25 September 2010

Cardiff to Carmarthen

When I was planning each daily ride, many months ago, I'm not sure whether I was getting fed up with all the turn by turn directions, or just in a hurry to see the miles eaten up, but looking at the route, again I am dismayed that we are facing a 70+ miler with some substantial climbing.
The good news is that unlike Thursday's rain and yesterday's blustery and overcast weather, today it is forecast to be cool but clear, with winds from the North at 12-15kts. Roisin tucks Uinseann into his pram giving his new winter coat its first outing, and we walk to the Cathederal where we are to meet Willie Austin who is to ride wirth me today.
Uinseann is suffering from a bit of a cold and sneezed several times during my stay. On one occasion the results were of a considerable magnitude and I was reminded of an expression I always liked when our kids were small and had runny noses. The instruction to get out their handkerchiefs was "Quench the candle!" It has to be said that Uinseann added a new dimension to the expression "Candle power!"
We are greeted at the steps of the Cathederal by Willie, really looking the part, and Brian and Anne Roberts, friends of Willie and from my days with OCIMF. It was kind of them to come along to wave us off.
Willie studied in Cardiff so again provided local knowledge to see us out of the city centre and out onto the A48. We elected to stick to the A48 as far as Swansea and then follow the coastal route. Although this added the miles, it avoided the hills. I have mentioned before the grind of A roads, but unlike those in Cornwall, the A48 supplements the M4 which means that traffic is much lighter. The normal routine on my rides attempts to get in one third before a coffee break, a further third before a lunch stop and thus leaving just the final third to complete in the afternoon. The absence of cafes along the A48 however, means that we are running to the 2hr mark before we arrive at Pyle and find a cafe. I find some amusement at the name and reflect for a moment on at least one of the possible and uncomfortable misfortunes that can befall a long-distance cyclist!
The trip through Swansea was a real pleasure, when, as we were pondering our options on entering the City, Willie asked a young mountain biker for advice. This led us to a spendid trip through the marina, sea front and a woodland ride that encompassed the entire southern and western areas. All of this in full sunshine and brilliant sea views out to the Mumbles. Although it was cool, the Saturday crowd were out in force.
The trip via Llanelli and Kidwelly was taking us well into the afternoon and prospects of reaching St Mary's Carmarthen in time for the 1730 mass werent looking good. The wind strengthened from the North and hills which we had largely escaped thusfar, started to be felt.
In spite of best efforts, we missed the start of mass and so weren't able to have the anticipated talk to the congregation. The welcome cup of tea and biscuits, however, at the presbytery was, as always, the best drink of the day! Many thanks to PP Fr Morty O'Shea for putting me up at your warm and welcoming presbytery and also for the stimulating companionship of your visiting clergy. Thanks too to Monica Oliver for your chilli!

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