Travel.P #69 – Hilly Vanilly two Rarries on a Rollercoster

I don’t know how you get dressed if you live in Wales, because it’s pouring rain and then it’s hot sunshine, and then it might hail. It’s just so confusing.

Piper Perabo

Our Journey started in Chester Train Station, close to the border of Wales. We cycled along the canal, where we had our first crash straight away, my front pannier got ripped, and I was pretty lucky I didn’t go for a swim at that point. It turned out looking over your shoulder, let’s you loose your control. Lorna was shouting “look I’m gonna ride all the time like this”, I lost control, which I didn’t realize and crashed into a wall. craash. I stopped myself with my feet before stumbling on and probably falling into the canal just next to me. Ayayay, so close.

From there we recovered, me in a strop, because of that crash and cycled always close to water out of Chester until we crossed the Border. There we nearly cycled onto a highway and from there we had to stop and recheck our route. We went parallel to a loud busy road until we finally left it and started cycling more peacefully considering cars and noise, but more hard on us with hills. To be honest, I completely misjudged Wales, I thought the hills gonna be no problem, but man in general, our trip was like a rollercoaster and with it our mood.

Still it was beautiful, and we even got some sun there. We had our first break on a wall, overlooking the area we just crossed. We could even see Liverpool in the distance. Rolling hills, with denser and denser getting houses until Chester.

From there we went trough fields, mostly green and full of sheep and cattle, on small roads, at some parts just wide enough for a car. The annoying thing about it were the hedges all along the roads. We couldn’t really see that much of the scenery and going downhill had to be considered relatively slow, due to no possible sight of oncoming cars on the small road, that could have ended like a kamikaze ride.

the day pretty much continued until late and us ending in an area, where we were not able to eavesdrop, the language switched completely to welsh.

Around 17% of the welch population speaks Brittonic language on a daily. The speaking population is slowly pressed to the east coast by the English speaking population spreading in from the west. The primitive Welsh is probably rooted around 500 AD to 800 AD.

Our Route. From Calais I went home by bike. Lorna stayed in England.

After a hand full of hours and a few fingers, we decided it’s time to call it a day. But only hedges and farm were around us, so we asked at our first and only camping spot. Man, the prices for camping went in the last year a bit mental. Like through the roof. We had to pay, to pitch our tend, shower and cook about a 10-15 each. After that experience we decided we will not ever again use a camping place. It still was Coroni – it was technically illegal what we did, so we could say we were only wild camping, haha.

The morning we woke up and left the campsite, that was actually quite lovely. The route continued for a few hours like the day before, green fields, small old villages, farms, small roads, but in the distance tall gentle wavy hills started to get closer, until they were all over the place. We usually filled our water in streams high grounds, with not to many fields in between. Especially not farms in between. The freezing cold water of a spring is every time a feeling of really nurturing yourself, not like tap water or filled bottles. It honestly is so good.

The further we went into the mountains and higher we got the more beautiful the area was. The cycling was a dream, no cars, fine roads. A bit cloudy and windy but okay. Gentle rivers pushing through the golden grass fields, with a few taller mountains disappearing here and with their imaginative tops into the clouds.

Once on top of a plateau the landscape got even better. It really reminded me in some parts of New Zealand, with their golden mountains.

We went past a few Lakes were we had little breaks. Luckily we never got hit by big showers so far. The wind was blowing waves over the lake, and we realized it might be quite good to cycle in the mountains where we are sheltered here and there of direct exposure. It is impressive how just in one day the scenery can change completely on a bike. I really like that about traveling by bike and that you are still able to reach into the backcountry. We camped this night close to a reservoir, behind a fell wall, sheltered of the wind. We had a quick wash, to get the cold sweat of and hush into the the soft dry clothes into the tent. Ahhh, what a feeling. You can’t pay for it.

Sometimes we thought we don’t wash, but in the end did it mostly anyway. Your body is just so cold by the sweat and it destroys that special feeling of snuggling into the tent. It is not like a shower, just a bit of water here and there and getting the rest of with a towel.

Puncture Face.

The next day started with a lovely downhill ride, a spot to refill the bottles and a route that we followed thanks to me a few kilometers into the wrong direction and of course nearly all time uphill. It was a nice little ride through snowdonia, a part of Wales, though, were the gentle wavy hills became rocky mountains, grey, white and cold. After around an hour we realized we went wrong, sorry again, and went back. This time only downhill tho, and we actually reached a new top speed of 72, that’s what it showed at least on the navigation on the phone. Oh yeah and we had our first flat tire here as well. We fixed it easy though.

actually quite hard to cycle no hands, haha. The weight on the front makes it difficult.

We used a paper map, intuition and a phone to navigate and usually it went pretty good. I have to say to have a nice flow, the phone navigation was great, when there are many turns, but if you’re only on like 10 roads a day, it is more fun to use the map. After successfully reaching our wrong turning pint we continued through a lovely valley with impressive old houses and probably older forests and trees. The road stretched all time on one site of the valley, until we reached some fancy looking farmer houses and had to climb uphill for a bit after we continued along the valley again.

