Assault on Cwtch Cafe

Following our assault on Bwlch y Groes on Saturday I had planned a long ride on Sunday too but Jay and Mike wanted something slightly shorter and a lot less hilly. I therefore re-planned our route as we ate bacon sandwiches for breakfast. We put on a few extra layers after being cold most of the day on Saturday and set off so we were on the road by 8:45am.

Up We Go

They may have asked for a shorter and less hilly route but nothing is flat around here and it seemed a shame not to show them some of the amazing cycling routes this part of Wales has to offer so my plan was to ride up the long climb from Talybont to Nant y Moch. It may be 5 miles long and therefore counts as a proper climb, but it is all at a fairly steady gradient so shouldn’t be too taxing. I couldn’t resist a short climb first though just to warm us up so after riding into Borth we headed up the short hill behind Dolybont for some nice views out over Borth Bog.

The sun was shining and we were all feeling quite hot now as we headed into Talybont and then turned onto the long climb. I told Mike and Jay that it would probably take me around 30 minutes to make the climb and I’d meet them over the top somewhere. It turned out that we had quite a headwind, especially up over the last section after the big bend so things were a little slower than anticipated. As I climbed up into the clouds the temperature dropped rapidly meaning I was glad of the extra layers. Up over the top and the wind was howling. I headed onto the amazing road around Nant y Moch and eventually found a dip in which to shelter. I dismounted, huddled up, put on my final layer and munched on a granola bar  whilst I waited for the others to catch me up.

Around the Lake and off to Devil’s Bridge

Once they caught up, we had a quick chat about the climb and most notably the wind and then headed off around the lake. It’s an impressive road this and lovely for cycling. If it weren’t for countless cattle grids it would be perfect. The views are amazing as the road skirts the shore of Nant y Moch Reservoir and then goes across the top of the dam. The surface is smooth for the most part and there are some lovely fast descents and some short sharp little rises as it snakes it’s way back down to the main road and Ponterwyd. By the time we got here we had been on the road for just over two hours and had yet to see a single car, or for that matter anyone else at all.

Once in Ponterwyd we crossed the main road and headed off into the hills and along the short stretch to Devil’s Bridge. I waited here for the others and told them we would shun the cafes here as I was heading off to Cwtch Cafe in Pontrhydygroes.

Cwtch Café Stop

I’d heard lots of positive things about Cwtch Cafe from other cyclists reporting it as a bike friendly stop with really good cake! Many local rides seemed to be planned around Cwtch Cafe so I thought it was time to check it out for myself. We were soon on the descent into Pontrhydygroes with the promise of cake spurring us on. As I waited at the bridge for the other two we started seeing other people, mainly cyclists, all of whom had probably been to the café already. We headed off ourselves ready for a re-fuel.

The Cwtch Cafe was indeed nice, warm, cosy and friendly with a huge choice of different hot chocolates. We weren’t so impressed with the cakes though as there was only about 4 varieties to choose from and they weren’t as big as I had been led to believe. I went for the largest cake I could see, a chocolate and nutella cake which was a little drier than I expected. It wasn’t quite enough though so I had a giant chocolate chip cookie as well which again was crunchy rather than the chewy moist ones I like. Jay and Mike both went for the Carrot cake.

Cake

Cake

We couldn’t sit here forever though and didn’t want to get too used to the warmth so after finishing off our drinks layered back up and headed out once more into the mist and murk. The cake stop in Dolgellau the day before got our vote though so y Sospan is still one of my favourite cafes. I will no doubt be back the Cwtch Cafe though and hopefully they’ll have more cake next time.

Heading Back

It was still cold outside despite being midday and the pace had been steady until now with lots of stops for me as I waited for the others. My average moving speed was around 14mph, Jays was down around 11mph as we shivered our way along road that follows the banks of the River Ystwyth. We turned right onto the B4343 crossing the river and heading towards Aberystwyth. The route was easy from here though so I decided to put in a bit more effort along this stretch.

As we dropped back down towards sea level the sun came out and the temperatures increased. With the extra effort I was even beginning to sweat a little. The little climb into New Cross helped with this but I was soon at the junction in Penparcau where I waited for 5 minutes or so before deciding to head back along the road to meet up with the others. I cycled back to Jay, passing Mike on the way and then turned around once again towards Aberystwyth.

We stayed together through Aber and out towards Loves Grove and then headed off to Bow Street. The others knew where they were now so I once again put in a little more effort as I left them behind and headed off towards Borth and home where showers, coffee, cake and lunch awaited.

Once cleaned up and packed Jay and Mike headed off. I think they enjoyed the weekend. The ride on Saturday had been quite a challenge for them but todays 55 mile ride with only around 4,000 feet of climbing had been easier. Although Jay did point out that he had put his Garmin on for the long drive home to Bristol and didn’t climb that much on the drive! It was a nice route today though as most of the climbing was done in the first 12 miles resulting in a nice easy ride back home.

Hopefully we’ll do another training weekend like this soon.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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