Camchain and tensioner seen up close in a cutaway bike engine

Home Travel StoriesFarewell to England Tour 2021

Farewell to England Tour 2021 - Day 12

Ride Date 29 August 2021

By Rev. Mick!

This was going to be a long day. I had sussed out the various ways of doing this leg of my journey. Once I'd established the lads in Gloucester were not about for a party that left me with this leg - from Hartshill near Nuneaton to Trelleck above Monmouth. I'd use sort of B roads around the west side of Brum then down and, importantly, across the river before "The Road".

I am sure each of you have "The Road". It is the one if you are on a particular motorcycle anywhere in the world, you reflect on how would it be on The Road. A revvy trials bike, that would be great for that straight, a big cruiser would be great down that stretch along the river. I needed to work my way to The Road. 

The Innova (a sweet Irish virgin) had never been there. It was The Road I would always go to when I had got my hands on a bike some how in the Gloucester area. Borrowed, bought or otherwise, I would go to see how it did on The Road. I will give my age away now remembering a Suzuki GT750 (kettle), BSA 500, Honda CG 125, The famous DT 125, CB750 four, a Triumph Daytona 500 (maintained by the Gloucestershire Constabulary motorcycle mechanic), a Bonneville, a Maico 400 road legal, a DT 400, (probably my favourite, unfortunately a two stroke) and many other victims. It remains even to this day one of those great A roads that just does the business if you need a road for a motorcycle.

However I am currently in Nuneaton talking to a very happy Russian lady at 07.00. She is trying her best to feed me wholesome Russian porridge, while my enthusiasm is being tempered by yesterday's mountain bike tour of local rural craft breweries. None the less I am on my way by 09.00, refusing the lovely slippers that Russian hosts buy for guests when they are arriving. I hugged Fen goodbye, carefully, last time we met he was on one of my expeditions and he broke two ribs and vertebrae. Then off for my Sunday morning ride.

On a Sunday morning in middle class Britain everybody takes to the bicycle. You come round any corner and there are rakes of them. They're interspersed with joggers. Joggers are a bit of a dying breed now, it seems the MAMIL (middle aged man in Lycra) has taken the  prime position. I was at a cycling event recently and did think "did your wife see you leave the house dressed like that?" So with due care and diligence I made my way round stock broker belt West Brum. I even made it to the geographical centre of England at Meriden. 

The sign for Meriden, above a vivi red flower bed and among grasses and trees

Using B roads on a nice cool Sunday morning I wandered to Evesham. Round the ring road I was accompanied by a very formal patched rider who made sure I got round Evesham and then bowed to me as I rode away to Pershore. More cherries and tea in Pershore, I'd been before and knew the the shop. 

Then out of Pershore for a brief blast (Innova blast) down the A4104 which was nice but slow. It seemed to be full of camper vans, cars with streamers and bunting and lots of polarfleece hats. Finally arriving in Upton-upon-Severn to find the source of this traffic, "The Sunshine Festival". It seemed to be going well, the campsite by the river looked idyllic. Must check that one out sometime.

Then off on another one of England's great B roads the B4211, just give that one a blast on any bike. Let me say it was Innova perfect. Down to the town on Newent. It must be said when I grew up in Gloucester we did not quite know what to make of Newent. Many years having passed since that time I went in with an open heart looking for lunch.

Now I am not sure what was going on in Newent on that bank holiday Sunday. It could have been a historic festival or feast day. All I can say is that every single person my path crossed in the town that day was very intoxicated, even the man in the petrol station appeared wobbly. The answer where ever I asked was that no one was working in the kitchens of the pubs and hotels so no food. However would I like a drink? I decided to push on and find a gastro pub in the countryside. Not sure what it would have been like in Newent at closing time.

So off now down the B4216 from Newent to Huntley and at the cost of repetition another Innova friendly B road. At Huntley you turn right for a couple of hundred metres on the A40 before a fork left brings you on to the start of The Road, the A4136. 

They built the M50 and most of the traffic left this road. It seems to have gone back to how I remember it as a yoof though in fairness the road surface is better. It leaves the A40 only to meet it again at Monmouth and swings off through the heart of the truly beautiful Forest Of Dean, originally a Royal Hunting Park. When growing up in Gloucester you could be threatened with being sent to the forest. 

