Saturday 24th March
Another morning, another hill, a long one up to Aberystwyth and then another steeper one out. I felt really comfortable, with the only little niggle the fact that I am starting to get a blister, more of a pressure sore on my small toe. You would think that after 29 days this would have happened earlier on. I have very wide feet and have always had a problem with there not being enough space for my toes in cycling shoes but I thought I had figured this out with my Mavic winter boots. After a while of trying to figure out what to do, I forgot about it.
I had been warned of the hills on the coastal road via Borth, but it wasn’t enough to scare me off. The mixture of hairpin descents and steep climbs made for fantastic views and great cycling, although these were not very photogenic on this grey day. I wonder if tomorrow might be the first day I don’t come across a 20 percent gradient sign, today I found a 25 percent!
Once I reached the mouth of the river Dyfi I knew that the tough climbing was over for the day. For the first time in a while the gradient profile on my Garmin was a straight line. Rather annoyingly there is no bridge over this river mouth so I had to cycle 15 miles round via Machynlleth.
This marked the point of entering Snowdonia National Park and it’s 37 miles of coastline, it is exactly how you would imagine! The coastline luckily is reasonably flat, but the mountains are impressive and are a backdrop to all of the distant land views, thank goodness I don’t have to cycle over them! I had the well surfaced roads completely to myself for quite a long time and it felt special, it felt like a real adventure. The weather didn’t allow for great long distance views but I kept getting glimpses of the Llyn Peninsular that I will start making my way around tomorrow.
My sore legs were still remembering what to do and I was enjoying every pedal stroke, every new place and every view. The miles today were just disappearing, every time I looked I had ticked off another 10. I wish I could figure out what makes some days feel much easier than others, despite being similar in length and elevation!
Luckily there were bridges over the next couple of rivers I came to. Before reaching Barmouth I cycled on a gravel path from Fairbourne, I wouldn’t normally cycle on such a rough surface but the views were worth it and thankfully I didn’t have any punctures. I didn’t much enjoy cycling over the wooden bridge to Barmouth as I could feel the wheels going over every slat, but it was definitely easier than cycling round!
I had a very early dinner and then faced the challenge of cycling up the hill to the bunkhouse I am staying in. This was more than a hill and as I saw the gradient increase to 20 percent I laughed at myself and kept pushing my legs against the pedals. Who an earth would find accommodation after a long day at the top of the cliff?! The beautiful views became apparent from the top and I wish that I had the energy to climb higher than the bunkhouse but the road appeared to get even steeper and I don’t think I could have physically cycled up it.
I took off my cycle shoes to find that my small toe was contorted in a strange way and looking very swollen, I’m pretty sure the bones are in the right place but it’s hard to tell. I’m not really sure what to do about this as adding any extra padding will result in less space and could make the problem worse. I have covered it in SudoCream although there isn’t actually any broken skin. I’ve got one pair of thinner socks so will wear those tomorrow but I am open to any ideas or solutions! It’s a pretty small complaint though considering I have now been cycling almost everyday for 4 weeks! I can believe the progress I am making and how well my imperfect body is holding up!