Poor sleep but a good breakfast, after which we phoned Llani Bikes, conveniently across the road from the hotel but didn’t open until 10:00. The owner kindly agreed to open earlier to supply and fit a Schwalbe Marathon Plus rear tyre to Rowan’s bike.
The mountain road to Machynlleth is spectacular but also very steep in places. We plunged down to the Clywedog dam and pushed up, no chance of cycling with laden bikes. Then on and up through Staylittle and Dylife and down to Machynlleth in time for lunch at the vegetarian Ty Medi cafe, sitting outside to keep an eye on the bikes. We’ve eaten in this building many times before, it was formerly the Quarry Shop and owned by the Centre for Alternative Technology. Also sitting out was a solo woman bikepacking from her home in the Isle of Wight to Cape Wrath, mainly off road.
After this welcome break in the warm sunshine, we had to regain height through the former slate mining communities of Corris and Aberllefenni and then up a narrow track and over a hill towards Dolgellau. At the summit it started to rain, the wind strengthened and we stopped to put our waterproofs on. Christine set off downhill first but failed to spot a gate across the road in the mist and rain until it was too late to stop, and crashed into it. Luckily she suffered only a few bruises and the bike waas undamaged so we carried on down to the A road to the Cross Foxes junction where we turned to ascend a single track back road to Dolgellau.
Finding herself in a high gear instead of walking to a level section Christine put too much pressure on her pedals and the chain split at the point of its Bala repair. The link was deformed but we managed to rejoin it, only for it to break again after a few metres. Luckily it waas downhill almost all the way to Dolgellau after that inittial rise so she was able to coast down. There was additional incident at the junction while we were dealing with the chain. A van ran into the back of one waiting at the junction, both drivers jumped out, squared up to each other trading obscenities, then the rear one drove off.
It was early evening by now, and the bike shop was closed. We found a taxi that could take her and the bike to our overnight accommodation in Barmouth, when it arrived we established that Rowan could also be fitted in so they both went off wwhile I cycled the level Mawddach Trail to the seaside town. It’s a delightful run along the estuary in calm sunny weather but today it was cold and grey riding into the strong west wind. On reaching the coast, I was battered by the crosswind over the bridge and along the promenade, arriving shortly after 20:00.
We’d planned to meet our friend Joe in Harlech tomorrow but with no bike shop in the town, the only feasible option was to take the train to Porthmadog in the hope of getting the chain replaced.
72.4 km, 1368 m of ascent