It is the weekend of the (now) annual XT500 and Thumper Club International meeting, held (as before) at the Baskerville Hall Hotel, Clyro, in Powys. I missed the first one in 2009, but made the last two. This time, there was too much going on at home to justify a full weekend camping in the Welsh hills, so I just went up for the day. This meant a 100-mile ride up there, a rideout with about 50 bikes, and a ride home again. 268 miles in total, which is the most I have ever covered in a day on the XT. I think the previous record was the 100 miles from home to Clyro. One thing is for sure: in its present configuration, it is not a long-distance tool. My legs, arse and back are aching like buggery, and I don't think I will be able to stand up straight again.
The rideout was around the dams and reservoirs of the Elan Valley, close to Rhayader. This is a favourite route of mine, and it was no hardship to do it again. Proof, if any were needed, that there is no danger of a hosepipe ban in Wales:
|You are looking at almost 10 billion litres of water here|
(Actually that's wrong: there is no danger of a hosepipe ban in Birmingham, a source of considerable irritation to local people when the dams were constructed in 1893, and many hill farmers were forcibly evacuated and whole villages were drowned for the benefit of English consumers 73 miles away.)
After a coffee at some tea rooms at the old Erwood railway halt, I left the guys to it (for some reason I felt I didn't really need a barbecue and several bottles of genuine Belgian beer) and headed home. My route took me across a wonderful bridge spanning the River Wye. At first I thought it was a footbridge, but on closer examination it was indeed wide enough for one car, as long as the door mirrors were folded in.
It was built in 1922, and a cast iron sign at the entrance states that it is suitable only for vehicles up to five tons, on four wheels, and moving at a speed not exceeding four miles per hour. The XT is one-sixth of a ton, has two wheels, and was travelling at considerably more than 4 mph, but we made it. The views of the river from the bridge were spectacular:
The bridge can be found here.
The Yamahaha was obviously pleased at passing its exams on Wednesday, as it ran like a champ all day. It's an honest, unglamorous workhorse and it brings a smile to my face every time I throw a leg over it. I love this bike (have I said that already?) and will never sell it, but I'm not sure I would choose it if I had to be in Berlin by tomorrow tea-time. My nether regions would never recover. Here it is amongst friends and relations: