A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about making steps to get back on two wheels. At that time I had done some refresher training and test driven a Harley Davidson Sportster. Much as I enjoyed riding the Harley, I had not found one that I could afford. Also, although it looks like a big bike, when I saw the pictures of me on it, my 6’ 2” frame made it look like a 5/8 scale model. So, my search continued.
The following weekend I went out again: my third consecutive weekend out on a bike, this time on a Honda CB1300 from Bransons Motorcycles in Gloucester. This was the weekend that it snowed. When I arrived at Bransons around 1:30pm it was bitterly cold, but as yet no snow had fallen. As I was making arrangements, the first few flakes started to fall: nothing to worry about.
And so I set off. In hindsight, it was probably not my smartest idea to stick with my planned route into the Forest of Dean. Things weren’t too bad as I set off down the A48 through Westbury on Severn, although the temperature did drop a little in the open countryside along the River Severn. As I turned off toward Cinderford, however, it was properly snowing: the flakes were whizzing past my helmet like the stars passing the Enterprise as it enters warp speed on Star Trek, and they were starting to settle on the road.
Too late to turn back, I thought, I might as well continue. Things definitely got hairy as I headed out past Speech House, by now trying to stay within the tyre tracks of the few cars ahead of me to avoid the snow, which was settling with increasing enthusiasm. Finally heading in the right direction for home, I tackled the steep, windy descent approaching Mitcheldean: the snow covered roads, steep drops and the standard £1000 insurance excess concentrated my mind, driving away thoughts of my increasingly numb fingers, suffering inside my cheap gloves intended only for fair-weather biking.
Finally, back on the A40, I made good progress and took a detour past home to show off the bike to my by-now quite concerned wife, before heading back to Bransons where they were amazed that I’d been out so long and even more amazed that I was still smiling. If you enjoyed riding it in this, they said, you must like it. And I did!
Last weekend, therefore, I went back and bought it.
And so, of course, I was out motorcycling again this weekend. Having picked the bike up on Saturday morning I was keen to go out and my wife was equally keen to try out the pillion seat. Not having learned my lesson, I decided that we should do the same route. On this occasion there was no snow, but if anything it was even colder. When buying the bike I also splashed out on a decent pair of gloves, but they seemed to make little difference: by about half way I couldn’t feel my fingers at all.
Just as the cold was getting unbearable we stopped at the café at Harts Barn, just beyond Mitcheldean, for a much needed warm, a cup of tea and a bowl of soup. It took a while for my fingers to thaw out and stop hurting sufficiently to hold a cup, but when they did it was the best cup of tea ever: Lapsang Souchong – a wonderfully smoky tea, like the Talisker of the tea world. Thus warmed we returned home without incident.
Sunday was cloudier, but positively balmy by comparison. This time we went out on separate bikes, my wife on her YBR 125, and again we headed out to a café: The Stables at Saul Junction. This was a very nice, sedate ride and a very nice café – very welcoming, very good ham and chips and, of course, a nice cup of tea.
I see many more cafes in my future. Although my preferred habitat is the pub, when out on the bike a café makes much more sense: you can’t drink alcohol and you want something warm. Tea drinking is the hidden cost of motorcycling!
If you have any good recommendations for café’s worth riding out to in the Gloucester area I’d love to hear them.