Day 5 - Bristol to Presteigne

The cousins tired but happy before parting

I had always been looking forward to today, because of my cousin Simon joining me for most of the day, plus seeing my wife Elisabeth in the evening, but the day was made more enjoyable by the lack of rain, in spite of an iffy forecast.

I left Bristol about 8.20 and made my way by back roads to the Severn Bridge. The final stages were well signposted for cyclists, taking you onto the special cycle track on the bridge. It was windy on the bridge, and looking back towards Bristol I saw the city apparently engulfed in a rain storm and was glad I had got out just in time. Just after the bridge I was passed by a cyclist who said he was going to Monmouth and back, training for a 24 hour ride in the summer. We saw various other cycling enthusiasts during the day.

I met up with my cousin Simon near Chepstow. His eldest daughter Rowena had kindly driven him over from Old Windsor and she kicked her heels for some hours, meeting us later 47 miles north.

We cycled up the Wye valley from Chepstow to Monmouth, a most picturesque route with relatively little traffic, and also fairly flat. We passed the famous Tintern Abbey, which I find breathtaking (see photo opposite). In Monmouth we passed down the main street, through the city gate, and then headed north on B roads for the rest of the day. Quite up and down, always beautiful. It was good to have Simon's company, though one can't talk all that much when riding.

Our route took us through Pontrilas and then up the 'Golden Valley' towards Hay on Wye. A few miles before Wye we turned right over the large hill at Dorstone, to Bredwardine and then to one of the few bridges over the Wye between Hay and Hereford. At this point, 4.15, we linked up with Rowena and they headed back to Old Windsor for an evening lecture by Germaine Greer! (Goodness knows how Simon had the stamina for that after a long day's cycling.)

I pressed on alone, using country lanes going north towards Presteigne. After a short time I suddenly began to feel very tired and light-headed, and I realised that I had not been eating enough during the day (in spite of Simon's delicious sandwiches). So I stuffed myself with all I could find left in my bag, and, feeling restored, proceeded north, arriving at our dear old friends Brian and Juliet Boobbyer just a few minutes before Elisabeth arrived from Oxford by car for the night.

Day's mileage: 75. Average speed 10 mph. Total ascent: 4780 f

Appendix: report from Simon Milan:

Edward asked me a couple of months ago whether I'd like to join him for a day on his journey. I declined, alleging that both my bike and I were too ancient and clapped out for such an effort - though in the past I had done various London to Oxford/Cambridge/Brighton sponsored rides.

Anyway, the day before Edward and Elizabeth were due to come to lunch a few weeks ago, I made the mistake of going into our local Halfords to buy something for our car . The shop was covered in posters saying "20% Off Everything" so I succumbed to temptation and bought a new bike! Having done that, how could I refuse Edward?

So after a couple of training rides, I duly arrived at Chepstow and Edward has related the bones of the rest. Going downhill was great, going uphill much less so. Edward reckoned I'd do better than him uphill as I had lower gearing and wasn't carrying all his weight, but his legs are in better shape than mine! Discretion was the better part of valour, however, and if in doubt we walked up the steep bits.

Thank you, Edward for a great day. Don't forget, somewhere up ahead there is flat country.....

PS Speaking of bones, as I write this the day after, I am VERY glad I'm sitting on a well-padded chair!