For some time, the Trois V have been thinking about an expedition of some kind; an adventure, even. After reconnoitering East Anglia, two of the club ruled out a Humber-based excursion on the sensible grounds of not enjoying headwinds. Brittany or Normandy were crossed off, as were the Cotswolds. This only left Wales, and our old enemy (no, not that one): National Cycle Network route 4.
This required kit. An alloy seatpost for Dr Matt. A canvas saddle bag for the same. A canvas saddle bag for Jon, who discovered that the last one that might fit had been sold to Dr Matt, and so reverted to an Ortlieb saddle bag. Some inner tubes. Some maps. And some train tickets. And with that, the interpedid Trois V headed west on an early train from Paddington (once Jon had arrived after dodging a London bus).
While we enjoyed our coffee and the view of rain-soaked countryside, the first intimations of the style and tone of the journey arrived. The train would not stop at our starting point, Bath, since the locals had stolen some copper from the signals, and we were being diverted. Fine; we saved 30km or so. Bristol would do as a departure.
However, its status as a Cycle City was rather lacking, although the denizens were keen to point out in a passive agressive burr what they regarded as our transgressions (one-way street, cycling on the pavement to avoid their road works). We had our first tumble, a swearing competition, and feebly muttered 'Flotsnoo' from Dr Matt. Eventually, we worked our way out of Brizzle, to find ourselves stood in a field, near some hulks, beside the M5, surrounded by cowshit (despite the 'No Shit, Thank You' sign), in the drizzle, with a puncture. And a tyre ('tire') that refused to be removed or replaced. Thank you Continental (or Mavic). This said, it was a truly spectacular metal pin that nipped Jon's inner tube.
Onwards. To the bridge. Over; and our first unvieling of the flag (Colgate University (formerly Madison University and Hamilton Literary & Theological Institution) on Welsh soil. And we discover our new anthem: 'Colgate! [crash!!] Alma Mater [ccrrasshhh]!'.
Next installment: Annie's pub.