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Mallory Park

Weekend: Saturday

At dinner on Friday evening, some of our Observers stood up and advertised the rides they would be leading the next day so we could attach ourselves to our preferred group. Fast ride suitable for sports bikes? No thanks. Gravel tracks suitable for adventure bikes? No thanks. Luckily, one of my favourite Observers was offering what he described as a 'fluffy' ride, so Howard and I went for that one (although I did tell him he was welcome to go on fast and/or gravelly rides without me).

Everyone took turns to ride at the front, following signals from our leader in position 2. Everyone, that is, except me, as I'd cunningly volunteered to don the orange bib and be Tail End Charlie. So I sat happily at the back, observing without being observed and under no pressure to go faster or go for overtakes, as we swung out of Presteigne heading for the Elan Valley. We stopped at the visitor centre to drink coffee and to learn about the dams and the wildlife, then we were off again.

Up the mountain above the lake, across the bridge, along a road lined with tall straight firs, past sheep with coloured eartags and sweet, smiling faces. It is unwise, among bikers, to comment on how pretty the sheep are, especially in Wales, but I did it anyway. Sausage rolls and steak pasties at Devil's Bridge, where we felt the only spots of rain of the weekend. To avoid the incoming weather, we decided to go north on faster A roads rather than south into the mountains again. I pointed out a red kite, with its distinctive forked tail, as it hovered close beside the road. Later, we stopped for supplies in a village and saw more than a dozen circling above the streets; a local farmer puts out raw meat to attract them.

Our group of seven was the first to arrive back at the hotel. Four of us set off again immediately for petrol, and I was finally forced to take a turn at going in front. I surprised myself by enjoying the chance to view the open road unimpeded by other people's bikes. Other things I enjoyed included seeing some sort of small mustelid whisk across the road just before I flew over a hump-backed bridge; a cracking overtake; and a village rejoicing in the name of Titley.

At the petrol station in Kington I used my powers of forward observation to spot a tea shop two doors down. The woman running it said she needed to close promptly at five to catch her bus, which gave us twenty minutes for tea and, in some cases, a cake to tide us over until dinner. We managed it.

Although it was a day of stunning scenery, I didn't take a single photo. All the best moments flashed past at speed, and I probably couldn't have captured them even had I stopped, dismounted, grabbed my camera from the topbox and walked back, which would not have endeared me to the rest of the group. Words, and memories, will have to suffice.
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Comments

Mid/north Wales has some of my favourite scenery anywhere. The (increasing numbers of) kites don't hurt, either! Around Rhayader and the Elan Valley is probably Kite Central as far as Wales is concerned, too.