RvR Day 11 Chelmsford to Dover

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RvR Route Day 11 Chelmsford to East Kent

Probably the best nights sleep of the whole tour night was had by all. More to do with how much work we had put in rather than plushness of the hotel. Functional would be more descriptive.

With a quick look at the route a collective decision was made to stick to the route for which we diligently and carefully prepared before we left.

It was possibly not the best decesion we made as we went through ploughed fields and had to strip off all the baggage on the bikes to get them over railway lines; not the easiest of tasks.

Then we hit the urban sprawl on the Essex side of the Thames and cycled through little used cycle tracks then on to the banks of the Thames. It was pretty disappointing really as the cycle path was in a bad state of repair with steep steps and locked gates which meant manhandling the bikes again.

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Crossing the Thames at Tilbury

We got past Tilbury Fort and then finally got to the Tilbury ferry pontoon. After a bit of lunch waiting for the ferry we got a cheery welcome aboard but had some difficulty getting all the bikes on. It was all sorted and within 10 minutes we were back in Kent; it may be the Kentish-Men side but the Men-of-Kent are on our way.

From Gravesend we followed the old Medway – Thames canal (never knew it was there!). However it made for a nice ride straight to Strood. We all regrouped to go through the Medway tunnel. It’s not great riding but it does cut out the stop/start riding going through the Medway towns.

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Always time for another beer

We were quickly through the tunnel and on way out of the busy towns, mindful that now it’s the Man-of-Kent side. Two rivers to cross now. We stopped for a beer at the Happy Mariner in Lower Tydall and then set off again through the apple orchards of rural Kent.

Mark had a little issue with his bottle holder and then we pushed on skirting Sittingbourne as much as possible. Then it was on to Faversham as we kept off the A2 until the Brindley corner. From here we quick spurted around and down the hill to Boughto and then on to Canterbury looking good as we all kept in a peleton around the ring road. Then up to Bridge for a final pint and a debrief.

Everyone felt good if not a bit tired. We had a few little niggles but nothing us ‘Athletes’ can’t handle. Then we left going on our separate ways home to various corners of East Kent.

Another tour finished. It was somewhat different from other tours but nevertheless it was excellent riding  and ‘guys, a pleasure and privilege to ride with you’.

Until next time, your calm collective tour captain, Dale

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Map of the whole Tour
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Home at last

RvR Day 8 Cheadle to Scampton

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An evening at the Dambusters Inn

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RvR Day 8 Cheadle to Scampton

We had an early start out of the Governor’s Hotel in Cheadle as breakfast was not until 8:30 which is no good for early start athletes. So off we went.

It was no good getting out of urban sprawl of Manchester but it was well worth it in the end.

What a tremendous route the Trans-Pennine-Trail (TPT) is, an absolute pleasure to ride. It’s pretty tough but nothing us trekkers can’t handle. The down-hills through the woods were very challenging for me, but the lads loved them. Honestly I can’t say how much we all enjoyed it. The looks we got from the mountain-bikers was a picture. “Bloody mad” they said, and were probably right.

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On the Trans-Pennine-Trail

We carried on through the mining villages around Barnsley thinking of the Sutcliffes from the village as they are from this area.

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Lunch stop in Tickhill

Then we stopped for lunch at the Scarborough Arms in Tickhill. We all regrouped and had a bite to eat. From there we then set off for the Dambuster’s pub and Plewies. It was great roads heading for Gainsborough which was the place of a classic crash for me on the Durness to Dover ride all those year’s ago [Ed: it was 2012!]. They even made me re-enact the accident!

These were great country roads and we hardly met a car for the 15 mile final run in. It was brilliant as we all grouped together to meet the legend Steve Plews a true gentleman and probably the best publican in the world.

What a welcome at the Dambusters. Cathal & Greg had travelled up from Sunshine Corner to meet us & the all the locals were amazing and great people.

