Weekend Warriors

SATURDAY

Day four of this epic adventure and we didn’t get blown away in the night, despite huge wind and torrential rain. This day was always going to be a short mileage day as the Six Nations Rugby was on the agenda.

Amy kicked off the first leg from Loughor to Kidwelly and was treated to more strong winds. With no steelworks to mistakenly ride into, her journey was pretty straightforward.

Amys bike having a rest on the way to Kidwelly

Her only gripe was that we arranged to meet at Kidwelly Castle which happened to be uphill right at the end. Oops. My turn next and I coasted back down the hill back onto Route 4 heading west. All of this leg was on minor roads as I wound my way towards Ferrybridge. A quick look at the map told me I was in for a few hill climbs which my heavy legs didn’t like very much.

My bike having a rest north of Kidwelly

The view wasn’t too bad but it was a challenging cross country slog to reach the outskirts of Carmarthen. I had my eye on the time with Wales kicking off just after 2pm…there was a pub to get to! On reaching Carmarthen I almost ended up on a dual carriageway but managed to do a quick about turn and find the proper cycle route. Time was ticking, legs were heavy and the last few miles to Bronwydd Arms felt like pedaling through treacle.

We found a nice pub with a strange landlord who agreed that we could sleep in his car park. 100 minutes of Welsh rugby and a huge dinner later, we felt well rested and planned our route for Sunday. We got chatting to a couple from Bridgend who should have been at the France-Wales game but the husband  (a rugby referee) had torn his a achilles tendon. Ouch. So instead they had come away to sunny-not-sunny Carmarthenshire. After the Ireland-England game as part of our rugby-fest we said cheerio and the wife gave us a fiver towards Amys sponsorship. So if you know a Stephanie Evans from Brackla who has a husband on crutches then send our thanks! Oh and a big shout out to the sausages that the pub served in between the Wales and England game which we were obviously too full to eat…oh go on then just a nibble. I’m not a fan of sausage (ooh er matron) as I always moan about the lack of meat content and pasty pink colour – no meat looks like that pale pastel pink that you find in the ladies loos of old fashioned pubs! BUT…these sausages were unbelievably tasty. Packed full of meat with some kind of herbs – I think they were called Dragon sausages and I need to get my hands on some.

Sunday sees us ride into Pembrokeshire, give it a quick hi-five then ride out and up into Ceredigion to continue onwards and upwards into mid Wales. Dizzy has had another fine day of acting as look out and Chief Sleeper. All this fresh air and exercise is right up her street, but she’s not great at having photos taken!

SUNDAY

It was my turn to take the 1st leg today and we were on the road by 8am from Bronwydd Arms after a really early nights sleep. Weather was looking OK apart from a bit of wind. Boy oh boy did I pick a bad first leg…a few miles after relative flatness the route turned into a mammoth uphill that was just relentless 12-14% inclines. Great for the leg muscles, not so great for the soul. My resting point was a tiny little place called Cwmorgan, South of Newcastle Emlyn, deep in a valley and nestled on both sides of the Pembrokeshire / Carmarthenshire boundary. I was already looking forward to the downhill as soon as I started the uphill drag but it wasn’t the nice fast pace I was hoping for. It was an un-named road, pretty much a tarmac single lane track with lots of blind bends and hairpins. I locked both brakes on full and was still pelting down at speed! The campervan was a welcome site and I was glad Amy didn’t have to pick me out of the river / bushes at the end.

Our switch overs are now like a slick Formula 1 crew. Ok well maybe not that slick, but if there was a Formula 23 we’d give them a damn good run for their money. Whoever just arrived at the van starts to unhook the other bike from the rack, replacing one for the other. Whoever is about to set off gets all their cycling gear ready and can jump on their bike within a couple of minutes after a quick check of the map so we both know the route. While all this is going on, Dizzy takes the opportunity to have a mooch about and collect sticks. If only we had a camper with a log burner. Top teamwork.

Amys 1st leg took her up a few insane hills towards Newcastle Emlyn where she picked up Route 82 heading North East. Once she was down of the side of a hill it was more undulating terrain towards Llandysul where we were due to meet. No mobile / Internet signal meant zero communication which can be a little unnerving when you’re waiting for each other to arrive. But then before you’ve had a chance to eat something, tidy the van, get your kit together then a little head bobs into view and it’s time for the pit stop.

My 2nd leg was Llandysul to Lampeter and to be fair it was pretty albeit a bit lumpy. At times though I managed to get into top gear and blast along, taking in the scenery, endless rows of daffodils, spring lambs jumping for joy and an incredible amount of Red Kites. I pulled over just a few miles from my pit stop and watched about 15 of them all playing tag in the high winds, darting up and down and into each other before just hovering in one place ready for the next airborne antics.

Blossom, daffs and spring lambs hiding behind the tree

Final pit-stop of the day was a quick switch in Lampeter for Amy to take a last 10 miles up to Tregaron in deepest Ceredigion. She shot off while I pottered in the van and stopped off at Coop for rations. By the time I caught up with her she had motored on at some speed on a lovely wide and relatively flat tarmac road. I was jealous. When I caught up with her she was mid-snap with a road sign and was photo bombed by a horse.

Tregaron afforded me the luxury of Internet which meant I could find us a campsite for the night before Amy arrived. As we rolled up at the site having had another challenging but enjoyable day, the first words from the campsite owner was “Are you mad?” That was before we told him about the bike trip. I guess a Wintery Sunday afternoon doesn’t bring in many campers.

Monday will bring with it the challenge of getting to Powys. What’s in our way apart from the usual lumpy hills? Well there’s predicted heavy showers with strong winds up to about 2pm. One things for sure, we won’t be setting off in our usual morning routine if Wales is dumping swimming pools of water around us. We might just pootle about and act like tourists, desperate to find a wet-weather bolt hole for a few hours.

More updates tomorrow!

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