Tales from the road...
Sunday, 18th December. Lost Innocence.
For the second time in as many months, Fandango had fought his way from beneath the duvet in good time for bicycling. Secretly smug about his championing of the eiderdown, the morning was, once again, too chilly for the one piece racing skinsuit; our feckless hero opting for the layered approach. Six layers to be precise. No chance of our delicate subject succumbing to Mother Nature’s icy tendrils, no, siree. However, the main reason for our heat-seeking weapon of mass couture’s aversion to less-than-tropical temperatures would seem to have been Mr Snugglebum’s foray into international modelling the day before. A day’s shoot with a professional photographer had clearly woken a [not so] deeply buried diva tendency. Move over, Louie Spence, for today Fandango would be riding with the girls.
Jayney K, Anne, Michelle and Julie looked on, unimpressed. “What? With us? Oh jeez.” A response not borne from fear of cycling awesomeness, more the concerned view of those experienced in dealing with delicate sorts. “OK then, but you’d better not hold us up.”
And off they set - a hardcore group of road riding talent. And some mincing fop waving at the rear. [At the collective rear of the group, I assume, not actually at a rear in particular? – Ed.] Talk quickly turned to respective rides that morning to get to the meet point – 15 miles here, 10 there and so on. Staying quiet, Fandango considered his efforts and concluded he didn’t need to mention his two minute roll down to Finch Square.
Climbing through Cwm Degwel and with the speed slowly creeping upwards, a slightly underperforming Fandango accosted a couple of walkers, pretending they were old friends. Ever the chatterbox and keen to spread the news of his impending superstardom on the catwalks of Paris, Milano and New York, Fandango “allowed” the main group to ride on whilst he set about the walkers, seemingly intent on ruining their up-till-then pleasant morning. “Yah, that’s right! And Naomi said.... Oh, really? You’re heading the opposite way to me now? Righto. No probs. Toodlepips. It won’t take me long to catch the group, no. No time at all. In fact... Oh, oh you’ve gone.”
Rather than hang about on his own in an early morning Welsh valley, Fandango thought it best he drop the Spence Routine and make a bit of effort - you know, impress the ‘little ladies’ a touch with some big ring prowess. Several minutes later he glimpsed what appeared to be the tail end of the group but, as he caught and passed the stationary washing line, he realised a bit more work was needed. He dug in some more and in no time at all he’d caught them.
Technically, they’d waited at the top for him, but Fandango didn’t want to split hairs, realising that females were more sensitive when physically exhausted having clearly worked hard themselves to keep ahead of the charging bull that is Fandango in full flight. “Where’ve you been, Princess? Been waiting ages, come on...” And with that, the group was off, a slightly bemused Fandango left wondering how quickly he might be able to join the boys’ ride. After all, they were, well, frankly, less mean for one...
Catching up with the group for the second time that morning (a theme was developing), our hapless hero settled at the back to eavesdrop the delicate goings-on in girlie world. Farts. First topic du jour: farts. Timing, effectiveness, appropriateness, necessity and other details on the fine art of, well, botty burps. This was not an average group of latent girlpower, it seems. Or was it?
Variously, Fandango tried to contribute to the girls’ subject matter ranging from the technicalities of Di2 and deep section rims, performance supplements, roadside maintenance, continental riding and why three layers were ample. Not six. This was not what Fandango expected – no kittens, no hair advice, no pinkness, no... well, let’s just say by this time our former Supermodel was feeling quite inadequate, not least because of the pace being set by these unrelenting goddesses of west Wales’ roads. It was time for a hot chocolate and cake, wasn’t it? Appeasing the whimpering fool’s sugar cravings, the girls eased up and eventually led the whimpering hanger-on to Cilgerran where, hopefully, he would be reunited with his own kind.
And lo! So it was thus. Fandango re-assimilated into the Collective and life was good. To ensure he was properly recalibrated (and recovered) from his morning’s efforts, Fandango plugged into the Newcastle Emlyn train for some last miles, profound conversation regarding world events and general blokeyness. After all, AndrooL had been to the nail bar and the results were, quite frankly, to die for; Graham’s tanning bed was, like, oh my god, really paying dividends and Richard’s recent highlights really showed off his gorgeous, ah-may-zing eyes in the watery, winter sunlight.
Meanwhile, from a parallel world this day:
A short Glossary for todays ride.
Raw. The dull chill greeting riders in Cardigan at 9.30.
Pink. The colour of Mr H’s old steed, despite protestations that it’s actually a manly red.
Feminine. Carl Fandango as he swished off to join the ladies ride.
Placid. The sea as we passed by at Moylgrove.
Clump. The nature of muck-wedge accumulated between front tyre and mudguard.
Cyclocross. The type of cycling required when local farmer spreads 25 cubic metres of field along 100 metres of road. See Clump.
Spectacular. Views across the Preselis
Clench. Instinctive action of buttocks when front wheel side-slips.
Suspect. Androols route-finding skills upon passing sign for Moylgrove yet again.
Charge. Response to notification that caff has to be reached in 6 minutes and is 3 miles away on a slightly down hill road.
Welcome. The sight of ladies group in caff.
Unwelcome. The sight of Fandango.
Tasty. Coconut Bakewell with a flat white.
Cakelegs. Dulling effect on legs brought on by cafe indulgence, see Tasty
Surprised. A kind description of the look on a drivers face when avoiding Hallett’s confident exit from Lechryd Bridge.
Steady. Pace of return to Emlyn.
Satisfaction. Feeling brought on by great morning of cycling.
Sunday, 11th December.
A freezing, foggy plod along the main road towards Henllan saw Jayney K, Meinir, Julie and Alison try to get the circulation going in icy toes and fingers while trying to be as visible as possible to all motorists in the fog. (No doing a strip down to the itsy-bitsy bits was not what I meant!) - That's enough to make drivers swerve into the river! Up through Henllan, a right fork across at Aberbanc and a long, long climb. "It's a really nice hill! It's steady and it's a lovely road, I've done it before." " Yeah, yeah heard all before; there's no such thing as a lovely hill" commented the 3 huffers and puffers in the rear. Before the turn to La Calabria Madison put in an appearance declaring that she had intended to join the group if her new ebay cycling purchase hadn't failed dismally en route and she'd had to revert to her old trusty steed. Waving goodbye to Madison at Bwlch y groes the remaining 4 girls took a left turn at Croesllan and wow what a drop! Good thing the hill was going down and not up. The 4 girls shot down to Tregroes, then right to the main road before enjoying a beautiful and easy ride through Gorrig and eventually down into Llandyssul. Loo stop completed it was then a gossipy but smooth ride (yes it really is slightly downhill) back to the cosy comfort of the Emlyn Arms with its delicious coffee and caramel shortcake..
