We had a great night with the North Wales Clan and really enjoyed the stay. A massive thumbs up from the Team and also happy birthday Doreen have a lovely day you deserve it after looking after us. Irene, Keith and I loved the hot tub and full English breakfast you prepared for our early start. [Ed: nudge nudge say no more].
After starting the ride with our farewells we headed towards Mold and passed Warren House (We Doreen & Alan used to live) so we had little photo outside the main entrance. Once again happy memories of family parties and weddings.
Then we stopped for breakfast at Mcdonalds in Mold, and also had a look at booking some accommodation as we are meeting Dave’s mate Ian later for dinner and few beers.
But a bit of a problem as we can find no accommodation in Buxton. We were forced to do a bit of rerouting to Cheadle on the outskirts of Manchester. So on we went. At first it was not to good as the roads were busy with many intersections. Soon however we found some old railway tracks. Happy days, within the hour we were whizzing past Chester and back in England.
From there we kept on the tracks and canal tow paths most of the way but it was still not good enough to stop big Dave having a little tumble at a junction. He fell off with his shoes clipped in like a stranded turtle!
We stopped in a nice pub just outside Warrington for lunch and then carried on adjacent to the Manchester Ship Canal then on to another smaller canal. A great route. Then it was just the last few miles up to Cheadle and the hotel.
Mark booked the best hotel in Aberystwyth – well it was nowhere near the best or even in the top 100. However a good breakfast put it up a few places.
Off we go with the our new recruits Connor and Mark. They both set off up the big hill out of town at a fast pace accompanied by Bingo. Dave, Stubbsy & I stayed on the steady pace. Fair play as it was pretty steep and not my ideal start but I soon got into the swing of it.
It was steady climbing all the time as we passed King Arthur’s Labyrinth at Corris and a Gin Distillery. It’s a weird combination but it took the mind of climbing thinking what King Arthur got up to drinking gin
Up we climbed to Bala Lake at Lyn Tegid where Keith, Mark and Connor stopped at a lake side tourist cafe. It was really busy and cramped so the rest of us went into Bala (The Old Bull Inn) unfortunately they did not serve food so we had a drink and got some sandwiches from the Co-op next door and tried to dry off a little.
It was raining even harder now so with rain jackets and gloves on we went, with the quip “I am glad we came in the summer”. As normal we always start the session off with a big climb and it was no different today. The road was busy getting out off Bala with loads of tourist traffic; most of them looking at us as if we were mad I think they may be right! Bingo was setting a really good pace as we started to eat up the miles and before long we entered the small town Ruthin where we turned off the A494 on to the small country lanes. So much nicer to ride on.
Soon Bodfari was on the signposts and with the rain easing up slightly we pulled into the Kinnell Arms to regroup which was only about 2 miles from Doreen and Alan’s place. I gave Doreen a call said we were in the Kinnell Arms regrouping and drying off, obviously she knew better, after an hour Alan joined us with a wry smile.
Alan guided us down to their place and it was really good seeing Doreen. Angela was also there making us all very welcome as they always do when we venture up to see them. The lads got showered and cleaned up as best they could. Keith & I popped over the road to see Auntie Irene, once again she was so glad to see us, very humbling, unfortunately Irene was not up to joining the rest of us over the road, but offered both of us a bed for the night. We both jumped at it, far better than camping!
We then rejoined the rest, with Cousins Jeremy and Karen with their partners and children joining us it making it a lovely evening. We had a with a curry and later an array of flapjacks and Welsh cakes with Alan making sure all the lads drinks were topped up. All we had to do was all get together for the customarily family photograph, which was duly organised.
I would like to thank Doreen and Alan for their amazing hospitality. It was a real pleasure seeing you both and lovely to catch up with Irene too. We managed to squeeze in a few extra cakes into our bags.
Catching up with all the cousins and families made for a wonderful evening.
We had lovely nights sleep in a 5 star wild camp. A bn to Aberystwytheautiful place. Breakfast consisted of coffee and any chocolate that Stubbsy had not eaten last night.
We then hit the road just after 7 with two things in mind one to get a breakfast and the other was to fix Dave’s rear wheel spoke. We found a bike shop in Brecon but it did not open until 9 so we had an impressive breakfast at Morrisons. When it did open the bike shop did not have a spoke for Daves wheel!
