154 km, 1933m of ascent
I have had enough, im tired, hungry, my knee is giving me grief and i just want this flipping day to be over, I have over stretched again and spent far too much time admiring the landscape. To add to the woe’s, my bikes is sounding like a bag of spanners, running smooth, it is not. Its been making a troubling tat, tat, tat, ting, tat, tat…. noise, all day. if it was a shopping trolley they would probably take it out of circulation for audible offences, im sure.
Ok so a sense of humour failure is pretty common at this time of day on these things. but then I got another reminder of how frustrating theses things can be. “NO” a horrible sinking feeling hit me, as I noticed the landscape ahead was not what i was meant to be seeing, “something’s not right” , “no i couldn’t have “, map out, then “shite”…. “again”!!! Through pure head down ignorance and arrogance at the end of a long day 10 hour day, the map confirms, yes I have indeed, for the last 45mins been pounding away to crest this hill only to find, its the wrong one, and now I have to bike back down and then go up the correct on, flipping great. I don t want this, I want to be on the north coast now heading towards my secluded idyllic camp for the night, not doing this crap. An idyllic camp it would would not be though, this day had a few more surprises to come.
In pure me stylie, I decided upon this trip last minute, out on the bike for a few days and nights was most certainly what I wanted to do, though, right make it happen.
However the bike was far from being ready though, the bottom bracket has play, the rear hub bearings are shot, the pedal bearings on the right side have collapsed, the mech hanger is bent. And I was later to notice the rear mech was also twisted, great. Screw it though this weekend was going to be about outing a smile on my face.
With the North Wales coast bashed out the last few weeks a trip around the coast of Anglesey was the obvious next place I could give a try getting around as close to the coast as I could.
The route was planned. kinda, gear packed, everything charged. I did the best i could for the bike in the time i had, it got a wash and clean of the drivetrain and re lube. I indexed the gears, packed my bags and was ready for a train in the morning. I just had to pick up some things on route.
I broke the cardinal rule and forgot to eat before setting off, trying to get out of the door and suffered later as a result.
The train over to Bangor was cool, with my face stuck to the window i noted all the places I had ridden over the last few weeks, its a nice feeling to be so familiar with landscape your travelling through.
I got to do some thoughtful people watching to, I observed an elderly woman, be ignored by everyone as she searched for a seat, people would not even look at her, because they all knew what the right thing to do was. I pondered what is an acceptable level of selfishness? next to my bike, haha. I know in the past I have generally been all about pleasing people, being the best I can be for that person, whether it be friendship, work or relationships this is sometimes a good and a bad thing. This was a thought that I would ponder more over the next few days, how selfless and selfless is healthy in all aspects of life. One thing I know is this weekend would all be about pleasuring me, the priority was to enjoy it, put the miles in but actually appreciate and soak up the places I passed or stopped at.
Once at Bangor I set off, pretty much straight away the bike protested and began making a even worse noice, screw it, over the suspension bridge and onwards, the bike would survive or not.
The bridges looked stunning lit up on a beautiful day, such a cool place to start and end, it was on try and get as much around Anglesey off roads and as close to the sea as possible
My legs protested a little after an hour, which usually subsides but a lack of food had meant my energy levels were not great and were deteriorating, after some green lanes and trails etc, I fell back on the coast and a beach of fine pebbles, impossible to ride over so I had a beautiful hike a bike section.
Back out on land I found myself on green lanes, bridleways etc some sections were completely enclosed with trees, creating beautiful corridors of nature. Some so filled with gorse bush so although pretty is real nasty. On one bridle way I caught my helmet on a branch and was nearly garotted by the strap as I rode on, helmet stuck in the branch, i thought i had popped a rib.
Eventually I came across somewhere that did food and thought I should get something. Fuelled I set off.
Where its obvious that i had to walk, some of the sty’s I encountered, left no option but to lift the bike above my head and walk through, harsh, though this has become my just do it on all obstacles now, being quicker and less damaging to the bike, so a light bike is a big bonus.
