Covid has brought some changes that I like… table service being one of them. However, ordering via apps can be challenging, especially at the end of a tiring day. Why does needing wifi and an app mean you have to register and give them your email and contact information? I had a minor meltdown entering all my details every time we wanted to order something, but at least we didn’t have a full blown row like the couple on the next table! Dinner was distinctly average, but the hotel staff have all been friendly and helpful, despite all the selfish people making demands and refusing to wear masks.
The room was comfortable and wasn’t too noisy but neither of us slept well, tossing and turning all night. We went down to breakfast as soon as we could, aiming to beat the rush and set off early. After a few weeks of unpredictable weather, it’s lovely to have sunshine.
We soon reached Castell Coch, perched high above the main road. After a quick look around, John set off on a forest track steeply leading uphill. Despite having my motor on full, 10 seconds later I was off my bike and attempting to push it, huffing and puffing, sweating and complaining. The back of the bike is so heavy with all the luggage, I could barely move it! John parked his bike and took mine to the top of the hill, then went back to get his. He looks after me so well!
After this we headed back to the Taff Trail, which goes all the way to Brecon. It varied from smooth tarmac to gravel, with sections where tree roots had pushed the tarmac up causing mini speed bumps that rattled every bone in my body. That said, the route was beautiful, generally following the river.
We passed through Pontypridd and paused in the memorial garden in Aberfan, before arriving in Merthyr, where we picked up a Subway roll. The trail climbed steadily but wasn’t too challenging, and we crossed the viaduct, looking down on the house from The Pact, which we watched on television just before we came away.
After leaving the towns behind, we entered the Brecon Beacons National Park, and had some steep climbs to Pontsticill Reservoir. Then came the first drama of the day. We followed the signs for national cycle route 8, high in the forest above the reservoir. After more than a mile of bumpy off road track we came to the bridge we needed to cross. It was blocked! I managed not to have a tantrum and we headed back down the track to the reservoir. The views were lovely and the ride mostly enjoyable.
We ate lunch in the shade then followed the road until we were stopped by a park warden. Another diversion! At least we were informed about this one in advance! A bit more on road, a lot more off road and we reached the next reservoir, Talybont.
I was really tired by now. There was far more off road than I’d expected and all the bouncing around was taking its toll on my body, as well as slowing us down. Thankfully, the journey got easier now. It was all down hill to the Usk valley and we stopped for a welcome beer at the pub in Pencelli before the last leg to Brecon.
As we rode up to Cribyn Lodge B&B, Martin and Tracey had just arrived. We removed the luggage from our bikes and were shown to our room, before catching up with them over a drink. John and I had booked a massage in the B&B which was wonderful removing all our aches and pains and relaxing us, ready for our evening out.
After a couple, of drinks in the town, we headed to Gurkha Corner where I’d booked a table. I showed the girl on the desk my email confirmation and her reply was ‘Sorry, I don’t get those emails. It’s a third party.’ I was astonished and appalled. We’ve cycled from Cardiff! ‘I’m sorry’, she said, ‘You could try Abergavenny.’ I was angry now. ‘On bikes?! That’s 20 miles away!’ She made no effort to help us. Martin asked to speak to the manager. The response? I am the manager. Feeling a Tripadvisor review coming on, I decided it was better to leave than make any more of a scene.
We went back to the bar and ordered another drink, while Martin phoned around and managed to find a table in a Thai restaurant for 8.30. I was starving. 50 plus miles on only a continental breakfast and a chicken sandwich! By now my head was banging… probably dehydration as well as starvation! We arrived at the Thai and were told we’d have to wait another half hour. No!!!! Martin spoke to the manager and he agreed to take our order so our meal would be ready as soon as he could seat us. In the meantime we stood outside, getting cold and more fed up.
Finally we were shown inside. Drinks and the starter didn’t take too long, which is more than can be said for the main course. By 10 o’clock we were still waiting. Despite the manager repeatedly telling us ‘it’s coming, it’s coming!’, Tracey and I decided we were too tired and no longer wanted our meals. We headed back to the hotel, leaving John and Martin to eat all the food.
Back in the room, I was disappointed that there were no tea making facilities. I took a couple of paracetamol and tucked myself up in bed, waiting for John to return. Another tough day!