Sunday, 26 September 2010

Wales Compleat, Solo, End to End

On Saturday, at 17.15, I entered the train station at Swansea by riding up some small steps in a tunnel under the tracks - my very last technical section, just metres away from my final destination. Quite fitting really, after 413kms, some of the most challenging riding I have ever experienced. My Wales End to End was complete.

Sorry I wasn't able to post everyday, but tiredness, lack of WiFi, or technical problems with my pod conspired against this.

Body and machine held up well to the strains and stresses of the riding, the weather, and the accummulated grime of a mineral and animal nature that stuck to me and my bike. Even a car power-wash didn't succeed in removing it all and I had to put my shoes into quarantine on the return journey on the train !

To take up the account from day 3 when I last posted:

Day 4. Devils Bridge to Rhayader
The rain continued, so I decided to take the National Cycle Network from Devils Bridge to Rhayader. This involved less off-road, but rather narrow roads that climbed over the Cambrian Mountain Range. I passed through deserted mining villages, huge dams, and reservoirs, with finally an asphalt single track along the scenic Elan Valley.

I was soaked through, chilled, by the continual rain and was pleased to see that my next B&B could also provide me with a hot bath.

Ride Stats: 53kms, 6.5 hours, 651m climbs, 476 max alt, 14% max grad, 0 punctures.

Day 5. Rhayader to Brecon
The day dawned damp and misty, but gradualy improved. After a full Welsh Breakfast with extra beans and hash browns I was ready and fuelled for anything the countryside could throw at me. I rode a combination of the National Network Route 8 and the Sarn Helen. This involved very muddy farm-tracks, climbing grassy slopes of two mountains, and a great road descent to the Wye Valley at Buillith Wells.

The final part was the hardest, over the moorland and forest north of Brecon. Lots of the tracks were not rideable due to over use by 4x4 (somthing I am all too familar with in Israel) or had been closed off entirely by the authorities. I had to climb and lift my bike over numerous gates and styles. In the Brycheiniog Forest my GPS would not work , I got lost, and fell twice in deep rutted pools. Eventually I broke through and found the road to Brecon.

The land-lady of my B&B was waiting with a hose and brush, the Welsh are so thoughtful !

Ride Stats: 71kms, 9.5 hours, 1374metres climbing, 447 max alt , 18% max grad, 1 puncture.

Day 6 Brecon to Swansea
My final day and my best day! The weather was great and I was about to cross the third major mountain range in Wales.

I rode westwards from Brecon to pick-up the Sarn Helen Roman Road that climbs up to one of the highest peaks of Brecon Beacons, Bryn Melyn, and then continues on to the sea. I passed a group of MTB riders getting ready to ride, the first I had seen on my whole trip, besides those concentrated at the Coed Brenin MTB Centre. In fact, I hadn't seen on any other rider on the trails during my whole trip: In Wales you are alone in the wilds, except for the sheep.

The Roman Road is broken up and is indistinct in many places, rocky steps, wth deep ruts and parts were flooded. The riding is technically demanding and I was under pressure to finish in time to catch my train. I also had no spare inner -tube, and if I punctured again, I would have been in trouble to get out of this remote area in daylight. Luckily, I managed to ride this final stretch without further incident and it was with great satisfaction that, I saw Swansea Bay in the distance, as I descended from the hills near Neath.

My mission was complete, another end-to-end under my wheels.
Ride Stats: 72kms, 9 hours, 982 metres climbs, 18% max grad, max alt 473m, 1 puncture.

Hwyl fawr am nawr ! = See you again soon. My Welsh is improving !

No comments:

Post a Comment