John and I plan to do a 250 mile bike tour in May. It’s called Lon Las Cymru and runs from Cardiff to Holyhead through the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia. Our BNBs are all booked and we plan to meet up with some friends too, so we’re really looking forward to it.
With only a few weeks to go, we thought we ought to have a trial run, using our panniers for the first time. John checked the bikes and I made a list of what we needed… cycling clothes, evening clothes, toiletries, snacks and water, electrical items and chargers. Thankfully, everything fitted easily into our panniers, seat bags and handlebar bags.
This morning we woke early, excited to get on the road. We had breakfast and packed last minute items, then loaded our bikes, before putting our cycling clothes on. I always postpone putting my bib shorts on for as long as possible so I can have a last minute wee, otherwise I know I’ll end up having to strip off in a field somewhere en route! It’s difficult at the moment because cafes aren’t open properly under Covid rules.
After a last minute check to make sure the cat that visits us wasn’t asleep somewhere in the house, we were off. I was shocked by the weight of my bike and decided to use my motor straight away while I got used to it. John, of course was fine! He’s also taken to clipping his shoes to the pedals immediately while I, as usual, am still bottling out!
The plan for the weekend is to cycle to Llangollen, where we’ve booked a B&B, then do a long and very hilly ride between Llangollen, Chirk and Corwen tomorrow, before returning home on Monday. Today we followed the back lanes up the Vale of Clwyd, below the Cwydian Hills, including Moel Famau. The scenery was beautiful and before long, we’d reached Chilly Cow Ice cream, where we stopped to sample the produce. Delicious!
All was going well, until my bike started making a strange noise. John was behind me and said my mud guard was rubbing so we stopped to sort it out. Unfortunately, it was worse than expected and the bolt had come out of the rack for my panniers. Luckily, John had had the foresight to put a repair kit together, which included spare bolts. He fixed my bike, while a field of cows watched, then we were off again.
There were more clouds around now and it was quite cold as we cycled. We debated whether to put more layers on but decided they were unnecessary because we’d soon be starting to climb. We were right, the hills got longer and steeper and we needed our eBike motors more often, but we were now warm. The last stretch up to the Ponderosa Cafe above the Horseshoe Pass wasn’t as bad as I expected and we were soon at the top, enjoying the views.
It was now downhill all the way to Llangollen. This has to be the best bit, yes? No! I was absolutely freezing as my speed increased and the wind whistled around me. By the time I caught up with John, I was shivering and feeling a bit tearful. Lesson learnt… put some extra layers on before doing a long descent like that!
The last part of the journey was along the Llangollen canal, dodging the walkers, dogs and a few kayakers carrying boats. Thankfully, I didn’t fall into the canal to entertain them all! Llangollen is really busy and we were pleased to get to the peace and quiet of our B&B, Riverbanc. It’s lovely with a cafe at the back, overlooking the River Dee, and a whitewater centre below.
We did have a small drama when we arrived. The code I’d been given didn’t work and there was nobody around. As we were discussing what to do… maybe put some more clothes on then try and find a cafe… someone came out. She was really helpful, showing us to our room and explaining that I’d forgotten to input the * after I’d entered the number on the key pad. Duh!
We’ve now showered and had lunch… pasties, sausage rolls and cream doughnuts! Well we have earned them after cycling 51 kilometres with 800m ascent!