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The Welsh Run

Dave Beare

Sunday April 27th, 6:10am, just about daylight, rain hurling itself at the windows, wind rattling the slates, Lordy, Lordy, why can't I have a sensible hobby that requires staying in a nice warm bed at this hour?  But no, the Welsh Run beckons so 'tis time to get up.  Mrs B looks on with pity and concern in equal measures while accepting the proffered cup of tea.  It is raining heavily as I cross the border into Shropshire; this does not look encouraging.  Progressing south toward Abergavenny the glimmers of better weather are on the horizon and sure enough, Philippa has worked her magic, the rain stops as I arrive at HQ.

The Welsh Run 2003 was a combined NACC/VMCC Cyclemotor Section event of around twenty miles distance, an excellent turnout of sixteen riders came to sample the delights of Gwent countryside ("nobody said it was going to be flat" quoth the organiser - certain sections were something of a challenge for low-powered machines, eg: Solexes) of which eleven were NACC members.  A large contingent (Derek, Lorraine & Colin) from the Thames Valley turned up, as did part of the Dukeries (Dave Stevenson & Sheila Brown) and the Hummerstones, plus many other NACC and VMCC stalwarts.  Assembly point was the Castle Street car park, Abergavenny and a stroll round the assembled company before departure revealed several interesting facts.

  1. Riders who had done this run before all came with machines sporting several gears, variators and powerful engines which led one to suspect the worst about difficulty of terrain.
  2. Inventiveness applied to wet-weather gear which looked like a necessity at first but actually wasn't: garb varied from threadbare and much-loved old Barbours, agricultural waterpoofs for standing behind cattle, some rather elegant 1950's apparel worn by fashion-victims and one immense, flapping 'Drizabone' Australian stockman's coat.
  3. Helmets were naturally worn to conform to the law: a cork-lined deerstalker, an aluminium pudding-basin and a flat 'at with chinstrap were some of the broader interpretations.

On to the run: after exiting Abergavenny our route set off west along the River Usk valley in the direction of Gilwern, where we crossed the main A465 and immediately began to wend our way up into the hills toward Llangenny and beyond on very minor roads with glorious rolling scenery to admire all around.  Traffic was minimal, just as well given the narrowness of some lanes forming part of the route!  Apart from a keen north-west head-wind, the notoriously fickle Welsh weather resisted drenching us all and the run was dry.  We'll pay for that next year, just mark my words.  Anyway, our route described a roughly circular path around the 596-metre high Sugar Loaf mountain, which could occasionally be seen in the distance.  The countryside through which we travelled was magnificent, a reminder that in Wales you do not have to travel far from towns to encounter scenery little changed since the heyday of our chosen means of transport.  Following a small, smoking column of cyclemotors down a valley, one could be forgiven for thinking we were still in the 1950s.

At about two-thirds distance lunch halts were on offer at either the Queens Head, Stanton, or the Skirrid Inn further down the road, the Skirrid being favourite.

No disasters, mechanical or otherwise, were suffered by riders and everybody concurred on what an excellent day out it had been.  Philippa & I rode a Solex and Cucciolo down to Abergavenny's bus station for bacon butties at the caff and to bait the assembled dayglo leather-clad superbike riders (this is a popular Sunday rendezvous for them) who tried to figure out what cyclemotors were, especially why Philippa's Cucciolo had a Ducati sticker.  It's an early superbike, dear boy, didn't you know that?

The Welsh Run
Photograph by Hugh Gallagher

First published, June 2003

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