Sunday, 27th November.
Christ on a stick! Is that...? No, it can’t be. Surely not... But yes, it was true: Fandango had emerged from whatever stone he’d been lurking under and was ready to [club] ride. Recently returned from foreign moochings, Fandango offered to show his white bits however, generous though the proposition was, everyone quickly declined the not-so private viewing. Which was just as well, given Fandango was layered up to the tune of six (originally thought to be five, but a after a re-count – at the request of Wisconsin – the real number was determined). The Michelin Man impression by Fandango hinted at the anticipated temperatures for the morning, with several folk bemoaning a lack of overshoes resulting in chilled digits. Extraordinary-distance runner, Jason, was present seemingly using cycling as a recovery plan for a sprained ankle obtained during a recent million-mile jog; the good news is that Jason is enjoying cycling, so there’s hope for him yet. We know he has new found enthusiasm for the Noble Art as discussions are apparently underway with newly-appointed ClubSec, Billy Bunston, about Jase the Race purchasing Billy’s steed. It was quickly pointed out by some wit or other, that substantial discount should be available given the amateurish attempt at wrapping bar-tape, but Jase the Pace may not be that bothered, such is his new-found vigour for all things Noble Art. Anyway, back to clothing choices: Mr Chairman was resplendent in a tasty Castelli number stolen from either a 12 year-old boy or an evicted (Graham says he chose to leave) lodger, it wasn’t clear which. Sir Richard of Hallett was coutured courtesy of Rapha-culture and AndrooL was going for the semi-binman look. Others (hello Barri) had opted for classic black and so, with the fashion show complete (in the author’s mind, at least), the group set out for Newport in search of warmth and munchies. But not before newly-appointed ClubSec, with increasing bravery, opined that the chosen destination was somewhat predictable and perhaps... ‘Smite’ is the applicable word I think, as Mr Chairman duly overruled and seconded his own original idea. Let that be a lesson to you, Billy; young upstart. The wending route chosen was ever-mindful of the previous day’s mishap that saw our very own Jav-lar demonstrate his developing prowess for street mime; his interpretation of a mighty icebreaker in the Arctic Circle was something to behold – for ‘Arctic Circle’ read: Cych Valley icy road surface, for ‘mighty icebreaker’ read: his chin. Ouch. Only five stitches though. And a damaged hand. Plus other contusions. And a ripped jacket. Heal quickly, young Jav-lar, heal quickly. Meanwhile, back on the road to Newport, the panting group was joined by local Irondude, Rhys. Rhys was running. Rhys was running uphill. The group tucked in behind Rhys and thanked him at the top of Cwm Degwel for the draft. Ahem, moving on... The ride down to Newport was, thankfully, uneventful and upright and the group duly arrived at the Cafe du Jour at which point the author departed for Mumsie business that afternoon, leaving the remaining cake-munchers to dwell on the daunting prospect of stepping back out into the chill post-coffee and victuals in the bathing warmth of a log burner; an impossible notion, I know.
Sunday, 20th November.
A surprisingly bright, dry and wind free day found Jayney, Julie and Meinir heading out towards Gwbert and taking the lanes to Mwnt. Fortune had dictated that they avoided the storms and rain that was hitting more southerly parts of the country. A figure of eight pattern led the girls doubling back with a long downhill towards the Cliff hotel. They rode back into Cardigan before heading off towards Poppit. Good coffee and cake there but you have to sharpen your elbows and be at the head of the queue. Fortunately the 3 arrived just before a mass descent on the cafe (where do they all come from?) Suitably fuelled, the girls were able to tackle the nasty little hillock on the return journey with ease.
Sunday, 30th October.
A fine turn out at Emlyn comprising Anne, Michelle, Madison, Julie, Alison and Jayne with Meinir otherwise engaged but along to say hello. Perfect cycling weather blessed the 6 ladies (cool, dry, still, fog free) - the weather that is - yes the girls are cool too but that goes without saying. A ride up to Saron and Rhos saw the usual split of fast girls Madison, Michelle and Julie powering away up front leaving Anne, Alison and Jayne to smell the roses and enjoy autumn colours. We all turned left along the Christmas tree road or Roman road, whatever your preference, to emerge onto the fast and straight lane to Bancyffordd. A left turn beyond the hamlet took on another fast lane down to Pentrecwrt. However the 6 ladies had to stop fast in their tracks as a large, growling, dribbling old dog stood steadfast in the middle of the lane. With dirty yellow teeth bared and an evil eye glinting it could have had rabies. The six some cowered like a flock of nervous sheep. "What shall we do? It's got us covered."Then a flash of brilliance overtook Julie and a quick squirt with the water bottle sent it whimpering into the hedge. Tiptoeing past the creature, the girls thought they were out of danger but the thing then lunged again. Another squirt sent the animal back and the girls shot off down the hill away from retaliation. A fast, dog free ride safely ensued until the Emlyn Arms was reached and coffees were enjoyed by all.
Sunday, 2nd October.
Chilliness and shivers brought the ladies to Cenarth wondering if fog lights and warmer clothing were required today. Shivers disappeared as Julie, Michelle, Ann and Jayne climbed to Capel Tygwydd above the cloud and into bright sunlight. They wended their way towards Beulah, "but we came down this way" said Anne and Michelle..."now our bikes have been twice through the shitty farm!" On wards towards Beulah all legs were strong before a left and a right took them towards the main coast road and back down onto the B road to Cardigan and through to the Wildlife centre to meet up with the boys for the very important meeting about the new club kit organised by Tom and Graham. Listening carefully to what was said (Jayney K had been under strict instruction by Tom to "behave" at the meeting) sensible discussion and contribution ensued. Girls' ears pricked up when Graham suggested a fashion show of the chosen kit at the Nags Head at a later date. "But will it look good with my killer heels.......?"
Sunday, 25th September.
