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I am a Primary School teacher just about to move to the Bristol area and after two years of posting very little I am going to make an effort to post a little more often.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Day 8

The final day of the Sarn Helen.

It felt a bit strange getting up today knowing that it was our last day of our journey down Wales. Nether the less, we went on with our daily routine of breaskfast and sorting the bikes. The sky looked black...very black and it looked like we were going to get a very wet last day!

My gave us our daily treats...our last ones :( On with our waterproofs and off we set out of the campsite. Straight away, before I even got out of the campsite I had a puncture...,my 3rd of the trip. Might I add at this point, Ive only ever had ONE puncture IN TOTAL of all my mountain bike riding before this trip!!! Soon enough the puncture was sorted....and the rain started.

Today was spent riding on roads, but the first section was all on the cycle path along the coast of Swansea and along to the pier of Mumbles. We decided to stop here for a brew and a bacon sannie....it wass amazing and great to sit in a warm cosy cafe whilst it was peeing it down on our bikes left outside. After an hour of drinking tea we thought it was probably about time to head back out on the bikes. The last section on road seemed to just fly by and once we had pasted signs for Port Enion we knew we were really close to the end and smiles started to appear on our faces.

We waited at the visitors centre at Rhosili for mum to arrive to head over to worms head together. We rode along the track, smiles brimming from ear to ear knowing we had completed our ride :) Hugs, kisses and hands held high, we had completed our ride!!!!

The feeling was a little odd. Both of us wanted to do this ride for quite a while now and had been planning for a while....all of a sudden it was over!! A fantastic ride...I would reccomend it to anyone.

Stats of the ride for those of you who want them will follow shortly once we get the days info for when the cycle computer broke. But until the next adventure ....................

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Sarn Helen Photos....Lots and Not Sorted

Our Sarn Helen pictures have been uploaded here


The Start

Sarn Helen Day 7

If you have read any of this blog before you will have noticed a changed recently. The spelling, grammar and general content has been drastically better. So, today it is my turn.

I found getting up and getting going today pretty hard work. This morning was raining, we cant really complain because the weather has been very good for us. The morning routines were quiet, maybe that was because I was quiet. We set off to join our first proper bit of the Sarn Helen, where the actual road went. We were both pretty excited about this and had been told it was a great days riding through some amazing scenary. We had a gradual climb to start up towards the mynydd Illtud from our camp in Aberan, this was ok but I just couldn't get comfy on the bike and at one point there was even a synchronised bum shuffle. We had had a tip to look for a gorse bush and a finger post and not to turn off till then. It was a great tip thanks again to Bikes and Hikes. The Roman Road was straight...but quite bumpy. This track seem to pass quickly which was good, we crossed onto a minor road passing Forest Lodge and this is where things slowed down a tad. The track was good just very bumpy and our bottoms were not in the mood. this contoured arounds for a couple of kilometers before a short climb lead to a short descent which lead to a climb with loose boulders the size of dinner plates strew all over it. No chance. Once up though the going improved, still bumpy, still not comfortable. the summit of Bryn Melyn was a welcome sight and we stopped for our first snack. It felt like we had been going forever but it was just 13km, I broke out todays treat, JELLY SNAKES. The descent to the road was slow and technical, but i did get to see the designated wild camp at Lliaen Elia which is one to remember.
A few days ago we had a stand off with some sheep, today was a real treat!!! We were able to see a group of farmers round up their flocks with quads and dogs (That bits just for Leo, we saw a big digger too). The next stage was back on bumpy forestry track, steady progress was made but the constant pounding of the saddle into the backside was taking its toll. A brilliant descent to an 'unrideable' river. Bikes and Hikes warned us of the lack of stepping stones but they have a new bridge, its not getting washed away any time soon. Another steep climb (no neither of us cleaned it) and more bumpy track but lurking among this section was some excellent litttle rock slabs, Bennett you would be proud of the Hillyer. At the road, LUNCH....the best part of the day!!! We have the maps printed on A4 sheets, each map is a moral boost and for me,the last map was a real boost, until I realised that we had a decent to 230m followed by a steep climb through the forest up to 581m. This part also passed through an 'active motorsport area' which basically means lots of track that are on no OS map. Thankfully no real issue but it just slowed us down.The views were starting appear but the background noise of engines revving was spoiling it, oh well at least they aren't driving on our track...oh wait whats that, a motorbike...about 300 of them passedus every few minutes for the enitre 12km. Most were great, they slowed smiled and said hello, others were not. The climb just went on............and on..........and on. The bikes had churned up the mud so it was like riding in gloop, today was the first day I really wanted a granny ring.

