I was happy to leave Chester behind this morning. Not because the city itself was bad in any way, but the hostel staff was a rude character treating me and others like we were bothering him by staying in the hostel and asking for normal things. Entering Wales, aiming for Snowdonia, was fantastic. A new country for me, never before entered by foot or wheel. I rode A5 passing pretty Llangollen on to Betwy-e-coed, continuing on the A470 all the way to Brecon. Almost 300 kilometres of just fine twisty roads. Fantastic!
As I had been told, Snowdonia was beautiful. It was cold though, and I got a sprinkle of rain but it passed quickly and, luckily, while riding north the weather cleared up and it was a beautiful day for riding. Unfortunately, I did not stop for pictures in Snowdonia due to the rain, and I was cold. But later on I captured a few beautiful views. I stopped for lunch in a road side café and got myself an “all day breakfast”. I now understand that it truly means eat it and it keeps you full all day 🙂
While riding south the scenery changed and went less dramatic but still so, so, beautiful. This is a country I have to come back to. My stay tonight is in Brecon Beacons Backpackers, just outside Brecon. I was greeted by friendly people who almost seemed disappointed that I didn’t need help with anything. Quite the opposite to Chester BP. I’m alone in my dorm which feels nice, like a guarantee that I will get enough sleep tonight, which I do need.
The WIMA rally in Lancaster has come to an end and I have moved on. Tonight I’m staying in Chester. The town is nice, lots of old style buildings and there is a river, park etc. All the good bits, unfortunately there is some horse event in town so Chester also has lots of women in miniskirts with high heels and no ability to walk in them and men with wide striped shirts who laugh loudly. In other words, it is very different from the atmosphere I came from in Lancaster.
International WIMA rally 2011 Great Britain – a summary:
Anneli and I arrived late to the rally on Monday. Actually too late, rally control were chasing us with dinner tickets and rushed us to the restaurant. We had been busy all day, having seen the ruined Abbey, bought souvenirs (the book Dracula – of course) ridden through the Moors and later the Dales, had potato soup in a Biker café and then finally arrived at the site for the rally, happily unaware that we were late.
The next day both Anneli and I had the presidents’ meeting to attend to. While she is the actual president of Estonian WIMA, I was the stand in for Sweden, being the only Swede attending. It was interesting to learn how things are decided and what questions were brought up. Four new countries had applied for membership in WIMA and all were voted in. I look forward to future rallies in India, Korea, Hungary and Curacao. After this, we decided to let the bikes stay in the parking lot and instead investigate what Lancaster could offer. It was nice to give the body a rest and walk around a bit.
The rally provided a ticket to the castle. Apparently, it is still a running court so no pictures were allowed but the guide himself was a bit of an actor and the whole thing quite amusing. We could even try out the old prison cells if we wanted.
In the late afternoon I went for a walk since I wanted to try out one of the suggested routes in the city guide. Unfortunately, it was very hard to follow the instructions so I got a bit lost and got back so late it was difficult to find a pub still serving food. Hmmm, in England the kitchen closes when it opens in Spain.
The day after, (I have now officially lost the track of time) we went for riding in the Lake District and the Cumbria mountains. Fantastic views! Enjoyable ride as well, for most of the time. There were some really tricky bits with rough tarmac and gravel but for most of the time the roads were really nice.
The next day I got the chain tightened. I had been riding about 5000 kilometers after getting the new chain and it was slack. It was amazing to see how many people who got involved in this, helping out with tools and offering expertise. After this was sorted I went riding a bit on my own. The day ended with the presidents’ dinner. Yum yum!
Last day of the WIMA rally was once again a bike free day. My body is tired now after so many kilometres and the rest is welcome. I did some laundry, in a real washing machine, I felt so rich after collecting all my perfectly clean clothes. The last evening, the rally provided a farewell meal and entertainment in the restaurant. The WIMA banner was handed over to Austria who will host the rally next year and we got to see their presentation for “Rocks & Riding”.
Lastly, it is Saturday morning and time to say farewell. It is hard to leave a rally not promising to attend next year. But who knows what time brings so for me it is, “until next time”. It is not possible to travel like this every summer.
After departing from the rally Anneli and I had a planned route riding together until lunch. We had chosen twisty smallish roads and had a great time and finally a meal together in Buxton. Then we split off in opposite directions, she went east and I went west. It is time to travel alone again, and it feels weird not to see her in my rear mirror.
We have really been lucky with the weather so far. Even though it has been very windy the rain has only been threatening us with some short showers or sprinkles. Riding to the harbour in Hoek van Holland it was indeed very windy and we were struggling on the highway. It felt tough enough, but then imagining what it would have been like with heavy rain on top of that it still didn’t feel that bad. We arrived just in time to check in and were instructed to surf the queue and get on the ferry in front.
We got on board and tightened the bikes as hard as we could. The sea was rough today and we sure wanted to find our bikes in a healthy position the next day. With us on the boat were two old elderly BSA riders coming from a biker event in Germany. Seeing this couple and the luggage load they brought, I really feel I’m travelling light. Amazing though that old people still do these things.
When we got settled in the restaurant we saw that it now rained heavily. We felt lucky to have made it on board prior to that. The night at sea was rough and the sleep was scarce. In the morning we were woken up at 5.30 and already at 7’o clock we hit the road. We had a full day of riding ahead of us, mainly nice smaller roads. The weather was getting better and better as teh day was progressing. We saw lots of signposts to be aware of bikers and different kinds of warnings. Apparently, this was a red route and we did notice that traffic was rather stressful. For us, it was a bit difficult to keep the exact speed with the conversions from miles to kilometres but it seems like most cars and bikes were driving rather fast and their overtakings were sometimes risky. For example, we were overtaken a couple of times before roundabouts when we were hesitating on where to go. Since we ride with Estonian and Spanish registration plates and with luggage you would assume that people would show a bit of patience, it is obvious that we’re not local, but no.
Riding was wonderful though, very scenic and sunny. We chose a route up north from Harwich passing King’s Lynn and Boston. In the small village of Spilsby we had lunch and a siesta. Very much needed due to last night’s bad sleep and early morning. Filled with energy we pushed on to Grimsby and passed the Humber Bridge – awesome scenery!!! Surely worth the 1.20 pound the toll cost. Later in the day we met huge amounts of bikers riding south and we learned that there had been a bikers event up there. The last bit of the ride was through the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, and I’m sorry, but no pictures can describe the beauty we saw.
Our stay in Whitby was in a hostel, amazingly enough integrated into the Abbey itself and overlooking the whole village. Some late evening pictures were taken during our evening walk.