Awoke to the sound of heavy rain and strong winds. Yuk. I'd seen the seather forecast and knew about the unfortunate change in wind direction but it looked horrible out there and on any other day I would have thought "Nah! I won't bother today." No choice now though. Had to get going and the first thing facing me was the climb of Cheddar Gorge.
Despite the rain and wind (trying to blow me off my bike in place as it channelled down the Gorge) I actually enjoyed the climb. Its steep in places but you can't deny the beauty of it. Just stunning. No stopping for pictures as it was too wet. As the gradient eased at the top I could grab a few gears back but not many! Struggled along at under 10mph for ages in to the teeth of the wind and already my hands and feet were numb with cold. My mood wasn't helped when I took a wrong turn in the thick low cloud and ended up going for a few miles in the wrong direction! Retraced my steps and eventually descended off the Mendips worrying that my numb hands couldn't use the brakes.
Met a couple of other LEJOGers and we moaned about the weather for a while before I left them and followed my route around Bristol. Decided that I HAD to detour in to Bristol, find a bike shop and buy some spare gloves. Eventually did and it was sooooooo nice to get my hands warm! Took a different route oput of Bristol under the Clifton suspension bridge and followed the road along the river, past the docks and towards the Severn Bridge. It seemed to to take ages. Near the amazing Clifton suspension bridge people had scawled massive graffitti on steep rock slopes on the hill sides. God knows how they'd managed to do it!
The wind on the Severn Bridge was really strong and the bridge itself moves about alarmingly; especially when big artics thunder across it. Rain had stopped now thanks goodness. Just the wind to annoy me. Through Chepstow, past the racecourse and then beautiful wooded route to Tintern Abbey where I stopped for a double helping of beans on toast, a HUGE piece of choccie cake and a pot of tea. Met another cyclist from Derbyshire who was on hols and exploring the area. Got chatting as I noticed his bike was an Edison - made in Clowne, just down the road from me.
Rather than stay on the main road I then climbed out of the Wye Valley on a long steep road to the north of the river (up past St Briavals I think) and entering the Forest of Dean. Big cycle event going on - Forest of Dean Spring Classic apparently) so I took advantage of a small group and sheltered from the wind behind them for a while. They didn't mind! Stopped In Ross-on-Wye for a fuel stop and stumbled across something that will help me along every day from now on - those energy drinks called 'Restless'. Worked a treat and I felt like a new man. About 80 miles in now and around 30 or so to go.
Then had probably the nicest part of the day. Tiny lanes that ran alongside the river Wye. The whole of this area is just beautiful. Jaw droppingly so in places. I forgot the headwind and dawdled along gawping at the spectacular scenery and thinking I could just have sat there for hours watching the river and its associated wildlife. Had to press on though. Beer stop at a village called Mordiford I think with about 20 miles left. Enjoyed that.
Rain showers returning now and getting a bit darker. Head down, through Leominster and up the A49 (nice road surface but a bit busy) towards Ludlow.
Distance: 112.4 miles
Av. Speed: 11.9 (very pedestrian but blame the wind)
Roadkill: More badgers and a Barn owl :-(
Scenery: probably the best of the trip so far.