Making Life and Adventure – Straight into a Headwind
I had to go to Conwy on Monday to deliver some website development consultancy to a client. It’s about a two hour drive from here and of course a two hour drive back, but you know me, that sounded a little boring so I decided to turn the whole thing into a bit of an adventure.
Rather than leave here at 8am in my car, I left the house at 5:20am in my cycling kit and on my bike. I rode down to the train station, and jumped on the first train out of Borth, the 5:41am train to Birmingham. I changed at Shrewsbury onto the train to Llandudno which went via Chester, quite a long way around but that’s the only way the trains go. I was then supposed to change again at Llandudno Junction for a final train to Conwy, but realised that this particular part of the journey was only 2 minutes long and essentially just went across the river. So, rather than wait on the station for half an hour for what would be a two minute long train journey I jumped on my bike and rode into Conwy from Llandudno Junction. This meant that I was a little earlier than I should have been, so had time for a coffee and flapjack in Costa, Conwy.
I then headed off to the company I was supposed to be working at and had a successful meeting with them, despite the fact that I was wearing lycra! I had forewarned them and two of the people I was meeting had cycling shoes on themselves.
After the meeting it was time to head home, but this time on my bike. The weather wasn’t looking ideal for a 75 mile ride through Wales. I was going to have a headwind all the way and the forecast was for showers with low cloud and rain over the hills.
The first part of the ride was OK, along the Conwy Valley towards Llanwrst and then on through the Gwydyr Forest to Betws y Coed. Yes there was a headwind all the way but there was at least some shelter in the valley and the sun was shining. It clouded over as I left Betws and headed up along the A5 to Conwy Falls. Here I turned right onto the Penmachno road and straight into a raging headwind. The wind was funneling down the valley and making progress slow, it was also beginning to drizzle. As I reached Penmachno the drizzle had turned to rain and I started the long and steep climb up through Cwm Penmachno. There was a tiny bit of shelter from the trees at first but there was still a headwind and it was now pouring with rain. The shelter soon disappeared though and the steep climb and now very strong headwind made it quite an effort.
I stopped at the top to put my jacket on, a case of closing the barn doors after the horses had bolted really as I was soaked through, but up on the top of the hill it was very exposed, the wind was absolutely howling and it was cold so I hoped the extra layer would help. It was also now very dark and in the clouds visibility was down to just a few feet so I hoped the bright yellow jacket would help me be seen.
I was in the middle of nowhere, July suddenly felt like November and I had a long way to go. The ride up over the top and then down the other side was quite scary. I was soaking wet, it was dark, I couldn’t see a thing, my brakes were ineffective on the descent thanks to the wetness and the wind whipping up through the steep sided valley here was buffeting me around and determined to blow me off the road or at least off my bike. Progress was slow and I just hoped things would improve as I descended. They did a little, but it was still raining and there was still a strong headwind as I made my way towards the A470 at Ffestiniog. Light rain and a raging headwind were 100s time better than the conditions over the top though, at least I wasn’t scared anymore and the temperature was quite a bit higher too. It was still going to be hard work into the wind and rain, but at least I wasn’t going to die in a ditch or over the side of a cliff!
I continued on past Trawsfynydd and Coed y Brenin and as I approached Dolgellau, the rain stopped and the sun even came out. It was still very windy but I rolled into Dolgellau for a very nice bacon and stilton pannini in y Sospan, followed by and even nicer fresh scone. The scone was hot from the oven and I slathered it in butter, jam and clotted cream and washed it down with a nice hot cappuccino.
I was revived, refreshed and had a fair bit of extra weight in my tummy to carry up over the hill towards Tal y Llyn as I headed back out into the headwind. I was still quite wet and I was expecting another bout of nasty weather up over the Minfford Pass but I didn’t put my jacket back on. Wet weather was exactly what I got up over the pass and once again the headwind made it a struggle up over the top and down the other side, but at least this time I could see where I was going and it didn’t get quite so dark or cold. The final climb up to Corris led to a bit more drizzle, but from here it was downhill, still into a strong headwind all the way to Machynlleth. There was at least a bit of shelter from the hill to my right, but that meant that the final 12 miles from Mach to Ynyslas would be directly into the wind. That was indeed the case and of course the closer I got to the coast the strong it got. I was feeling OK now though and the sun was shining again which always helps. I was on familiar roads, I didn’t have far to go and considering the conditions I had made quite good time.
I made it home in just under 5 hours, only an hour longer than it had taken to get there on the train and just before Anna and Morgan got in. No time for a rest though, as we walked through the door there was a phonecall from someone in Borth who had a small swarm of bees in their caravan, so I headed off with my beekeeping kit to catch the swarm.
Yes, driving there and back would have been quicker and easier, but you only get one life so why not make it an adventure whenever possible.