The day started well with an amazing cooked breakfast at the B&B, much better than a improvised meal we would have made if we had camped out. Think I may be getting soft. Our plan for the day was to ride to our friend Anna’s house to again avoid the horrendous weather. We were also going to pick up Ian today at the farm he lives on near Devils Bridge. This was a slight detour off the course but nothing too bad. We reckoned we could get to the farm for lunch and to Anna’s by the end of the day.
The ride started on a cycle path out of Rhayader as we headed up the Elan valley where you eventually climb up to the Claerwen Reservoir. Unlike the previous day, it was sunny, dry, warm and frankly perfect weather for riding. We both started to really enjoy the ride as the miserableness of the day before began to fade from our minds. The route took us up a stunning tree lined lane and eventually to a road so steep and the sun so hot we had to walk/sweat up it. Lovely indeed.
At the top it turns to great grassy tracks that at times are hard to follow and if you are not careful its easy to take the wrong trail. We had the route on a Garmin Etrex 20x however even with this we went wrong a few times. It is particularily important that you do take the right trail as there are so many valleys, it would be very easy to get way off track and add in a bunch of extra climbing. Little stream crossings criss cross the route and again are simply beautiful. So far so good!
The best part of the morning was delightedly all like this, and somehow got better with an amazing track along the river leading to Claerwen Reservoir that is clearly submerged and a river bed when it rains hard. It was rough, full of loose rocks and great fun. It ended with a huge ford when surprise surprise, it started absolutely pouring with rain. Thankfully there were some public toilets in a carpark the other side of the ford we could hide in.
I think looking back this is where it started to go wrong for me as the cold had set in. When there was a slight break in the rain, we continued up and around the reservoir. The track was heavily used by 4×4’s with a group of 4 or 5 land rovers up ahead we tried to catch up with. The track follows the edge of the reservoir so take you in to every inlet making it a lot longer than it seems. It was, like this paragraph, a little dull to be honest. Afterwards we did ride past some lovely pools (Teifi Pools) which we were reliably informed were filled with water all the way from Sweden via an aquifer, we were not convinced however.
The rain was on and of for the rest of the day and after seeing a hare in a field near Ysbyty Ystwyth (yep thats spelt correctly) we were nearing the farm. Although it was now mid afternoon so we were already several hours late and I was starting to suffer. When we joined the road up to the farm my legs were shot and was absolutely freezing. Rich of course is a machine and was fine. The ride up past Devils Bridge to the farm finished me off.
We were met at the farm by a house full of people and everyone had just started on the Gin after giving up on us arriving! Ian was very kind and didn’t make me feel bad for not being able to carry on. Some hot food, a Gin and sitting around covered in blankets was just what was needed. The ride turned into hanging out at the farm, shooting an air gun, eating amazing food, drinking lots of tea and generally not being wet and cold.
There was one problem though, this farm is Dafydd and Kate’s and we all do like a drink or two. However it does get to a point where Kate turns into a pirate after a few too many rums leaving you afraid to go to bed otherwise she may decapitate you in your sleep or at least harm you. Thankfully at about 3am she decided to ride off into the night with Rich (more evidence he is a machine) to help their friend get home to look after his dog. Now a day of riding, being on the verge of hyperthermia and then being forced (yes we were forced!) to stay up till 3am drinking was not a good idea.
Look out for the next post to see if we make it to the end! (Hint we stayed up until 3am drinking and avoiding a pirate).