Welsh Highlands offer rugged cycling and scenery

I made this shot of the nasty hills of central Wales into an XMas card.
By the way this T-shirt saved my life! Read about it below.

My first tour overseas was 3 months in England/Scotland/ireland/Wales. What a debut in a 'foreign land'. Its amazing how different two English-speaking countries can be. It was a tough tour, for I was in England's normally drizzly Peak/Lake district during a hell of a rainy spell. I remember riding for days with no scenery except low clouds and wet tarmac. But my luck in Wales, near the end of the tour, was considerably better. Wales is a rugged, hilly country which reminds me alot of eastern Kentucky or Tennesee; the land appears almost broken; the grades are very steep, the vegetation is very dense; and when the sun is shining in the middle of the day it can get steamy hot. The Welsh are very artistic and literary people, with a splendid mythology about ghosts and lakes [the song Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac is about a Welsh Witch] that has inspired everyone from Shakespeare to Tolkien. Some of the country has been ripped apart by coal mining; but most is still very beautiful.

This shot shows very well what a long distance touring bicycle should be carrying and how it is stowed away. The front packs carry my food and very light gear such as raingear or a single sweater; my passport and trip journal are in a few plastic bags tucked close to the inner wall of each pannier. Notice the cooking gear on top of the front rack...i do not axle based panniers since you would lose this precious space. If you are worried about two much weight on your front axle, you are carrying too much weight to begin with!

The rear panniers carry my clothing and heavier stuff such as my tools, bottle of fuel, or sparer parts. Atop the back rack is my traveling home: tent, rain fly, poles, foam pad. Also my tire pump (i can reach back while riding and use it to shoo dogs) and any spare tires i may have to carry. Soap and toilet gear go in the small assorted zipper bags.

The handlebar bag carries my camera, wallet, film, food i want to nibble on route, and an assortment of bric-a-brac i have to have.

So how did the shirt save my life? In Aberystwyth, I was in a cafe when i was 'accosted' by a couple punk-rocker types...ya know, green hair, nails thru the nose, the whole bit. They were quite aggressive and overbearing until the noticed my "We Are the Jam" T-shirt; the Jam were a fairly well know alternative/punk band in the 1980s. These zeebs were so suprised I had even heard of the Jam thet they decided that I had to be so cool they left me alone. Gee!! the power and joy of music! Ramones, anyone?????