MAY CHAPTER 2 :
More grey rain out on Great Orm, plus hours of cold showers on the trot;
Shivering down Llandudno sea-front: new S-60 Power Shot.
Peering in through hotel windows - "Could we blag a room? I doubt it";
Against the odds Princess strikes gold, then supper from a Kebab outfit.
Manager speaks to fellow Arabs, then retire to free hotel room;
Relieved to be back beaming pictures through the telephoto zoom.
Ride the storms,
Roll into Rhyl,
A free trip round the Terror tomb;
Bikes defended from some scallies, heros emerge from the gloom.
Bombed out ships
And three lane highways,
Diolch y Cymru, 'cross the Dee;
On the Wirral, find a farm
Where dogs keep them awake 'til three.
Next-door barn the sheep are bleating, Barn Owl watching from a rafter;
Dogs still baying in the morning, mixed with farmer's childrens' laughter.
Shags build nests on Bootle lighthouse,
Strong winds call for extra jerseys;
Tall Bike drivers spot the Livers
From the Ferry 'cross the Mersey.
City Centre: hoardes of shoppers,
Friendly scousers flock like starling;
Gerard towels: pre-world cup buzz in nylon tracksuits, pints of Carling.
Through Albert Dock the TB's pass
And drop in on a second Tate;
But TT Race Week's days away: on Isle of Man they've made a date.
Steam Packet give two free passes,
Bikes on car deck (according to the rules),
Dormitories upon arrival: 18th-century boarding school.
And four-horned rams:
The Manx leg is a favourite section;
Tall Bikes race around the Island, each in opposite direction.
Locton sheep, Cremaster 4: there's Satyrs dancing on the pier,
Two-wheeled tension: ten speed-bikers sacrifice their lives each year.
Back in England, docks at dusk the tour leaves Liverpool at pace;
Licked by sand storms, Crosby beach, where Gormley's put Another Place.
Traipsing down aisles is all-round fatiguing, but that's where tall bikes can be put to good uses,
A vast shop in Formby - more pasta and pesto, before a retreat with the tent among spruces.
Next two nights are covered, the parents are back, boys meet them in Southport all hazey & blank,
More family support teams: the third Stevens brother, with wife and two kiddie-winks, Maisie & Frank.
Chinese food is paid for, a buffet in fact, which doesn't turn out to be such a good plan,
For plate after plate, all MSG laced, the "Eat all you like" 's more like "Eat all you can".
A slow afternoon with gizzards all bloated,
The sea wall is ridden to work off that stodge;
Then full family gathering just outside Preston,
No more fitting a venue than a Travel Lodge.
There's two double-deckers, old dad on a hybrid, then mum on her clunker with basket all wonky;
A trail of wierd ducklings on Blackpool parade,
Marshmallow hot chocolates
And beaches with donkeys.
The stench of a dolphin corpse on Morecombe mudflats,
A pitstop in Fleetwood and on o'er the Ribble;
Dream picnics canal-side,
No rows or disputes, no clashes between them nor the usual quibbles.
Lancaster's lovely: all street trade and bustle, thankfully unspoilt by housing investors;
The tall bikes find friends fast with cool local bike bods,
And some anti-globalisation protestors.
A day's library duty and local excursions, and lounging in town squares regardless of mileage,
The surrounding fields purr all night with tractors as Lancashire farmers work hard to cut sileage.
nb. These couplets come gushing, though not hot off the tarmac (you'd think that they would from the hours each day spent
In repetitive motion; in fact, they are squeezed out by torchlight, both squidged up in a two-man tent.