Friday, 28 September 2012

Day 9 Goes to Wales!

Thursday 27th September - Day 9                   Daily Mileage 500 – Total 2286

Opening the roller blinds in the bedroom this morning I had to smile to myself. It was raining yet again.

How chuffed was I that I’d gone with the well-known saying “Seize the day" yesterday.

Waking Thursday morning was a totally different experience. Up went the blind to reveal a glorious sunny autumn day. The thought went through my mind like a flash of lightning, sun’s out I’m out!

“Jeannie do you mind if I get a few Gold Post Boxes today as it’s been a while?” “Nothing in the diary as far as I can see, no you get off” came the reply I was hoping for.

My plan, to visit 4 Gold Post Boxes, well that was plan a), plan b) to visit all the Gold Post Boxes  in Wales. So with that in mind I started getting my kit out of the garage.

Macclesfield - Setting off around 9.30am after saying bye to Jeannie I took the all too familiar route down towards Macclesfield. As this was the third time I’d headed down that way since collecting the Gold Post Box photo’s. Just as well I love the route, give or take the all too busy M60 circular, the North’s very own version of the M25 car park!

Still within 40 minutes I was pulling up at the side of the first Gold Post Box of the day. Pulling up behind a huge Jaguar car in the disabled bay which was exactly where I need to be to take a good photo I was pleased to see the owner returning. I waited for him to pull away, and waited, and waited! How long does it take to get in a car, put a seat belt on, start and drive away? “Come on get a bloody move on for goodness sake” I screamed at him (In my mind, in my mind – as Eddie Izzard would say). Eventually he moved forward and inch. Needless to say I waited some more still the wait was well worth while.

Market Street Macclesfield
Sarah Storey - Gold medal Cycling Road: Women's Individual C 4-5 Road Race

Bagnall - As today was all about collecting the last few local Gold Post Boxes I’ll not prattle on too much (that makes a change I can hear you all say, sighing with relief). All I want to say is the ride was great, the weather perfect at 12 degrees no less and Bagnall Village is simply breath taking so much so I took a photo of the local pub. I was gutted it wasn’t open or I would have gone in for a coffee. Still photos taken I headed out towards the edge of the village to a familiar vibrating sound which really gets on my nerves. The damned Touratech screen mount had vibrated loose again. This is about the 5th time this has happened prompting a call to Touratech in Wales. Graeme was very helpful and had not come across this problem before, “light thread lock or a couple of nylock nuts will do the trick”, my thoughts entirely.

Pulling over I removed the screen, tightened the bolts and reassembled the the screen. I’d put my tool roll in the top box just in case as I’ve been adding a few new part. Just as well really, just a shame it was a reoccurring problem and not a new one. The old chap dragging a large branch and walking his dog made me laugh with his throw away comment “I thought those things only came out when it wasn’t raining?” “Not this one my dear sir” I replied with a rather large grin on my face.

School Road Bagnall
Lee Pearson - Gold medal Equestrian: Mixed Individual Championship Test - Grade IbG

Re-visit already booked for a pub lunch

Telford - The ride down was painless, Gold Post Box found and photographed, brief hello from a very nice old lady waiting to post her letter and I was off to face my demon’s.

Arleston Lane Telford
Mickey Bushell - Gold medal Athletics: Men's 100m - T53 

Alcester - Having missed this Gold Post Box on the trip to Sark I was keen to find get it boxed off. I could not believe it when, as I read the sign post “Alcester 1 Mile” and my Garmin 660 said 5.7 miles I knew there was something not right. Riding past the  village on the A543 I just spotted the Checkpoint I’d added to Garmin to mark the location. Doing a left into the bottom of the village with Mrs Garmin screaming in my ear “Recalculating” I rode straight into the middle of a stunning little village scene. I was also pleased when a very helpful dapper young chap, in his flash waist coat and suit trousers, offered to take my photo on Mr T. At last I had Alcester in the bag. I dropped Jeannie a text to say all 4 were done and dusted. I felt fine and was going to Wales.

High Street Alcester
Nick Skelton - Gold medal Equestrian - Team Jumping 

Newton -Heading towards Alcester I’d had to suffer theM6 40MPH, variable speed signs, then 60mph then 50mph. “I wish they’d make the bloody minds up” was the thought going through my head when all of a sudden it poured it down. The rain was torrential, cars drove at 20 mph for about 10 minutes and I was on the verge of sacking Wales all together and returning another day but as it only lasted for 15 minutes, as did my negative thoughts.

The roads down through Wales are amazing, it’s as if they were built by bikers for bikers. The curves are so smooth, twisting here there and everywhere, they are just brilliant. What made them all the more special was the fact Mr T’s new Ohlins rear suspension is amazing. It is like riding a totally different bike. The only thing it needs now is an R1 engine. Other than feeling a little higher at the rear end  the whole set up just instills confidence. One word describes how it feels, phenomenal!

