A frustrated 'Born Again Pedaler' was determined to 'do the deed' this weekend, come hell or high water!
After completing the first week in my new job and failing, each evening, to go for a ride due to being absolutely done in, I was in 'man on a mission' mode this Saturday morning. It was quite sad to see my Koney, all lonely and neglected for a whole week, as she glistened in all her newness. "Never mind" said Hans, "I vill give you ze ride of your life, maen godt, I vill!". After slapping my own face to remove thoughts of German porn movies, (not that I've ever....) I trundled her out into the daylight. My goodness, she really was gleaming, all new and shiney, in the morning light. Not that it was sunny. That would be far too much to expect for August, but at least it was'nt raining although a tad windy.
Rather like some kind of Superhero, donning my gear really does seem to turn me into Hans, my alterego German cyclist, although I have'nt quite taken to do the usual stereotyping goose-stepping things quite yet and, as for Lady Gilbo, is she eyeing me with some libidious plan, there, from the kitchen window or, does she wonder where it's all gone wrong? I've certainly managed to puzzle her, which is a good healthy thing, I think, you know, keeping them guessing 'n all that.
Whilst trying to nod off each night, lately, I have been planning good cycling routes that would avoid any of the bigger 'heart attack' hills, and I had visualised one, in particular, that I would try out this Saturday morning. The route would take me, via all the little back roads that trace the high ground above Cwm Cych, through the village of Abercych, and along a lovely wee road that follows the River Teifi to the old bridge at Llechryd. From there, after a pit stop, I would do my first proper 'main roader', heading back on the opposite bank of the river to Cenarth and then take a right, back onto the little roads, heading for home. Seems simple, seems good, seems, er, easy.
I do not wish to harp on about it but, as pointed out in my last two blogs, I am unfit. My enthusiasm, however, cannot be faulted, and so, with a feeling of freedom and adventure I had not experienced in years, I set off with a purpose.
As stated before, I live right up, on one of the highest hills in Carmarthenshire and so, with a small thought of irony, it was all downhill from here! Fairly wizzing along, by the time I had reached Capel Iwan ('bout 3 miles), my poor, rather prominent ears, were aching like billio. Jolly good that I'd packed my skullcap, and did'nt really care that I must have looked like a HiViz medieval monk to any villagers spying on me from their net-curtained windows, as I pulled the cap tightly over my ears and put my lid back on. Man, it was cold!
So glad of these brakes! These hills are steep! And bumpy! Turned off onto a road I had'nt previously cycled on, indeed I think, only driven on a couple of times, rounded a corner and found myself spraying thro' a thick layer of fresh cow slurry! "Donner Und Blitzen!!" screamed Hans. There was no escaping, it covered the whole road and went on for a good 50 yards. I was plastered! Up my legs and, I'm sure (cos I could hear it), all up my back. Oh no....... and as for my beautiful gleaming bike, it looked like I'd been doing some hard-core mountain biking thro' Irish bogs! Oh well, I thought, after wiping the tears (and poo) away, this is all part of the adventure. I stoically carried on, like a brave little soldier.
What a pretty little place the village of Abercych is, not seen from the main road that cuts over the bridge. Note to would be cyclists; just one of the many positives of cycling, you see (and hear) so much more from the saddle of a bike than you would from your 'lazy persons' car, right? Where was I? Oh yes, Abercych. Must have been an old quarry down there at some time in it's history, judging by the houses, and the narrow road, that leads to Llechryd, is a long row of higgledypigglediness. I'm really enjoying this ride. Not far out of Abercych the road divides into two, a sort of high road/low road affair, the lower being unsuitable for anything much wider than a donkey and cart, it seemed. Down I go. Oh, this is nice! I am now following the River Teifi and practically at the same level. I don't know why but this little road seems to have transported me back to my carefree youth, willows and rivers, traffic free and birdsong. Glorious. Even forgotten about the cows**t episode. Eventually arrived at the bridge at Llechryd. I had promised myself that this would be a re-fuelling stop and, by this time, I was sorely in need of it.
The ancient single track bridge at Llechryd has those 'vee cut' passing places on it. An ideal place to rest up, sitting right over the river. Not too shabby, at all. Sat there, eating my banana, sipping my water and generally taking it all in. Even the sun had popped his cheeky wee head out from the clouds. Aahh, the peace! At least it was, until I heard the pop pop popping of a powerful motorbike coming my way. Two bikes, Harleys, but not the cool ones. These were the ones that had all the trimmings, ashtrays included, probably. Big guys ridin' em too, beards an' all. What made me laugh was that someone had written the word 'Gay' in the dirt of the bikes rear mudflap. The rider had obviously not noticed this! (tee hee!). (please note; I have no objection to any sort of sexual orientation, it was just the picture of these two muscle machines, one with 'Gay' on the mudflap, riding over this tiny bridge, in the middle of nowhere, it just made me laugh, ok?).
So, now for my first real 'A' road. Not too bad actually, the road surface was smooth and most welcome after the hand tingling single track ones. Bank Holiday weekend. This is the road from Cardigan to Carmarthen so it's quite busy, but I'm doing ok. Glad I'm wearing my HiViz jacket, especially in the wooded bits and the cars seem to be giving me some respect. I don't want to be too close to the verge (drains) but I don't want to be too far out to be a danger either. I suppose you've got to strike a sensible balance between the two. Saw three 'proper' cyclists coming the other way, just managed to raise a hand of acknowledgment, without wobbling, and received a friendly cheer back. Phew! no loss of face....
Reached Cenarth. By this time I was getting a bit pooped, so I pulled in, briefly, by the Falls. I really did feel like Hans the Tourist there, thought about shouting "I'm local, y'know", but pedalled off, away from the camera snappers. Somewhere, someone will have a picture of Cenarth Falls, with HiViz Hans in the background. How funny. Totally underestimated the back-road hill leading up the side of the valley. "Maen Godt" wheezed Hans. It started of steep and, gradually, got steeper and steeper. This was, seriously, too much for me. Even Mr. Enthusiastic told me to stop forthwith. The ol' ticker was tickering more than a ticker should ticker, so I dismounted and calmed down a bit. Quite surreal, puffing away, as the sound of rapid gunfire echoed up from the Paintball Activity Centre. I felt I was 'on the run'! I admit, I did a stint of pushing me bike, until I'd recovered my faculties and the hill had levelled out to a more acceptable degree.
The next 'homeward' section I had tackled before and bore no more surprises for me. I finally reached home, one very, very tired cookie. On reflection, I think this trip was a bit too much, too soon, for an old 'un like me but, ya gotta try, innit? Went onto Google Maps and retraced my journey using mymaps/distancetool and found I'd done 21 miles! S'pose that's nowt to you boys n' girls in 'Holland' type land but, to us 'Hill Hobbits' and 'Haggii' that's not too bad at all.