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Land's End to John O'Groats Day 5 - Monmouth to Clun 58 Miles

The easiest day of the tour so far, and in fact, the easiest day of the tour overall, apparently. We shall see about that - I'm hoping that later days are going to take up this challenge and work their socks off to prove that they are all easier than today. Here's looking at you, days 6-14!

It was also one of the most scenic days of the tour. Day 2 may have rivalled it if it hadn't decided to fog all over the place, but that's day 2's loss, and day 5's gain. Some of the scenery we rode through today was absolutely stunning, and given its only a couple of hours from Bristol, it's the perfect place to bring someone for a romantic picnic/tea rooms stop, or possibly a group of friends for a picnic/tea rooms stop..... Ok, it can be romantic with the group of friends too if you would like it to be!

After the threat of a good talking to, the bike behaved today. Secretly, I think it was glad of a mention in the blog, and wasn't at all scared of a telling off from Dave and Rob, but you can never tell. It behaved itself very well today, even if I did force it into a hedge whilst trying to have a drink! There was almost a reoccurrence of the strange rubbing noises before second brew stop, but after wrestling the bike onto its back, the wheel spun nicely and silently, so I'm putting it down to one of those things.

As promised last night, the day started with a climb out of Monmouth, and from there, it was undulating with small peaks and troughs, and actually a rather nice ride. The weather was lovely. Blue skies with very few clouds in sight all the way up to lunch. This was impressive since at one point we got rained on slightly (well, a few drops anyway that lasted a minute or two). Upon looking up to where the rain was coming from, clear blue skies. We couldn't work it out either. No handy sprinklers nearby, no cars washing their windscreen. Just wet stuff falling out of a nearly cloudless sky. Shortly after that, I decided that I was thirsty, and the best way to solve this problem was to pull my flask out of its holder on my bike, and then fling it across the road. Luckily the car coming in the opposite direction was able to avoid it, and I was able to retrieve it with drink intact. I am yet to come to terms with my drinking problem.....

Hereford was negotiated, and we were soon back onto country lanes with stunning scenery, passing places with awesome names such as "Much Birch", "King's Thorn" and "Weobley", all of which leave me thinking - How on earth did it get its name? Much Birch I guess was a lot of Birch Trees, and named in much the same way Skund is named in the Discworld series - someone stuck his hand out and pointed at something, asked a native, in a slow, loud voice what that thing was, and the native replied in his own tongue "your finger, you fool" (it is better presented in The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett and you should definitely read that book if you haven't already. I'll wait for you here.... Finished it? Good, now, carrying on....). Oh yes, names of places. How was King's Thorn named? Did a king stab himself with a thorn there? Or did he one day decree that a particular thorn was the best one he had ever seen? So many questions!

Today was also our first day of riding mainly north, and with the sun shining at our backs, it was great to see shadows stretching out in front of us. The wind was coming from a west south west direction, and was mostly helping. Except for the times it really didn't. You could tell when these were as your shadow was no longer in front of you, it had clearly been blown to the side, or in one extreme case, behind us. We were glad this was a short day, as if the wind was strong enough to blow our shadow behind us (it clearly had nothing to do with us turning towards the west for the last few miles in the late afternoon) then we would have struggled to go much further.

The highlight of the day was the moment we scared off a red van. We were cycling down a narrow country lane and suddenly from around a corner, a red post van appeared. It saw us, stopped, and then reversed away, at some speed! We can only presume that it was scared of it's two wheeled cousin, and especially a gang of 6 or 7 of the two wheelers! We went past it a few moments later, whilst it cowered and tried not to catch our eye whilst hiding badly next to a gate into a field!

Tomorrow is an early start with, you guessed it, yet another climb first up. However, the wind is meant to be coming from a southerly direction, so all hands to the waterproofs, put a couple of sticks in them to hold them out, and hey presto, Bike Sails to push us along!

Not in John O'Groats yet.

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