Wales green for a reason
The bulk of today involved crossing Wales through Snowdonia. We were heading for Holyhead on the island of Anglesey to catch our ferry at 5:15pm, latest check-in time 4:45pm so the pressure was on to get 100 miles done across the three highest climbs of our whole trip! We set off at 7:15am after a great breakfast provided by our host Colin at the Old Forge. We were very quickly over the border into Wales and noticed immediately just how green the surrounding countryside was.
The first part of our route took us through the rolling Oswestry hills and into the Tanat Valley. This is absolutely beautiful, and well worth a return visit with more time. As we wound up the valley, the grass seemed to get greener and greener. We knew that ahead of us was our biggest climb of the whole five days and it didn't disappoint. Though never ridiculously steep, it was a fairly relentless grind but we were both in good form and made good time...in fact we beat our support team, Mum and Dad over the top after their more leisurely departure from Knockin.
I was glad to get to the top and this photo gives an impression of why Wales is so green...the air is rather damp! And horizontal!
This was Rob approaching the top...can you spot him through the cloud and rain? Took me a while! The descent to Bala was refreshing and we were very ready for a warm, dry cafe.
Fortunately, Mum and Dad had got ahead of us by then and had found the welcoming Cyfnod Cafe and Bistro. There we met four other cyclists. Obviously talk turns to where they were headed and we were seriously impressed by their day out...Llandudno to Bristol in a day, 330km! They were generous enough to comment that we were doing back to back 'big days out'.
Here we had a lemon drizzle cake:
Enjoyable, rather dessert like with a slightly heavy texture but good flavour and plenty of energy. 7/10
The next leg took us up out of Bala to the North, up and over some extremely rural Welsh roads. You might describe some of them as sheep tracks! After opening and closing a couple of gates, we hit a few really steep sections on which we really had to dig deep into the energy reserves. I am sure the view would have been worth it...on a drier day!!!
Descending to the A5 main road, we hit much better tarmac and, ironically, 500m later, PU****URE! Spare tube swiftly fitted, we continued down towards Betws-y-Coed.
However, not before taking this picture...very happy faces at the half way point of the whole journey. 300 miles and counting.
Just after this, the heavens opened and we arrived in Betws drenched and ready for a hot drink and intravenus Jaffa Cakes. A measure of the quality of our support teams is that within two minutes of our arrival, Mum had produced two steaming cups of proper filter coffee, freshly brewed in the boot of the car. Perfect!
Ahead of us lay the Llanberis pass, iconic to rock climbers and our last serious hill of the day. Finally, as we made our way up the long but manageable ascent, the sun put in a brief appearance. Though we still had more rain on the descent...the day brightened steadily as we approached the Menai Straits.
Unbelievably, this was the view when we got to the famous bridge but we had little time to enjoy it. Our ferry wasn't going to wait so we pressed on and battled a rather mischievous Northerly headwind across Anglesey to Holyhead. We arrived with five minutes to spare!
What a relief it was to be aboard safely and heading for the Emerald Isle. One of our biggest stresses in planning the routes was whether we would actually make our ferry.
After a smooth crossing to Ireland and a gentle 12 miles through the evening traffic of Dublin to our hotel on the South West edge of the city, we have enjoyed settling in to a comfortable hotel and are looking forward to a good night's sleep before the next 112 miles on the bikes.
I have to confess that I hadn't had quite enough calories for the day so tucked in to a slice of Mum's fruit cake. However, we will hold off on the cake review until Rob has had a piece too. I can't give away what the score is going to be without his authoritative input!
Thanks for reading and thank you so much for all the messages of support that you are sending. They really help keep us going. Among them today, I heard from a friend of mine, Calum, who some 12 years ago did the Bristol to Reddich leg of my Land's End to John O'Groats ride. He told me that his Dad has been fighting Prostate Cancer but at the age of 82 completed the Caledonian Etape cycle ride. Inspirational.
Average speed: 14.3ish
Feet of climbing: 7000
Gallons of rain: limitless...it was Wales after all!
Calories consumed (this one is for you Jill!): lots and lots and lots. But importantly, neither of us has gone into the red yet and that is the goal.
Read the other posts about the ride here:
Don't forget to check Dad's blog out on www.ronnieauld.com