Though one obstacle coming up may be more taxing, having been pushing my bike along a foot path I encountered a cow and a just born calf, as i got close passing I noticed the calf on its front knees and both mother and calf with bloody cords hanging from them, Amazing to see, i did not linger though.
Pressing on i came upon the stepping stones and having previously heard 2 have moved I wondered if it would be too much for the bike, loaded. Arriving it was obvious that 2 of them would be a pain, but i would work it out when I got to them. Shouldering my bike i passed the easy ones and came to the misplaced ones and decided to lower my bike into the upstream side of the river clamber across and drag the bike across to the next, this bit went well until i got to the next upright stone. This required me lifting the bike up onto the rock, holding it, so it didn’t drop into the river whilst climbing up along side it, testing for sure, maybe I should have just tried riding through it.!!! .
Fairly soon afterwards i found myself in the sand lined forests or newborough forest and then on to Newborough Beach. The beach, with the Rhinog mountains beyond was stunning, iv e never seen it in such good light. I have had both great and shite moments on this beach and having sat for a while pondering them, I went onwards to the island, glad of the happy ones.
The island was stunning , I carried the bike to the edge of a outcrop of rock and brewed up some instant tea, what a cool place to wait until the sun begins to set. There is something special about this island, it has a real peaceful zibe. After sitting around reminiscing on the headland and taking some cool pics for a while, I headed over to the north facing side, found a nice spot on top of a cliff, a natural bowl. I lay there for some time, until the sun began to set, then, time to go find a camp.
I set off along the coast in search for the perfect campsite, after much fussing and riding through wind destroyed forests i came upon a very remote spot on the edge of the forest and beginning of the dunes, sweet, just where I like to be.
With sun setting, bivy and camp set for the night, i enjoyed a rehydrated meal, which tasted so good, and a big mug of instant tea, sat atop a dune to capture the last of the day.
Waking to bright sunshine as soon as I opened my eyes was so real nice, i love bivying. Brew made and discovery that not only was my gas cannister on its way out but so was the battery in my camera, I set off with priority of finding gas for tonight on route, somewhere.
With a blast through the forest with bright sun shine piercing through the gaps between the trees, I knew today would be real good.
Going across the embankment of malltraeth sands was epic the views of snowdonia behind was magnificent. My anything cage had come off my bike the previous evening so with limited places to put it I put it around my bag up front and it made a super cool way to attach stuff and make a dialled cockpit, sweet.
Riding onwards towards Rhosneigr and hitting the dunes was interesting, even pushing a loaded bike through sand was taxing, biking impossible, even with 3 inch tyres on.
Hitting the beach I quickly found my special spot and hydrated and thought of the cool times I have had on this beach with cool people. After savouring the views I set off into the centre, past the best pizza place in the world.
Remembering I needed gas i went to all the shops in town and was directed to one, back the way I had come, around 3k’s away. Doh, fruitless despite the effort I headed back along the coast, i doubted given the length of time i spent in Rhosneigr I would make my camp tonight.
Along one deserted beach i spotted a couple in the distance along the beach, as they got nearer i could see they were heading my way, conscious that these may be walkers coming to grill me for riding, they turned out to be a really sweet couple who loved the idea of doing what i doing. We chatted for about 25 mins, about bikes, kit, tyres all sorts, it was cool, I got the impression I had inspired someone to have a go, i left smiling but under no illusion that I would not make my camp, unless I cut something out. I cracked on regardless, I would see how it went and make it up as i went along.
I really got my head down on this section, the mission was on to get to the camp to watch the sun go down, stopping only for a few minutes to fuel, I ate up the miles along the coast, lifting the bike at every sty, but the landscape around me was worth the effort. After some time i had to leave the coast and head along minor roads, it was then after some time i realised i had biked up the wrong hill, what a motivation sapper. Having corrected my course and set about on my new route, hunger was becoming a big problem, earlier that day, i had noticed i had not fastened one of my bags and my emergency pasty (haha) must have fallen out, doh. with no gas and no pasty I found a restaurant and was told they didn’t have spaces besides them being empty. Another restaurant was more accommodating and I ate real well next to my bike.
