After a lovely dinner and a pleasant sleep at the Metropole Hotel it was time for breakfast! Chris and I were feeling hungry after yesterdays dinner dart. We got up relatively early and eagerly went to where breakfast was being served. Sadly, bacon and eggs and the like wouldn't be served until 8 o'clock. We figured this was worth waiting for, so in the 'waiting time' we had, we readied our bikes for the adventure that lay ahead. When breakfast came it was great! I had all the usual stuff and lots of it! I located Sheila Simpson (event organiser) during breakfast too and was able to hand in my brevet card from yesterday. Sheila was supposed to give me a new brevet card for today but some toe-rag had claimed it already (no real menace, just meant I had to post Sheila POP's). Before leaving the hotel, I removed much mud from my front brake blocks and forks - there was so much mud, it looked like I had removed a birds nest from the front of my bike! We then spent time chatting with other audax folk before we eventually left the hotel.
Brrr, it was cold outside the hotel. Everywhere was frosty and frozen. It must have been about 2C when we left. Surprisingly, Chris looked pretty pleased. Strange fellow.
Our return route to Talybont-on-Usk was awesome. We followed a new route that Chris created, which avoided big ascents but included big descents. We followed the river for a fair amount of K's, I wonder if this was the river Usk? For POP purposes we stopped at the same pub as we did on our inbound adventure, the White Hart. We purchased some tea and ate many biscuits, courtesy of Metropole Hotel. After an additional couple of Twix bars we set sail again.
The trek to Hay-on-Wye was great and full of adventure. We reached the troll bridge and awesomely the troll was there this time. We stopped and chatted with the troll a fair while and he informed us big time about himself and his bridge. The troll's name was Grahame and he purchased the bridge in January 2012. Grahame the troll took a photo of us as we crossed his bridge, and once Chris had paid the troll charge we were given 4 pieces of troll rock and a little booklet about the history of the bridge! How awesome was that?!
We educated Grahame the troll about the big oak tree nearby (shocked he didn't know about it already) and hastily made our way there. The tree was as oakish as ever. I wonder how long till I visit this tree again?!
Next stop was Hay-on-Wye itself. We stopped at a cafe opposite to Hay Castle and I ate a delicious carrot and coriander soup. Suitably fuelled, off we went.
The trek into Tenbury was fairly rolling and better than I had expected. The first hill out of Hay wasn't as menace as I thought it would be. This was a long section though and when we finally reached the control it was dark. We stopped at a garage and gorged on peanuts, cheap chocolate and Lucozade.
We found an easy to navigate route to Worcester, essentially following the same road. This road started off well being mostly descending in nature. After so long though the road started to ascend and ascended for miles. We had made a poor choice really and cycled many additional K's again. It seemed like an age to finally reach Worcester. Once in Worcester though, we awarded ourselves with burgers from McDonalds and my headspace was all happy again!
Worcester to Bidford was relatively okay. I think Chris experienced a low here though - I pointed out that home was only a few K's away in one direction but that we were cycling extra just to visit a control point in Bidford. The only available control point was a cash machine at a (closed) garage but this provided the necessary POP.
Our last few K back to Studley was no real bother. Sure we were tired, but this was a bonus because the roads appeared to be shorter than normal. Once in Studley village we had to cycle to a cash machine for our very last POP and woo hoo, job done! We had completed a back-to-back 200k audax! And how did it feel? - you might just have to ask us!
Cycled 226k during this After Dinner Dart.
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