Church Street Newton
Charlotte Dujardin - Gold medal Equestrian Individual Dressage 

Cardiff - Well as my plan was now to get Wales “Boxed off” I made good progress over to Cardiff where the Gold Post Box is sat directly opposite the castle with a bus stop directly in front of it meaning no parked cars. Photo taken as quick as you like with te castle in the background and I was off to my next destination.

Castle Street Cardiff
Geraint Thomas - Gold medal Men's Team Pusuit 

Bridgend - It’s a short 21 mile ride from Cardiff to Bridgend most of which is on the M4. It took no time at all to get there and knowing the area a little as my sister Jaqui used to live there for a while, I rode straight to the Gold Post Box without any issue.

Gentle Way Bridgend
Aled Davies - Gold Medal Athletics: Field Men’s Discus – F42 

Swansea - Now I’ve never been to Swansea but if I ever get the chance to return I will as it’s a stunning place, very busy but with a great road straight into town. The only negative I found was that with a bladder so full I could feel my tonsils floating, the Shell garage I chose to fill up at must be the only one in Swansea with toilets that are “out of order”! I almost wet myself and not with laughter, I can tell you. Still there are some good lay-bys heading out of town, he says with yet another grin on his face.

Trawler Road Swansea
Ellie Simmonds - Gold Medal Swimming: Women’s 200m Individual Medley SM6 final

Now you may well wonder at this point as to why I’m not waxing lyrical about how beautiful the South coast of Wales is and how stunning the yachts all looked at the back of the Gold Post box in Swansea harbour are. The reason is as with the ride this post could take anything from 10 minutes to 10 hours to read because as I wanted to “Bag Wales” the ride turned into something of a mammoth task.

The scenery is simply breathtaking

Tredgar - Sadly this was the first Gold Post Box of the day that was nowhere near were the checkpoint was on my Garmin 660. Riding around the village for the second time I stopped at the roundabout to ask an old dear walking her dog “Are you blind, it’s up there near the bus stop” pointing where I’d just come from. Heading back for the third time I spotted it, just behind a couple of youths racing a motorised scooter up and down the path in front of it. Getting Mr T to the side of the box took a little doing  but with a few odd looks from the local’s at the bus stop I was happy to get on my way as the day was rapidly turning into a bit of a challenge. One more Gold Post Boxes to do then I’d be heading home for something to eat. Something I’d forgotten to do all day!

Commercial Street Tredegar
Mark Colbourne - Gold medal C1 3km individual pursuit 

 Hay-on-Wye - Just when I thought the day could not get any better it did with a wonderful ride straight through the centre of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Now if you’ve never ridden through this part of the world all I can say is “Get your bike out and get over there” It is one of the most stunningly beautiful, technically demanding rides you will ever have. Throw in a few dozen “Kamicazi” sheep who instinctively run in front of you just when you think they are going to go the other way, it amazes me how few get squashed. That aside the roads and view just finished the day off perfectly for me.

Brecon Beacons National Park
Biker Heaven

With a little help form a nice old chap I found the Gold Post Box which I’d riden past on my way the checkpoint location (another one wrong). The young couple with the tiny puppies in the hand were astounded when I answered their question “Have you seen any more of these Gold Post boxes” Still the nice young chap took a cracking picture of me with that look of “Thank goodness there done” on my face. More commonly known as a smile to folks that do not know me.

Church Street Hay on Wye
Josie Pearson - Gold medal Athletics: Womens Discus

Day Nine - 10 Gold Post Boxes 

With 45 Gold Post Boxes to my name and the discovery that there are 102 in the UK and 3 in Ireland (I’m frantically trying to find the missing 5 – 2 of which I’ve found now) I have my work cut out for me. Setting a time limit of 22 days may be my undoing but we will see.

My next adventure starts Sunday at 1.00am with a trip to London where I will meet up with best friend of too many years to mention Ron (Roland to everyone else) I can’t wait. The ride down will start at 1.00am and take in about 8 – 10 Gold Post Boxes on route to “The Smoke”.

Breakfast at the Ace Café at 9.00am will be followed by a ride around the 12 Gold Post Boxes within the M25 and hopefully a few of the ones just outside the M25 too.

Monday is another early’ish start as I’m meeting Bruce of fame for a photo at the Westminster Gold Post box at 8.00am. Then I’ll be waving Bruce off from the cenotaph at 9.30am as he heads off “Around the World” on his mammoth adventure taking up to two years. What amazes me the most is Bruce’s choice of bike a bloody Suzuki GSXR1000 of all things.

“I bet you’ll be wanting to swap bike on Monday morning Bruce, you watch!”

Then it’s a steady ride back “Up’t North”  and yes you guessed it, Photographing Gold Post Boxes all the way……………… Happy travels #GoldBoxJourney’s

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