The 2019 Welsh Rideout
At 10 am Monday on a sunny day 10 riders met at Windle Island and shortly after Dave lead off us off over the new Runcorn bridge to Frodsham and up into Delamere Forest for coffee at the station. On then to Prees Heath for a stop at the truck stop where Steve joined us. On through Wem to the A470 and down to Welshpool arriving at around 3pm.
A new marquee had been erected for the bikes this year and we were grateful for it in the days to come. Diane soon arrived to let us in so we could change and head into town.
The evening progressed with a walk into town to the Silver Fish for a meal. A drink in the Angel and back to the Westwood Park for more drinks for an early turn in.
Tuesday dawned grey and raining. The decision to do the Llangollen run was made and at 10am we set off to fuel up at the garage. Richard then led the 12 riders up the A490 towards Trefnanny and then on to the A495 to Llansantffraid where the first turn off was blocked with a road closed sign. We followed the diversion sign a few miles down the road and expected to be redirected from this road but no more signs were visible. We were now flying by the seat of the pants. A few logical turns actually brought us to Pen-y-bont where the road we should have come up was passed with its road closed signs across the entrance. We arrived at our tea break stop to find it closed, but we spent a few minutes in a yard full of old tractors and a split screen Moggy minor. Without refreshment we set off again. Richard missed his next left turn in Llansilin and navigated through what must be the worst paved roads in the country, but in the general direction required and by dead reckoning came to Glynn Ceiriog where the proper course was resumed down into Llangollen. We pulled off here just before the bridge and parked on a newly flagged area by the war memorial but an irate lady came and told us in no uncertain tone that we should not park there and we should go, so we did! Off up the horseshoe pass covered in cloud to the Ponderossa cafe at the top. Here we went inside and flooded the floor with all our wet kit. A good long break was had looking out at the gale force wind driving rain horizontally through the bikes on the car park. It is no surprise that when we came to start for the next leg several bikes refused to come to life. A bit of drying out and pushing eventually got them into life and off we went.
A few miles after the turn back down towards Corwen we only had 3 riders so Richard went back to find out what the problem was, only to find the others just setting off from a breakdown. A mile or so down the road the convoy stopped again as the troubled bike was still spluttering so Richard went down to tell the others to go to Carrog rail station to get in out of the rain and we would meet there. After returning to see the poorly bike finally started we set off again but somehow the following riders missed the turn to Carrog and Peter went to the train Station at Corwen where he had an unfortunate incident with a muddy pothole and came off breaking his footbrake lever. He carried on back to Welshpool while the others came to Carrog station to find Richard who, by this time, was just leaving as the cafe was closing. The .previous riders had left a message they were returning to Welshpool via the A5 so that is also what we did. At the traffic lights in Llangollen Dave’s bike played up with a huge backfire so we pulled over and after a bit of engineering we found his fuse was dodgy. After replacing it the bike started and off we went in the still pouring rain for a very wet 40 mile ride to Welshpool.
After changing out of the wet gear a lot of work was performed on the dodgy bikes and then we all went into town for a drink and meal at the Silver Fish before returning to the Westwood for a nightcap. Phil came to tell us he had been asked to move his tent from where he was camped as the river was about to inundate the site and even though options were available for him to stay he decided to call it a day and went home. Diane allowed us to hang all our wet gear in the rooms behind the bar which was heated so most of the gear had dried out by morning. Peter let us know that as his bike was not repairable he loaded it into the van and set off home too.
Wednesday dawned just as Tuesday had, pouring rain, so we all kitted up to follow Dave on a trip up lake Vrnwy to Bala. John’s bike refused to start but after some fettling it woke up and we set off for the petrol station. After filling up John’s bike refused to start again. He told us to carry on and he would sort it. We all set off again only to have Dave’s bike coming to a standstill popping and banging about 5 miles out. He changed the coil and checked the connections and it started but he was worried about carrying on, so Alan accompanied him back to the Westwood while Richard and Dave L led the group up to the dam on lake Vrnwy and on round the lake into the clouds at the top of the valley. The roads had bits of tree and leaves fallen from the forest canopy in the gale of Tuesday plus many deep road wide floods to cross. At the top of the valley the road was in cloud so as Dave knew the way we decided to follow him and go straight to over to Bala. There was a slight navigation error made and we missed the rail station at Llanuwchllyn and went directly to Bala and the visitor centre. Here we dried off a bit having lunch and decided to ditch the scenic ride home through the narrow lanes as the rain was torrential, we then headed back via the B4391 directly to Welshpool. The road back was very wet and it is a very exposed and windy road. At one hairpin bend Richard clipped the nearside white line, lost grip and slid off, luckily only at 10-15 mph. The badge bar took the brunt of the fall and saved the rest of the bike but the bike had to be lifted off the rider as his leg was trapped under it. A bent badge bar and footrest was all the damage and Richard was OK so the bike was started and we set off again, perhaps at a slightly slower pace round the corners.
