Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Another Fine Mess I've Gotten Myself Into!

Day 10 Rhayader to Bala by SteveMcM at Garmin Connect - Details

OK, so for starters, sorry it's been a while - internet is harder to find than a road without soul crushing hills, it seems. Next, no photos this time, I'm afraid - no means to up load them :-( Thridly, due to my inability to operate my Garmin most effectively, I seem to have split many of the days into about 3 or 4 separate sections as far as these info-links go, so rather than post dozens of 'bits', I'll give you this one between Rhayader and Bala that seems to be in one piece, and try and get my act together for later. I may have to re-plot the bits into one big bit and then post it, but that will have to wait til I get a day off with a computer or after the ride, if any one is still interested by then! Also, I have lost/left behind my heart rate monitor in Llanberis, so there is not as much info in any case. Doh.

So to business. I'll try to be brief. The days seem to be blurring, much like my vision most of the time. I had a cracking spell coming off the Quantocks and getting up to Leckhampton (despite the rain), largely due to spending several nights in a row with various friends, and having a day off to boot. I also got to catch up with Dani, a friend from Canada, who caught a bus over to Cheltenham from London just to catch up during her flying visit to help her sister finish her fashion show. Huge thanks to Helen and Charlie (and Beth, Alice and Peter) for hosting both me and a complete stranger!

From Leckhampton, I went across to Wales, aiming to meet my parents on their canal boat in Llangattock for another luxury, social evening, and things went well there - tasty pub supper, gorgeous sunny evening in stunning countryside, not even a cross word from anyone! But it was after this that it got tough. The weather had been turning for a bit - most of the Wells to Leckhampton legs had been in the rain - and the morning I was due to leave the canal boat in Llangattock and go to Rhayader, it was actually hailing! I delayed as long as possible, being put off by the weather and the prospect of a run of hard days. The interruption of comfort in my Spartan routine had left me reluctant to get back on the road. I even tried convincing myself I'd stop early for the day in Brecon and service the bike, but when I got there I found the YHA was full of school children, so I had to keep going - even though it was already after 1pm and I still had 36 miles to go. I did find time to visit Bikes and Hikes, though, and the guys there were great, cleaning out the crud that had accumulated off the canal tow path (not quite as cyclable as it may have looked from the water!) and greasing up the chain - which probably all got smashed off by the second bout of hail of the day, which hit just as I was leaving town! The stretch of road from Brecon to Rhayader yielded my first Welsh Red Kites of the trip, which was a good addition to the day.

The Beili Nuadd bunk house in Rhayader was great, and the ride up to Bala was lovely. The weather was mostly holding now, and I followed some very remote hill roads which took me through some stunning countryside. I was finding my rhythm once more, it seemed, and at Bala the sunset did its bit to reassure me that all was well in the world after all, as did the Pied Flycather that distracted me at the camp site as I was readying myself to leave in the morning. The camp site owners did NOT help my sense of calm, by failing to charge my GPS as promised over night! I got it, and my phone back, almost devoid of any power a 8.30am, so the only option was a long breakfast in town to give them a chance to fill up a bit too!
Sunset at Bala Lake. This was just the start of it. It got so much better.
The hop from Bala to Llanberis and my next rest day (after 5 days of riding) was yet another majestic stretch of Welsh glory. As I neared Snowdon, I could see her hiding coyly behind a veil of clouds, perhaps snickering at what she thought she had in store for me. I was a little intimidated at the unknown, but apart from a strategic detour off the A-road just before the Llanberis pass road, which took me onto a long, gravelled, un-ridable farm track, she turned out to be far less scary than I'd expected. Despite a long and tiring week and a long and tiring push up the gravel track, I surprised myself by making it to the top of the Llanberis pass with not a push in sight (well, I could still see the push I'd just finished on the farm track, but you know what I mean).
The grave track - steeper than it looks (ask Ed - he understands these things).  The pass road to Llanberis goes over the big hill back left. Nice.
That evening I was able to catch up with Dan and Ruth Jackson over a beer or two, and with Sunday marked as a rest day, I watched some of the Slateman Triathlon (NOT tempted to join in the cycle, but did take advantage of the massage tent for competitors!), and I was able to get my bike lubed up again, and spot that the rear break was sticking and the wheel was out of true. One of Dan's mates dealt to the brakes, but the wonky wheel would need a side trip to Betws-y-Coed for a quick straightening on my way out of town on Monday. Sadly there was no internet around at the Jackon's as they'd just moved house, and Pete's Eats no longer had computers, so that part of the plan was scuppered.

I will leave it all hear for now, as Monday was a nightmare that never stopped and will take too long to go into now. Suffice to say I was at Betws-y-Coed before I realised I no longer had my heart-rate monitor, I had 2 punctures, trashed a tyre and was still on the road 12 hours after I started! My enthusiasm has taken a knock, but may just be on the rebound. I will try to write more tomorrow but, until we meet again, send positive thoughts my way, I am in need! 9pm has struck, and I must try and get some sleep. Hasta luego, amigos.


Jess, David, Annabel & Elsa xxx said...

Multiple pats in the back Stevo - the Carisbrooke Crew are very proud of you xxx We will try and crack the fund raising whip for you xxx

Ian at Doddington said...

Bloody Hell, Steve! Your garmin gives you a max speed of 140.5mph. What's the rush?

Riding In The Tracks Of Giants said...

Don't worry bro, 'this too shall pass'... And that one, and that one, and that one over there too. And when there are no passes left, you'll be at the sea and time to come home! Am sure brighter days are only a little way ahead.