Motivated and fuelled I set off with the sun well on the way out, on the last leg to Porth Wen, a beautiful idyllic and remote camp for the night. It was a real slog on the legs even having fuelled my legs protested all about how tired they were for the next hour.
It never occurred to me that there would likely be anyone else there besides me, so when i arrived at the trail head to find cars parked, my bubble burst, o well maybe there wont stay. After a few fence and sty lifts i came upon the pathway down through the ruins to the headland beyond. As I descended a gorse lined passage, and scramble with the bike, I noted someone coming behind me at speed, a young lad around 17 appeared, wearing a stone island jacket, bugger. I got to the top of the ruins tired, scratched and at a end energy wise. I stood on the edge of a concrete floor, eyeing below me where i wanted to camp, I could not see a way down, two levels below, i turned and asked the lad that was just stood behind me, he nodded behind me behind a building “down there” great, this was not what i needed, this is not what I envisioned, struggled to achieve tonight.
Reaching a lower level of the ruin the lad gestured the way down a steep bank, great. As I slid the bike down the bank, knowing full well, getting the bike up in the morning would be a bitch, the lad enquired ” do you have a spare fag mate?”, “No, sorry”. Reaching the bottom the lad stood around me loitering for an age, I asked him if he was with the others putting up tents, he mumbled something. Sensing something not right, it hit me, one lad, two youngish adults too young to be his parents, mmm. I pushed my bike over and said hello’s and noted yep, these were carers and its 2 to 1, not good.
After a few minutes it kicked off with the kid throwing camping equipment around and over the side of the harbour, things escalated for over a hour, ending in restraint of the kid and several full on grapple fights, accompanied with screams and cries by all three, at one point the lad was hitting the carers with rocks, I did not want to get involved, cursed my luck and waited it out. After the kid had been suitable restrained and all there camping equipment trashed they set off, yay.
Now well dark I set up my bivy, lay down and watched the stars, with the sound of waves crashing on the shore below. I initially worried about how I would get my bike up the bank between the ruins in the morning and how much my knee was hurting from today, before settling into more harmonious thoughts of how lucky i am to be able to do these things, the things I see and experience.
The next morning I awoke to less than sunny weather, but the surroundings were still beautiful, the old ruins looked really cool and interesting, having got up and explored them some, I made a instant tea with cold water and was surprised to find it actually worked and tasted nice, ace.
Right plan for the day, I had found the emergency pasty and decided firstly to have it at the top of the scramble out, secondly with my knee in a bad way, the bike, being in a even worse state i would bash out the north east coast of the island back to Bangor by road, a cop out i know. having taken the bike apart to get it up the bank, i sat sweating and retrieved my pasty out of the bag, it slipped and fell apart with bits falling on the tiny gravel floor, great. I brushed most of the bits off and ate the bitty pasty, thinking, it cant be bad to eat stones, dogs do it all the time, o well, at least bits without the gravel were nice.
The journey back to Bangor was pretty uneventful, apart form nearly being taken out by a motorhome mirror. I was riding up a hill, when I heard the high gear roar of a vehicle behind me, it seemed to be getting real close, the next thing I feel the wind rush past my ear and notice a mirror pass my face by around 5 inches away, i saw the mirror pass over my arm, it was sketchy and probably the closest i have come to being taken out on a road.
Back over the bridge and off to Bangor it is, happy to have done it, another bashed out. The bike now needs a full strip down and rebuild, its been hammered these last weeks, now needing a ton of new parts, doh.
lessons to be learnt,
- remember new gas cannister if very small ones.
- charge all bits inc camera
- remember to reset watch (constant need)
- loss some more weight on the bike
- stop riding over hills and mountain i dont need to