The Journey

Visiting the Fleece Inn

The Fleece Inn

A few miles from the quaint Cotswold market town of Evesham lies the Fleece Inn, a pub with a history stretching back more than 600 years. I’m a sucker for that sort of thing. I love the idea of sitting in a place that’s been around since before any Europeans even knew that the American continents existed. I love the Fleece Inn especially because it belongs to the National Trust. For those of you playing along at home, the National Trust is kind of sort of like a privatised version of the U.S. National Park Service.

Though, whereas the U.S. National Park Service is best known for looking after large swathes of natural land and is lesser known for taking care of historic buildings and property, the reverse is true of the National Trust. I’m veering into my day job here, but seriously, y’all: wherever you live, it is a whole hell of a lot more interesting than you realise. Get on your bike on go see the amazing stuff that surrounds you.
Too many people in the modern world lack a real, vested interest in the space around them. And that results in their being bad citizens. I think motorcyclists are a little less guilty of this because it is inherent in the experience of riding that we want to explore. We pick a spot on a map and we ride there just because. The side-effect of going to that spot is that we develop an appreciation for the space between. 
But think about all those people you hear yelling for the sake of yelling on political TV and radio. How invested are they in their region? How much do they actually care about anything beyond their own, personal comfort? How have they served their country or their community? How much have they explored? How much do they actually know about the history and culture of the places where they live?
Forget about going to Gander Mtn or Cracker Barrel; go someplace that means something. Learn the history of your place. Help protect it from the great waves of unimportance that drown cities in chain restaurants, shopping centres and business parks by showing that where you are is a place worth being.
But I digress. The point is simply that I rode out to the Fleece Inn on Friday. I had been there before and the long journey there had worn me out so much that I almost rode into the back of a semi truck. Now with more riding experience under my belt and a long trip to Scotland coming up at the end of the month, I was keen to do the trip again and gauge my ability to handle that much riding (a little more than 230 miles round trip).
I’m happy to report that I held up well. I felt alert and relatively comfortable at all points in the journey and am confident I could have pushed on for at least 60 more miles, which would put me into the 290-mile range that I will need for one of the days on my Scotland trip. Taking breaks every 60-70 miles definitely helped me stay focused. Also, I am riding with a back protector these days, which helps improve my posture and eliminate some fatigue.

Though, I am still somewhat worried about my timing. I operate on the theory that rushing a break defeats the point, but that means my breaks are quite leisurely. And that makes it difficult for me to guess how long it will take me to get places, other than saying: “A lot longer than Google thinks it will take.”

On the first day of my Scotland trip I need to be in Lake District National Park by 4 p.m. and I’m not really able to decide what time in the morning I will need to set off. Google suggests I’ll need to get on the road by 10:45. I know that estimate is ridiculous, but how many more hours should I add? If I stop every 60 miles, that results in four stops. Assume three of those stops will take 20 minutes and another –– my lunch stop –– will take an hour; that means I need to leave by at least 8:45. But that still feels pretty ambitious. Also, it puts me in rush-hour traffic. So, at the moment, my thinking is that I will try to be moving by 7.

The ride home saw me stopping by Thunder Road in Cwmbran, where I got a chance to sit on the new CTX1300 and be amazed by the fact it looks a whole lot better in person than in pictures. But at £15,000 I’m not entirely sure it would be the bike for me.