A depart from Gogerddan Arms saw Julie, Jayne, Michelle, Ann, Madison and fresh back from touring in north west France Alison, descend the hill to Aberporth and on to Tresaith. A split saw power girls Julie, Madison and Michelle head the peloton with the other 3 taking in the scenery and smelling the roses. They were all soon on the descent to Llangranog and the famous coffee venue. The sea was surprisingly rough but quickly esconced in the cafe, the 6 ladies were quickly absorbed in chit chat. Ladies ride's from each others homes were considered as an interesting alternative to the usual rendezvous and as usual thoughts turned to food and the VT Christmas dinner. (Shhh don't mention the 'C' word it's only September!) Jayney K was concerned we had all forgotten that there was a bike ride to continue and soon the ladies headed off to Pontgarreg and a view to Michelle's home. On wards and forever upwards they rode to Brynhoffnant before a sweep down to Rhydlewis, Jayney K actually matching strides with Madison for a brief moment. Around lovely lanes brought the girls to Brongest and the climb up the hill saw everyone even Jayney ride without stepping off. There was parting of the ways at Betws Ifan and fond farewells. 'Yes it really is flat back to Gogerddan' said Jayney to Alison as those 2 arrived back in a heavy downpour.
Sunday, 18th September.
Four ladies, Julie, Jayney K, Michelle and Ann departed Crymych in the direction of Hermon with a fast run down to the village, a left and then a right up through Llanfyrnach towards Glandwr followed by Hebron towards Glandy Cross. 'A flat (ish) ride it will be said Jayney but her selective memory was challenged by the others and a new categorisation of hills came into being. ' If it has a yellow grit bin by the road it is a hill' Ann suggested. Following lanes past Llangolman the girls took the pretty lane south of the Preselis over open moorland and past standing stones on their way back to Crymych. Power houses Julie and Michelle led the way (mostly) while Ann and Jayney K chit - chatted and puffed their way at the back (they had good excuses ie. the Cambrian coast sportive and cycling Norfolk respectively). As usual the girls retired to the old folks home, causing the odd comment from the residents, and a welcome coffee. Today's ride was a 3 bin category!
Sunday, 4th September.
A good time was had out on the VT leg pumping, hill climbing, chain turning action fest today. Nine participants ignored the dampness left over from yesterday and after cheering off the ladies team we set off for Newport via St Dogs and Nevern. The Peloton was nearly brought down early on by a confused driver in the winding lanes above St Dogs, but a vigorous vocal warning woke him just before he moved off into the path of The Hallett. Nevern was next and a check on Strava shows a few PB's on the decent. There might have been more if Dr Drool and yours truly hadn't attempted a re-enactment of a Battle of Britain Spitfire/Messerschmitt dog fight on the way down, complete with sound effects (sad isn't it). There was the compulsory lead out train and sprint to Newport, apparently won by several people, as Richard H, Tom K and Rik van Windshelter had all chosen different finishing points. I look forward to similar quibbling amongst Cav and co in the forthcoming Tour of Britain.
All caked up and caffeine infused we set off homeward this time through Crosswell and Boncath. The short, sharp hills that dot this snaking way provided plenty of opportunity for those who fancied a bit of competitive 'standy up' leg pumping and maybe Steve B took the prize for best Contador impression if, that is, our Iberian hero had taken to a diet of sausage butties for another 20 years. If you've been along this route you'll know there are a number of straight rolling sections that lend themselves to the use of the big ring and never one to miss such an opportunity our very own Irish rouleur, Dr B, pressed down hard and split the field asunder - well, until he was caught at the next crossroads that is.
New member Barry must have been amused by all this as we concertina'd our way along. His steady progress showed him to be far less sweaty and purple faced than some of us.
Before Boncath, Barry (oh look at the alliteration on that) left the group to return straight to Cardi and the rest of us charged on through to Abercych. Rik van W was first to be reminded of his TT prowess at Newchurch and powered the train forward but Mr H was there too with the big diesel. It was Huw and Tom though who split off the front to claim Garmin related honours for this section once they were back home. Down the fast decent into Abercych, Sunday drivers were overtaken and fast corners negotiated with plenty of buttock clenching (was that just me?). But here was my own chance for glory, Mr H had sat up and with the others stretched out behind me the open hill beckoned. My God, think of the PB's, the kudos, the tales I'll be able to tell Grandchildren. Head down spin those pedals. First steep section, stand up for a few strokes. Click down one, keep spinning. Hurting now, lactic building. Breathe, spin. Spin, spin. Almost there....oh bugger. **** off Tom, **** off Huw.
Terrific morning's ride. Thanks guys
After much chat amongst the chiefly male gathering at Ffinch Sq. Meinir, Julie and Jayne departed in a northerly direction with Julie sussing out how best to avoid head winds (not easy as the girls took the new road towards Carl's residence) the wind decided to funnel straight into their faces. Meinir thought climbing Gwbert hill to be a good practice for her upcoming Aberdovey sportive. Fortunately a tail wind was in assistance which helped Jayne and Meinir almost catch Julie; well almost catch sight of her. A fast sweep around an endless bend in Ferwig made Jayney K have a heart in mouth situation as thoughts of slipping on oil sprung to mind. (Don't worry dear you are not in the pro peloton!) Onwards and yet again upwards they rode until holy grail new cafe at Felin wynt appeared. A warm and friendly welcome was made to the girls and delicious coffee and cake were taken. Although just opened, the cafe was keen to provide for cyclists even in winter, and after a chat with the male members of the cafe family it transpired that they too were cyclists. Riding on to the coast road the girls took the fast lane down to Penllwyndu and the long straight but bumpy road to Lady lane. At Llechryd we said goodbye to Julie as she took her route home while Jayne and Meinir rode back to Cardigan via Cilgerran and the Wildlife centre.
Sunday, 28th August.
A damp start did not deter Alison, Celia, Jayne and Julie from going straight into a hill climb beside 'Kurowski Castle,' heading up to Heol of Oel and then taking one of Julie's detours ( variety is the spice of life) behind the Moelfre windmills. All girls rode strongly; Celia spurred on by her forthcoming charity ride and the other 3 as a result of their Tour de Mon antics last weekend. Another one of Julie's interesting detours (alas not without hills) found the girls heading towards Maudlands on the main road before a sweeping right turn and some leg respite towards' 5 roads.' An unmistakeable hiss revealed a puncture for one girl but was swiftly dealt with before they once again headed off to well deserved coffee and cake at the woollen mill. Weather was kind as they rode back to Emlyn.
Sunday, 14th August.
