Day 4 – Chepstow to Shrewsbury

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Derek: I woke this morning and could hardly move – my legs were solid and really strained. I thought this was going to be a really tough day, but hey – I decided at the start that my approach would be to just get on the bike each morning and to start peddling, so that’s what I did. 

We were joined on the ride today by Neil Symmons who also works for O2. Our plan was a steady 86-odd miles to Shrewsbury.

Leaving Chepstow, there was a steady climb out of the town. I found this really quite a strain – I realised why a bit later when I tried to change into my top chain-ring, only to find I had been using it all along. Oops.

Then we began a steady up and down along the river heading north. Mike set off at quite a hectic pace – making me swear underneath my breath on more than one occasion. It turned out this was as he was nursing a bad knee and the only way to make it feel better was to cycle fast and ride it out.

There were some good hills, and a fantastic 10% descent. We were quite gutted though as we only managed to get to 39.9mph. 

Lunch was some 42 miles down the road, but before we could get there we had to go up a mammoth hill – probably 2 miles long and several hundred feet high. For some strange reason though, we all seemed to actually enjoy this one. We also enjoyed the baked potatoes, and sausage baps at the top too.

The descent wasn’t as good as the previous one, but fun nonetheless, and very very long.

In the afternoon, the roads were much nicer – there were some rises, but they were generally slight and steady so we barely noticed them. This meant we managed to increase our average speed – at one point making in excess of 20mph. 

We arrived at Shrewsbury at about 5:45. The B&B is a lovely, interesting place which looks like it used to be an old coach house.

Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Phil today who has been helping us since Sunday – his help (and humour and enthusiasm) has been very important to us over the previous few days. Today, we’ve been helped by Mike W, who will support us again tomorrow until we get to Preston Brook at lunchtime at which point Jayne, from Weston Spirit, will pick-up the reins.

Mike: Unusually, I’ll start today’s log with a review of last night.  There was a bit of a party atmosphere in Chepstow with a gathering of various people: myself, Derek, Phil, Maddy (wifey), Mike W (support from Shrewsbury), Neil (our guest rider for today’s leg), and Shelby (my surrogate sister – dont ask!)

Anyway, we gathered in the bar area and strolled down the hill to a GReek restaurant, where the meal was very good.  Unlike the walk back up the hill afterwards.  I went to bed immediately on return but I think various people stayed in the bar quite late…. 

So today, we set off a little later than planned and cruised down the Wye valley.  Neil and Derek complained that I was setting a fast pace, I reasoned that we had a long way to go, but actually my knee was painful (an old injury) and I was trying to work it through (to no great effect).

We reached Monmouth and had a short rest before climbing the long hill.  The next leg of the journey to Hereford and beyond was “up and down” a lot more than expected, including a climb from 65 feet to well over 600 immediately before lunch. 

At this point I had finally worked out what was aggravating my knee, it’s the twisting of the foot to get out of the pedals.

This afternoon was generally a lot flatter and we made quite good progress with no real incidents until we arrived at our destination, where we turned left off the road in to the carpark, which was a slope.  I slowed and tried to release my foot and failed.  I was now stationery and promptly fell over.  Fortunately Mike was reasonably close and slowed by descent but I still ended up on the ground, cutting my dodgy knee.  It’s now has a plaster and a tubi-grip bandage thing on it in a effort to get it ready for tomorrow. 

Beer of the Day: Abbey Gates – a nice bitter which we determined had a nutty chocolate flavour. (a bit like a Snickers!)

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