It has an accent like no other, 30 years later and my Irish wife is still is unable to understand one word of it if talking with a mate from the forest. I saw somewhere that a village was discovered in Pembrokeshire by Google Maps that no one knew was there. Well the Forest Of Dean would be the place to go missing or off grid, you could be 50m from the road and no one would ever know. It is also a great place for tough working class rugby.

On that perfect sunny afternoon the Innova was on full song enjoying every wonderful curve and hill of that road. It seemed in that moment to be up there with any bike I ever rode on The Road.

Sign says Welcome To The Forest Of Dean as well as warning triangle for sheep and deer
Looking from the track into the deep green forest we see nothing but trees, leaves and branches
A gravel track winds through thick trees and ferns and dense foliage

The joy went on and on until we made sight of the river at Monmouth. 

The sign simply reads Monmouthshire with the Welsh language Sir Fynwy

Then a quick blast up the re-joined A40 and once again into the hills, to The Lion in Trelleck for some delayed food. Then off through small forest tracks to Drew's house in the woods.


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Farewell to England Tour 2021 - Day 1 Mick's first day is a simple affair. Load up the Innova, head out and ride.
Farewell to England Tour 2021 - Day 2 Rev.Mick! sums up his arrival back into Wales.
Farewell to England Tour 2021 - Day 3 Mick is having a ride out with a friend, into the wilderness of Bristol. Can a vintage Velocette and a 125 complete the epic crossing of the Severn River?
Farewell to England Tour 2021 - Day 4 Mick receives the soaking of a lifetime before finding the wondrous beauty of Dorset. Beyond that he could tell you but he'd have to kill you.
Farewell to England Tour 2021 - Day 5 Mick finds his way around Dorset using every back road he can find. For himself and the Innova this is a perfect match made in heaven.
Farewell to England Tour 2021 - Day 6 (And 7 And 8) Mick is having one of "those" days as his tour of south west England continues. Not to worry, there's still much to see and think about before reaching the haven of family.
Farewell to England Tour 2021 - Day 9 (And Some 8) After trains and repairs Rev. Mick! is back on two wheels. He seems to be having a fabulous time returning to the haunts of his youth.
Farewell to England Tour 2021 - Day 10 (And 11) It looks as though Armageddon is on Rev. Mick!'s horizon and yet another fine day is to be found on the UK's roads. When you're touring Innova style there's nothing can stop you.
Farewell to England Tour 2021 - Day 12 Heading homewards Rev. Mick! takes us to a special place in his motorcycling career - "The Road" - after encountering a town filled with drunkards and streets laced with MAMILs. Nothing seems mundane in Mick's world.
Farewell to England Tour 2021 - Day 13 In typical chilled out fashion Rev. Mick! is making his way slowly towards the ferry. There's still plenty of time to explore ever more back roads and to dine well. It's a hard life.
Farewell to England Tour 2021 - Day 14 After an epic 2 weeks of touring southern England Rev! Mick is making his way home.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
Thank you Minister, very thought provoking.
And YES, I remember when all you needed was bicycle clips. Lycra is the creation of the devil.
Upt'North.
11/11/2021 09:40:39 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Re lycra - I'm always astronished when Tour de France riders come a cropper at speeds of around 60 mph on downhill sections, pick themselves up, and ride away (in most cases anyway). Why on earth do we need to stagger around encased in leather and kevlar when our crashes (if we have them) are most likely to be at similar speeds? I've always been a sceptic about "protective" motorcycle clothing especially when you take risk compensation into account. Feel invulnerable and you'll act like it. Feel at risk and you may well be more cautious. That's my view anyway.
11/11/2021 10:52:10 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
You have a point re risk compensation Ian.......But......I never want to see Ed riding in just a figure hugging lycra suit. Having been a crash test dummy on more than one occasion and on one of those occasions almost grinding a hole through my Arai, I'll stick with ATGATT.
Upt'North.
11/11/2021 18:36:55 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
You should be more careful - maybe if you'd been wearing lycra you wouldn't have crashed.....
The trouble with ATGATT is a) the time and effort it takes to get on and b) the restriction on movement / comfort (at least for me). It means that a spur of the moment decision for a quick 50 miles or so - which is really all I do these days - would see the desire evaporate half way through the clobbering up process. I accept that I could spend a fortune and get more comfortable stuff but I have other calls on my finances....
12/11/2021 11:26:15 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
I hear your pain Brother.
Get everything x 2 out of store.
Fall around putting it on.
Ride in it for two years to get comfy.
Take it all off, clean and store.
All for a two hour ride.
Repeat.
Then replace it all and take another two years to break it in.
Although on a tour it's easy, dump on bedroom floor. Put it back on. Repeat.
What we do to enable pleasure to commence.
Upt'North.


12/11/2021 12:36:26 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I'll take your point regarding risk compensation Ian but I'd argue... Seat belts (cars I know but case in point). Seat belts (and airbags and crumple zones and big metal cages) must surely encourage drivers to feel safer and therefore take more risks. Yet roughly 25% of car crash fatalities involve people not wearing their belt. Considering well over 95% of UK drivers wear belts? It would appear those not wearing seat belts and feeling more vulnerable still get involved with accidents.

I've sweated buckets on hot summer days. I've missed out on or been miserable walking around castles and villages while carrying helmets, jackets and pants. I've spent a not inconsiderable fortune on a variety of "protective" kit. I've nervously watched over this expensive kit while publicly socialising rather than relaxing. It's a right royal pain in the ass is all this safety nonsense.

And yet I am certain I wouldn't be having this conversation today without it. ATGATT for me.

There is one advantage. Motorcycle boots ought to have stiff soles to protect the foot against crush forces. This makes the use of ladders much more comfortable as I found out yesterday when I was bodging my gutters atop some 3 section ladders. My knees were knocking, shoulda worn me knee pads too.


https://etsc.eu/one-third-of-killed-uk-car-occupants-were-not-wearing-a-seatbelt/...
Posted Image
12/11/2021 15:05:39 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Yes, but.... 25% are killed - but how many actually involved in crashes are not wearing their belts? It's likely that a much higher proportion of people not wearing the belts are killed - and of course we don't know whether they were the ones behaving dangerously. An interesting topic for a PhD thesis perhaps?

Having said that, to my mind there is a huge difference between things that will save your life - helmets and seatbelts - and those that may minimise peripheral injury eg leather trousers etc. I'm fully in favour of the first, it's the second where my doubts arise. And if it's just as easy to use as not then I'll use them - boots and gloves being an example - but it's the heavy, hot and restrictive stuff I dislike.

I suppose I'm lucky in that although I've had a few tumbles over my 45 years of riding none has been really serious. In fact the worst was when trials riding and I caught my leg between the front wheel and frame while exiting over the bars, bending the knee backwards and eventually resulting in the knee replacement I had 9 years ago (and probably 15 years after the event). No amount of protective gear would have prevented that.
13/11/2021 10:58:15 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Lies, damn lies and statistics.....who said that. Oh yes it was I.
So it's proven. I was 100% more likely to post that than any other person on the planet. Can't argue with statistics.
BUT.........so I'm more likely to die if I'm wearing a seat belt? And that's at a ratio of 3 to 1.
Wow,aren't stats great. Before you know it they'll prove there's global warming.
Upt'North.
13/11/2021 15:24:39 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Let us say, for the sake of understanding, that 1 in 3 people who die in a vehicle crash were not wearing seat belts. Also only 1 in 20 people do not wear seat belts.

Take 100,000 people as our sample.
95,000 wear seat belts, 5,000 do not.
Imagine of the 100,000 people there are 100 fatal collisions. This means 67 people died wearing a seat belt, 33 had no seat belt on.

of 95,000 people 67 died
of 5,000 people 33 died
15/11/2021 08:33:32 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
Just reverting to the topic of riisk compensation for a moment - the link suggests it can be over-emphasised (NOT non-existent however). Just for those who think I may be guilty of confirmation bias......

My other points re comfort and convenience are still valid however.
https://slate.com/technology/2021/11/risk-compensation-debunked-masks-rapid-test...
17/11/2021 10:50:12 UTC
nab301 said :-
Quote Re lycra - I'm always astronished when Tour de France riders come a cropper at speeds of around 60 mph on downhill sections, pick themselves up, and ride away (in most cases anyway). Why on earth do we need to stagger around encased in leather and kevlar when our crashes (if we have them) are most likely to be at similar speeds?"


Surely the difference is the 200 odd KG motorcycle which you, the rider is potentially trapped under when sliding down the road ?
Nigel
21/11/2021 12:50:37 UTC
Ian Soady¹ said :-
A fair point but I think in most crashes, at least at any speed, people become detached from the bike.
21/11/2021 16:11:37 UTC

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