A cloudy, but otherwise very good day for cycling, brought out Jayney K, Julie, Michelle and Ann to Cenarth for a foray into W. Wales' beautiful countryside. The ride began typically, with taking the A road to Cardigan before crossing the river footbridge and then ascending to Carreg Wen. Avoidance of grit on roads was now a priority, as they made their way grit free to Boncath and then dicing with large farm machines and impatient Jaguar drivers eventually reached Crymych and made an ascent of the lane behind Ffrenni Fawr. After admiring the fine view over a large part of Pembrokeshire much of the ride to the Nag's Head at Abercych consisted of pretty fast downhill, taking care on rough bits of road and holiday traffic. Well deserved coffee and cake was taken at the tea shop in Cenarth. Jayney K. awarded herself matching 'combo - kit' award for wearing tasteful shades of blue, turquoise and purple!
Saturday, 13th August.
Beulah was looking a touch damp and tired in the early morning grey skies as five riders set off on the inaugural Summer 100 ride. OK, fancy title for something I made up but what the heck, if Rapha can make stuff up then so can I.
This starting group consisted of Rik van Windshelter, Steve ‘ Bear Grylls is a little girl’ Bunston, Downhill Dylan, your very own El Presidente and guest rider, fellow Ride London drafting star Ian Harris on an away-day from Aylesbury.
110 miles or so lay ahead with almost 3000 metres of climbing. A good challenge, but that’s what we like isn’t it?
The early morning drizzle had long passed and on drying roads we wound our way across to Brynhoffnant where KOM hoarder Huw Jones joined followed a mile later by Mark J sans helmet and rattly mudguards. Now, let me think, what name could I give to this random collection of drifters and hard men, seven in number, looking pretty magnificent and ready to right wrongs and bring justice to the wild west? No, can’t think of anything.
We rolled across to Lampeter at a steady clip where we were joined by Tim Newby who had popped down from Aberaeron to join the fun.
On to Tregaron where we would have our first pit stop for caffeine and cake replenishment. The road here is one of the finest around. Smooth tarmac curling and flowing by the River Teifi encouraged some to tap out a high tempo and the cafe was there in short order. Here we found the final member of our group. Another welcome guest Tim Strang had come down from the high hills above Bwlch Llan for the next stage that would take us around Llyn Brianne.
Now for the big climb. After an all too brief bit of gently rising road the track rears up in a steep wall. No more gears on the cassette, (I must get a 32 ring) time to stand up. Dig in, grit teeth, shut up legs. Into a high valley now, a little bit of down and flat before the long steady grind up to the pass. Ian is overcome by scenic overload and takes a stop for a photo purge. Huw is in ‘Quintana’ mode and with fellow ‘Monster’ sportive partcipant Tim S they set a strong pace to the first high pass where we regroup.
The clouds have been breaking apart all morning and now we are fortunate to get the full benefit of the fabulous countryside. Down the Devil’s Staircase and over the final lump before Llyn Brianne shows a little of itself. The next few miles are a glorious mix of lake, forest and open skies. Welsh poetry in visual form.
All too soon we leave the lake behind us. After a bit of nose on the handlebar downhill its a sharp right and a gentle climb up a beautiful little side valley that drops us out onto the main road at Pumpsaint. Tim S leaves us now to make his loop back home as does Tim N shortly after. For the rest of us it’s full speed to Abergorlech and The Black Lion for a well earned lunch stop.
Butties, chips, Lasagne, beer, crisps, you don’t get this on the Velothon. You probably wouldn’t take an hour stop either but the sun is shining and what’s the hurry. Even time for a lie down ay Mark?
The final stage awaits. Fueled up Dylan is keen to put some watts down and leads the way on to Brechfa where we do a quick shimmy to take the westward road towards Llanpumpsaint. The miles and meters are adding up now and weary legs complaining but there’s one more long climb to do. Again only louder, SHUT UP LEGS. I latch on to Huw in the hope of being dragged up the hill. Ian is still strong and steady, as is Steve. For real grit though look to Rik, Dylan and Mark. Each hit tough points but all just ignore the pain and get on with it. Onwards, upwards, no giving in. Tremendous stuff.
At last we are at the top. Left onto the Roman road and west again for a few miles to the windfarm high above Emlyn. Not far now. The views out across the whole of Velo Teifi country are superb. Rik peels off now the comforts of home nearby. The remaining group have a few more miles to do so it’s some speedy descending down to Cenarth fill the water bottles and the final climb taking the easier route by Coracles and to Beulah.
What a day.
Sunday, 7th August.
Those 3 determined ladies; Hilary, Jayne and Alison decided to take a jaunt to Strumble Head today. With the wind doing it's damnedest to annoy, they wound their way out on the A road before taking a right turn and then a left that saw the 3 head off towards the village of St. Nicholas. Open wind swept fields defined the area and with the tor of Garn Fawr coming into view the girls ascended the steepest climb of the day. Discussion as to the shape of the tor being like a witch was soon forgotten as the girls took on a fast winding descent in full view of the lighthouse. Realisation that a large pile of dirty wool and 'organic black stuff' had Jayney worried that one false move could lead her straight into pile of said muck with possible dead sheep in the middle. Nasty pot holes took them by surprise at the same farm but soon the girls reached the lighthouse as the sun came out. Churning waves revealed no dolphins or seals but an enjoyable snack was taken overlooking the lighthouse. T he wind was still being lively and a young lady from Slovakia obviously thinking we were trustworthy asked about the coastal path. Riding on, climbs were taken out towards Goodwick and a cultural detour taken to the tiny church of St. Gwndaf . A 17% descent down Goodwick hill brought the 3 to the car park and well deserved coffee and cake in the tourist centre.
Sunday, 31st July.
A changeable weather situation did not stop new lady rider Celia from trying out the ladies rides at Ffostrassol, so welcome Celia. Her explanation of needing to improve fitness levels prior to a charity ride abroad was laudable and the pair of us set off up the hill towards Plwmp. Latecomers Michelle and Ann duly arrived en route - better late than never and amidst much chit - chat the 4 girls headed off towards Caerwedros and down the famous hairpins of Cwmtydu. Fears that the delicious coffee and cake would not be available at the sole coffee shop were well founded because we arrived half an hour too early for opening time. (Does't anyone else get up early?) Disappointed but unbowed the ladies rode staunchly up the valley towards Llwyndafydd hailing intrepid walkers coming down the valley, in the hope of the pub being open. ' Alas, we are too fast for the likes of folks around these parts' ... They get up too late. Saying goodbye to Celia at the Plwmp turning the remaining 3 ambled merrily on their way, tongues awag and bicycles meandering all over the lanes and byways that finally brought them to the Ffostrassol Arms and 'Oh Joy!' An open pub and cool beverages were inbibed with relish.
