Roy and I waited the arrival of the pack outside Shifnal Golf Course (where else ? its Roy’s second home!) in the warm sunshine thinking perhaps we should have gone for the airflow, but as we were off to Wales we knew it would be wet and cold. Alan and Ann led the pack which included Mick and Netty, Dave and Meg and Ian and Denise were bringing up the rear. We knew that this was a select group going on the trip as unfortunately, others had withdrawn through either illness or lack of a motorcycle.
Soon we were heading through the Shropshire countryside to our lunch stop at the Craven Arms, Shropshire Hills Discovery centre, which looked very interesting ( we must pay it a visit one day as it is just down the road from us) where they have a very nice café . Alan leading again we then weaved our way down to a tea stop, where because of the heat, Ann. Alan and I went for a iced coffee, which was really, really cold ! and we all ended up with brain freeze. Not that you would have noticed any difference with Alan!!!.
We arrived at the Hotel, the planned parking area was no longer available so we found somewhere to park the bike, unpacked and headed for the bar. After the usual meal, with catch ups and stories exchanged we headed off to bed ready for the next day. Even the wedding in the hotel could not stop us from our slumber
Saturday 23rd May
With Roy and I leading, we set off in brilliant sunshine, the roads were clear of traffic, but we did encounter (all weekend in fact) packs of cyclists totally oblivious to anything else on the roads except themselves. The route was lovely, passing through beautiful border villages with the Black Mountains always in view. Roy did try to point out the views but we could only barely communicate with Al (who had a crackly CB), he then passed the messages on to Mick and Ian, who had PMT (PMR) radios and then poor ole Dave who had no communication, just saw arms waving about.
One of the routes was a narrow lane with grass growing in the middle (luckily it was not raining) but surprising free of cyclists! We all negotiated it with no problems.
Our coffee stop that morning was Pontrilas Builders merchants!!, as we pulled onto the yard, we wove our way between forklift trucks and piles of timber and bricks, there was no sign of the promised café! I gingerly entered the store and there was a sign to a café, I climbed up stairs and was greeted by a lovely bright café set amongst fabulous kitchen display units. Calling the others up, we enjoyed a lovely coffee and 50p cake, while the locals enjoyed a full breakfast. Ian felt very at home as he had a MacDonald’s emblem mug and was surrounded by kitchen work tops, cabinets and drawers! Dave said it was the first time he had enjoyed a coffee and chosen new units for the kitchen!
We were now heading down the Golden Valley, with its gently rolling countryside to the tiny privately owned, toll bridge at Whitney on Wye, after paying the princely sum of £1.00 for five bikes we continues on our way. Now the Black Mountains were getting closer and we began to come across cattle grids and stroppy sheep (they refuse to move too busy eating). Lunch was at the Brecon Beacon Visitor Centre set on the edge of the Brecon Beacons and affording views across the mountains and valleys. Sitting outside in the blazing sun wishing we had not wrapped so warm (only Ian and Denise had airflow on, as they were going to Munich to see their new Granddaughter Emilie) we enjoyed lunch and views.
The after lunch route took as over the beautiful Beacons, till we stopped at the Brecon Mountain Railway, here Dave and Meg decide to have a 90 minute ride on the steam train and then make their way back to the hotel. The rest of us continued across some more scenic narrow mountain roads, passed the Talybont Reservoir and through deep woods until we came to the canal at Talybont on Usk. The afternoon tea stop was the local Post Office, again as it was so warm we sat outside enjoying the tea and ice creams, along with a group of scout cubs who were away for the weekend.
The way back to the hotel was again very picturesque with some winding routes up through the Welsh villages; as usual the way was blocked by cyclists and we had to force our way past. I was a cyclist in a previous life even did time trials on a tandem, so I am dismayed at the arrogant attitude of some of the cyclists today.
Once back at the hotel, only a couple of U turns today, the men washed the dusty NOT muddy bikes and then we all got ready for the evening meal and catch up with Dave and Meg on their train journey.
Sunday 24th May
We said goodbye to Ian and Denise who had to leave early so they could get to Munich to see Emilie, their first grandchild. Alan was also feeling very bunged up. Meg and I had given him all our cold remedies last night but they did not appear to have worked, so he and Ann decided to head back home.
The weather forecast was not good for today, so 3 bikes (beginning to be a bit like an Agatha Christie novel 10 little??????s) Set off, in the dry but the sky was looking ominous . We skirted around Brecon and rode along some brilliant biking roads to Builth Wells, for coffee. As there was only 3 of us we stopped in the town and hunted out a coffee shop with large comfy armchairs. We met some other motorcyclists, who said it was bucketing down in North Wales, we were glad our trip was taking us south. Now the roads took us through areas used by the Military for firing practice, the scenery and roads were great. Roy and I had planned to go down the military road from Llandulas to Lywel, it was recommended as great for biking. But when we reached the turning it said “MOD vehicles only” after a brief chat off the bikes ( we could not talk to each other on the bikes) we plotted in the lunch stop and headed there, with just a touch of dampness in the air.
Lunch again was a surprise, a biker’s café in what appeared to be a derelict industrial site, but it was a busy café with a small bikers clothing stand and excellent toasted sandwiches. The man on the stand was glad we had not tried to come down the MOD road, as parts of it are not tarmacked and only suitable for off roaders!!!.
The road now took us once again over the Black Mountains, where we came across a Cycle race, with cyclists heading down hill towards us at a rate of knots and once more we had to make way for them! Roy said the road would have been closed in his day, as it was quite narrow and twisty, but now a days it is a different story. Our final tea stop was in Brecon where we found a Costa Coffee and I met an old work colleague, who was enjoying the weekend in the Beacons.
Back at the hotel, dry and dusty, we had luckily managed to miss the rain all day. There was a wedding in the Hotel and we were surprised to meet ex Elite Wings Craig (in a Kilt) and Lynn Mears, it was their son’s wedding. And later that evening we met Jim and Ally Jones, and had great laugh reminiscing about old times and the Euro trip they all went on.
The three bikes once more set off in lovely warm sunshine and followed Ian’s route back, Roy and I left at Bridgnorth, Mick and Netty went back to Stoke and Dave and Meg were hunting for a MacDonald’s as Meg had some money off vouchers and we had not stopped at a MacDonald’s all weekend!
Thanks everyone for joining us, we had a great time with good company and lovely dry weather.
Missed Josie, because we took hardly any pictures
See you in France