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August 13th 2008
Published: August 13th 2008
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Hello everyone, yes I am still alive and yes I'm still cycling (well not right at this very moment, that really would take multi-tasking to a new level!)

Day 7, Saturday 9th August: Saltford to Cardiff
88.69 miles
8 hours 24 mins cycling time

So, where did I leave you last? Oh yes, well the tummy is behaving itself again, just goes to show the stress I'm putting my body under though (bring on the sympathy). A night at home helped no end although didn't enjoy the early start to get back to Saltford again, as I'm sure Dad didn't either. We cycled together along the Bath to Bristol railway path for a couple of miles before I decided I needed to up the pace and shot off ahead. I don't know what it was like where you were on Saturday, but where I was it was truly grim. Passed through Bristol in the drizzle, with only crazy joggers for company. By the time I crossed the Avonmouth and Severn Bridges the weather was really setting in for the day and I had to lean at a 45 degree angle to keep upright against the wind, with the rain stinging my left ear with each gust. At least I didn't have to pay the toll!
If I thought the weather was bad in England it only doubled its efforts when I got into Wales. Followed the National Cycle Network Celtic trail - probably a mistake in itself as it winds along the lanes and adds miles to my trip. Probably would have been lovely if I could have seen more than 20 metres in front of me!! By the time I reached Newport I was soaked to the bone and for the first time ever the warm aroma from KFC actually seemed enticing!
Battled on though the storm and it almost became fun once I realised there was no point in avoiding the puddles anymore. That was until I came round a corner in the cycle path to be confronted by a VERY big puddle. A puddle of such proportions that when I cycled through it it came half way up my shins, and more worryingly half way up my panniers! What was even worse was that this puddle was rapidly draining down the path I needed to take, at which point I decided to return through said puddle again and get on the main road where things looked a little safer than usual!

Anyway, I did eventually make it to Cerian and Rob's house, (where Hannah was also waiting for me), dripping wet, shivering and in much need of a hot shower and a hot drink - which they instantly provided me with. Thanks guys, I wouldn't have made it through that nightmare day without the knowledge I would see you all in the evening.

Day 8, Sunday 10th August: Cardiff to Swansea
62.4 miles
10.3 mph
6 hours 1 min cycling time

Today was luxury compared to yesterdays gruelling trek. For a start I had a lie in, and then I had Rob to accompany me. Great to have the company, and even better it meant Cerian could drive my panniers to Swansea so the load was lightened! I'm suprised our average speed wasn't higher considering how fast I had to go to keep up with Rob! Goes to show how big the hills were coming out of Pontypridd!
We followed the NCN route again and Rob and I had a right grumble about all the weird gates they insist on putting in our way. Seriously, there is no way a cyclist designed any of them. Thank god I didn't have the panniers or I'd still be stuck in Margan Country Park!! (wait till I upload the photos and you'll see why)

From Port Talbot onwards we had a lovely route along the promenade...or at least it would have been lovely had the wind not been full in our faces and giving us a free sand blast along the way!! Pull into Swansea and the heavens open, despite glorious sunshine, so we still arrive at Haf's soaking wet and muddy (sorry if we ruined your beautiful flat Haf!) Go to the pub to celebrate while dinner is being made and I feel rather proud of the fact I've actually knackered Rob out for the first time in his life!!!

Day 9, Monday 11th August: Swansea to Llansteffan
49.94 miles
5 hours 13 mins

Continue to follow the Celtic trail out of Swansea. Pass lots of commuters going the other way - the only time I've seen Welsh people looking a bit grumpy is at 8:30 on Monday morning!! Join the Millenium Coastal Park cycle path which winds through beautiful
Me up a Welsh mountainMe up a Welsh mountainMe up a Welsh mountain

or at least it felt that big cycling up it!
esturary and coastal scenery. Unfortunately once again the wind is right in my face the whole way - I definitely know now why they say cycle with the wind!! Lots of birdlife along the way too, including 6 magpies so I'm hopeing for a windfall in the sponsorship soon!
Stop in Carmarthen to get the bike checked over again - worried the brakes are dangerously low again but the nice man at Beiciau Hobbs Bikes tells me they just need adjusting for now and does that while I go for some lunch. Find a cafe that seems to have run out of everything on the menu but I still manage to fill up OK, even if the fussy Bristolian family next to me are less than impressed.
Back to staying in hostels again now, a bit of a downer after the hospitality of staying with friends. Hostel I stay at is nothing special either, quite cramped and I get stung by a wasp as I arrive - I now seem to be plaugued by the buggers. Hostel is mostly taken over by an outdoor theatre company who are just as annoyed about the disastrous August weather as me! Eat a
Sustrans, we need to have a wordSustrans, we need to have a wordSustrans, we need to have a word

This is a gate system on a cycle path - more like a cyclists prison! Whoever invented this should be run over by a bike!!!
whole pack of Fox's Vienesse Fingers to comfort myself while it rains outside!

Day 10, Tuesday 12th August: Llansteffan to Lawrenny
33.13 miles
3 hours 53 mins

Set off accross the rolling hills of Pembrokeshire in gloriuous sunshine - the sunglasses get one of their first outings of the trip. Just thinking how nice it is to have dry shoes on for the first time in days and that it's actually worth avoiding the occassional puddle I come across now. Oh how I like to tempt fate! Cruise down a hill and round a corner and slam the brakes on before I hurtle head long into a massive flood across the whole road. What can you do though, on a bike there's no such thing as a quick detour so I plough onto it and hope for the best. Soon the waters up to mid-calf height and the current is getting pretty strong as the water pours off the fields, but I make it! Only to go round the next corner and find exactly the same thing again. By now I'm soaking wet again and so just shrug and go for it - much to the amusement of a couple in a car looking dubiously at the murky water from the other side!!

Today is obviously not my day because a couple of miles down the road things suddenly feel very bumpy and I realise I have my first puncture - yes, amazingly I have got this far without one (and I'm not just talking on this trip, I have never had a puncture in my life!!!) Pull over into a farm track, get all the tools out, plus the instuctions I printed off the internet, and settle down to my task. Fall at the first hurdle because I'm too much of a woosey girl and cannot shift the wheel nuts to save my life. Typically I'm also in the middle of nowhere and no-one is in at the farm, so I feel I have no other options left but to phone my Daddy and have a good cry!! Just as my poor Papa is despairing miles away, a lovely hot young farmer pulls up and asks if I need a hand. Woo hoo, my knight has arrived. Not only does he have the tools and strength to get my wheel off, he also changes the inner tube and patches the puncture for me while I sit there and look helpless!!! If only I'd got his number (to thank him for his kind help of course!!).
From then on it's plain sailing (or rolling country lanes) to Lawrenny and a lovely warm hostel where I can dry all my stuff out on the radiators and have a steaming hot shower - luxury again!

Left this morning to head for the ferry in Pembroke dock. The lady who runs the hostel has vowed to find Morris the farmer for me (she seems keen to marry off all the young farmers in Wales!!) Weather is very changeable at the moment, extremely stormy last night so just hope ferry sails and I don't get ill if it's really rough. Ireland here I come!!

Hope all is good back at home and you're enjoying this wonderful British summer as much as me!! Keep in touch, Frankie xx

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


One for JeffersOne for Jeffers
One for Jeffers

Here you go Jeffy, I cycled here especially for you!
Very glad to be leaving Wales nowVery glad to be leaving Wales now
Very glad to be leaving Wales now

-shame I can't see much from the ferry!

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