Later this year I am off on a holiday of a life-time, riding a Harley Davidson coast to coast across America, as mentioned in excited tones here.
That is a lot of miles. My estimation of 200-300 miles per day is optimistic and most days will be in excess of 300 miles. The problem is, I have only been back on a bike for a couple of years and I am a bit of a lightweight: I have done nothing like that kind of mileage before.
So, over the course of the summer I need to get some practice in.
With that in mind, my good friend Paul invited me out for a ride around Wales last weekend.
And what a great day it was. We started just outside Abergavenny (50 miles from home already) with an excellent full English breakfast at the Steel Horse Cafe. Suitably fortified, we headed off into Wales.
Our route took us through the Brecon Beacons National Park; the roads were superb, twisty and often single track, with some stunning views. Traffic was surprisingly light considering it was a lovely sunny day, which is just as well because meeting on-coming vehicles on some of the roads was a little …erm… interesting.
If a car meets another car in such a situation, one will reverse back to the nearest passing point and they will be on their way, generally in good spirits. If you are on a bike, however, you have no reverse gear and cars seem fundamentally incapable of considering that they should reverse to let you pass. Consequently you generally just manage to squeeze past as they glower or moan at you from the safety of their steel box: irritating </rant ends>.
Anyway, all of that aside we had a great ride, ending up at the Owl’s Nest in Llandovery for a cup of tea around lunchtime. We arrived in glorious sunshine, but soon dark, menacing clouds began to appear. I started to feel smug about my lack of trust in the Welsh weather, which meant that, unlike Paul, I had waterproof gear on. However, after about 12 spots of rain the clouds passed and the weather once more became dry and sunny.
And so we set of again: up to Builth Wells then down through Hay on Wye… more twisty single track roads, kamikaze sheep, suicidal squirrels and even, at one point, a small herd of horses crossing the road in front of us.
The views were frequently incredible, but we were enjoying the ride too much to stop for photography – it made me wish that I’d splashed out on a Go-Pro.
Finally we reached our end point at the Bus Station Cafe in Abergavenny for a bacon butty. Well, I say end point, there was still the matter of another 50 miles home. All told a round trip of 270 miles.
So that was something approaching a day in the saddle in America.
Admittedly I imagine the mileage will be much easier in the US – single track roads are unlikely to be an issue and we may travel for days without coming across anything approaching a decent corner, but it still gives me some idea of the scale of the challenge.
I really enjoyed the day’s ride, the question is would I have the stamina to do it again the following day? And the next day… and the day after that?
My heart says yes, my poor saddle-sore butt and aching shoulders may need some talking around to the idea.