If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday, 18 August 2012

A Grand Day Out

A few months ago, I was in email conversation with Nikos, and it was decided that, as we were bloggers of a similar age and had a similar passion for two-wheeled things, we should meet forthwith in what is delightfully known as 'meatspace'.  Finally, today, we made it happen.  Meatspace being, for the occasion, the Little Chef in Dolgellau, which is approximately half-way between our two residences.

I set off bright and early, in the cold and foggy Pembrokeshire drizzle.  The XT was the weapon of choice today (more on that in another post) and I had a damp but pleasant ride up the coast and through the mountains to Dolgellau.  100 miles, give or take a few, which is a decent distance on a bike designed for tracks and trails. Nikos was already there (I had somehow missed his bike in the car park) and we discovered that we also shared a love of strong coffee and a loathing for the usual watery Little Chef offering.  Nikos bullied (nicely) the serving youth into bringing us Americanos "with a double shot".  I have no idea what that means, but it was the best cup of coffee I have ever had in a Little Chef.  Then we tackled a couple of mega-breakfasts.

Nikos and the Invisible Beemer
The conversation ran around bikes and potted life-histories, and the joys and pitfalls of running a blog.  It turned out that, despite coming from very different backgrounds (I am plain Yorkshire; Nikos is of much more exotic stock) we shared a number of life experiences.  Details are, of course, confidential, but there was a lot of nodding and 'yeah, me too'.  It's always reassuring to find one's experiences are shared by other, apparently sane, people.

We decided to take a run up to Bala and back over the mountains on a favourite road of mine.   My promise to Anna that I would be 'back by three-ish, maybe' was certain to be broken, but the day was improving and it would have been rude not to take full advantage of the sun and the drying roads.

Just follow me.  It'll be OK, honest ...

Little and Large

The spectacular Arans
I left Nikos heading East and tried to find a pretty way home.  I must have had a bad attack of men's I will not look at a map syndrome, because I ended up way past my turning (when I pulled off the road, it was in defeat, mate) and eventually went home by a very circuitous route.  However, by this time the sun was baking hot and I had to stop by a quiet roadside to strip off all the thermal linings and layers.  I rode home with jacket half-open and visor half-up, which is about right for mid-August but was still a surprise.

On the road between Newtown and Llandrindod Wells I came across this remnant of someone's ruined day:

Dead FireBlade - "Rider Failed to Negotiate Corner"

I hope the rider was OK.  The absence of a cheap bouquet sellotaped to the forks suggests that he survived it.  The scrapes on the road and the furrow ploughed into the grass verge tell what happened, although I am at a loss to explain how anyone could have lost the bike on a gentle corner.

Back home with a severe case of Trail Bike Bottom and John Wayne Syndrome.  280 miles covered, and the XT managed an average of 64 mpg, which I can't say I am displeased with.  Another blogger met and befriended; some fabulous scenery clocked, and a day out on the bike.  Nikos even generously paid for the breakfasts (thank you again, Nick).  Not bad, all in all.


  1. Sounds like a great day indeed.

  2. What a spectacular little road. I find it always quite rewarding to meet others with similar interests, especially when it is centered around motorcycling and traveling.

    1. Most of it doesn't have the Armco ... and the drop is considerable. You need a bit of a head for heights, but poor old Nikos didn't get a choice :)

  3. You beat me to it!

    Cracking day and no sheep injured...

    Naturally this was an international bloggers meetup to rival our North American cousins.

  4. Sheep? I nearly had a few, in a non-biblical sense. Mad buggers.

    Yes, a truly international affair. Greece, England, Wales - and Yorkshire, if you count the medals table ... The First Bloggers Breakfast Internationale.

  5. "Rider Failed to Negotiate Corner"
    Reminds me of one of my visits to the IOM TT with father. We had found a good vantage point near the the highest point of the circuit to watch the "Mad Sunday" antics. It wasn't long before some nitwit on a Honda K series 740/4 thought he would overtake a Ducati 750 Desmo - on the OUTSIDE of a bumpy bend! This was long before the Japanese had learnt how to make dampers damp, and not surprisingly footrests contacted terra firma, followed by an almighty tank slapper. He was thrown off, and disappeared into the heather undergrowth. The bike was completely wrecked, and (according to those who went to his aid) he wouldn't be sitting down for many months...

    Sounds like you both had a good time, and 64mpg sounds OK - the best I managed from my BeeEmm R65 was 62mpg - but I'm a lot smaller than you!


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