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Merthyr to Mayo - Ennistymon to Gort


We started out in another slightly pungent hall, tightly packed with roll-mats and elaborate snoring. The mist on the hills outside lifted as we faffed, and by the time we finally made it onto the road the sun was out again. The fields round about were pretty fantastical. We've become blasé about the buttercups, but today there daisies densely packed around white ponies, and the elderflower is just beginning to explode in the hedges.

It seems the further north we go, the warmer the reception- dozens of cars beeped us cheerfully; roofers and farmers all nodded and grinned in mild confusion. The Pedals boom-bike crew started out with folk tunes. This is dairy country, and bovine response to our passing has been mixed. Some are alarmed, some indifferent, but several herds are outright fans- galloping along next to the sound system at a remarkable pace.

The sleep deprivation, adrenaline and sugar highs turn a lot of lunch conversation into random giggling, but by the time we were ready to get up the wind had chilled everything down, and we were a bit creaky. So we put on some Happy Hardcore via the soundsystem. Much exaustingly bad dancing latter we set out with the tunes still pumping. The land levelled out and crazy rocks kicked in, covered in tiny white dog rose bushes, with a huge lake beyond. This was the Burren, where we zoomed past other folk hanging out in a high and dry boat.

When we finally gotten to Gort there was a welcoming committee waiting outside the cafe, and vegan hot chocolate. Ellie got the biggest shout- it was only her second day riding, after busting her leg just before the Madrid crew left, and coming most of the way by trailer. (Yes the Madrid to Mayo bikers pulled her across the UK and ireland in a trailer until now! That's real hardcore! )

Topaz = Shell, again.

Then it was off to critical mass the town, where we got loads of waves off the folk that live there, including the large Brazilian community, and did our now well practised Topaz garage reclamation routine. The attendant smiled sweetly and said 'ah, you have to do what you believe' and her friend cheerfully took photos.

We wound up in the park, practising bike tricks and playing our first burst of bike polo, before zooming off to a lavish spread laid on in the 'Indoor Market', which felt a lot like a community garden centre. Dining was followed by presentations about Merthyr and Mayo, and for the first time the Spanish crew regaled us with a slide show of their adventures, through coal, gas, high speed rail, power line and GM crop campaigns, to community gardens and critical masses.

The caravans paper cinema puppet performance was been met by an audience participation that was so enthusiastic it nearly dwarfed the beautiful drawings. Then there was a mad scramble, as generous locals adopted troupes of soon to be washed cyclists, and we all rode off into the most spectacular sunset. Beds were mostly being provided 6 miles away, along a rural road where loads of sound folk had made their home. It was our first spot of night riding and we soon rocked up outside a variety of magical houses where we were eased into our quiet Sunday by the sound politics and big hearts of the Gort activists and their mates.