You Cataracts and Hurricanoes, Spout

My first actual meeting with the Curvy Riders whilst on a bike! Actually double booked myself but since both meets were in the same place (Owl’s Nest) I just turned up and pointedly introduced myself to people to prove I was there.

I was in two minds whether to go or not, the weather was cold, damp and damn windy. I didn’t realise just how windy until I got on the Briton Ferry bridge on the M4…  I’ve ridden in highish winds before but having to keep up a reasonable motorway speed whilst actively fighting a bike that wants to take a sideways dive into the Tawe was a new experience. Not one I’m keen to repeat soon to be honest. The Vulcan S is lower and heavier and therefore less vulnerable to wind, but then again it’s heavier and therefore a bit harder for me to wrestle when it does decide to take the scenic route. Yes I was going too fast… but then again, it’s one of those lifestyle choices. Keep up the speed and fight the wind, ease off the speed and get rear-ended by Dewi in his race-tuned Impreza. (Yes I saw you, yes you’re a knob.)

I also now have experience of what to do when your back wheel hits a patch of diesel at 70mph at the same time as a gust of wind batters your front one. Scream like a little girl, cling to the bike like a baby monkey and be thankful the bike knows what to do.

Very glad to get off the M4 and potter gently up the A40. Owls Nest not as busy as I’d expected given the Motorcycle Engagement Day on Easter Sunday, but a very impressive turnout of Blood Bikers nonetheless. Probably more of them than actual punters! A small and select gathering of Curvies, Friends and Relations, but it was fantastic to be out with other bikers, shooting the breeze and discussing the best way to restrain someone who is trying to bite your face off. (Basically, dogpile).

Couldn’t face the M4 again, given the Shakespearian weather so decided to follow M and P across the A40 to Brecon and down the A470. They stopped for petrol, I buggered off thinking they’d easily catch up with me but they didn’t and now i feel rude. Only one truly sphincter-tightening moment on the A470 when a gust of wind blew the Vulcan upright again on a 300 degree hairpin, then a 30mph crawl along the side of the mountain while my heartrate went back to normal.

A forced pitstop at Talbot Green for toffee latte and an apple pie, and finally home to a much needed whirlpool bath. I’m sore, I spent most of the day way outside my comfort zone, I bloody nearly bottled it a couple of times, but I’m here and I’ve learned some more about the bike and myself. Keep on buggering on.

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Riding along On My Automobike…

Today we have mostly been, pottering. You know those days when you know you want to go out on the bike but you don’t know where and nowhere seems to fit? So you just set off and potter.

I had a couple of errands to run, delivering a birthday present to my BFF (massive brownie points) and a trip to the post office, but apart from that there was no idea of being anywhere in particular. Initial thoughts of going to Cowbridge to look at crystals and unaffordable tie-dye blew away on finding that particular emporium closed several weeks ago (what is a hippie biker to do?!?) so we found ourselves in Llantwit Major.

That where things got interesting. I tried to find the back way out of Llantwit and missed. I found myself on the road to St. Donats and Marcross, a wonderland of autumnal tree tunnels, winding lanes and spectacular little Welsh hamlets nestled in grey stone under the trees. I’ve driven those roads before, I’m sure but biking gets you into the heart of the landscape in a way a car never can.

Most people associate Wales, particularly South Wales with heavy industry – coal, iron, copper, steel and The Valleys. It’s easy to forget living here just how little of Wales is industrialised, or indeed populated. The part of Shropshire I grew up in is formed by the last convulsion of the Cambrian Mountains as they slide gently into the plains of Mercia. It’s also a part of England/Wales that veered between the two countries for generations, depending  on which king was ascendant, something which has left its mark on the accent and outlook. This outlook coupled with the relative proximity of North and Mid Wales beaches for weekends and even day trips led to a feeling of familiarity and comfort associated with North Wales that I must admit I haven’t felt as much here in the South. Riding up to Brecon, or even to Carmarthen brings something of a “coming home” feeling as the scenery changes to something more indefinably Northern – I hadn’t even noticed this until starting to ride rather than drive.

However, today’s little jaunt threw a couple of little Welsh gems past my visor, a reminder that there was and is a South Wales outside the industrialisation and urbanisation. You just have to get out there and find them, preferably on a motorbike 😉