A Summer on Two Wheels
It has been two years now and still the novelty of having a bike hasn’t worn off. There’s still a real thrill about taking it out for a quick blast; to nowhere in particular, overnight trips to places further afield and even on the rare occasion that I can use it to work – a round trip of just six miles.
I have clocked up around 13,500 miles since getting the bike in late August 2014 and many of them have been have been the result of some longer trips during the spring and summer months of 2016, including two trips to Wales, multiple trips to Weston super Mare, several south coast runs, and, more recently, to Clacton on Sea and Southend as well, with the highlight of many trips being the ‘chippy tea’, or, when with one of my riding friends in particular, a KFC.
A month or so ago, with my friend Alan, I embarked on a 520-mile trip to Tenby and back again, staying overnight on an alpaca farm in the arse end of nowhere. Asking the owners of the one and only pod if there was a pub in the village, we were simply told “no”. So we jumped on the bikes, headed to the nearest town around 10 miles away and returned with a Chinese takeaway tied to the handlebars of one of the bikes and my own bag loaded with cans of beer and cider. After a full day of riding, there was something rather nice about the peace and quiet, and nothing but hills, fields and alpacas for as as far as we could see.
This was our third longer trip together, having completed a trip to Land’s End last summer (600 miles), a trip to North Wales in May (780 miles) and now this one. Each time, we have opted for pods to sleep in, and they have always been very comfortable and inexpensive (around £35.00 per night). Aside from not having to carry a big heavy tent, pods generally come with electric, light and heat, so perfect for people like me who just aren’t cut out for proper camping.
Despite covering an arse-numbing 780 miles in 48 hours, our May trip to Caernarfon and Snowdonia National Park was the most enjoyable trip by far. With some fantastic accommodation, great scenery and roads, it was an all-round winner. The many beaches of northwest Wales and the roads through Snowdonia were quite simply stunning and in the case of the former, they looked even better under a blue sky with the sun beaming down on them.
Returning to Wales some weeks later and heading to Tenby was enjoyable but everything in comparison to the north was a little underwhelming; the scenery, the accommodation and things to do and places to eat. We were actually contemplating a 60-mile round trip to the nearest Toby Carvery! The accommodation in Login was very comfortable but a lack of hot water (no hot water at all) wasn’t ideal. I decided to brave an ice cold shower on one occasion and it was cold. So cold, in fact, that I shouted repeatedly, “f***, it’s cold” over and over again!
Celebrating my 31st birthday on the road was exciting, however, and it certainly beat the conventional birthday celebration – which consists of going to an awful pub in an awful town (in my case, Reading), surrounded by awful people, getting ridiculously drunk and spending all of the following day feeling awful too. It’s just not my thing.
Where overnight trips have not been possible, the bike has been used on trips to the coast and to destinations closer to home e.g. Swindon and Oxford. On warm and sunny days, the coast is where I like to be. It’s an opportunity to take in the sea air and to enjoy some seaside fayre, and it also makes for some interesting pictures and videos on the GoPro, which is, without fail, always strapped to my bike. Recently visited seaside towns include Southsea (awful), Clacton-on-Sea (not bad), Southend-on-Sea (also alright), Beachy Head (disappointing), Weston super Mare multiple times (plenty to do here) and Portland Bill (nice – with a decent little cafe and restaurant next to the lighthouse).
Over the past few months alone, 4,000 miles have been added to the bike’s odometer – that’s a combination of the trips talked about above in addition to very occasional trips to work, a weekly chicken run (usually Newbury) and even the odd trip to the supermarket. It’s safe to say that I use the bike at every opportunity!
The next overnight trip is only 2-3 weeks away and we are again hoping to head to north Wales, making the most of our very short summer.