stopped completely and the sun was out. The roads were beginning to dry off. Much nicer driving conditions.

 

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Stratford-Upon-Avon

12th October 2003

With the summer seemingly gone until next year, yet still a reasonable amount of warm dry weather available for those of us wishing to stretch the better motorcycling riding conditions as much as possible, eight of us met as usual at Edlogan Way (10am) & departed for Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire.

We headed across to the A449 via Usk, passing Monmouth and continuing on the A40 to Ross-on-Wye. On picking up the A449 again heading towards Ledbury our progress was slowed by the heavier than usual traffic this due to the M50 being closed (reason unknown!!). This is generally a good road in which to hone your riding skills with its combination of tight twisty bends and undulating straights, but this time it was more a matter of counting how many few gaps there now are in the seemingly constant double white lines.

Through Ledbury, across to Upton-on Severn and on to Pershore where a brief stop was had so the man in front could consult the map to find a reasonable back way into Sratford in a effort to miss the traffic.

On arriving in Stratford a couple of circuits around the large main roundabout were necessary as the usual bike park has now been redesignated for the disabled and a new purpose built motorcycle park is sited to the side of the car park that is in the centre of the same large roundabout. The riders refueling station was found in the form of the floating baguette shop where tea and hot fillings were gladly consumed,(a word of warning don't lean on the counter after being served your tea - remember it's a boat !).

The return journey brought us back through Moreton-in-Marsh, Stow-on-the-Wold, Cheltenham, and Gloucester and back to Ross-on-Wye. A couple of miles up the A49 and we hung a left onto our old friend the Skenfrith road, a cup tea in Aber bus station being a fitting end to pleasant day's ride.

Pete Burgess.

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