Day 7: Penmaen (Gower) to Tenby, distance 101km, climbing 1,308m

A planned rest day in Tenby today, which – for reasons that will become clear – is very good timing.

The Tumble

Let’s get the bad news out of the way: I took a tumble off my bike yesterday. Note that from now on I shall be calling it The Tumble to express my determination that this is the first and only time I will be falling off my bike this trip.

Nothing too serious, but the next few days are going to be a bit harder and less fun while I heal.

I was on the very final stretch of a tough day on the bike, riding a cycle path from Saundersfoot to Tenby. The ground was a little wet, my front tyre was perhaps a bit low in pressure, my concentration lapsed momentarily; whatever the cause, I lost control and took a face dive at about 20 kmph.

It was off-road, so the landing was at least soft, but enough to scrape my knees and bust my lip. I knew that I’d knocked my left side, but it didn’t feel too bad. The bike looked okay apart from some cosmetic damage (full service has confirmed this today).

Mostly I was just glad that I had my helmet on and that it wasn’t worse. I limped on to Tenby, a little shook and bloody, but basically fine.

This morning I woke up with a lot of pain in my ribs on the left side. It took more than an hour and a couple of ibuprofen to get moving at all and, even then, gingerly. I realise that sounds like a hangover (see below), but this wasn’t that.

Incidentally, gingerly used to mean elegant and graceful. Two words that couldn’t be used to describe me today.

I tried to get it checked out at the local doctors and walk in centre, unfortunately the NHS is under the same pressure here as everywhere else. No chance of seeing anyone.

A friendly neighbourhood pharmacist opined that it probably wasn’t a broken rib (because I was walking) and gave me some ibuprofen gel and a weird body stocking (which I have tried and rejected). He said it’s gonna hurt for a few days and that I should try to stay on the bike in future. Quite.

I’ll take stock in the morning, but current plan is to stick with the plan – heading to St David’s – and do a shorter day if needed.

Sunday night scenes in Tenby

After washing the blood off in my jacuzzi bath (real thing), I ventured into town looking for a bite to eat. Little did I expect what can only be described as a festival on the harbour. Drinks, food, live music, fireworks, and hundreds of people having a blast.

Festival on the harbour

My first thought was that this was a bit over the top. I mean I appreciate the support, but it’s only a bike ride (right, Becky?)

It turns out that this hadn’t all been laid on just for me and that every Sunday in August the local Rotary Club and Round Table Club (yes, they are different) take it in turns to throw parties on the harbour to raise funds for charity. This was the first Harbour Spectacular in three years due to covid.

As an aside, I love the gentle rivalry between community groups. This was the Round Tablers event. When I said to one of the volunteers how lucky I felt to have arrived in Tenby on this of all days; he said: “yeah… you could’ve come next week when the Rotarians are organising, that would have be awful for you”. People’s Front of Judea vibes.

Cultural research

Obviously, I chatted to loads of people and danced with a few more. The award for NPCs of the day goes to Rhiannon (Rhi) and Rachel, who were on a short campervan break from “Swansea way”. They were as surprised by the Tenby scenes as I was and – in between shots – casually mentioned that lockdown never happened to them because they work in the NHS. Legends. They also had good stories from their recent trip to Glastonbury.

Rhi and Rachel, NHS Legends from Swansea way

The whole thing ended with a great fireworks display and I made a mental note to come back to Tenby on a Sunday in August in future, if only to see whether the Rotarians can do a better job.

Fireworks at Tenby

Ride report

Packed up the tent in the rain on Gower and set off early. Rain, headwind, and hills were my whole world for the first few hours.

I went off route to Llanelli and found a great place for second breakfast in Bury Port. Only downside of this plan was a long slog up the A484 with no cycle paths to get to Carmarthen. Felt like I was wading through treacle at this point.

Off route

Post-Carmarthen I was back on quieter roads, but with some proper gruelling climbs and I don’t mind admitting there was a bit of pushing. The skies cleared by mid afternoon and when I hit the coast it was all sunshine and blue skies.

Those skies though

Other than The Tumble, the ride into Tenby was straightforward, if quite hilly. Beginning to think that this will be a feature. It was the biggest day of climbing so far, good training for what is coming next.

A world without homelessness

I am so grateful to everyone for the generous donations to support the work of Llamau to end homelessness in Wales.

We’re currently at £3,800 plus another £700 in gift aid. Amazing.

Lots of people have promised donations, but not quite followed through yet. I know that some of you are waiting to see whether I actually finish (a position that I respect), but for others they just haven’t got round to it (I’m looking at you, Tim).

Don’t delay, make your donation today (click here). As an added bonus, you get to ask me a question (yes Rolph, it’s money first, answers second).

Jonathan asks how will I feel if I double the fundraising target.

Bloody amazing is the rather obvious answer. Since meeting with Iona from Llamau in Cardiff I am more convinced than ever that their work is critical and every penny that we can raise for them will help young people who need it most in Wales. I’ll keep cycling if you keep giving.

Duncan from Shropshire asks what do I wish that I’d brought with me or what preparation do I wish that I had done in advance.

This is a tough one. So far, I feel like I’ve got everything I need with me, although I am running out of snacks and guava bars. In terms of preparation, I could have done with losing 10kg in body fat and I promised myself that I’d take up yoga, both of which I failed on and both of which I feel would have helped a little.

Keep the donations and questions coming. back on the bike tomorrow.

3 thoughts on “Day 7: Penmaen (Gower) to Tenby, distance 101km, climbing 1,308m”

  1. Paid up now! Hope the ribs are ok. Was in Tenby last week. Superb place!
    No sign of knackered Welshman in Lycra!

  2. Great post, and I like that you’re adopting my criteria , ‘it was just a tumble’ and so glad you enjoyed the fireworks.

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