A 5 day tour of South Wales (1/5)
Updated: Sep 3, 2022
"You're not in London now, Dorothy"
Day 1: London - Cheltenham
Distance: 118 miles (190km)
Highlights: Chiltern Hills, Cotswolds AONB
Accommodation: Crossways Guest House (£70, double room, breakfast)
SatNav route: (Settings > Avoid Motorways) Great Missendon · Benson · Longworth · Bampton · Aldsworth · Crossways Guest House
The trip almost didn't go ahead as I stupidly overlooked the first rule of an English long weekend: it. will. rain.
Not only did I forget to cover Saki, I also left my gloves outside. At 3am, the Bank Holiday rain gods started their frantic dance.
By the time I got up three hours later, the garden was flooded and my gloves were sodden. Belatedly, I covered Saki and took two handfuls of watery leather inside while the gods chuckled at me and continued to chuck it down.
At 2pm, when I came to leave, Saki would not start. Presumably she was sulking that I'd ruined her chrome outfit before she was going to meet all the sexy Welsh bikes.
After pleading with her for a quarter of an hour, and shunting her 250kg (550lbs) around the yard, eventually she deigned to talk to me.
Overheating (me), I finally left home grumpy, sweating and steaming up.
Half an hour out of London and into the Chiltern Hills, you wouldn't have known there was a deluge just 32 miles away.
My grumpiness faded as Saki roared in happiness while we flew past open fields, the fresh air cooling her 4-stroke engine.
As the miles whizzed by, I found myself a bit disconcerted by the country smells assailing my nose and the brown mud all over the roads.
And WHY were all these village cars waiting for me instead of squeezing past??
And then it dawned on this City Girl: You're not in Kansas now, Kelly
The Dorothy-feeling was sealed when a fluffy brown hare popped out of the hedgerow and ran alongside the bike for close on 10 seconds before LEAPING in front of the wheel to my other side, and sprinting next to me.
Sadly an oncoming car startled him and he disappeared into the hedge again.
I stopped for a drink in the famous bike cafe - The Clanfield Tavern - where they have been hosting bike nights every Wednesday (6pm) since the 1970s.
The best part of the ride was after the Tavern in Bampton through to Aldsworth - beautiful clear roads and a few gentle curves to break in your biker legs.
I arrived in Cheltenham at the Crossways Guest House 4.5 hours after leaving the Big Smoke feeling refreshed and energised.
This time I made sure to clean the mud off Miss Saki, polish her chrome, and tuck her in for the night. Let's hope that tomorrow she's still in a good mood.
Read about Day 2: A motorbike tour of South Wales (2/5)
For the full 5 day route and overview, head over to 'A 5 Day Tour of South Wales: Itinerary'.