Welsh Weekender (Day1) – 20th April
The day started early, with a 5am alarm, the sun just starting to rise, Rob was picking me up at 5.30……. well, he eventually did, at about 6:45 as he’d slept through his alarm, or as he suggested, it didn’t go off. The 7am departure wasn’t a problem as the traffic was pretty light and before long we were crossing the English-Welsh border. The clouds were gathering and before long the rain started. We headed to our intended parking spot for the ride anyway. The plan for the day was to ride up Cadair Idris, at 2930ft it would be a tough day’s riding, especially as the start point of the car park at the Tywyn railway station at Abergynolwyn is only 125ft above sea level.
We sat in the car park and the rain lashed on the windscreen, if it was this bad here, up at nearly 3000ft…. well it wouldn’t have been fun! We drove to Tywyn and hit the Spar, stocking up on provisions for the bunkhouse…. basically pasta and alcohol! A quick walk down the road and we hit the local cafe to acess the situation, as looking back inland the weather looked set for the day. The plan changed, we’d go to Machynlleth and see what the weather was like there. we could ride one of the Mach trails as they’re less exposed and the clouds to the South didn’t look anywhere as nasty as those around Cadair Idris.
We got to Machynlleth and popped into “The holey trail” the bike shop in town, Tegid the owner gave us a bit of a heads up on trail conditions and also let us know that the final descent on the Cli-Machx trail (Sunday’s ride) had been reopened – www.theholeytrail.com
Rob invested in a Camelbak bladder as in the chaos of his ‘sleep-in’ he’d left his omn the kitchen worktop. We headed out of town in the van, electing to drive the road section out to the start of the off road part of Mach2/3
Parking opposite the farm at Pant-glas we unloaded the bikes, Rob opting to use the Pugsley saying he’d put 150ml of Stan’s fluid (a puncture sealing liquid) in his inner tubes when we got to the bunkhouse that evening (I’d got this tip off Charlie the Bikemonger). Soon we were heading off road climbing round Commis Pant-glas, as we crossed a field two lambs made a dash towards Rob and the Pugsley. He couldn’t shake them off and soon they were running along right next to the bike pushing into the rear wheel. One could have easily ended up getting caught in the wheel, so Rob stopped and tried to shoo them away. They ran off, but not too far away. I opened the gate into the next field and Rob made a dash for it, so did the lambs. they almost made it through. But I just got hold of them…. have you ever tried picking up two wet wriggling lambs while holding a bike, and trying to shut a gate… it was chaos, lots of “baa”ing and shouting! I somehow accidentally hit the video button on my camera and so the whole thing was captured.
We carried on, and soon Rob realised that the thorn he’d seen in his front tyre earlier had punctured it. No Stan’s fluid in the tube meant the thing was going to need changing…. it was suprisingly easy, and even inflated OK. Pump to start, canister, then a quick go with the pump to finish off. We were on our way again, and decided to do the bigger Mach3 route as the weather was starting to clear and the legs were feeling good. We carried on round the Afon Hengwm valley past a stunning waterfall and up to Foel Uchaf at 1500ft. Soon we were riding through trees and in the shade was a dusting of snow, stopping and looking South towards Nant Y Arian the mountains were properly topped with snow.
Heading round the valley we came to the top of “The Chute” a sign told us we’d arrived and warned of what lay ahead…. Mmmm in reality I’ve ridden a lot worse. Quite steep and quite rocky…. there had recently been some forest cleared around it, so maybe when it was surrounded by trees is was damp and slippery, but now exposed the rocks were dry and gave plenty of grip, and apart from having to stop halfway down to remove part of a felled tree we flew down it. Now following the Glyndwr’s Way path we started heading back towards the van. Dropping down Nant Tayrnau we joined the road that we’d taken to park the van.
As we were riding back we had to pull to the side of the road to let a tractor through. He stopped to ask if the van by the farm was ours, and then looked with suprise at the size of the tyres on Rob’s bike “My they’re big tyres you’ve got on that, boyo” sorry for the stereotyping, but that was pretty much what he said! Back to the van, bikes washed down and off to the bunkhouse………..
Ride – #63 Bike – Gary Fisher Paragon 29’er
Miles – 13.3 Total 2012 miles – 1424.2