The descent was worth it, about 3.5km of bassically no pedalling. Ruts in the ground added interest but as we descended further the San Helen had its best section of the route. Loose stone, rocky slabs, water, ditches and plenty of exciting moments. If your in the area find a way to do it.

From here it was roads to camp, the last road was uphill. it finished me off and i was very grateful for the Berry Bonanza and fruit juice.

Sarn Helen Day 5 and 6

Day 5
REST DAY! Bike mechanical problems (Daves bike) needed sorting. Swimming and meeting the England tug of war team.

Day 6
Fresh legs and ready to go after being rested. We set off from Dyserth up the roads towards Builth Wells, which then set us onto a few more back roads which involved a lot of steep ups and downs....undulations all the way!! Undulations are so much hard work!
We had a few off road sections but the majority was on minor roads, which made the cycling pritty quick. Although, despite the fast cycling I managed to pick up two punctures AND my cycle computer broke down :( So for the rest of the day, we never made it past 15km.
One interesting section of off road provided some interesting navigation sections and riding. Trying to pick our way through fields, woodland and farmers land to get to a road. We eventually made it but Dave almost lost his head to a tree. In addition to this I also decided to take a closed look at a load of nettles, which for future reference, hurt a lot!
We made it to Brecon by early afternoon to meet up with mum in the ice cream parlour to sample some of Wales' finest icecream....and, it was delicious! One think we didn't account for was a jazz festival going on on the same weekend as us arriving which ment it took quite some time to find a campsite with space.
Whilst in Brecon we found a very helpful guy in 'Bike and Hike' bike shop who gave some adive to sort our cyce computer and with a few campsite options....A great shop to visit if your ever in Brecon!!!

Sarn Helen Day 4

So, its back on the bikes....again, to cover our route over 4 of our maps, around 60ish km. The sun was shining, but our bums were sore...VERY sore. We found it pritty hard to get into a rhythm today, my legs certainly weren't feeling the love for cycling.
We rode through Devils Bridge to then ascend through Coed Bwlchgwalter up onto the moorland. Making it through the forrest was the half way marker for the whole trail...this seems to have crept up on us very qwickly! Thankfully when leaving the forrest there was only a small section of the route which required some pushing, and yet again resulted in wet feet. Although, I'm starting to think it wouldn't be a normal day on the Sarn Helen without wet feet. Once we had made it back onto a 'proper' track the riding picked up again. The views of the moorland and all the lakes and reseviours were amazing and the riding was to match. The track around Claerwen Reservoir was the best yet. Fun and fast downhills with some steady climbs with beautiful views setting you up nicely for the next downhill, which just kept repeating itself. Smiles all round :)
A stop at the top of the reservoir for a lovely lunch stop before heading down the road into the Elan Valley. The road was great fun...long sweeping road and all down hill. We past a couple of families on our way down whilst our chests were on our saddles and heads nearly on the handle bars and the Dads of the families giving us huge smiles, appreciating how much fun we were having.
The Elan Valley was beautiful, and there was a very lovely chap inside the visitors centre who filled up four litres worth of water for us...THANKS!! We stopped off for a refuel of drinks and treats (jellied sweets provided my mum that morning) before we set off to complete our last stage of the jounrey today, following the Afon Elan and then the River Wye towards Disserth. I was kind of hoping that this would be a pritty easy trail to camp but there seemed to be many sneeky uphills which sapped a lot of leg energy. After not too long though the campsite was suddenly upon us, arriving just after mum.
A great day on the bikes, an area which is worth another visit in the future I think! Lets hope this sun stays around for the rest of the journey.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Sarn Helen Day 3

An earlier start today with the theory we can then get a good afternoons rest...

The day certainly started with some tired legs and very sore bums!!! Once our bums finally made contact again with our saddles we had a 500m climb, a nice little warm up!?! The hill up to Meml seemed to go on and on, and got steeper and steeper. Everytime I saw the end of a hump I thought we had made it, yetonce we reached the top we were faced with yet more climbing.

We refuelled at the top, thinking that was the hardest part of the day over...little did we know about what lie ahead. After following a track through a wild nature reserve our track suddenly dissapeared. For the next 6 km we rode our bikes on and off, but for most of it we were pushing through bog (up to our knees in places), crossing rivers, wading through mud...oh and more bog. To say we were pleased when we finally got onto a proper track again would be an understatement.

