cycling

Day 3: Llandudno – Aberystwyth

Woke to sound of seagulls and the tang of salt air, that’ll stop me from leaving my bedroom window open! Day 3 another mammoth day in the saddle. I was feeling of trepidation as i waved a find farewell to lovely faded Llandudno , as i hadn’t arranged a B&B for the end of today’s adventure (as I wasn’t sure how far I would get). The coastal cycle path quickly disappeared into a series of sand dunes and I was seriously considering turning back for the main road, nevertheless I fastened a tea towel to my head put on my best Peter O’Toole/Lawrence of Arabian face and dragged my bike through the sandy wastes. Oh, what a reward awaits those with enough gumption to undertake this trek, the cycle path soon re-emerged from beneath the sands and across the bay stands the imposing fortress of Conwy. As you ride across the bridge the castle looms above you imposing Norman might on the lawless. The ride from Conwy to Bangor is fantastic, following the cycle path 5 you hug the coastline for most of the journey flanked by the mountains and the sea. After a woodland descent a found myself at my first port of call Bangor, home of the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust. After coffee, cake (thank you Emily) more coffee, bike lubricant and a photo shoot, I bid a farewell to my North Wales colleagues and pointed my wheels in the direction of another Norman Castle, the mighty Caernarfon! The castle was one of a series built by Edward I to intimidate the surrounding population. The colour banded walls were designed to echo Constantinople, the imperial power of Rome. By the time I got there however the phone battery was on its last legs and after been informed that I couldn’t recharge my phone in the coffee shop I had to take the decision to turn it off or let it die. Die it was. I joined the vast hoards of tourists all taking ‘selfies’ in front of the castle and headed to the Lôn Eifion trail. This cycle path runs from Caernarfon to Bryncir along a former rail line. By now the weather had started to turn and the blue skies that had followed me from Llandudno deserted me as bands of slate grey rain rolled down the Snowdonia mountains to soak me. By the time I got to Criccieth, I knew I was in trouble. My knee had swallow like a balloon and it was becoming uncomfortable to ride, nevertheless, Barmouth wasn’t to far away, just another 2 hours cycle. Over the toll bridge at Porthmadog, past Harlech and the end was in sight. What is it they say about the plans of mice and men? No rooms at Barmouth!! My world suddenly became myopic as I knew I had carry on. No rooms at Machynlleth! With the pain in my knee being unbearable the cycle along the A487 became like a dream. I reached Aberystwyth at 8:30pm, luckily a B&B that I’ve stayed in a few times before took pity on me and found me a room. So, a happy ending after all. 2 Trusts down 2 left to do.

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Day 2: Welshpool – Llandudno

Day 2 saw the previous days rain replaced by lovely sunshine. Popped in at the Clwyd -Powys Archaeological Trust offices to say ‘Good morning’, before setting off for today goal that Victorian haven of pleasure Llandudno. The ride from Welshpool to Wrexham was a delight. A short stop in Wrexham to refuel and to visit St. Giles Parish Church. A big thank you to the staff there who provided me with coffee and biscuits and allowed me to charge my phone. The church has a fantastic early 16th century Doom painting, showing figures rising from their coffins. Leaving Wrexham behind I set off for the old North Wales coast road, passing through Mold and Flint. Was very pleased with myself after seeing a sign for Flint Mountain, and I didn’t even notice the climb! At Prestatyn I joined the coastal cycle path and whilst dodging the vast amounts of holiday makers I spied the Little Orme looming in the distance. Now the ride from Prestatyn to Colwyn Bay is listed as being 16 miles long, once again it felt like forever, mind you the strong headwind didn’t help. Past Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Ross-on-Sea, all names from my childhood, I rode with the stood climb over the Little Orme ahead of me I stopped for an ice cream and a breather. The vast array of offshore wind farms glinted in the late afternoon sun as I finished my cornetto and rode the last few miles (uphill!) into Llandudno. The descent and ride along that long promenade was better than any sprint up the Champ Élysées as waiting for me was a shower and a soft bed.

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