We met up at sparrowfart with bacon rolls and tea, hoping to get to Aust before the place got too chaotic. It's a 10 minute journey from here, so our seven bikes and eleven people set off just before 10.00 for the advertised 11.00 start. It was indeed about a 10 minute journey to the roundabout at Aust Services. From that point on time went a tad random.
The roundabout was interesting. Several hundred bikes at each entrance, one car in the middle of it all. Not much fun for the car, and not too much fun for the bikers either - this is nowhere near as disciplined and well-marshalled an event as the RTTW, there's an element of "everyone for himself" that doesn't sit well with being in charge of an unstable (you're moving at walking pace) vehicle when you're surrounded by other similar vehicles all within inches of each other. Top Tip: make sure your clutch is properly adjusted before trying this particular game.
We eventually got into the Services, but got split into a couple of groups. No matter, we managed to find each other, have a few cups of tea (and yet more bacon for Andy) and then re-form as a group once the ultra-keen had moved off. We still crawled out of the place though, now in a none-too-clever three/four abreast convoy to head off over the bridge.
It didn't take forever to get over the bridge, but after that everything just slowed to a crawl. We weren't the only people (as you can see) taking a "revive my wrists" rest on the way. On reflection a number of us would probably have stopped more often had it not been for the riduculously short distance we were supposed to have been travelling.
And then we were in Chepstow. We sought out tea (even Andy was briefly off his bacon) and cooling breezes. A fair few people had gone out first thing thinking "hmmm, it's cold" and put on tights/leg warmers etc. To say they were regretting this by the time they got to Chepstow is an understatement of no small proportion.
Chepstow itself is really rather pretty. The town takes full advantage of the event, as well they should: even the senior citizens club had geared up with quadzillions of extra sandwiches to sell.
All in all it was a great day out, but I think if I do it again I'll just cross the bridge and head straight back. The ride into Chepstow was just too slow and too badly organised: an experience yes, a pleasure no. I might go back over to take another look at Chepstow, though. Looks like a nice place and there are plenty of pubs...