Bala For Breakfast (Audax, DIY, 300km)

Not Validated Due To Covid 19

A great ride with lots of café stops, big climbs and the odd Welsh vista. Chirk to Cerrigydrudion is best done early morning to avoid the A5 traffic

I had intended to start about 9pm on Saturday evening but we still had thunderstorms in my part of Stoke on Trent, so I went to bed. I got up at 1:30am (Sunday morning) and the sky was clear and full of stars.  I started my Wahoo Bolt (1:46am) and headed off into the darkness trying to avoid the flooded sections of the road. It occurred to me that I live on a hill and I am cycling uphill, but the water is still pooling … it was too early in the morning to consider such gravitational problems!  

I settled in for my normal route to Chirk (Eccleshall, Wem, Ellesmere) only stopping to take a photo of the amazing clear night sky on my camera phone. Arriving at Chirk was a welcome relief for my knees which were still hurting from my turbo training session yesterday. Sitting on the bench listening to the birds singing whilst eating a Chicken and Sweetcorn sandwich meal-deal, what a brilliant day.

I knew that the road up the A5 was long and best done early to avoid the traffic. I was lucky between Chirk and Llangollen only five cars overtook me and between Llangollen and Corwen it was 22 cars one lorry and a tractor. I had the road to myself. As I cycled through Corwen, I ask the chap who was holding the café sign if he was open, ‘about 10mins’ he replied so I stopped and had a stretch of the leg’s whilst having a chat. The usual Audax conversation, ending with… so I thought I would stop and have a cup of tea and 10mins. A few minutes later he appeared with a large cup of tea. Winner.

Pushing on, I turned off on to the B4501 just before Cerrigydrudion and climbed over the top past the wind turbines, descending toward Tryweryn and Bala. The wind was brutal, but I knew that if I can make it over the top the wind would be much less on the descent. You should never make assumptions, the wind was blowing me to a stop, but it did ease off as I descended toward Tryweryn. This is a long climb over the top, but it is much nicer than dropping down the A494 to Bala.

I stopped at Bala for Breakfast (beans on toast and a cup of tea) and as I sat stuffing my face Brandon a fellow Audaxer from Crewe Clarion Wheelers appeared with Terry. I had half expected to see Brandon as we were both heading for Bala. We shared stories over breakfast and a warm drink before departing. I did not want to linger too much as my knees were feeling like footballs.

My next section was up the B4391 and down into Tanat Valley and onwards to Shrewsbury. The climb was much longer than I remembered but just as steep! I did note that all the cyclists were coming down rather than up! I stopped in the layby at the top and had a snack and took a few pictures. I chatted with a chap from Wrexham who said that they descend to Bala but turn off just before to climb over to Lake Vyrnwy.

I just got up to speed about 30mph and I slammed on my breaks on, what a great photo, looking down the Tanat Valley. The road is wide making it a lovely descent, there is one very sharp corner to slow down for, just avoid the wholes and raised tarmac. The roads through Tanat Valley towards Shrewsbury are fast so I maintained my speed into the small climbs; what a lovely valley. It did occur to me that the last time I cycled along the valley was on John Hamilton’s Wandering Wolves – Lake Vyrnwy (Audax, Perm, 200km).

To be honest by knees were feeling no better, so I cut the route short by jumping on the A5 for a few miles to Montford Bridge and headed for Shrewsbury services for a drink and a bit of food. From here the route felt hard and long, every time I turned the crank.  Let us just say I was glad when the ride ended.