MAY CHAPTER 1 :

 

Three-day breather; business dealt with,

 

Plus a school talk (makes them nervous);

 

Memory-jog of urban lifestyle, while the steeds receive a service.

 

Down at Mud-Dock, out in Fishponds - every box of comfort's ticked;

Alas the time in Bristol's sullied, when the fancy stove gets nicked.

 

Seventy quid - that's two week's food - those petty theives were out of order;

Severn crossing,

 

Bridge and tunnel,

 

Bikers ride across the border.

 

O'er reclaimed land, first stop is Newport,

 

Cows abundant by the water;

A marvellous swinging platform bridge:

Arnodin's superb "Transporter".

Dragon FM are on the case and ring the tall bike telephone;

Manager goes live on air, from the Welsh National Velodrome.

 

Cardiff Docks are looking flash, complete with a new cycle path;

 

Edward Pugsly and his family open their doors in Penarth.

(This man's noted as the first to give the cyclists food to eat

And welcome them in as his own, having met them on the street).

 

Multi-million pounds were spent to build the new Assembly Hall but

 

Meanwhile other places sunk as factories closed, like in Port Talbot.

 

Grubby houses under A-roads, atmosphere is far from poncy,

 

Road is wet

 

And dusk is dim

Climbing steeply over Swansea.

 

Scenic views from house half-finished, walls all stripped where plaster crumbles;

Round the bay towards the Gower; children wide-eyed in the Mumbles.

 

Villages awash with surfers, shoulders golden at Worm's Head,

Perpetual punctures to Llanelli; power-shower & firm bed.

The host's another former teacher they've not seen since they were eight;

 

Reminsice on old school photos, filling tums till really late.

 

Welsh people are wholly friendly: though all Tesco's look the same,

For the first time on the tour a checkout girl has asked their name.

 

The trip's carefree, boundless adventure, before their lives take different junctures;

But for now the only strain is climbing hills and mending punctures.

 

Dreamy days of outdoor bliss and nightly campsites in long grasses;

Rounded pebbles, ovate dock leaves, dewy blades to wipe their arses.

 

Dodging snails upon damp gravel, through dense pines of Pembury Park;

War jets screeching overhead - training to attack Iraq?

 

From the Tour the War seems crazy: "Quick lets get them or they'll bomb us";

Not the sort of thing you'd hear from peace-time bards like Dylan Thomas.

 

Lanes of sleepy Laugharne are quiet; no-one in the writing shed;

Perhaps he's up at Llareggub, composing verses there instead?

 

The owner of a bike shop helps out; shows them both a crumpled frame

On which his son was killed while riding - on the brink of national fame.

 

 "'Would have been a world-class racer, life cut short at twenty four.." __________________________________________________________________

Inner tubes are given free "..take what you need, there's plenty more".

 

Milford Haven's belching fumes out; Pembroke dock is drilling oil;

 

Juxtaposed with a thatched hut:

 

A bizarre night on Celtic soil.

 

Pembroke's lanes are very narrow: taking corners, please beware;

For Princess pulls a ten-foot tall skid - his wheel pancakes beyond repair.

A four-hour detour back to Hwlffordd, then plain sailing (if they wish hard);

Sure enough Sir Benfro's crossed: through St. David's, round to Fishguard.

 

Coach house home away from home, where they pass two jolly days;

Near familiar Strumble Head - known from years of holidays.

 

Bikes displayed to all the neighbours; bikers plied with cakes and cream;

Odd to've reached such homely turf, purely under their own steam.

 

Now what a run of dreadful luck: back wheel wrecked then fuel stove grabbed;

Bad things in threes: to top it off, the Canon digicam is nabbed.

 

Into inlets, out to headlands, coastline zig-zags like a fractol;

Alas no photographic proof - a chunk of Wales lost down a black hole.

 

Though one might go blind with fury, plan out bloody retribution;

Better not to brood on objects: consider theft "redistribution".

 

Snowdonia is under-rated, elsewhere lots have never heard of it,

These mountains were the best yet seen, but you'll have to take their word for it.

 

Bluebell woods and yellow houses, Aberystwyth (all Welsh speaking);

An orange Ford from 1909, which kind Hans plans to drive to Peking.

 

Manager's b-day in green fields, (this time last year 'twas pubs and flaggons);

Lens gone, TB eye gouged out, the pair see red like two Welsh dragons.

 

Such colours missed, such characters met and yet no photographs to show;

Replacement costs: £400 - another large financial blow.

 

Penetrating far-flung spots where hamlet life remains insular;

Rescued from a storm by surf babes, on the Lleyn penninsula.

 

Crap TV and wholewheat pasta, pop culture is hard to turn off;

Next day crack on from Portmeirion to Llanfairpwllgwyn..gogogoch.

 

Neolithic fields of Angelsey still filled with suckling teenage sheep,

Where locals help with broken spokes; at last buoys deflate in a heap.

 

More old school friends run bubble baths and dote on them with soup creations,

Towels so soft in spacious house and coastal strolls: recuperation.

 

Socks on Agas, tea time lagers, long word games and fire-side babble,

Out of sync with such late nights, and yet a record score in Scrabble.

 

Full face wind and sodden lycra - these things are an astounding pain,

Running late on Menai straits, a wet slog through the pounding rain.

 

"Coast hosts" are mostly fellow bikers, this time bird-watching is the link,

Twitchers put on fresh dressed crab, sun-powered showers turn faces pink.

 

 

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