Yesterday: With a good forecast and a free day it was time to get my challenge ride in for May. I was aiming for Lake Vyrnwy which is a favourite ride for me but one that I've missed out on for quite some time.
I got the Raleigh out early and was on the road a few minutes after seven into a calm morning that promised to warm up later. Planning to do the shorter version of the route I headed round Shrewsbury's old bypass to Montford Bridge, Great Ness and Pentre. The roads weren't busy at this time of the morning so it was all pretty easy riding. Just after Pentre I came across a road closed sign and since I didn't know whether there was access for cyclists, took a diversion past The Royal Hill then to Crosslanes and Maesbrook before joining the road to Llynclys. There was more traffic on this main road but mostly well behaved although there was a bit of a moment when an APC delivery van had to back out of an overtake sharpish because of a car coming the other way.
I paused at Llynclys for a bite to eat and to remove layers as it had warmed up a lot since starting out. When I got going again I did wonder if I should have kept one of the fleeces on but I soon warmed up on the next climb and didn't think about it again. The road was a little busy initially but quietened down nicely once past the Llansantffraid junction.
The journey up the Tanat Valley was mostly pretty pleasant and I notice that there had been some resurfacing of the worst bits between Llanyblodwel and Llangedwyn. I spotted another rider ahead and wondered if I could catch them but they were quicker than me and I didn't see them again after getting caught at temporary lights at Llangedwyn.
Having turned off near Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant the proper climbing begins just after Pedair Ffordd with a sharp ascent followed by a drop into Penybontfawr. A longer but steadier climb up Cwm Hirnant (confusingly there are two Cwm Hirnants not far from each other) isn't too bad until past Hirnant itself when it ramps up quite steeply. I wasn't sure how I'd manage with this as I haven't ridden it for a long time but I wound my way up pretty well.
Having crested this climb there is a good descent to Llanwddyn..... or at least it would be good without the set of temporary traffic lights halfway down. It occurred to me that those probably wouldn't be much fun on the way back.
The final climb up to the dam was a little bit slow but it was great to be back here and looking at the wonderful view after an 18 month absence. I paused for my elevenses stop then carried on for my first lap of the lake. The wind was picking up a bit by now so progress started off a bit slow but I got into a rhythm and the cruising speeds weren't bad except on the bits where I was riding directly into the wind.
Having completed my first lap of the lake I went to get a coffee. The Old Barn wasn't open but Artisans is still there and busy - mostly with motorcyclists it seemed on this occasion. Having had my break I started out on my return lap. Again this was a slow start but I got along well once having wound up to speed. There were a few more people out enjoying the lakeside drive including a couple of horses and carriages which was nice to see. Rounding the head of the lake the wind really helped and I was getting along very nicely. I met the carriage drivers again and this time made sure of getting a photo. My lunch stop was taken back at the dam where I made the most of the view before having to start for home.
Getting back to Llanwddyn was fun on the twisty descent then the climbing starts again to get back over the hills. The return through the temporary traffic lights wasn't quite as bad as expected as the road was quiet, but they hadn't made any allowance for how long a bike would take to climb through the section. Fortunately the driver of the BMW waiting at the other end saw my predicament and patiently missed his turn allowing me to get through. I don't suppose they'll ever see this but my wave of thanks felt quite inadequate for the kindness of the act.
The climbing continued and I was pleased that the legs felt pretty good still. I took the alternative route back through Cwm Fedw and down the long descent back to Penybontfawr. I was really pleased that the legs still felt fine on the climb out of the village then with the wind behind me I had a cracking run back along the Tanat Valley. Allowing the following motorcycle and van to go through the traffic lights at Llangedwyn before me seemed to be much appreciated then the fast wind assisted run continued. The areas of the road that had been repaired were good apart from there being quite a thump on joining the new tarmac at speed.
After the Llansantffraid junction the traffic picked up again and I had a handful of close passes, then at the notorious Llynclys crossroads the driver of a Transit yelled something incomprehensible at me and was pointing at the back of the bike - I was stopping for a break in the village anyway so checked and couldn't see anything wrong - maybe he was objecting to me having my back lights on in daylight?
Getting off the busy roads as soon as possible seemed like a good idea so I turned to go past Waen Wen then to Maesbrook and retraced my steps through Crosslanes. At about the 90 mile mark I broke open the jelly babies for an energy boost which helped past The Royal Hill, Pentre and over the climb to Great Ness. I got over the climb between Montford Bridge and Bicton pretty well considering the miles in the legs by now. When I got to Shelton I thought I'd stick with the road as it was faster but I soon found the back of a traffic queue so ended up being quicker on the cycle paths after all.
Since I was feeling surprisingly good I got tempted to chase after a couple of slower cyclists. Unfortunately this was a bit too much at the end of a long ride and my right leg cramped with a mile to go and the left leg followed just a quarter of a mile from home. Take it easier next time!
105.75 miles at 13.9 mph moving average. Total time with all the stops was 9 hours and 45 minutes. Top speed was 37.2 mph.
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Taking a quick drink stop at Pedair Ffordd on the way up the Tanat Valley.
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At the top of the climb between Penybontfawr and Llanwddyn.
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Reaching the dam.
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The water extraction tower.
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A couple of shots as I head round the lake the second time.
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A nice way to travel through some lovely scenery.
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Last look at the lake before I have to leave.
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Climbing over the hills on the way back to Penybontfawr.
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Back to the flat lands just after Crosslanes.
Agree with you @Dave 123 , stunner of a day and more to come I think. Mostly tow-path riding on the gravel bike today, dodged a pheasant, some ducklings and a few other furry things, but so peaceful. Nice canal bridge north of Chester below. 13 lovely miles .
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