When back on firm ground again we soon made up time and started to head around Nant y Moch Reservoir. Beautiful views, beautiful weather and good riding :) We soon turned off to head through some open farmland towards Nant yr Arian trail centre. First we had to head through a ford....first attempted on bikes but soon enough in the water up to our knees.

Within minutes we found ourselves climbing up through the Nant yr Arian forest, to descend the final section of single track, 'high as a kite'...great fun!! We met up with mum in the carpark for post ride treats (although a little early) before we bombed it down the valley to our campsite in Devils bridge, Erwbarfe farm.

An earlyish finish saw us by the coast in Aber, eating ice cream. Lets hope the legs hold out for an epic ride tomorrow!

Sarn Helen Day 2

Out of camp at 9.15, to fly down the hill to Coed y Brenin. A quick blast along the Minataur trail, with some whooping and holaring took us to 'route 82' along the river to Dolgellau....a very quick 15 ish Km. The smells from the cafes and bakeries were almost too tempting so we carried on riding before we gave in to our bellies.
We continued to follow route 82 out of Dolgellau towards Cadir Idris. Beautiful views of the majestic Cadir and Sunny Barmouth beaches kept us going up the hills with out too much of a worry. We branched off to Ffordd Ddu (Black road), which apparently was closed and unsuitable for any motorised vehicles...we continued. Dave soon commented on how the road 'isn't that bad!' Yet soon enough we came to realise why it was closed. Think of the biggest muddy, wet, boggy man eating puddle you can think of, times by ten and you might be close to what we faced....definately not one to chance on the bike, you might never return!!! We circumnaviated the bog and the six footprints which went in, but no further, trying not to get caught in it ourselves. Back on our bikes to climb further to Braich Ddu forrest. The decent then started :) A long, rolling decent, reaching 50km and feeling much faster!! Soon enough we reached Bryncrug for a well earnt stop for lunch. 3 hours riding and we'd already covered nearly 40km so we decided to stop for a good rest.
Re-fuelled, rested and ready to go we headed of to Rhyd-yr-onen to climb our last substantial hill of the day. On our way up the first section on the road, my day was made up by one guy in his car and his comedy waves. He waved to Dave by putting his thumb up to him (man wave) and when he past me he did a little cheeky flirty wave...(if you are the waving man, then thanks!) We have riden down here before so knew what to expect, but it wasn't as hard as we anticipated, fuelled up by jelly beans, we soon got to the top :) Another great downhill, although the loose, wet rocks had me on the edge of my seat for most of the decent! Once we hit the road it wasn't long until we reached the campsite...and we made it there before mum!! 56km in total, no falls and no punctures! :) More post treats from mum, fruit salad, orange juice and a cornflake/puff pastry cake.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Sarn Helen: Day1

Ready to go at 8.45 this morning. We waved goodbye to mum at our house to set off on our long cycling journey.

The firt section was a nice warm up on the road...19km...tick! Soon enough the nice riding ended and we hit the double chevron track up to Llyn Cowlyd, our legs certainly felt that hill! Cowlyd was pritty hard riding all round to be honest, glad to have reached the top. The down hills were well recieved but had some intersting mud holes waiting in discuse. Dave was attacked first, loosing his back wheel entrily to the muddy abyss (I laughed)! Next it was my turn. I tried to miss the muddy puddle but in revenge I was attacked by a hiden ditch lying in wait...front wheel in and I sommersaulted over my bike (still attached to the pedals). Dave laughed at my missfortune when he realised what had happened.

Down to capel to head back up and over to Dolwyddelan. This part seemed pritty easy compared to the last hill and we blasted through it. Although we knew what lie ahead. The next ascent was another biggy...up to the top of Cwn Pennamen (400m ish of ascent). We decided to have a wee break before hitting the hill, which consisted of us lying on the forrestry track (i could definately have fallen to sleep here!) After riding and pushing the the bikes we finally reached the top :)

Down to Llan Ffestiniog, to head up through Bont Newydd forrest. Along the track I shouted to Dave in amazement and excitment as I had spotted a large raspberry plant fall of delicious raspberries....AMAZING!!!! Decent throguh fields to Trawsfynedd and along the roas to the campsite, Cae Gwyn. Mum was waiting our arrival in the campsite armed with multiple goodies. We were sson fed with fruit salad, eccles cakes and chocolate hobnobs!!!! Mum you are amazing :)

Adter feasting on our treats we headed off for a much needed shower. Dinner....chill, more hobnobs (of course), bed!

Lets see how our bums and legs are feeling tomorrow after our 70km and lots of uphill today......

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