Searching for Dragons

July 2016

3 Days - 532km - 5650m

Having found myself in Birmingham, and having a few free days, I set off to explore Wales.

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Completely unplanned and ‘winging it’ I set off west and hoped for the best, following minor roads where possible and sleeping when I got tired.

As expected riding out of Birmingham was an awful experience, confusing junctions and major roads combined with heavy traffic. The border was crossed around Knighton and the peaceful Welsh B-roads were a pleasure. My first night was spent behind a hedge on the outskirts of a farm.

Day two took me into the Snowdonia National Park and followed the coast north. The beaches of Wales were captivating, a complete unknown and beautiful surprise. Lunch was eaten at the Blue Lion in Harlech (a fave) before climbing up through Blaenau Ffestiniogg and descending all the way to the border. Camp spots were few and far between and I camped on the edge of a field behind some sort of industrial depot, completely void of sheep at night, I awoke surrounded by several hundred.

The final day was a bland frustrating slog back to Birmingham. My hope of efficiency was scuppered by a deceased Garmin and compounded by Google Maps being horrendously useless in cycle mode. Having decided upon Google’s suggestion of following the canal system back into Brum, I was quickly delivered to section upon section of unridable, overgrown towpath and bridleway; manually routing at each of the many junctions in order to stay on course.     

Some lessons were learnt on this ride, common sense things that perhaps get lost when riding solo with a mind elsewhere. Lessons like napping next to a busy road in thirty degree heat may cause drivers to worry about you, stop and check you’re alive. Lessons like storing left over Chinese in a black box in said heat for three days before consuming is bad. Finally, buying six litres of water at the base of a cat 2 climb is misjudged.

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