Lorna and Grace: Wales

Two weeks ago, Lorna had never ridden over 100 miles and after doing so on a ride with RCC Manchester, we decided we’d go a bit further this Easter.

Our trip took us from Manchester to Groeslon in Wales on Good Friday. We knew early on that the weather would be a challenge so we prepared as best we could and go on with it. After all, it’s just riding bikes, right?

Armed with waffles, day one began at 6:15am

Cheshire lanes lead to Wales

Hurry up with my damn (cheese) croissant

I don’t recommend the A5 into Betws-y-Coed. Even the laybys are average.

And then the real fun began in Snowdonia

Unfortunately, we couldn’t take any further photos from this point due to such poor weather. Out of Betws-y-Coed the weather took a turn for the horrendous. We’d dealt with drizzle and headwinds up to this point but this time, the drizzle turned into a rain storm. We got to Capel Curig on our way up to Pen-y-Pass and couldn’t escape the wind and flow of water down the road. I turned to my right and rods of rain lashed down and joined the rivers forming down the climb, the gutters overflowed carving out their own paths to escape the heights of their surrounds. On my left into the valley, waves of rain falling from the clouds obscured what would be an otherwise postcard view as the wind roared taking with it any thoughts of blue sky. Snowdon was just a name without a face. We sought shelter at the top of Pen-y-Pass along with a handful of tourists ending their expeditions around the mountain, their waterproofs appearing to be more aesthetic than practical. The descent down to Llanberis was so painful: rain felt like nails being thrown into our faces with the headwind yet to relent. Again, Welsh drivers ceased to care about the width of their vehicles as they passed us even when traffic came up to the other side. A relief and bonus to get to the bottom and knowing we were only a few miles from our final resting place cued the adrenalin to keep spirits content.

Athlete food on our way home

We made it to the cottage in Groeslon, the heating already on and hot water ready to warm our bodies for the first time in what seemed like a very long time. I’m convinced I came out of the shower dryer than I went in. The first of two pizzas devoured, I set my sights on the couch for the remainder of the evening. Lorna’s fire-starting skills came in very useful as we hung all our clothing out to dry. The conversation died down, both of us unable to string sentences together. It felt like we both just had to take the evening to come to terms with what we’d both had to endure. Lorna having achieved her longest ride ever in the face of treacherous weather, me dealing with knee pain and personality failures at many points.

 

I opened the curtains the next morning thinking I’d see more of what we left behind. To my surprise, I saw the coast, which felt like our treat for surviving the day before. This was good and made all the difference to our motivation for the ride ahead.

Loaded and ready to go, the sun and wind on our backs

Just down the hill from where we were staying was a field of alpacas

The unspoiled views around north Wales

And then we got into the mountains proper. A beautiful climb from Beddgelert

And there’s Snowdon, still with a cloudy cap on

Don’t mind me, I’ll just crawl off these rocks that stand a mere 30cm off the ground

Then the sun came while we cycled along the north Wales coastal path, dodging hoards of people taking up the entire width of the path, followed by a “you should get a bell” or you could be courteous to other path users too…

The path took us to a train station. The next train was in 20 mins to Manchester Piccadilly…hmm, we’ll cycle the rest of the way thanks!

After cruising along the River Dee (not as scenic as one might think), we rode through Chester, a city I must go back and visit. The A51 was the most direct way back into country lanes that I was familiar with, which then lead us back home. Our arrival time was just before 9pm as we predicted making the total riding time across the weekend 18 hours and 50 minutes for a total of 432.5km.

Now that Lorna and I have ridden to Wales and back and have a trip to Ireland planned in a couple of weeks’ time, we’re also planning a trip riding to Scotland.

Strava day 1
Strava day 2

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GraceQOM

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