Having not sat on a bike for about two months now, deciding to ride in North Wales might seem like a fools errand. I’d persuaded Dad to bring his old road bike up, and had it in my head to ride along the coast road from Barmouth to somewhere…
Checking the forecast, I knew it’d be headwind all the way heading north out of Llanaber, but we were just planning a steady ride. Not too warm or too cold, but with that cheeky NNW wind, there was a slight nip in the wind when we set off at 10.00.
I know the main villages well along this stretch, many years of staying up this way has drilled the names (and pronunciation) into my head.
Talybont, Dyffryn, Llanbedr.
Dad tells me things he knows or has seen along the entire route. We both know the Ysgethin Inn in Talybont, and the Vic in Llanbedr.
‘Used to be three petrol stations here.’ He tells me as we pass through Dyffryn. I vaguely remember one of the others, up on the left where some kind of merchant has set up shop.
‘We went in this chapel here a few years back and signed the guest book. Only to see my uncle had been here the week before and signed it too.’
Dad isn’t a 100% where the chapel is, or was, and it was back in the 60’s he thinks.
I love the history we have tied in up here, our family many generations ago owned the Cwm Bychan valley.
‘We can go this way into Harlech.’ Dad stops me and points at a sign to Llanfair. I’ve been sat on the front into that cheeky headwind the whole way, so when we start heading uphill, I overheat so badly I have to stop halfway up and get rid of my gilet.
The road suddenly crests, with the Afon Dwyryd and the estuary in front of us. One hell of a spectacular view, people on the beach smaller than ants, Snowdon veiling itself in the clouds and rain battering down out toward Cricceith at sea.
We drop into Harlech, only to find a dead end – so we scramble down the footpath in the park and come out at the back of the castle.
‘The steepest hill in Britain is here,’ Dad points and shows me the 40% sign. I half hesistate as we start to make our way down, finding the top tube is a better place to sit, until I hear a car behind me and have to scoot into someone’s driveway. We look at each other and laugh, before Dad starts walking down the side of the twisty road. Not knowing the road, and seeing some of the bends already, I scramble down the next bit to the corner. We stop and laugh again, before Dad tells me he thinks the next bit will be fine (I won’t mention that it got so steep coming up to the corner that Dad had to run across the road and nearly crashed into the wall opposite!)
I swing my leg over and clip in, wondering if this is wise after seeing Dad skid – actually skid – to a stop and the back end of the bike rise up off the floor. Then I think ‘ah sod it’ leave one foot unclipped and sit on the top tube as I wend my way around the corner and thankfully find it flattening out enough to get back in the saddle!
This leaves us at the bottom of Harlech Castle, somewhere I definitely will go next week, I may even try riding down the hill again!
We head on towards Penrhyndeudreath, and find a lovely cafe for toasted teacakes and tea, before I persuade Dad we should head on to Cricceith.
A quick stop in Porthmadog, and then at my insistence, instead of heading through the country roads, we head up the main road, mostly on the footpath as the road is rather busy.
It’s been good riding today. Perfect weather with a knackering headwind, 99% respectful drivers, astonishingly smooth roads and great company with my Dad!