This trip has been a long time coming. I’ve probably been waiting for it, subconsciously, for a good few years. But finally it’s arrived – friends have taken all of our three kids in, and we just have to worry about ourselves, two Harley wheels and the open road.
The weather could not be more perfect – blazing hot sun, a low breeze and blue sky for days. My ideal set-up.
We fuel up at our local coffee house – the lovely Pimento in Broadlands, Bridgend – then peel out of town, straight into the backroads. One of the beautiful things about living where we do in south Wales is that you can quickly get into the lanes within five minutes’ ride of our front door.
As a kid I spent most of my days riding my bmx or mountain bike from one woods to another via country lanes, and it seems that at 40-years-old, nothing much has changed. I’ve always loved that feeling of being away from ‘normal’ society, it’s something that sings to my soul.
Throttling back, senses dialled up to 11, the wind and engine noises fill our thoughts. My wife’s legs grip tighter around me from the pillion perch, and really quickly we lose ourselves in each others’ company – thoughts of our every day lives floating away on the wind of our own creation.
We have a plan, but it’s a loose one: head up the coast towards the Mumbles to the west of Swansea, and then off back across country through to the Gower and Llangennith – a gorgeous, chilled out massive beach on the Welsh coast.
M and I have ridden a few times before, but never for more than an hour, so this is kind of a test, but one that we both relish.
Navigating through what feels like miles of car traffic, we cut through Swansea civilisation – diving gingerly between slow-moving vehicles – to emerge on the other side, into the seductive, chilled out Mumbles surroundings.
I’ve lived in south Wales for six years, but never before made it to this part of the world – and now I don’t know why I haven’t.
We grab another coffee, then skirt around to LangLand’s brasserie by the sea. It’s a delightful restaurant that you drop down via a steep, twisty road, giving it an air of the French Riviera. It’s nestled at the top of steps to a cove – one that’s entertained the beach hungry since the 1950s
Inspired by our location, we order the seafood platter – mussels, sea bass, salmon, prawn skewers, calamari, king prawns and chips. It’s amazing, and clearly too much for us – so much so that the other patrons audibly gasp as it’s brought to our table. We have a good crack at it though, much to the approval of our waitress. I can’t recommend this place enough – if you’re in the area, then do yourself a favour and visit.
Saddling up, we quickly regain our rhythm, comfortable in our own company, pointing out things we both know the other will find funny, checking out stunning beach-front properties and chuckling at inept old people drivers. But the beauty of a bike ride into the back of beyond is that nothing slows us down for long, and we more often than not find ourselves riding on our own – even saluting random cows walking down the road.
And then we’re here: Llangennith beach appearing like an oasis in the desert.
An oasis that we have to walk to black clad in jeans and boots, through the sand and dunes. We look a sight – a dark shadow marauding towards the sea through the colourful beach-wear-clad occupants.
But we love the sun and the beach as much – if not more – than the next person, so we scramble away from the hustle and bustle, finding a little dune hollow nestled above everyone else. It doesn’t take us long to ditch our clothes, our initial need to escape now highlighting our lack of planning, leaving us on the sand in our underwear.
We stay for an hour or two, then wind our way back to our bike. It doesn’t matter how long I ride for, as soon as I get off it, I want to get back on again, so the sight of it always gladdens my heart.
M says she wants to ride up to the cafe for a drink, and suggests we don’t bother to wear our helmets. I’ve never ridden without a helmet before so jump at the chance to be even more rebellious on someone else’s private land. It’s incredibly refreshing, even for only the couple of hundred metres that we ride for.
We have a soft drink, then dress again and head back onto the road.
Sauntering our way home with the departing beach traffic, we duck in and out of the gaps as we go, in no particular hurry to really get anywhere. A country pub catches our eye so we double back at the next roundabout to make the most of the beer garden in full evening sun.
All too soon we are on the road towards home. M is sore from her first real taste of the saddle, but we’re both elated from the adventure – one that we’re equally looking forward to repeating, although I may need to work out a way to improve her comfort. Perhaps a bigger seat and a sissy bar!
Our final stop is the hot tub and a cold drink – a worthy reward to our endevours.