Final descend for the day?
Nope, haha. That one was mental. But the area was beautiful.

At the end of the valley, we were leaving the rocky mountains behind us and had a little break a public toilets, from there we continued uphill, a very steep bit section, see on the photos above. The best tactic on steep bits is to focus on a rhythm and try to just keep going until you reach a less angular area, where it is possible to have a short break. Starting in the middle of the hill is very hard, because you will need a small gear, as well as keep your balance when you start climbing uphill.

Llŷn Peninsula

This part was very beautiful, and I was happy we continued that way and not along the main road. It would also have been a nice area to camp. There was a small pond and some walking areas, where we had our lunch break. A steam train was climbing into theses wet forestry areas. After we passed through it, after of course another climb and not finding a dry camping spot we continued until we had a great view over our first peninsular.

Llŷn is an extensive plateau dominated by numerous volcanic hills and mountains. Large stretches of the northern coast consist of steep cliffs and rugged rocks with offshore islands and stacks, while there are more extensive sandy beaches on the southern coast. The landscape is divided into a patchwork of fields, with the traditional field boundaries, stone walls, hedgerows and cloddiau, a prominent feature, round stoned walls. Farming was originally simple and organic, but underwent major changes after the WW2 as machines came into widespread use. Land was drained and fields expanded and reseeded. From the 1950s onwards, extensive use was made of artificial fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, leading to drastic changes in the appearance of the landscape.

We reached it by a loooong downhill ride, wuhuu. The following landscape was flat and wide until we reached tall cliffs, where a lot of climber tried themselves. On the peninsular are not too many roads for us to choose so we decided to cross near the middle, from where we cycled through the burning sun seemingly for ever along a straight street. We managed to reach Nefyn, where we got some of my best chips so far. We took them to the beach, where we camped on a small patch leading to a restaurant. But it was closed due to covid, so we were able to stay there undisturbed.

We had a beautiful sunset in the wide bay. Cliffs to our left and mountains to the right made the smooth color changes of the sunset a bit more scenic and gave it all a beautiful atmosphere. The water was freezing cold and shallow for ages, a nice spot for a swim.

After a good night sleep, we went for a short dip in the cold sea. Usually after swimming in the salty sea we tried to get the salt in some areas of the body so it won’t get sour while we are moving on the saddle all day.

We continued along the coast of the Lyn Peninsula, first with some showers and wet clothes and the typical fog, but later with beautiful sun. We thought about going to do a beach tour, so we went to a few different beaches that day. One day was privateered and we would have to pay for it, so we decided to skip that one. A beach to pay for… crazy. Even though the Peninsula looked fairly flat from the hills in the east, it turned out to be a wavy, rollercoaster like day, with small up and downs and a few stronger ones. The day was still very nice. The beaches were all very lovely with small towns often next to them. At one point we decided to make our lunch. I was surprised how relaxed everyone was, since Covid was still lurking around. But I must say, that you didn’t feel anything of that ‘so dangerous’ virus. People where not staying apart and everyone was having a great time. This is how I would imagine it anyway, if no one would have rad the news or watched TV, haha.

Oh, what I forgot about yesterday was that we had another puncture, this time a complete destruction. It seemed like the breaks overheated the rim and that one burned into the rubber plug. After changing tubes we didn’t figure out how to actually use our pump, mhpf, so stupid haha. Well, luckily two people passed us on a bike trip, turned around after 5 minutes and helped us inflate the tire. I think a few days later we figured out how the pump is actually working..

After a nice day along the coasts, Abersoch, Porth Neigwl, Aberdaron, Traeth Porthor, as well as trough fields, with sun, rain, sun, clouds and sun, we managed to ride back to the beginning of the peninsular, the last hour was a long stretch along the main road. Like often, not everyone is a fan of cyclist. The best thing to do there was listen to music while cycling. This took a lot of fearing for your life or stacking up pressure of the driver behind you. At the beach of Pwllheli we decided to make camp, and no one felt offended. Again a lovely spot, this time with the sun setting behind us. Before not too long the sun was still hiding behind clouds, but just as we were about to reach the old town with an impressive castle next to the sea, the clouds vanished and we even managed to soak up some warming rays for half an hour, while walking along the sea, having a wash and just relaxing the legs.

Usually we didn’t manage to stay awake for very long once the sun left. We went inside and crashed usually after a few minutes. So far everything was going pretty good. Not too much rain. Not too many crashes and flat tires. The bikes were doing great. We just couldn’t decide whish lube to take, dry or wet. Lornas saddle got worn in as well after a day feeling like riding on a brick, haha.

Next time I will tell you more of our journey along the coast of Wales. About backcountry roads, B roads, sunny days and lovely views as well as camping spots, filling bikes at the petrol station and another few hard but lovely days in the saddle.

For today, I try to go to bed in time. 8,9 hours spent in bed, not only sleeping is apparently a very healthy way of sleeping. To get some ideas of welsh people I advice you to try and watch some Gavin and Stacy, it’s lush it is.

With that note let’s call it a blog and I see you next time in our ‘Hilly Vanilly, two Rarries on a Rollercoster’ trip.

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