Over and out from the Dambusters Inn. Great company having a little beer now.

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Dale and Steve Plews at the Dambusters Inn

RvR Day 7: Bodfari to Cheadle

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RvR Route Day 7: Bodfari to Cheadle

We had a great night with the North Wales Clan and really enjoyed the stay. A massive thumbs up from the Team and also happy birthday Doreen have a lovely day you deserve it after looking after us. Irene, Keith and I loved the hot tub and full English breakfast you prepared for our early start. [Ed: nudge nudge say no more].

After starting the ride with our farewells we headed towards Mold and passed Warren House (We Doreen & Alan used to live) so we had little photo outside the main entrance. Once again happy memories of family parties and weddings.

Then we stopped for breakfast at Mcdonalds in Mold, and also had a look at booking some accommodation as we are meeting Dave’s mate Ian later for dinner and few beers.

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WhatsApp Image 2020-08-29 at 19.42.25From there we kept on the tracks and canal tow paths most of  the way but it was still not good enough to stop big Dave having a little tumble at a junction. He fell off with his shoes clipped in like a stranded turtle!

WhatsApp Image 2020-08-29 at 13.52.54We stopped in a nice pub just outside Warrington for lunch and then carried on adjacent to the Manchester Ship Canal then on to another smaller canal. A great route. Then it was just the last few miles up to Cheadle and the hotel.

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RvR Day 6: Aberystwyth to Bodfari

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Family photo at Bodfari
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RvR Route Day 6: Aberystwyth to Bodfari

Mark booked the best hotel in Aberystwyth – well it was nowhere near the best or even in the top 100. However a good breakfast put it up a few places.

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Breakfast

Off we go with the our new recruits Connor and Mark. They both set off up the big hill out of town at a fast pace accompanied by Bingo. Dave, Stubbsy & I stayed on the steady pace. Fair play as it was pretty steep and not my ideal start but I soon got into the swing of it.

It was steady climbing all the time as we passed King Arthur’s Labyrinth at Corris and a Gin Distillery. It’s a weird combination but it took the mind of climbing thinking what King Arthur got up to drinking gin

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Up we climbed to Bala Lake at Lyn Tegid where Keith, Mark and Connor stopped at a lake side tourist cafe. It was really busy and cramped so the rest of us went into Bala (The Old Bull Inn) unfortunately they did not serve food so we had a drink and got some sandwiches from the Co-op next door and tried to dry off a little.

It was raining even harder now so with rain jackets and gloves on we went, with the quip “I am glad we came in the summer”. As normal we always start the session off with a big climb and it was no different today. The road was busy getting out off Bala with loads of tourist traffic; most of them looking at us as if we were mad I think they may be right! Bingo was setting a really good pace as we started to eat up the miles and before long we entered the small town Ruthin where we turned off the A494 on to the small country lanes. So much nicer to ride on.

Soon Bodfari was on the signposts and with the rain  easing up slightly we pulled into the Kinnell Arms to regroup which was only about 2 miles from Doreen and Alan’s place. I gave Doreen a call said we were in the Kinnell Arms regrouping and drying off, obviously she knew better, after an hour Alan joined us with a wry smile.

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Hospitality in Bodfari

Alan guided us down to their place and it was really good seeing Doreen. Angela was also there making us all very welcome as they always do when we venture up to see them. The lads got showered and cleaned up as best they could. Keith & I popped over the road to see Auntie Irene, once again she was so glad to see us, very humbling, unfortunately Irene was not up to joining the rest of us over the road, but offered both of us a bed for the night. We both jumped at it, far better than camping!

We then rejoined the rest, with Cousins Jeremy and Karen with their partners and children joining us it making it a lovely evening. We had a with a curry and later an array of flapjacks and Welsh cakes with Alan making sure all the lads drinks were topped up. All we had to do was all get together for the customarily family photograph, which was duly organised.

