New Distance Record
My training for JOGLE continues and yesterday I set a new distance record on my bike with a ride through the Snowdonian countryside that ended up being 125 miles.
One again it was pretty wet and windy out there most of the time, although it did dry up for a while. From here in Ynyslas I set off at about 6am and rode first out along the Dyfi Valley to Machynlleth and then back along the other side of the Dyfi Vallley to Aberdyfi. Here I headed north along the coast to Tywyn, through Bryncrug and Llwyngwril and on to Morfa Mawddach. Here I headed inland again along the southern side of the Mawddach Valley to Penmaenpool where I crossed the River Mawddach using the old wooden toll bridge here. It was still quite early in the morning though and no one was there to collect a toll. I then rode along the northern side of the Mawddach Valley and out to Barmouth.
It’s funny how the geomorphology shapes this part of the world – the trip up and down the Dyfi Valley and then the Mawddach valley are almost identical. There even seemed to be roadworks and re-surfacing going on in exactly the same places on them! Mind you, Aberdyfi is a completely different world to Ynyslas, despite being divided by less than a mile as the crow flies. Ynyslas is bleak and very quiet, Aberdyfi is much more vibrant and cosmopolitan. This contrast continues the further north you head. Barmouth is full of cafes, amusements and shops and is much more lively than Aberdyfi. The stretch of coast North of these two towns is also the same but different. From a geomorphology point of view they are very similar and the towns and villages seem to be associated with camping and caravan sites and both are exposed to the ravages of the coast. However, the further north you head, the more touristy it becomes with attractions beginning to dominate as you approach Harlech.
I’d never been to Harlech before and didn’t stop to sight see as it was pouring with rain but we really should have a family trip along the stretch of coast from Barmouth to Harlech sometime soon. Instead I continued northwards with the increasing wind at my back. This was the first time I’d noticed the wind as it was picking up quite a bit now so I was glad it was behind me on this exposed stretch of road, but was also aware of the fact that I had 65 miles or so to go with a headwind! I followed the road along yet another of West Wales’ NE-SW running valleys to Maentwrog before joining the A496 and finally turning around to head back home.
That was around 70 miles down, with 50 or so still to go and now I hit the first significant hill of the day and a headwind. Whereas the trip here had consisted of riding up and down the valleys of SW Snowdonia sticking to the valley floors and all at almost sea level, the trip back was cutting across them so involved going up and over hills from one valley to the next. All of this would be into a headwind as well. The first of these ascents took me up past Trawsfynydd and then down past Coed y Brenin before heading into Dolgellau. I stopped at the garage before the next climb for a sandwich a coffee and an eccles cake – oh, and a big flapjack for good measure. Frank works here and he very kindly provided me with the coffee as we’d already arranged that I might well pop in to say hello. That was 90 miles down, just 35 to go, but after a bit of a break my legs didn’t really feel like getting going again.
Get going they did though, up over the hill to the Tal-y-Llyn pass and down into the Tal-y-Llyn valley, once again in the pouring rain and into a raging headwind. I was also geting stopped at every single set of temporary traffic lights too. From here it was another climb up to Corris and then the long descent into Machynlleth and finally back into the Dyfi Valley. This was followed by a short ride home, with a loop around the Borth loop thrown in for good measure which took me up to a total of 125.3 miles.
Quite a nice day out really despite the weather and it’s good to know that I can cover this sort of distance seeing as there are a couple of days of this magnitude on our planned JOGLE route.