On Sunday 17 July, a group of intrepid motorcyclists set off from Severn View Services, on what was to be an extremely enjoyable and rewarding group ride to the Two Hoots Tea Rooms at the Devils Bridge station, Pontarfynach (Wales).
Unlike normal group rides this was a group comprising members from Wiltshire ROADAR and the Wilts and Bath IAM group, led by David B (Advanced Bike Tutor), with Peter Genet as TEC.
We met early (well 8.30am), to ensure there was sufficient time available for those important stops, for rehydration, bacon butties, cakes and other assorted refreshments. Particularly important on this ride as the temperatures rose… and rose, even when on the move the temperature gauge was nudging 32c
The first challenge was to identify our group from the many riders who were arriving at the services…. apparently, the Bristol IAM group were meeting for their ride to Aberystwyth. My fear was that we could be using a similar route and riders would end up following the wrong bikes and end up in Aberystwyth, but I needn’t have worried as the last time we saw them was as we left the services
The first leg of our route was up to the Honey Café at Bronllys, but not using the obvious route up to Monmouth, instead we picked up the B4228 to Coleford, which was fabulous with lots of twisty’s, before joining the A4136 into Monmouth. These roads gave us a flavour of the day ahead, lots of twisty’s and not too much other traffic (probably decided that a tin box in the heat didn’t have much appeal). From Monmouth we picked up another B road, this time the B4233, and then the B4347 which took us up to the Hay-on-Wye and then guess what… another B road (B4350) to our first stop of the day at the Honey Café.
Our stop gave the group an opportunity to enjoy a half hour off the bike, to stretch, get some hydrating drink, some food if required and most importantly chat about the route, and all things bikes.
After our break, two of our group as pre planned returned to Wiltshire (a special word goes to Natalie who came as Mike’s pillion having only previously done a few miles on the bike), with rest of the group enjoying a progressive (and legal) ride north up the A470, where those with smaller tanks had a quick refill, before we continued up to Rhayader, which is where we joined the Aberystwyth Mountain road, circa 20 miles of biking heaven, which today was clear all the way to our destination and only a very small number of vehicles coming toward us. This gave us the opportunity to really use our skills as advanced riders to make progress through the valley road, dodging the sheep and practicing the use of acceleration sense through the tight largely single track twisty’s (can you see the theme?... twisty’s)
We arrived at our destination, the Two Hoots Tea rooms where our reserved table was waiting for us and where the friendly team welcomed us, took our orders and served us with a smile (see more about smiling later). To accompany our meal, we were entertained by a group of local musicians (although one of their number originated from Trowbrdge, which goes to show how small a world we live in), as you might guess we talked a lot about the mountain road and our skills in making progress…(legal).
Post lunch our route was across to Leominster, via a fuel and refreshment stop at Crossgates, using the A44, A470, A489 and A483, whilst A roads so a little wider they were of course….. ”twisty”. Then it was onward to our final stop at the OK Diner near Leominster, using the A44, the B4356, B4362 and the B4361. Our stop in Leominster was interesting…., service without a smile comes to mind (the opposite to the welcome we received at our earlier stop. But not deterred we enjoyed the break and refreshment. As time was ticking by, we decided to forgo our planned final stop in Gloucester, but rather continue back to Wiltshire and disperse on route along the A417, with riders peeling off and heading to Swindon, Chippenham, Calne, Trowbridge and Warminster.
Nevertheless, we had yet more great roads to experience, with our route being via the A44, A448. B4362, B4214, A438, B4208 and then onward via the A417, and guess what more twisty’s
When I got home, I had travelled some 300 plus miles, had a massive smile on my face and from the comments posted by my fellow riders so had they!
We lost no one, the drop off system worked, we had no U turns, the Sat Nav worked, and no incidents or breakdowns, as the riders had done their pre ride checks and applied their advanced skills.
This is an image of the overall route