Introduction

 

New bike

This blog is about a cycling trip. I am hoping to reach the furthest western points on the mainland of Wales and Ireland, exploring as much as possible along the way, mostly through places I have never been to before.

It was one of those ideas which developed slowly. I had been representing Great Britain in Duathlon races (run/bike/run) participating against competitors in my 80 – 84 years age group, until in the Spring of last year. I developed a hernia which needed an operation and there followed further complications, all of which seem now to have cleared up and I have been signed off from the hospital.

It struck me that one way to get fit again was to undertake a long cycle tour. Perhaps the most famous long cycle ride in the UK is from Lands End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) but that crossed many parts of the country that I knew well and I wanted to explore somewhere fresh and interesting. A sudden thought occurred to me, why not turn LEJOG on its side and make a horizontal tour to the furthest western points on the mainland of Wales and Ireland? The only part of South Wales I knew was Chepstow and the Wye Valley and the south of Ireland was totally unknown territory.

Looking at the map I could see that it could not be a popular cycle route, most of the East West roads looked to be busy main roads. There is, however, one safe cycle route: Sustrans route 4. Sustrans is a cycle touring organization which provide very useful maps of cycling routes, trying to keep to minor or traffic free roads as much as possible. I knew from experience, however, and by looking at the route map, that a lot of the route was off-road and, while my hybrid bike has been suitable for cycling tours in Holland with my grandson Mikey, it would not be suitable for this route which would be on gravel with a heavy load. Taking advice from my friend Jim MacTaggart, I visited the Oxford Bike Works (https://www.oxfordbikeworks.co.uk/) who have built me a touring cycle capable of using the roughest tracks.

What provided the final impetus was my daughter Juliet’s announcement that she was starting another project to raise funds for Brain Tumour Research (https://www.braintumourresearch.org/) in memory of her husband Nigel. Six years ago, Nigel had started having headaches and imbalances and when his doctor decided to refer him for tests, a brain tumour was found. The surgeons removed as much of the tumour as they could and referred him for chemotherapy and radiation but, before the treatment could start, Nigel died suddenly leaving Juliet with their two sons, Mikey and Jamie. I would like to use my love for cycling to help raise funds for Brain Tumour Research and here is a link to my Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/maurice-young-bike-tour

My original intention was to update my blog daily as I was going along but, for reasons which will become clear in the blog, this didn’t happen in the first part of my trip. In fact, I intended the trip to be one, long continuous ride but for a particular reason (again, you’ll have to read the blog to find out what!) I have had to split the tour into stages. So, although the blog will be posted regularly, there may be some artistic licence in terms of timings related to when I actually did it throughout June/August/September 2018.