So we pressed on to Builth Wells and found a cracking bike shop called Cycle-Tec: they were great and gave us really good service.
With the rain getting a bit heavier we went on the A44. It was not too bad though a few trucks got quite close and we even had a car brush Stubbsy’s elbow. With the rain getting heavier and the climbs getting a bit steeper we pushed on with big Dave pulling at the front eating up the miles.
Then the shout went up ‘can we stop for something to eat’. So we stopped at a pub in Llangurig for a pint and baguette. It was still raining when we came out but with a hint of sunshine coming through. It also made us smile as we had only 34 miles to go.
We got back onto the A44 with Dave pushing from the front again climbing and going through some wonderful scenery with red kites swirling above us. Great times. There must have been 30 Red Kites in the air.
We stopped at a viewing station about 10 miles from Aberystwyth with the text going mad as Connor and Mark were organizing meeting us. [Ed: they were at Dovey Junction trying to catch a train, but these were cancelled and they eventually got the replacement bus to Aberystwyth]. Fair play they booked us into hotel whilst they had a bit of trouble on the trains. Bless them. No troubles for us.
Later we also phoned Auntie Doreen and made arrangements to meet them tomorrow. It was great that Uncle Alan got the priorities right and checked about going out and thought correctly that we would not want to stay up late. We go to bed at 10 when cycling! Well most of the time.
We arrived in Aberystwyth and I got my real ale order in for the special one and cider for the rest. Connor and Mark made the rendezvous and all of us joined up for a beer and food and discussed the next few days riding.
Eventually we had a lovely meal in the end last night. We were kept waiting for a table at the hotel for 3/4hour only then to be told they had no food left. The cylist were OK with it though Stubbsy daughter had just done a 12 hr shift at Bath hospital which is far harder than cycling. She was not best pleased. But all’s well that ends well as we found a great Italian restaurant less than 50m away.
We woke up to a lovely sunny morning had a bit of breakfast and then hit the road just after 8. It was a bit of a steep climb out of Chepstow as we headed for Newport for a quick meet up with Chris and Lester Powell. It was great seeing them both looking very fit and well. We had a little chat then wished them all well. Chris gave us a big bag of Welsh cakes: Bingo promptly took ownership of them.
We pressed on through Newport and passed the famous transporter bridge – a marvelous feet of engineering. After finally getting out of Newport we headed towards the Rhondda valley and picked up the Sustrans Cycle Route 4 or maybe Route 8 [Ed: or both; 4 goes E/W to Fishguard and 8 goes S/N to Anglesey]. It’s a credit to the Welsh tourist board as it was excellent, fully paved and a joy to ride on.
Before we knew it we were climbing steadily up the valley, going through Caerphilly where we stopped for a photo shoot of the castle and the statue of Tommy Cooper (I did not know he was Welsh [Ed: now you do, just like that!]). Then we stopped for lunch at a cafe in Pontypridd. Big Dave is making sure we have a dry lunch – he is a good lad. From there we carried onto Porth and then up the Valley to Ynysir where my Dad was born.
We had a few pictures taken along William Street and remembered holidays from the past playing football with Graham on the Oval and wearing a horrible tweed tweed suit that Dad had brought for Keith and I to name a few. Personally I was really pleased we went up the Ynysir valley. I loved it, but anyway that’s enough of the sentimental stuff as we had the first of two big climbs in front of us.
We had already started the the climb upto Maerdy. It was our first proper climb and it was good stuff as that’s what we came for.
All of us were laughing and joking as we rode up to Aberdare, and with big Dave ditching the no beer thing Keith and I went in the Aberdare Constitutional Club. Dave and Andy had a beer outside a coffee shop then joined us. It was just a timing and thirsty thing. The club was full of sporting memorabilia and the host was a great guy as he showed us all the bits and pieces.
Finally we left the club and struggled for a while to get out of the town. Then we hit another climb up to Merthyr Tydfil. On the descent we headed off towards Brecon for a good few miles, and stopped by a small hamlet on the side of a reservior. We tried a few B&Bs here to no avail and finally settled for a wild camp on the banks of the Llwyn-On reservior which is a lovely spo. We managed to put the water through the purifier, so we had coffee, 1/4 egg roll, 1/4 Soren Malt loaf each for dinner tand hen an early night.