August 28, 2013, by David Greenaway

The VC’s Life Cycle 3 Blog: Day 9 – Aberystwyth to Swansea

Hmm, I’m not sure where to begin today. So maybe I should just start from the beginning.

We had a kind of home-made / dig in breakfast in one of the Halls of Aberystwyth University, lots of bags and cartons of stuff that got us there. There was way too much chatter about routes and route planning for my liking, and although all thirteen of us actually left together, it was not at all obvious to me who was going on what route, and with whom.

I was the back marker on this long string, and three miles out of Aberystwyth Nick was in trouble; a spoke broke in his rear wheel. It happened on a hill with a sharp embankment, so he and I had to limp on to a safe place to stop, by which time another spoke had gone and the wheel was buckled. Poor reception meant it was a little time before we could contact the Support Team. They came in, changed the wheel and we were off again, having lost an hour after only three miles.

That set the pattern for the day for the bikers that brunch.

LC3 team at the FFostrasol ArmsNick and I set quite a pace from there (well, actually Nick set the pace). After about 18 miles, Kate called me from Aber……; I thought she said something other than Aberaeron, which is where we were and urged them to carry on, we would try and pick them up later in the day. In fact I subsequently learned they were in the same place! We had caught them earlier than expected. But that is not just because we were riding fast, Kate had had her first two punctures by then.

Nick and I pushed on and eventually found the Ffrostrasol Arms for wonderful hospitality; jacket potatoes and hot buttered Welsh Cakes. While we were there, first Roger and Neville appeared, then Karen, Kate and Marion. We ended up having a somewhat longer lunch break than planned, but also a very enjoyable one.

After Ffostrasol we headed to Carmarthen. Just before we got there, Roger had bailed out from the bikers that brunch team, and Neville followed soon after. They obviously knew what was coming.

Kate and Nick mending wheelsFor us the day was just getting longer and longer. But we had to take a final break, at the Burns Farm Shop just outside Kidwelly. From there we made our way through Llanelli to Swansea. That included four more punctures (two for Kate and one each for Nick and I). And to cap the day, the Garmin took us into Swansea from the north over a gruelling ascent of three miles and descent of less than a mile. If we had ignored the technology and looked more closely at the hotel’s exact location on a map, we could have run in along the coast, on the flat. Lesson learned.

So it was almost 2000 by the time Karen, Kate, Marion, Nick and I got in. We were running on empty by then.

All of the others fared better and had better luck. Piecing it together this evening, Chris, Penelope, Steve, Stefano and Andy all went over the top through the Brecon Beacons and had a shorter and more direct ride. Roger and Neville were in and out of our group and essentially followed our route. I am not sure which way David W went. Andy, Steve and Stefano were first in and share today’s yellow jersey.

Andy and Bridgetta DaviesWe again had many donations on the road, including from Bridgetta Davies (nee Rees) who Andy, Steve and Stefano met at Amelia’s Diner at Penbury Airport (I have no idea why they were at an airport –thinking about it, maybe that is why they were in so early?). Anyway, Bridgetta was evacuated from Goldsmith’s to our University during World War 2 to complete her teaching qualification at Nottingham, in 1945. A wonderful chance meeting.

Finally some team matters.

The Support Team have obviously noted how well manicured Steve is. To help him stay that way and make best use of his handbag mirror, they have fitted a fetching pick handlebar satchel which can hold his tweezers, combs, facial scrub, moisturising cream and so on. Steve is very content.

Neville and Karen have managed to set off the fire alarms at our accommodation these last two evenings. Could this be a cry for help?

Discussion of the day was on the rules of Kerby. Paul explained these to Roger. He was careful not to go into too much detail. After all, we do not want to see Kerby as pre-match entertainment at Millennium Stadium test matches, without agreeing appropriate branding and broadcasting rights and royalties.

Quotes of the day:

Marion, when it was obvious Nick and I were stuck and there was a discussion about someone going back, ‘Well I’m not climbing that hill again’.

The lady looking after us at the Ffostrasol Arms, when Roger, Neville, Karen, Kate and Marion arrived as Nick and I were finishing our lunch: ‘So the slow coaches have caught you up then?’ We were only just getting started!

Team of the day must go to the Support Team again. Gavin, Simon, Paul and Ian were pulled all over the place, but still found time to find a Halfords and re-stock on inner tubes.

Accomplishment of the day: the bikers that brunch made it to Swansea whilst it was still light.

82 miles covered today. The rolling terrain and relentless up and down made it feel longer for all. That and dealing with six punctures and a buckled wheel, made it seem endless for some of us. Our total miles cycled is now 737.

Tomorrow we have a shorter ride into Cardiff, followed by an alumni event at the Millennium Stadium.

Finally, thank you all again for your comments on the blog and for your support. We are closing in on a quarter of a million in funds raised for stroke rehabilitation research.

Professor David Greenaway


Posted in Life Cycle 3