West Glos & Dean Forest
Motor Cycle Club

Celebrating 71 Years of Motor Cycling 1953 - 2024

A visit to Waleshire

Words By Matt Neale

On Monday the 2nd of January 7 club members ventured out in the cold to explore the green lanes close to Abergavenny. These are a few miles out of the normal local area and are often bypassed when venturing further afield. This is a shame as they are worthy of more attention.

The group met at the petrol station in Monmouth. Funnily enough the latest person to arrive only lived mile away. The first lane planned was Tregare, which is a few miles away towards Raglan. Icy roads meant that this was rather a welcome respite despite the slippery and rutted surface. The group moved westward towards the ORPA running north of Court Robert. Here Mikes attraction to dogs became evident again. Something a bit like a white boxer came charging out towards him from the house at the end of the lane. It's judgement was poor as it bounced off the speeding KTM with a rather bemused look on its face. This lane has a hard gravel base under the inches of mud left by generations of tractors. Picking the right rut was a matter of chance and the standard of riding was not high.

A few miles of road saw the group at Raglan where the lanes at Cripple Creek were tried. These are muddy to start with but soon become firmer. The lanes finished along an open stretch between 2 waist height banks. All but myself witness brotherly love at its finest as Anth decided that Drew was rather pedestrian in his progress and decided that he could be passed. At this moment Drew felt that the adjoining rut was a better bet and moved over. The collision was predictable but the results weren't. Anth found himself on the other side of the bank, down in the field whilst Drew had the pleasure of picking bits of headlight up from the grass. It was good of them to provide such amusement for the group so early in the day.

Merriment finished we all meandered off to Bent Rim, the scene of our senior club member's mechanical mishap back in the murky mists of time. Since I last went along here the hedges have been cut and it is now more than wide enough.

The passing of time has dimmed my memory of exactly which lanes came next but it doesn't really matter anyway.

By now that fine piece of mechanical wizardry that is Guy's Husaberg was becoming more female in its temperament. Must be something to do with Guy calling it "she" all the time. Anyway the leccy button wasn't always working. Neither was Guys technique with the kicker. I reckon he is still trying to start his first moped. "Use the decompressor Guy". After irritating several horses by meeting them several times we found ourselves at a lane near Llandewi Skirridd. This had been investigated by myself and Pete in my landrover the previous week. Now the hedges were pushed back or embedded in my doors and huge rocks were displaced after Pete had switched into Stephane Peterhansel mode. I know he is used to banging but the sounds from underneath the 90 were rather extreme.

Here it appears that Anth had a bit of a guilty conscience or maybe a premonition. He swapped bikes with brother Drew. Ultimately, not to the satisfaction of either. By the time we had "reassembled" at the end of lane, meeting the geegees again, the Sherco had been down several times. Funnily enough now it wouldn't go on the button. In fact the noises from the sprag clutch were distinctly unhealthy. We noticed a small of the party was missing. Where's Rod now? By the time we had all had a drink, bit of choccy etc he had arrived. Well there's no point in rushing is there? Turns out he had met a similar rock to Drew and very nearly incorporated his gear lever into the clutch cover. Now Rod is not renowned for his mechanical skills so a qualified Honda mechanic (who couldn't fix his own Sherco) was called to use specialist tools to solve the problem. It's surprising how strong the cases are when tyre levers are pushed against them!

A trip to Llanvethrine saw us quietly riding along the lane that follows the stream and past the house that seems to be expanding into the stream lane. The top of this saw Guy and his bike having a meaningfull 5 minutes when the bloody thing refused to go. Eventually a push from me got it fired up, by which time the Sherco had stalled again. You know what Guy even refused to lend me his rather stylish, peakless helmet for me to where when pushing him. I felt just like a bobsleigh crewman and the helmet would have completed the image. A bit of a loop round saw us doing the other two lanes that are near the village. Nearby is a RUPP, that we may lose soon. It starts harmlessly enough then turns into a Nannies replica. I have done this lane before and know that the waist high step, well to Rod anyway, needs some commitment! You can't fall off, its too narrow. Just like Nannies. Even so a vertical CCM is a bit worrying. Rod was next. Poor little chap. Well the step is higher than his bike is long. Unfortunately no one else could get to the step to help him as their bikes were in their way. Or so they said. My back will never be the same again. Brits 1, Japs 0. Mike on the 525 showed a bit more commitment. Euros 1 as well . XR 400s aren't much good at this either are they Anth. Japs 0 x 2. Now Pete and commitment tend to be synominous but here, well what do you think happened? Well it is a Jap bike. Did my heart good I can tell, you getting 1 over on him. Euro time again. Drew and the Sherco. How fast is he going? How high will he go? How far away can we run? Suddenly it all went. He reckons he was concerned for someone elses bike. Wimp. Oh well at least there are plenty of us to pull it up by now. Guy to go. No leccy wellie remember. He didn't add to the score either.

At some point in the procedings lucky old Guy swapped bikes with Anth. Well, they were both having to revert to MK1 boot now. Off down the hill the party went, well some of them. Mike and I hanging back notice Guido having fun booting the blue wonder. He still didn't have the technique. It even backfired with a cloud of smoke from the place where any normal bike has a carb. Remember this fact. The owner now tried. No hope. "Never mind it will bump down the hill". Would it hell. We tried everything. New plug, well it was sparking but similar experiences with mine earlier on over Xmas proved that this didn't mean a lot. The yellow recovery service was called into action, having a substantial tow bar fitted. That's my CCM of course. Anth is a right wimp when being towed up a hill! Still no joy so something else was tried. We towed again. No joy. Eventually we gave up. While he was screwing bits back on Anth noticed the source of the trouble. You know that backfire earlier? Well it had blown the fuel injection thingy off the manifold. We did tell him it was a big bang but would he listen. Problem solved.

We did another couple of lanes before heading off to do the longer ORPA that runs parallel to the Old Raglan road near to Ray Hockey's. We started at the farm end. Smelly or what. Keep your mouth shut through here if following anyone. Also as Guy found out the bits of wire on the ground don't half tangle in your wheels. Half way along we met the local farmers, shotguns and all. They held the gates open, laughed at Rod and wished us a happy new year.

We gathered at the end of the lane and said bye bye to Guy whose browny points were exhausted. Still more wire by the way. I bet he still is working on it. We were all running short of time so we decided to go for one last lane over towards the Blorenge. Rod being local had done it before and Pete and I had been through in the landy. A nice climb up through the trees leads to the point where a forestry track now crosses. This mean a rather steep embankment to climb. Pete seemed to have a point to prove and went for the steep direct line. It didn't work.. You should have heard the bleating. "Please, rescue me please" etc. I enjoyed that. 2 offs in one day from him. Rod felt obliged to keep him company of course. The lane finished by dropping back down to the main road where we all decided that we were well late and who could we blame for not being at home hours ago. Anthony was my excuse.

We had a great ride round along lots of lanes that we never usually visit. Perhaps they are too close to think about and we tend to speed by on our way to "greater" things.