Sunday 25th March
I fell asleep at 6pm last night! I woke in the middle of the night for a couple of hours and wrote my blog, when I woke up this morning I spent an hour cleaning and checking over my bike.
For a change instead of starting with a steep uphill I had a very steep downhill to start the morning, this made me question my clothing choices for the day, but I was warm enough when I reached flatter ground. I was a little later than usual, mainly due to the clocks going forward and losing an hour of my morning so I had to contact Gareth who was joining me to tell him I was going to be an hour late. I kept seeing cars go past loaded with road bikes so I assumed the area I was travelling, the Llyn peninsular, was popular for cycling.
When I reached Harlech, I came across a triathlon and realised that is where everyone had been travelling to. I had a decision to make, whether or not to take my bags off and attempt the steepest hill climb in GB! I’m here so it’s worth an attempt right? I left my bags with one of the triathlon marshals who told me that most people don’t make it up the hill but described another route back I could take if I didn’t make it.
I found the bottom of the climb tucked down a little side street with no entry signs at the bottom, no one would risk trying to drive down this road … right? And there it was: a sheer wall in front of me that bent round to the right, I didn’t think it would be possible to walk up let alone cycle, so I sat for a while contemplating turning round, until I saw someone else come past and attempt it. It looked very tough but he made it round the first corner and disappeared up the rest of the climb! My turn, I put myself in my lowest gear and span my legs as quickly a possible, very quickly I was struggling with traction on my back wheel so I paid great attention on the surface of each patch of road. My legs stopped spinning and it became a grind, I pushed the pedals the hardest I ever had. Normally when climbing 25 percent gradients I climb slowly at about 3 mph, it’s always tough but being on three wheels I can sit and watch the gradient change on my Garmin and sometimes even take photos. I couldn’t even contemplate thinking about anything else other than the road and pedalling as hard as possible, for the first time in my life I thought my trike was going to flip backwards, I literally felt like I was cycling up a vertical wall! But I did it – I got round the 40 percent gradient bend and it eased down to 25-30 percent and was now manageable, I could zigzag the road picking my line more carefully. It was short and I could now see the top. There were families on their balconies watching the triathlon that started cheering me on as I reached the top (don’t worry the triathletes didn’t have to attempt this climb), I don’t think my new supporters could believe their eyes when I did it, I can’t even believe that I managed it! To my disappointment there was no view at the top or anything to signify my achievement other than some more narrow streets that I would have to descend to find my bags. With a massive smile on my face I loaded up my bike and continued on my route, this happened to coincide with the triathlon route. Often serious triathlon riders stacked in an aerodynamic racing position wouldn’t even glance up, yet alone acknowledge you but I had so many thumbs up and waves. Maybe they thought I was taking part, I kind of wish I was as once I had reached the end of their cycle route it would have been all over for the day.
I haven’t yet mentioned my toe/ foot, it really hurt and I had to ignore it, every single pharmacy on the peninsular was closed on a Sunday so I would have to wait another day to find a solution.
I met Gareth and we cycled together on a reasonably flat stretch for 15 miles. We stopped to have a look at the beautiful mountain scenery behind us and Gareth pointed out Mount Snowdon (the one with a little bit of snow left on the top). The scenery was breath taking and to make it even better the sun was shining and the sky clear blue. It was great chatting to Gareth and the miles ticked away, he told me about the European cycling holidays he goes on with his friends for a week every year and that he is supposed to be training for that.
We stopped for a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea and departed ways, I chatted to a couple of people outside the cafe one of which messaged me later to say I had inspired him to get back on his road bike!
The flat peninsular changed as I neared the end and became quite hilly, I was wrong about not finding a 20 percent gradient sign, as there it was clear as day at the bottom of a long steep hill. I was by this time cycling in a t-shirt as it was that sunny and warm!
I stopped for a drink sat outside in Aberdaron and spent a while watching the waves crash onto the beach and a little girl attempting to surf them. I continued onto The Lion Hotel and pub in Tudweiliog where I was staying. I was shown to my room, as usually when I have a room with a bath the first thing I do before even looking at my surroundings is turn the tap on and then the second thing I do is eat the complimentary biscuits whilst it is running! I don’t think about doing either of these things but they feel a necessity at the time. After a good soak I went down for dinner, I was told that the hotel were gifting me my room, which brought a happy tear to my eye, again shown great kindness by small local businesses.
I would usually pick one of the cheapest options on the menu but since I didn’t have to pay for my accommodation I thought I would treat myself the duck sounded so delicious I couldn’t resist and delicious it was and it came with a decent portion of peas! One of my best meals of the trip! I spoke to some regulars who visit the hotel every year and they told me of their walks along the beaches. This really is a beautiful area, it doesn’t feel like it gets as touristy as others but I am sure it gets much busier in the summer.
This area is a complete phone and internet blackspot so I had an evening without reading any messages of support which I really missed!
When I left in the morning there was an envelope left for me with £30 sponsorship from some friends of the pub, how kind and generous!
Thank you The Lion Hotel and to Gareth for cycling with me this morning.