North Wales to South Wales - First Tour

jarushby

Active Member
I have just completed my first big ride. After reading many posts on this forum I have been inspired to set a goal of riding from JOG to Lands End either later this year or early next year. As a "reality check" I decided that a shorter challenge was required and decided on a coast to coast ride from North Wales (Llandudno) to South Wales (Cardiff). I live just north of cardiff and thought riding towards home would spur me on.

My initial gaol was simply to follow the A470 for the entire distance (using known alternatives once I reached Merthyr where the A470 turns into a dual carriageway) however as the ride progressed the route was modified somewhat.

Basically A470 all the way to Bleanau
A470 through Dolgellau
A487 to Machynlleth
Machynlleth to Llanidloes (using the moutain route through Dylife, OMG!!!)

Wild camped just outside Llanidloes

Llanidloes to Rhyader (A470 rather than B4518, legs needed a gentle warm up before climbing again)
Rhyader to Buith (A470)
onto Brecon using the old Brecon road (B4520)

Brecon to Merthyr (using A470)
Merthyr using various alternatives to A470 including some Taff trail bits.

Finally arrive in Cardiff and straight into a pub!!!

Total distance was 88 miles day one, a 87 miles day 2
Time in the saddle 9 hrs day one, 7.5 day 2
Climbed 7,000ft on day 1, 4000ft day 2 [according to bike hike]

I write this post [my first one] firstly to say a huge thank you to all those people who have taken time to pass on their experiences (good and bad) and wisdom. Without you guys I probably wouldnt have had the most amazing two days. Firstly, I probably wouldnt have started and without the help that was given I certainly wouldnt have finished.

My advice (most of which is second hand) is :-

1. Just do it!!. At 42, (fit but a little overweight), if I can do it, you can do it.The hardest steps is convincing yourself it is possible

2. Approach all hills with respect. Take the large climbs one small bit at a time. Dont power up the end of a hill only to see it carry on just around the corner. Trust me, whenever you think you have seen the last climb of the day there will be a few more!!!!

3. Plan your route but just as importantly, understand the terrain. Climbing hills is hard enough when you know they are coming. You dont want too many surprises

4. Match any training with your goal. If you going to cycle in hills, dont train on the flat. If you are going to carry tents, sleeping bags etc etc make sure you train will additional weight.

5. Enjoy every second, take in the scenery. Dont just grind out the miles.

6. Read as much advice before you set out. Every little bit helps.

7. Make sure the bike is well lubricated and in tip top condition. Of course you must take tools just in case but far better not to have to use them.

8. Look at the litter on the ground in the most beautiful country side and use that as inspiration that if you wild camp, "leave nothing but footprints"

[Quick Rant] - what is it with people that travel miles to see amazing views but insist on throwing litter out of the car window!!!!

9. Look after your legs. Dont push too hard on any hill. If you get out of breath you will recover quickly. If your legs go, its game over.

10. Eat before you are hungry and keep taking in fluid. Dont just put in sugars make sure you take in salt also.


Finally listen to your body. That little twinge is telling you somthing. If you ignore it the signal will get louder. Stupidly after ~80 miles after hitting the peak before Dylife I had it in my mind that it was pretty much downhill all the way to Llanidloes. Wrong!!!. But I assumed every hill that I came to must be the last (Wrong!!!). I had felt a pain in my right knee while climbing from Machynlleth but ignored it. Every time I came to the last hill I powered up the hill rather than climbing slowly. When I stopped at Llanidloes I realised I had damaged my knee (I was in a fair bit of pain). Hoped that I would recover by morning. I avoided the hills to Buith (A470 is hardly flat but by comparison to the alternatives is very gentle). Again, stupidly I decided I would try the harder route to Brecon and my knee gave up. I had to get off on the steepest bit and concentrate my efforts on my left leg alone. This carried on all the way through Brecon, the climb through the Brecon Beacons. By Merthyr I had my right leg unclipped and was peddling with my left. Every time I bent my right leg I had a stabbing pain. Although the last 25miles should have been the easiest part of the ride it was incredibly difficult.

A quick question, obviously JOGLE is a lot further but in terms of difficulty how does N Wales to S Wales compare? In particular how do the hills in Devon/Cornwall compare to climb from Machynlleth over Dylife to Llanidloes?
 

PaulB

Legendary Member
Location
Colne
jarushby, thanks for that, it sounds inspiring. I've just bought a book detailing the Offa's Dyke walk and plan on doing it this year but since I read your posting above, I fancy doing this now instead (maybe as well!) Looks and sounds inspiring, that one.
 
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