I would like to thank Doreen and Alan for their amazing hospitality. It was a real pleasure seeing you both and lovely to catch up with Irene too. We managed to squeeze in a few extra cakes into our bags.

Catching up with all the cousins and families made for a wonderful evening.

THANK YOU from the crazy cycling gang

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Alan & Doreen’s previous home in Bodfari

RvR Day 4 Chepstow to Brecon

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Dale & Keith at William St., Ynyshir
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RvR Day 4: Chepstow to Llwyn-On Reservoir, Brecon

Eventually we had a lovely meal in the end last night. We were kept waiting for a table at the hotel for 3/4hour only then to be told they had no food left. The cylist were OK with it though Stubbsy daughter had just done a 12 hr shift at Bath hospital which is far harder than cycling. She was not best pleased. But all’s well that ends well as we found a great Italian restaurant less than 50m away.

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Lester and Chris Powell – on the road rendezvous

We woke up to a lovely sunny morning had a bit of breakfast and then hit the road just after 8. It was a bit of a steep climb out of Chepstow as we headed for Newport for a quick meet up with Chris and Lester Powell. It was great seeing them both looking very fit and well. We had a little chat then wished them all well. Chris gave us a big bag of Welsh cakes: Bingo promptly took ownership of them.

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Newport Transporter Bridge
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Tree down on the cycle trail

WhatsApp Image 2020-08-26 at 13.54.12WhatsApp Image 2020-08-26 at 13.54.28WhatsApp Image 2020-08-26 at 13.54.42We pressed on through Newport and passed the famous transporter bridge – a marvelous feet of engineering. After finally getting out of Newport we headed towards the Rhondda valley and picked up the Sustrans Cycle Route 4 or maybe Route 8 [Ed: or both; 4 goes E/W to Fishguard and 8 goes S/N to Anglesey]. It’s a credit to the Welsh tourist board as it was excellent, fully paved and a joy to ride on.

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Tommy Cooper at Caerphilly Castle

Before we knew it we were climbing steadily up the valley, going through Caerphilly where we stopped for a photo shoot of the castle and the statue of Tommy Cooper (I did not know he was Welsh  [Ed: now you do, just like that!]). Then we stopped for lunch at a cafe in Pontypridd. Big Dave is making sure we have a dry lunch – he is a good lad. From there we carried onto Porth and then up the Valley to Ynysir where my Dad was born.

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No. 17 William St.,  where Nana and Grandad House lived and where Dad was born

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The Oval recreation ground, Ynyshir

We had a few pictures taken along William Street and remembered holidays from the past playing football with Graham on the Oval and wearing a horrible tweed tweed suit that Dad had brought for Keith and I to name a few.  Personally I was really pleased we went up the Ynysir valley. I loved it, but anyway that’s enough of the sentimental stuff  as we had the first of two big climbs in front of us.

We had already started the the climb upto Maerdy. It was our first proper climb and it was good stuff as that’s what we came for.

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Memorobilia at the Aberdare Constitutional Club

All of us were laughing and joking as we rode up to Aberdare, and with big Dave ditching the no beer thing Keith and I went in the Aberdare Constitutional Club. Dave and Andy had a beer outside a coffee shop then joined us. It was just a timing and thirsty thing. The club was full of sporting memorabilia and the host was a great guy as he showed us all the bits and pieces.

Finally we left the club and struggled for a while to get out of the town. Then we hit another climb up to Merthyr Tydfil. On the descent we headed off towards Brecon for a good few miles, and stopped by a small hamlet on the side of a reservior. We tried a few B&Bs here to no avail and finally settled for a wild camp on the banks of the Llwyn-On reservior which is a lovely spo. We managed to put the water through the purifier, so we had coffee, 1/4 egg roll, 1/4 Soren Malt loaf each for dinner tand hen an early night.

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Settling down for the night at the Llwyn-On Reservoir, Brecon

All in all it was a great day in the saddle.