Sunday, 24th July.
The 5 founding Velo ladies (vixens) turned up in force in Emlyn all set to enjoy the glorious midsummer weather that we have all come to hold dear to our hearts ie. rain, mist, more rain, cloud, wind and more rain. They were about to set off with typical determination just as a bewildered Mr. Hallet turned up and wondered where the boys were. (Clue is in looking on the website.) Attempts to contact Tim and Tom to wait for said Mr. H. were in vain so he set off on his own misty ride. Along the main road towards cloudlands of Saron and Rhos they proceeded and then aha! 'Monroes' - perchance hottest place in West Wales! Encouraged by Julie to take early sustenance the five some entered said hostelry and found a modern decor and an atmosphere left over from a jolly good night before. Although the girls must have been first customers of the day they were well served with coffee and Jayney K. and Alison had a girl - on - girl battle to see who could eat their half of a shared piece of delicious chocolate brownie first! Serious cycling ensued as the girls rode up to and beyond Five Roads until they reached the Emlyn B road. Amidst swirling mists they saw Julie depart for home before descending at an almost furious rate to Emlyn. Alison won fastest descender of the day as she shot past the other 4 girls out of the cold dampness and into warmth and almost sunshine. A lot of very wet kit must have entered washing machines after this day.
Sunday, 17th July.
Enthusiastic duo Ann and Michelle eagerly joined stalwarts Meinir, Jayney K. and Julie. Also super time trial star Madison came along to join in the fun. "It's a pea souper up top" said Julie so a girl's climbing day was out of the question and it was decided to take the regular winter ride to the Wildlife centre with it's renowned cake.The girls zipped along to Cenarth, left to Abercych and over Carreg wen towards Cilgerran and the Wildlife centre. It was decided to return along the B road to N. Emlyn with its interesting ups and downs while Madison showed her time trialling skills to the full. Michelle was so diligent in learning new routes and roads that she completely missed the turn off at Neuadd Cross despite Ann's plaintive calls. On returning, the girls learnt of John's injury to his shoulder on the boys ride and we all send our very best wishes for a speedy recovery and that he may soon be back on his bike.
Sunday, 10th July.
Weather doing it's best to deter lady cyclists failed to deter Jayney K, Julie, Meinir and Alison (the last 2 girls practising for next weekend's Rapha 100.) On her way Alison managed to 'Bikenap' Anne (as you do) from the Aberporth group and new lady Michelle also joined. A worthy two some they were too with Michelle's super nursing qualifications being the ladies equivalent to the 'Doctor' for the boys (but probably with a better taste in bike colour.) Riding out of Cardigan the girls headed for St. Dogmaels and up the valley, left, then right at Croft to the main road and another right further on to take the narrow lane down to the infamous ford at Felindre Farchog where Jayney K had an interesting soaking and a massive bruise to prove it several years ago. (Tip for riding fords - don't.) Time trialling to rival the Tour de France's best, the girls hit the cafe at Newport like a whirlwind (oh OK like a group of chit - chatty - dears trying to decide what cake to have and displaying great shock if their favoured cake was off the menu.) However food was delicious and deserved and after much mirth and gossip the ladies powered back to Nevern, up the hill on the B road before sweeping down to Croft. They really got their act together on the descent on the A road to Cardigan before gathering to say fond farewells at Ffinch Sq. Special mention and the 'goggle of the ride award' today went to Anne for her gorgeous, cobalt blue - retro - style eye wear. Undeterred by the weather the newcomers were happy to meet up again for further adventures in 'Velo - Vixen land' (ladies rides to you and me.)
Sunday, 5th June.
A Grand depart from Cenarth saw quality as opposed to quantity as rufty-tufty duo Julie and Jayne mingled briefly with the boys before shooting off towards the wood yard and traversing the footbridge headed up Carreg Wen before taking a left towards Boncath. Jayney K. soon realised that Julie's mantra was: one pace only - fast - no stopping. Realising that this was an indication of things to come Jayney rose to the challenge as best she could, which was actually not bad! The duo rode on through Boncath and headed out to Crymych before taking a right turn at Blaenfos. The rough surface was unwelcome but taking another right turn they were soon headed out towards Eglwswrw but only briefly before turning right following new lanes behind Bridell. At Rhos Jayney had to perfom a failed operation on Julie's eye to remove a fly. A fast descent brought the girls to Cilgerran and thence to the Wildlife centre for coffee. Julie yet again carried out another good deed of the day in trying to inflate a little boy's punctured type, unfortunately to no avail. At least her halo shone!. Talking of shiny things, the doctor and his chunky golden contraption turned up for refreshments with the other boys. It was here that the doctor successfully removed the fly from Julie's eye (you'd expect nothing less from a doctor?) The final leg of the ride saw the duo powering back to Emlyn after a really good morning's ride.
Sunday, 29th May.
A glorious late May date and perfect riding conditions - warm sun, spring flowers, not too hot or too cold and a tail wind saw the 5 Velo vixens out in force as well as 2 previous members, Janice and Lened a warm welcome to both. Passing through Crymych several ladies were sporting good cycling form having undertaken mountain biking, the Velothon, cycling in Albania or just putting the miles in. Janice's wisdom suggested a detour off the main road near Crosswell where the girls descended a short but steep hill across a narrow bridge and an ascent up and then down a quiet country lane, bar one busy but friendly sheepdog. Arriving at the roadworks and cattle grid at the bottom of the hill the girls put in a good strong dig to ascend to the top of the Preseli. Photos, and admiration of the views preceded the descent to the New Inn crossroads before riding to Zinc Tavern. Alas how do these places make money if they are not open for cyclists at 11.00am? Anyway speeding along the delightful country lane saw ponies and young foals, a horse rider: "Would you do a swap my bike for your horse?" asks Julie," Yes!" the rider replied. Riding on the girls encountered a lady struggling to get a wheel chair into her car so a good deed was done by Julie with help from the others, then on they rode. Finally retiring,yet again to the old folks home, coffee was taken in the Gazebo and it was obvious that everyone had enjoyed a really good ride on such a lovely day. Last but not least the lady with the wheel chair was aided by the girls in putting it back into her car when returning from the centre with her infirm husband.
Sunday, 8th May.