We arrived back at about 4pm and found that John had fettled his bike and had actually ridden up to the dam but as we didn’t stop at the cafe he missed us and rode back. Dave seemed to be happy he had found a few things that may have caused his problem and fixed them. Tony and John helped Richard bend the badge bar back straight and few other adjustments to other bikes took place.
We had arranged for Diane to cook us all a meal at the Westwood that night so we all stayed in and around the bar awating the meal which was a lovely Lasagne dish with apple pie and custard to follow. We then spent the rest of the evening in the bar lounge.
Thursday breakfast was the last day for Elaine, Diane’s mum, to do the breakfasts as she was off on a trip to London. She was thanked for her cooking and attention and presented with a small box of chocolates as a thank you. But hurrah the day had dawned dry! Not wanting to tempt fate all waterproofs were donned, all bikes started and we assembled at the petrol station. From here Richard led the group up past Powis Castle and through the lanes, which comprise part of the national cycleway to llandiloes. We were to have stopped at the Red Lion Inn at Trefelgwys but it appeared to be closed so we carried on to the back up stop in Llanidloes where we stopped for refreshments at the Old Oak Cafe. A super cafe with loads of cakes to tempt the traveller.
From llandiloes we took the A470 and A44 down to Ponterwyd. This was a slight diversion to the planned route as the single track country roads on this section were likely to be flooded. At Ponterwyd we turned right to Nant-y-Moch up a very scenic road to the dam at the end of the reservoir. We passed large highland bull as we approached the dam and it studiously watched each rider pass and didn’t seem at all perturbed! It did not seem to be tethered and had free range of the moor at that point. A beautiful .moorland road then took us all round the western side of the reservoir and then down into the valley beyond from which there were beautiful views of the farms and hills down to Talybont and the Irish sea.
On arrival at our lunch stop in Talybont we stopped outside the White Lion pub which proudly displayed an OPEN sign but it was closed. At that moment a man came round the corner and informed us that Caffi Gruff was open 100 yards up the road so most of us marched up to sample their wares. I think a Welsh 100 yards is longer than an English 100 yards as we would have been better re-mounting and riding there. The Cafe is quaint. Made in an old Methodist Chapel there were cable drums on the floor turned on their sides to make tables and on one, parts of a half dismantled pushbike were arrayed with the bike itself hung up on a bike stand beside it. On the wall was a framed picture of the highland bull up at the dam and it seems the animal is a local celebrity. The lad operating the cafe took orders for the cakes and the only thing on the menu, scrambled egg on toast, and proceeded to studiously work through the orders. A chap came in with a very similar moustache as the lad and he turned out to be the lad’s father who had converted the chapel to an apartment upstairs and the cafe below. He was a very personable fellow and told us he and his son were associated with the Ribble Riders Cycle Club so he knew the Preston area well.
After a pleasant half hour or so we wandered back to the bikes and set off again for Machylyneth. We turned off the A 489 to get to Carno where we turned left to Cefn Coch where the tea stop had been planned. Surprise surprise the Pub was shut so we carried on to the backup stop at the railway cafe at Llanfair Carrenion. On the way there a rider (who shall remain nameless) did a bit of a diversion to miss an oncoming car on a sharp bend and almost led the rest of the group up the wrong road. However the group reformed and carried on to the station cafe.
The short ride back to Welshpool saw us arrive at the Westwood at around 4:30 after a very nice ride with no bike issues.
We all changed and went to the bar lounge to relax and at 6:15 Diane called us in for a Steak and Ale Pie and Shepards Pie dinner followed by ice cream. We all then retired to the Bar for the rest of the evening.
Friday. At breakfast time we thanked Diane and Titch for their hospitality and presented Diane with some flowers, chocolates and an AMOCNW hi vis vest and invited her to join us anytime on one of our rides as an honorary member. She was suitably surprised and happy to accept our thanks and invited us back anytime.
A dry day was promised for our ride back but waterproofs were still donned just in case. The scene as we left Welshpool was quite eye opening as we drove out on the A483 the road appeared to be going across a lake as all the farmland each side was under water. Apparently 3 months of rain had fallen in the last 2 days! No wonder we got wet!
John’s carburetter top decided to go its own way at one point but he soon screwed it back on and we carried on to Llanymynech where we turned right towards Wem. Steve left us at this point to go home via Oswestry. The crossing of the A5 is a horrendous task with high speed traffic coming from almost blind bends to the crossroads. But we all eventually made it across safely and at Prees Heath we stopped for a drink. On then towards the Delamere railway station for our lunch and many removed their waterproofs as the day was turning out to be quite sunny. On then to the new Runcorn Bridge where Cliff Left us at the M62, Soon after crossing the A580 John left us to use the M58 and then Tony turned off to go home via Aughton, the final five carried on to Rufford for a stop at Fettlers Wharfe before Dave left us with the final four all heading home to the Preston/Fylde area.
A great week was had by all despite the very wet start and poor Peter breaking his bike.
I am sure we will all look back on the experience with mixed feelings but I for one enjoyed the trip and the camaraderie in the various situations we found ourselves.
Three good riding days out of five can’t be bad in the English/Welsh summer!