It Rains, It Rains And Rains: Preteigne to beyond Shrewsbury. - Lookin For John Fairweather - CycleBlaze

April 24, 2014

It Rains, It Rains And Rains: Preteigne to beyond Shrewsbury.

There's no warning round here when it'll rain. Though as a rule, if I buy lots of food intending to have a picnic lunch, it will start raining and I'll have to resort to lunching in a smelly bus-shelter. On days where I do get to picnic, it will unexpectedly start raining when everything is open and spread out, leaving me to scramble round gathering things up. Often, it will rain when I've the tent up and in the middle of cooking dinner. Then there are mornings where the rain starts drumming on the tent, just as I'm thinking of decamping and getting on the road, making my heart beat faster and the anxiety rise.

Sometimes, its hard keeping things dry. Like, yesterday evening I spread the sleeping bag across the bike to air, then went and had a shower. When I came back out, it was drizzling rain and the outer shell of my sleeping-bag had got a good soaking. I could go on.

Spring colour by a bus-shelter. Today's outlook is good with temperatures in the teens.
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"Its to be good today with temperatures in the teens, so you can take your jacket off" says the man running the campsite, while I settle up before setting off. He is loading the back of a pickup with bricks, sand and cement to go and do some maintenance job. I don't mind paying to camp, if its reasonably priced. Here is eight pounds. And if its a pleasant campsite, and you don't get much better than here, a level green on the bank of a meandering river. Though he says it was under water a few weeks ago. The river burst its banks. And there is always the thing about supporting small businesses in the areas you pass through, such as yesterday, I'd lunch in a tea room in Hay, which was small and local.

I'm on the road at nine fifteen, continuing along the valley for a mile or so until swinging down and over a bridge, from where the road onwards goes up and down fairly sharply along the other side of the valley. Then come a seriously long climb out of the valley; where each bend I turn, in a passage between high hedgerows, reveals the road continuing up.

The first town is Kington where I use the bank machine, then cross over the steep street to a Costcutters, where I buy biscuits and the makings of a cheese sandwich for lunch. I thought on setting off again for some reason that the best way onwards, is up the street. But once up the hill and leaving town, I discover, having paused and looked at the atlas, that this way leads deeper into Wales with the likelihood of even hillier country. I turn around and descend back down the street; then, at the bottom with a street turning to the left, remember having made a mental note by the signposts on the way into town, that I turn right for Bishopsbridge.

Following the street round to the left, the road onwards is along a wooded valley, then once again up a long hill.

I descend to the riverside village of Clun where I lunch at a picnic table on the riverbank. Once I've eaten, I set about pumping some air into my front tyre when another cyclist stops, to whom I say, "I'm just doing a bit of maintenance". I would also like to toe-in the rear brake-pads a bit before leaving.

The new arrival speaks of his training for riding Lands End to John O Groats. "This is my last hundred mile day. I'm doing the End To End in two weeks" he says, whilst placing a cigarette between his lips and lighting up.

I understand he means, taking two weeks to complete the ride, not, starting the ride in two weeks time. What else would the hundred mile day training ride be for. I didn't press him to elaborate more on his schedule. Nevertheless, its great how there is no ice to break between two strangers when both are cyclists.

One thing he did mention was the long hill away from Clun, saying that once over it, it is the last really hard hill.

I make it to the Shropshire county town of Shrewsbury around five, where I break my pledge not to patronise big chains when I stop in a Starbucks for coffee. It doesn't matter where you are, such places are the same everywhere. When I have enough of drinking their large Americano, I make a new pledge.

I freewheel down the hill from the colourful half-timbered old town, back into the traffic system, and follow the A49 towards Whitchchurch, planning on finding a place to wild camp after passing the last of the suburbs. But eventually, six or seven miles out of town, I see a campsite signposted, so turning off the main road, I continue a couple of miles on quiet by-roads to a hilltop campsite with a view far and wide over a rectangular tile-work of bright yellow and vivid green, rapeseed and wheat.

A tandem couple outside a café in Clun.
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Field of Buttercups.
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The cycle route led along some narrow lanes.
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Entering Shrewsbury.
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In Shrewsbury.
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A traditional bike shop.
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Do you want a chip?
I was hungry, but not any longer.
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Near the campsite.
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Today's ride: 74 km (46 miles)
Total: 15,036 km (9,337 miles)

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