Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Day 4 Darkness descends
Day 4 Chippenham to Cardiff Airport forecast 61 miles, actual 98.8 miles.
That's me, Phil (tired but happy) and Ashley (freshly joined that morning), we're revving up in the car park of Chippenham's Premier Inn. Things we're about to get jolly, we bashed along and met up with Pops in a layby outside Corsham on the A4 it was a busy road and an unpleasing ride. A nice chap in the layby gave us a tenner as he was a fellow cyclist and shared our pain. We then left our support and headed on to the Bath to Bristol cycleway along the route of an old railway line. The boys were quite jolly and bowled along, whereas someone had set my saddle on fire and I could barely sit on it, let alone pedal. We reached Bath and wriggled through the town, I must admit they are big on Bath stone there, which can get a bit samey. We soon reached the edge of Britsol demarked by the number of people hanging round under railway bridges smoking weed. Phil overtook a young lad on what can only be described as a £80 full suspension bike that only had one gear, he actually had 21 but on being insulted by Phil passing him he pedaled like billy-o to get past him. It was pointless by then Phil had completed about 150 miles in the last few days and was fully in the grove and over time and despite some desperate and furious cycling from one-gear boy Phil slowly but surely outstripped him. To leave him disconsolately pedaling at a more normal looking rate, still in the same gear.
I had stuck behind an old man who had tutted us earlier for standing on the cycleway so he had to make a 6mm diversion to go around us. He was quite big and really took the headwind for me, I was dragged along behind him for miles and I couldn't build up the energy to pass him. Eventually I did and we ended up navigating our way to EA Head Office. We met up with Phil Stonelake, struggled to pass security, ate some flapjacks, drank tea, shook a bucket and then left. Really that delay was a bit too long we met the support crew late for lunch again around 2 pm at Severn Beach, a scenic location on the Severn Estuary. Bristol is hilly and no-one liked the perverse route but heck that how it was.
We headed off and had a great run across the old road road bridge on the first crossing M48. It was amazing to cross the big brown river but it very busy and there's a slow gentle incline on the other side for about 1 mile. We ground along until we reached a junction, it was hard going with a head wind and this slow incline. Ashley caught up with us and asked "Sorry but anyone else not find that tough?" I laughed he wasn't alone that really was tough. I can't remember what happened next but we cycled and it absolutely hammered down, we cycled through it all, cold, wet and tired. I became a bit confused and we got colder and more tired until we were run into the ground we called Pops and he agreed to meet us nearby. We all decided we'd get into the motorhome as it was approach 6pm and we needed our energy for the next day having cycled 65 miles. Ashley with no training had done his money and was bushed and Phil was starting to feel really ill. We met up with Pops about half and hour later but I was feeling better and better. The boys got in the motorhome and I decided to commit to it fully. I crammed in some cake and nuts, more nut bag and nut sack jokes, added extra lights to nyself and the bike and headed off into the darkness with rousing applause from the boys.
I don't know what came over me but I cycled hard, with the wind slightly which I took advantage of. I quickly negotiated Newport in the failing light and rain. I found my way out onto the flat lands between Newport and Cardiff and picked up a little tail wind and started to get my head down with a view to crunching some miles. Soon I could see Rumney coming up on the up on the map. I was elated it a suburb of Cardiff I was nearly there, half hour later I was in the centre of Cardiff, mapping went out the window and the city sprung up around me, the nightlife of Cardiff sprang out infront of me. I didn't fancy that so carried on through light rain and darkness until I reached the outskirts of Cardiff on the west side, an area full of car dealerships but at night, prostitutes, truck drivers and probably murderers. So cycled out of there. I had simply drawn a straight line to Cardiff airport and bashed a road route as straight as possible regardless of hills.
I got out of Cardiff and called Helen, she was so relieved to hear from me and really pleased. I pushed on and found a short cut through a minor road, unlit, my lights were LED for others to see me but not to light the road. I was plunged into darkness and had to navigate down hills at speed in the dark, only using the light reflecting of puddles to give me a target to aim for. Frightened, I began to hear things in the bushes, see things on the road, I was chanting "Dedication's what you need if you wanna be a record breaker!" I couldn't remember the rest of the words so just chanted the mantra until I could find a way out. I then found my way out onto the main roads, I ground up a long hill the odometer now reading 90 miles. At the top, Helen called again to tell me the Hotel was stopping serving food what did I want, cars were zooming past me in the rain, A lad was walking a moped on the other side of the road, I was on the edge of Barry Island and I wasn't in the mood. I battled on and soon could see the lights of the Holiday Inn Express. Waves of elation came over me, I saw Pops standing on the road cheering and rolled towards him it was around 10pm. I met Helen in the Hotel foyer, wet, cold and dazed, very dazed. Helen was pleased at how chilled I was actually I was completely out of it, I nipped up to the room got changed into dry clothes and got a curry which I inhaled and a pint of Brains SA courtesy of Pops. I felt amazing, dazed but amazing, I'd amazed myself. I went up to bed having said good night to Pops who was literally sleeping in the motorhome in a layby. I had a gorgeous hot shower and slipped into crisp clean sheets alongside Tomos for a cuddle in his bed. I then sat in my pyjamas drinking a bottle of ale while Helen read the boys stories, feeling high and tired, mint though.