A good turn out and Hilary, Meinir, Julie and Jayne headed out towards Llandyssul enjoying the spring air and scenery.They took on the challenge of the by-pass with some initial trepidation, but lack of wind and plenty of determination saw the girls reach Bwlch-y-groes fairly quickly. Taking the turn past La Calabria, Julie smelled burning: "I think my phone is on fire!"
"No you're so fast, it's just your turbo-with flames coming out the back!" Problem resolved and phone undamaged the girls whizzed on back down to N. Emlyn taking all the ups and downs in their stride. Coffee, cake and other beverages were enjoyed at the Emlyn arms.
"Cycling in Albania - that's a new one. What about bandits and kidnappers?"We'll have a whip round at the Velo to pay the ransom if you get kidnapped Jayne. Have a good trip."
It was a fine day out to be sure, but today's tale has a distinct culinary theme...
First an introduction to the brigade:
Master Patissier - has to be Digger doesn't it. Despite his pathological aversion to flat leaf parsley, he was the main man out there today. If you see him, make sure you buy him pies and pints. If he keeps on losing weight, we're all doomed!!
Chef du Partie: Dunno , Hallett and Androol, manfully managing their stations, namely that of smashing it up the climbs and smashing it everywhere else.
Commis Chef: Mark, Steve, LLCoolJ, LLCoolerJ and the Horror or Henllan, Cynan.
Kitchen Hand : Lowlife scum and potwasher du jour, yours truly......
Today's recipe: "Haddock Bain Marie" also known locally as the "Bonk Royale".
The recipe is deceptively simple. First take a fresh Haddock, taking great care to ensure that the stomach is completely empty before cooking. Then simply let it boil in its own juices without the addition of further liquid or foodstuffs over a 5 hour period. et voila, you have the Bonk Royale.
Speaking from the poor fishes' point of view it is a much less pleasant experience. It starts out quite well, but quickly descends into light-headedness, delirium, mild nausea, goose bumps and a total lack of any ability to summon any power. Oh deary me.
As for the ride, it was a glorious sunny day, that demanded the displays of fetlock and calf usually reserved for a night out in Cardigan town. In an unusual show of unity, it was decided that Llangrannog was NOT to be the choice of watering hole today. Cynan suggested a trip over to Brechfa and, clearly betraying a lack of knowledge of the route, we all agreed.
Now, when I looked at the forecast this morning, I decided that a brief potter to Newport or Aberporth would be just the ticket, and in anticipation of a short and sedate cruise I chose to omit breakfast of any form , and only loaded my steed with one bidon of water........
Alarm bells should have been ringing as Dunno and Digger jousted up every single climb at a pace that would have had Nairo Quintana wincing. AndrooL, (henceforth known also as Goldmember, on account of the thing between his legs having been gold plated in an unfortunate smelting accident) has also clearly been on it of late and was looking worryingly strong. Mention must be made thought of the psychedelic Argyll sock and orange shoe combo. I can only assume that he has been putting in secret training rides in at night and got dressed before it got light.
Mr Hallett was also observed riding at a metronomic pace (Allegro Vivace, if you're interested) on the front until the road headed downhill, whereupon he disappeared at speeds which can only be described as "ludicrous".
For those of you not familiar with the route I can confirm that the climb from Llanllwini to Abergorlech does indeed go on forever, and that the descent that follows is as good as you will find anywhere.
Many thanks go to my very own Florence Nightingales who watered, fed and nursed me back to Chez Hallet for the magic carpet ride home. Mr Hallet also gets quote of the day for looking over at my ruined form and commenting, "that's not a Haddock, it's a Flounder!"
Amazing route, cracking weather, passable company, just make sure you eat some grub first....
Sunday, 24th April.
Ladies powerhouse Mrs. Digby and just - recovering - from - chest - infection Jayney K took on the 'reverse hair pins' (down them, not up) with a grand depart from Ffostrassol. Taking the main road to Capel Cynon and a next left brought the girls to Plwmp. It was a blessing that the roads were dry as there was a lot 'manure' on the lanes in dessicated form. Down past Peapod junction they realised they were too early for coffee at 11.00am and they pushed on to Cwmtydu. Although early, the nice lady obliged in opening up for the girls with delicious coffee and cake. Enjoying the springtime views they rode up the wooded valley and then, like startled gazelles were confronted by a whoosh of VT boys going hell for leather down the valley. Eyes watered and blinked as Julie and Jayne saw a flash of golden brilliance. King Midas had descended on Cwmtydu and formed a certain doctor's bicycle into gold. Question is, was it bling or was it 24 carat? Onwards and upwards they rode before taking the main road back to Ffostrassol.
Sunday, 3rd April.
It was one of those 'Will it rain, be sunny, oh there's a cold wind, which direction is it coming from?' sort of mornings as Julie and Jayne belted down Aberporth hill with cries of "Do you want to join us Mags?" got lost as Mrs Morris ascended said hill. Onwards, upwards and downwards did the duo go with Jayney K practising her hop off-walk-hop back on again-repeat in order to keep up with Julie's super powerhouse technique. Relief came at Llangrannog cafe with delicious fixes of coffee and cake before the 3 mile long ascent of torture towards the main road began." We should have a tail wind now" said Julie as the twosome headed towards Brynhoffnant taking crosswinds at every gap in the hedges. They took the long (sort of) descent to Rhydlewis before taking in a winding lane towards Brongest and the final steep climb to join a pleasant road heading towards Capel Ivan. Julie departed towards Beulah and then home covering in total over 60 miles today. Chapeau! Somewhat tired Jayney K rode back to her car knowing that she could enjoy the rest of the day watching the Tour of Flanders.
Sunday, 13th March.
T’was the first day of Spring and all was set fair, my personal trainer de jour Dunnothechair arrived at the old domicile to escort me to the secret Velo Teifi club ride rendezvous in Cenarth, except somebody had clearly forgotten the bit about secret and rendezvous as more and more of the buggers kept turning up. In addition to Dunno and Androol your esteemed write-up monkey there was Johnnie W, our Dutchman Rick K de Vindyshelter, his mate and our new club member Mark Pinnington [ ‘what do you mean I need a nickname ,stop calling me Marco P’ ], Digger, Sir Richard Hallet of noledge, bearded James Bettley of Capel Tygwydd [ Q. how many Captain Haddocks are we allowed, Prof Calculus ? ] and last but not least, continuing his slow burn approach to Flanders training , Steve Bunsen [sorry Bunston-see wot I did there!]
