Mist, Mohr and Miracles: 100km Around The Forest of Dean
Journal

Mist, Mohr and Miracles: 100km Around The Forest of Dean

As someone who normally rides a rack-laden, steel tank of a gravel bike with fat knobbly tyres, I was super excited at the prospect of heading out for a spin on a 3T Strada. Forecasts of Saturday sun and a friend’s promise of a scenic 100km route from Bristol through the Forest of Dean to Gloucester had the makings of a perfect day.

Awaking slightly bleary-eyed on Saturday morning I was surprised to see an equally bleary Bristol through the window pane. A dense fog had descended overnight and given our ride a somewhat ethereal start. After a quick breakfast we joined the Sustrans route towards the Severn, hoping that the sun might make an appearance by the time we reached the Welsh border.

Over the fractured and sometimes unpaved surfaces that make up much of the stretch out of town, the Strada felt strangely at home – giving a sensation of gliding rather than cycling. The combination of thick fog, effortless speed over rough terrain and abundant cherry blossom everywhere made me wonder whether I was in fact still dreaming and yet to get out of bed.

During the climb out of Chepstow however, my legs, and the emerging sun, well and truly refuted that idea. In spite of my own limitations, the Strada remained nimble and before long we were blasting our way along the edge of the Wye Valley towards St Briavels. No surprises here: aero-road bikes trump klunkers in this part of the world.

We’d planned a banana stop in St Briavels as I had recently read ‘A Fortunate Man’ by the writer John Berger and documentary photographer Jean Mohr, which gives a vivid impression of the village in the late 60s. In a serendipitous and slightly bizarre turn of events, our quest for a shop led us to the village hall where, unbeknown to us, an exhibition about Jean Mohr and ‘A Fortunate Man’ was being held. The joys of travelling by bike! On exiting the hall, I found several cyclists from an adjacent café curiously poring over the Strada. After a brief chat about the bike, we were on our way again, meandering through rolling hills towards the “proper Forest” as my friend was keen to call it.

By this point, the sun was well and truly shining. Sheltered by tall sequoias and gnarled oaks we flew through the relatively quiet forest roads and I was very glad to have disc brakes on some of the steeper, winding descents. I was trying hard to take in the scenery whilst also thinking about how I could get my hands on the bike for more than this weekend.

We stopped off for a late lunch in Newnham and then completed the last leg of our route towards Gloucester. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to riding along an A road for the final 10 or so miles but the Strada’s aerofoiled, tight clearance construction enabled TT mode to be engaged and we got to the train station unbelievably fast.

A short train ride later, we were back in Bristol – now clad in the sun’s red evening hue, much like the Strada itself; an apt end to a great day’s riding.