This weekend was our first mini-adventure on the bikes with kit strapped on the back. Our destination; Wells in Somerset to meet Gabriel Bolton who has been custom-engineering a pannier rack to fit on my super lowered bike, to hold soft panniers.
To make it into a bit of a roadtrip, avoid the motorways and to break up the journey, we settled on cruising via Wales with our sights set on a wild-campsite near Neath in South Wales. After leaving Manchester at lunchtime and stopping for a much-needed tea break at Tim & Jan’s in Oswestry, we were on our way. However, we were barely into Wales when we, or should i say I, picked up a puncture, while enjoying the gentle curvatures of the road. We found ourselves stranded in the middle of Nowhere.
It turned out that Nowhere was in fact Llanbister in the stunning district of Radnorshire, Mid-Wales. While i was stranded as a lone female at the side of the road, Chris was heroically riding around the countryside in search of help. We were both cursing the fact that despite having purchased all the tools and repair kits known to man, we had packed non of it for this short trip.
Chris duly returned proudly bearing a pair of spanners loaned from a very kind man called Tim in the village, who just happened to be a vintage car and motorcycle mechanic and had just happened to have ridden through Africa on a BMW in his former years. Having removed flat tyre from the rear of my bike, taken back to Tim’s for repair and returned with fixed rear tyre, Chris and I manhandled my bike back into action in a record time of 3hours(!) from gaining puncture to back on the road.
Being 8.30pm with still an hour and half to go until we reached our wild-camping site, we sensibly decided to abandon the idea of carrying on into the night and instead, stop in Llanbister at the local Lion Hotel. This was perhaps the best decision made over the weekend! The proprietors, Ray and Janet Thomas, could not have been more welcoming and the locals who socialized in the bar were equally as engaging. If anyone needs a place to stop in Mid-Wales, this is the place to go – beautiful views of the valley, and excellent traditional local bar and hotel full of character(s)! We will definitely be back! http://www.lionhotel-llanbister.co.uk/
Setting off early on Saturday, we reached Wells by mid morning to find Gabriel and his father, Peter, awaiting our arrival.
We abandoned the bike in their capable hands to set up our tent in a local campsite. By 6pm the rack had been set up, welded and positioned on the bike, ready for our inspection.
Gabriel and his dad had done an absolutely excellent job, lacking nothing except powder-coating. We celebrated with a drink in the local pub in Wells while listening to stories of Gabriel and girlfriend Charlotte’s own adventure biking experiences across the globe.
The success of the trip will be realised when we receive the freshly powder-coated rack in the post from Gabriel, (www.zenoverland.com) and we set off on our next trip with my panniers attached to the new rack!
The journey home back to Manchester on sunday took us via a lovely country pub north of Bristol for a spot of lunch with friends before heading north. We took the route past Tintern Abbey, through Monmouth, up to Shrewsbury, including a pitstop in Ludlow. Ludlow, a surprise gem of a town full of chocolate-box timber-framed streets and alleyways, was our last refreshment stop before reaching the standard driving rain upon approaching the good old North West and on into Manchester.
Looking forward to the next trip already – next weekend; a trip north to Hawick and the Common Riding for a day on horseback!