Now I should at this point mention the early miracle of Easter, no, not that we had achieved double figures but that it was achieved by persuading Ryan and Howard of the Aberporth Massif TO JOIN US ON A BIKE RIDE!!!!!. Ok calm down it only lasted the few miles from Cenarth to Abercych and thence to Lechryd and a final tearful farewell by Cardi builders but such was the stress engendered in Howard by the deviation from THE ROUTE that he broke out in an awful sweat, either that or in a fit of medical brilliance he decided to recover from a recent cold by wearing a fleece top on the first truly warm day of Spring. Clearly he has strayed from the path I set him as a young Padawan!
Anyway having ditched them we continued our merry way via Llangoedmor, Penparc, Felinwynt and headed east for St Grannog’s café, all still buzzing about the second and third miracle of our ride. The new smooth deluxe tarmac of the Lechryd canal road had us all zinging along with joy, especially the riders of Italian steeds as we suddenly found ourselves in our natural environment. Such was our spirit de corps that Hallet was forced off the front [ third miracle] and trailed for the rest of the day in a sulk-ok I made up the last bit.
Tackling the naggery approach to St G’s was somewhat frought with saddle bag zips breaking and Dunno ‘almost losing it’ –I know I know , what more has he got left to lose?. Anyway we had scoff, threw Dunno’s wheel in the sea, saw Peter Hughes on his bike [fourth miracle] had a road race from Hoffie to Rhydlewis , saw four naked women riding horses and went home.
Decisions to build up training for the ensuing cycling season gradually, found 4 girls depart Central Cafe on a dry morning. A spot of sunshine meant there was a peeling off of layers although Jayney K still kept wrapped in 5 layers and suffered the' sauna effect' for the duration of the ride. Matching colours were revealed and Hilary took Fashionista award of the day for a pink, blue and white match with helmet, gloves, top and even nail varnish to go with her Giant Liv. A steady ride took them along the main road to the wood yard, across the foot bridge and down the 'bumpy' lane to Llechryd before pedalling on to Cilgerran and the Wildlife Centre which has fast become winter coffee and cake stop for the ladies. Said munches and well oxygenated brain cells brought forward lots of ideas for the years rides as well as usual giggly twaddle and fully replete ladies eventually remounted steeds to return to base along the main road.
Sunday, 28th February.
Four young ladies from Wales,
Rode off on their bikes from Ffinch Sq.,
The sun it did shine,
The frost had all gone, As they climbed the heights from St. Dogs.
Across sunlit bathed hills,
Past windmills and farms,
The foursome did ride with intent,
Turning right at the A road,
Right, left then downhill,
They finally reached Eglwyswrw.
The boys they did meet,
With a wave of the hand,
And a wink of the eye,
But speeding through Boncath,
Their thoughts began,
To turn to coffee and cake.
There's a duck! says Alison,
I know says Jayne!
It doesn't know its Highway code,
As we nearly screeched to a halt.
Fully replete on coffee and cake,
The foursome returned to base,
A good morning's ride with rosy red cheeks,
And still the sun it did shine.
Sunday, 21st February.
Welcoming Hilary's sister Judith, to the happy band of ladies as a visitor, it was decided to endure strong winds and head off to the Wildlife centre for the most important part of the ride: coffee and cake. Having discussed the madness of some of the boys heading off to St. Davids in said weather it was decided that the fairer sex had shown much good sense for the time of year. Variation was added to the return route by taking the B road to N. Emlyn and detouring to Croes-y-Llan before riding back to Cenarth with assistance (to be expected) of a tail wind.
With the lunacy of the “100 Milers” off and running, it was safe for the Club Ride-proper attendees to emerge from their hiding places, safe in the knowledge there would be no haranguing or appendage measuring forced upon them. The suggestion of heading north and thus ensuring maximum distance from the Lunacy was attained in the shortest time was duly supported and enacted. As a demonstration of his ever-increasing fitness levels, AndrooL’s rear LEDs were seemingly synched to his heart rate monitor; the following group transfixed by the visualised “ba-bum” of Andrew’s second-most important bodily organ.
Climbing from Cenarth, no apparent increase in the rate of electrical signals from the heart muscle was flashed to the trailing group who, in turn, gulped and sweated in his wake.
On to Beulah via tricky, slippery descents. The vital organ maintained its regular beat, despite the adrenalin-inducing route. How cool is this man?
Idle banter, most of which is unprintable, resulted in mirth, laughter and recognition of ‘formative years’ spanning similar time periods. Political incorrectness abounded and ran amok amongst the group. But still, atrial depolarisation remained displayed as rock solid.
Sheep. Sheep. Everywhere. Normally, a slight twinge in cardiac output might be expected (beit excitement, temptation or whatever), but no, the cardiac indicator suggested steady ventricular depolarisation.
Dropping down backlanes to avoid the horrendous winds (how was that Lunacy ride going, the group wondered?), a flock of horses was encountered... eh? Sorry, a brood of horses... No? A Gang? A Dog Food of... Anyway, the point is that Mr Steadybeats was out front and encountering the equine roadblock first. And seemingly, discussing the merits of large, slowly moving fertiliser generators blocking the way for cyclists. Now normally, this could have resulted in “the Crow Pose” as Dr Beat eschewed Gloria Estefan’s calls and prepared to battle Mrs Horsey-Type. But now, the heart beat indicator showed the same, steady rhythm – no trouble with ventricular repolarisation here. Calmness personified and LEDified.
Onwards to Birmingham’s furthermost suburb, and Sidney Sunday Driver was clearly concerned about exceeding 15mph in his SLK350. Standby for measurable increase in the overall magnitude of the heart's electrical potential... But no. AndrooL has become a machine it seems – unflappable, repeatable, predictable.
Plum crumble and cream time. AndrooL de-activates the visual heart rate indicator and the group is left wondering about what it has just witnessed – a remarkable demonstration of cardiac conditioning, a poorly calibrated heart rate monitor or, possibly, the rear LEDs weren’t actually indicating anything more than over cautiousness on a murky day?
Sunday, 7th February. With a short gap in Atlantic storms forecast the roads of West Wales were fair littered with Lycra monkeys, amongst them six of VT’s finest.
John W and Dutch Classic Rick were ready and waiting in downtown Emlyn as your special correspondent arrived closely followed by Man of Iron, Two Irons Evan, then Dr Drool pretending not to have a hangover and finally just in time, or dead on time as he would have it, the Hallett.
