I woke at 3am, stomach churning and took the first of many trips to the loo that week. I felt spaced out and wobbled all over the room. Woke in the morning with a not unpleasant lethargy, went down to breakfast but had to go back to bed after half of bowl of cornflakes. I decided today was definitely a rest day and went down to reception to check that I could stay another night; it was a big hotel and had seemed half-empty the previous night. The receptionist apologised but said “no”. The entertainment industry had struck again – the whole hotel had been taken by a film company. Telephoned Juliet yet again and she found a Great Western Hotel nearby who would take me and the bike and had a good lounge and she gave me contact numbers for two taxi firms who had disabled transport and would be able to take the bike etc. Soon found myself there and, although it was still morning, they gave me the keys to the room and I was back in bed.
When I woke up next day, I felt no better and stayed in bed. Juliet was in touch to see how I was, she said that she would come over that evening after work. She arrived about 11pm – what a relief!
Next morning we went back to her home near Reading, where my friend, Jim MacTaggart, (who, incidentally has cycled across the USA three times) picked me up and took me home to Braintree.
So this is where what turned out to be the first part of my tour came to an undignified end. It took me a couple of weeks to get over what my Doctor tells me was food poisoning and I had been infected by campylobacter. The symptoms start within 2-5 days of eating contaminated food, often chicken, so the sandwiches from the petrol station on Day 6 may be the culprits.
This enforced hiatus gave me the opportunity to rethink my strategy for the next part of the tour. My reluctance to book accommodation before the trip started was partly because I had no idea how many cycling miles I could expect to do in hilly Welsh countryside on my new, heavier bike with four panniers and a tent; most of my cycle touring had been done with my grandson Mikey on my hybrid bike. We started with the Kennet and Avon canal, travelling from Reading to Bristol over two holidays staying at B & Bs. We then had a number of holidays in Holland, mostly staying at Stayokay hostels. We took two rear panniers and a rack bag each. However, those experiences would not compare to a heavily laden bike in Wales.
I now had some hard evidence; I had averaged 38 miles a day though Wales at a very modest 7 mph, too many miles spent pushing the bike up the hills, and can now plan the overnight stops on the route ahead booking in advance.
As anyone interested in fitness knows, a couple of weeks is enough to start to get out of condition, especially a fortnight of not being very interested in food. So I then had to get my fitness back to be able to attempt those Welsh mountains. But never fear, I am back on the bike and ready to finish Wales!