Wales and National Cycle Route 8 – Dry Run Complete

Today was testing day for the upcoming trip to Wales. I’ve packed and re-packed bags to try and make the load as sensible as possible, checked the bike over, fitted mudguards for the first time, and loaded up the old girl for a test of handling and load carrying capabilities. I was somewhat worried yesterday at the amount of weight I’m expecting it to carry, it makes the whole thing rather top heavy, so it tends to sway around a bit.

Today I set off to find some varied terrain, particularly some hills to see whether my legs could manage to keep the load moving up hill. I’m pleased to say that it was a reasonable success, despite getting lost at one point, and cycling for half an hour up a hill that turned out to be a dead end, unless of course I’d been on a mountain bike, then it might have been doable. I did find a nice spot for a bit of wild camping, but decided I didn’t need to be trying that today as well.

I covered only 37 miles at an average of 7.6 mph, a combination of the weight forcing me to slow down, and the hilly terrain bringing things to a snails pace. I’m also keeping the speed down when descending as well for fear of hitting a surprise pot hole and folding the rear wheel into a less than conventional shape. But all in all, the bike seems to have handled it quite well. I managed to slip the chain off whilst desperately looking for bottom gear on a slope and thus came to a grinding halt. I thought I’d managed to jam it between the bottom bracket and the chainset, but it came out with a little tugging. I managed a decent stop for lunch in Bicknoller, and a mid-afternoon stop on the hill up from Roadwater to Treeborough, which just seems to go on for ever, particularly when you can only manage about 3 mph! I got used to the change in handling and it all seems to run quite stably.

I’m now back home, and have set up camp for the night in the garden. I want to try out the tent once more so I’m familiar with how to get it erected, and also to try out the new sleeping bag (Vango Ultralite 100) to see if its going to be warm enough. I’ve also got a fleece sleeping bag liner but to be honest I think its overkill, and it doesn’t pack very small, so I may leave it. Just one of those things you’ll know you’ll find helpful if I get caught in the wet all day and want to try and get warm again, but I can always put on all the dry clothes (assuming there are any!)

Really looking forward to the adventure now, and I think I’m all set.

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