Style icon that he is, our dear doctor was modeling what appeared to be children’s ear muffs. ‘No, no’ he cries. Apparently they are not the ill gotten gains from his protection racket round the back of the bike sheds at Bash St Infants School. These are the latest innovation in Cold season wind decelerating audio enhancement. With these babies he could now hear everything around him whilst maintaining forward motion commensurate with the prevailing environment. Wow!! So no problem hearing all the abuse about ear muffs then.
None of the weather forecasts had promised anything more than a mornings worth of fair weather so Poppit was chosen in favour of the more distant Newport.
With Ironman, Van Rick and ‘Allett taking turns at the front a strong pace was set and I for one was more than happy to practice my wheel sucking skills. With a wheeze over to Abercych and a rattle and bounce to Llechryd we were soon dodging the parked cars of Cilgerran. Two of our group wisely considered the alternative routes ahead and made for the flatter more direct way to coffee whilst our breakaway trio accompanied by the unwise Dunno went on to assault the North face of the Eiger or so it seemed as I quickly ran out of gears, puff and energy.
The ascent was made and after planting a flag for King and Country (I think I was hallucinating from oxygen deficiency at this point) we crossed the A487 and carried on with just the buttock clenching decent into Poppit between us and cake.
After a well earned rest and having theoretically resolved most of the world’s current and past problems we set off back to Emlyn this time by the direct route. Cake Hill did its usual annoying thing of being in the way between Poppit and St Dogs just after you’ve eaten a large cake. Thankfully all cakes stayed eaten and we made steady and uneventful progress until the flats of Llechryd. Hallett had clearly been doping with extra chocolate brownies and with a steely set to his ample frame he upped the tempo. By the time we reached Cenarth the road was strewn with the worn out carcasses of VT club riders. ‘That’s nothing’ says he ‘did I tell you about the East German four man TT………..’
Never a dull moment ay?
It was nearly a full house for the girls at Ffinch Sq. and brave faces were put on to cover for lack of fitness and various forms of illness recovery. This discussion of delicate health eventually belied the rufty-tuftyness of the girls and before too long they were powering their way along the lanes towards Mwnt and Penparc. A near pile up in Cwm on a rutted, twisting, never-before-ridden-what-on-earth-made-you-come-here-Jayne sort of place ensued with a terrified motorist desperate to escape and equally surprised as the 4 girls.Matters calmed as the foursome rode on across Penparc, Blaenporth and began their descent down Lady lane to Llechryd. Riding on towards Cilgerran it was noted yet again how bad the road surface was as well as which coffee shop shall we go to. Riding carefully through the Wildlife centre it was noted in amazement the number of people out enjoying the walk before storm Imogen blasted her way in during the afternoon. Finally depositing fairly dry derrierres on the sofas of cafe Number 1 the girls were able to enjoy delicious liquid and cake concoctions and 1 or 2 brave souls even attempted to teach tech neanderthal Jayney K the joys of facebook.
Sunday, 24th Janaury.
Two rufty - tufty ladies, Meinir and 100% cake doper Jayney K departed Central cafe for the mist shrouded foothills of Ffostrassol aka Llandyssul by - pass. More wet on the road took the cake doper by surprise with mutterings of 'weather forecaster got it wrong'. However it soon became apparent that pea soup was covering the alps of Ffostrassol and calls of 'Where are you Meinir?' could mean only one thing - 'let's get out of here fast'. An about turn took the twosome down the old road and into Llandyssul where, safely in the puddled but fog - free lowlands of the Teifi valley the girls wended their way back to Newcastle Emlyn with a short detour to Drefach Velindre. The Emlyn Arms welcomed the twosome onto its cosy sofas (despite wet bottoms) and delicious hot coffee.
Sunday, 10th Janaury.
In a relentless attempt to educate and inform Club Sec, Capt. Haddock, has become Mary Beard for a day:
"...Today’s ride report is brought to your attentive and eager ears, err, eyes, by the History Channel………… January 10th, 49 BC – Julius Caesar leads a single legion south over the Rubicon river from Cisalpine, Gaul, back into Italy, action that had severe consequences and once done, could not be undone – leading to the oft used phrase “crossing the Rubicon”. Although cold, dank and drear, the armed battalions of Velo Teifi girded their loins and set forth into the murk. Our hero du jour, Androolius Caesar and his wonky leg were diverted en-route to the real club ride at Cenarth by Yours Truly to join the more (ahem) sedate ride from Newcastle Emlyn. The reasoning for this apparent jib of epic proportions? Well, I’ve got a bit of a gammy leg and you really wouldn’t believe how heavy my bike is.......... The Central Caff in NCE was positively heaving with Velo Teifi flesh of both male and female varieties. Chief among the fine figures on display were both halves of Team Digger, Meinir, Janey K - sporting a dazzling yellow jacket and Tim and Alison in raingear so bright it actually gave me a suntan. I won’t mention the dubious squeaky brakes that accompanied the rank and file as they made their way back to Cenarth to seek reinforcements - you know who you are! The Post Office at Cenarth saw the legion (Legio XIII Gemina – oooh get me, history buffs!!) at full strength and now included the vicious fighting machines Javlar, LlCoolJ, Dunno, and fresh victim new VTer, Mark. With the amassed legion now complete, we promptly decided to split up again and cross the Rubicon (well, Teifi) at different points, descending on the caff at the Cilgerran Wildlife Centre in a pincer movement that any army general would be proud of. Due to the aforementioned jippy leg and heavy bike combo, our journey played out very much like Hannibal crossing the Pyrenees with a bunch of heffalumps (historical term for pachyderm dontcha know). New legionnaire Mark demonstrated that his formative years in the Peak District were not wasted and happily joined the jostling when the roads headed up. Dunno and Jav clearly had fully functioning legs and light bikes today judging by their pace up some of the inclines. Androolius Caesar and LLCoolius formed a far more sensible all Italian Gruppetto to conclude the advance party. Although not a full Roman feast, coffs and scoffs included coffee and A LOT of cake (some slices bigger than others – see gallery for incrimination). Victuals duly dispensed, it was with mild hypothermia that we bade each other farewell and returned to our respective homelands. As he crossed the Teifi, Androollius was heard to utter “alea iacta est” – the die has been cast – or some other guff. But where, I hear you ask, was the Co-Chair, our very own Brutus? We imagined him back in his cosy villa, warming his feet on the underfloor heating, while munching through a selection of larks hearts and otters noses. Yes, the one man band that is the Popular Front of Judea failed yet again to make an appearance. Splitter!...