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Wales in July/August

Old 02-13-15, 11:20 AM
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Wales in July/August

I'll be flying to Manchester Airport from the USA, then take a taxi from Manchester to Chester where I will take a power nap, get the bike assembled, and walk around the ancient town. The following day, my ride begins.

My Proposed Route:

Day 1 - Chester to Rhyln - Chester to Rhyl, Day 1 - A bike ride in Chester, England -36 MILES
Day 2 - Rhyl to Bangor - Rhyl to Bangor Day 2 - A bike ride in - 41 MILES
Day 3 - Bangor to Bangor (no bags) - Castle Ride - 34 MILES
Day 4 - Bangor to Harlech - Bangor to Harlech D4 - A bike ride in Bangor, Wales - 48 MILES
Day 5 - Harlech to Machynlleth - Harlech to Machy D5 - A bike ride in Harlech, Wales - 36 MILES
Day 6 - Machynlleth to Llandrindod Wells - Machy to Lland D7 - A bike ride in Machynlleth, Wales - 47 MILES
Day 7 - Llandrindod Wells to Brecon - Lland to Brecon D8 - A bike ride in Llandrindod, Wales - 43 MILES
Day 8 - Brecon to Cariff - brecon to cardiff d9 - A bike ride in Brecon, Wales - 52 MILES

Total Miles: ~360
Total Elevation: ~19084 FT


I'll be doing this during the last week of July/First week of August. Thats when the timing works best for me.

I'll be there for 2 weeks, with 9 days of riding (or thereabouts). I get a full weekend in Cardiff at the end of the riding, before taking a train back to Chester on a 'travel' day, before having another full day in Chester, the following day I fly back.
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Old 02-13-15, 07:51 PM
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You don't ask a question so I'm not sure what you are looking for. I have been following your thread at the CTC forum and made a couple of comments there. Now that you've posted your latest route here, I have extended my comments below.

I rode the Lon Las Cymru in September, 2014. I started in Holyhead and ended in Chepstow. I wrote a detailed journal of the ride with lots of photos, if you are interested.

I rode most of your days 4 through 7.

My deviations:

Day 4: I rode the very steep section above Harlech instead of taking the A496.
Comments: The A496 was part of the diversion to get around the bridge that was out just past Porthmadog. It is a narrow windy road with fast traffic north of the bridge. I didn't ride it past where the bridge meets it, as I turned off and went over the hills, which was one of the hardest bits of touring I've ever done. The hill route came back to the A496 in Llanbedr, as I was too tired to take the Sustrans route. That part of the A496 was still narrow but with more traffic. I spent as much time as I could on the pavement (sidewalk) to try and avoid all the traffic. I did do this near rush hour. Here is what it was like (I waited to take this photo when there weren't any cars):


I should mention the area east of Llanbedr, along the Afon Artro. It was along a pretty river and some of the best views of the trip, if you like bucolic river scenes.



Day 5: I rode A470 and the A487 from Dolgellau to Corris instead of going up and over the hill.
Comments: The highest point on the Lon Las Cymru was between Dolgellau and Corris. I was too sore to attempt it so, instead, I took the two A roads. The A470 actually had a bit of a shoulder! The A487 was narrow but didn't have much traffic. Not a bad ride as A roads go. I should mention that I ride with a rear-view mirror (you better too!) and would pull off the road when a truck or line of cars were coming my way.

I ended my ride in Llandiloes. I stayed on the B4518 and went east of the reservoir, instead of climbing into the forest and going west of the reservoir, which is how the Sustrans route went. I didn't mind the road as it didn't have much traffic but it sure had lots of steep ups and quick downs. I talked with a guy who did the forest section who said it was a fair amount of climbing, as well.

Day 6: I rode to Builth Wells via Newbridge on Wye.

Day 7: I rode due south from Builth Well on B4520 to Brecon.
Comments: While the B4520 had the steepest sections of the entire ride, 25% at one point, I didn't find it all that hard a ride as it was a direct route with very little traffic as I rode on a Saturday Morning.

It is a great ride that is challenging given all the up and down necessary. You'll certainly see lots of sheep, trees, rivers, and ocean. It was hazy when I rode which really detracted from the sweeping views. I hope you have clearer weather than I did.

Let me know if you have specific questions about the ride.
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Old 02-13-15, 08:12 PM
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I've toured in the southern part of Wales.

We cycled from near Loughborough (just south of Nottingham) westward to Church Stretton.

Then we climbed the Long Mynd ... steepest climb of the day at 25%, but there were lots of other steep climbs along the way to the Abermule area and ended up camping near Bwlch-y-ffridd at a farm caravan park.

From there we went to Caersws for lunch and then on to Rhayader where we stayed 2 nights.

The day in between those 2 nights we did a loop out toward Cwymystwyth and through the Elan Valley.

The next day we cycled to Builth Wells and then to Hay-on-Wye (a place I'd really like to visit again), and up another 25% grade called Gospel Pass and down a gorgeous decent to Cwmyoy, and camped near there.

Then it was on to Abergavenny ... Monmouth ... and into the Christchurch area where we camped that night. We reached the Christchurch area via the Forest of Dean and St Briavels.

And then it was over to Bristol and a train back into London.


At a glance, your route looks all right. Do be prepared for climbing ... it's all straight up and straight down over there. I'd recommend travelling fairly light ... but don't forget to pack your wet weather gear, it is the UK, after all.

If you can familiarise yourself with a few Welsh words, that would probably help. There are pockets where very little English is spoken. My cycling partner spoke a little bit of Welsh, and that was quite useful in a few places.

Cwm (as found in many place names and pronounced something like "coom") means valley ... which means there are going to be some stiff climbs getting out of that valley. Llan (found in other place names) means church or village ... and since they usually put their churches on the top of the highest hills around, there will be some stiff climbs getting there.

Enjoy!!
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Old 02-15-15, 11:04 AM
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A lot will depend on the shape I am in this summer. Its been a terrible winter here so far - warm and maybe 6 inches of snow over the last 1.5 months...so haven't been doing the amount of skiing I was expecting. But, going so late in the summer, means I have a lot more time to get some miles in out here. Since I live in the Rockies, all the local rides out here simple go up... a few thousand feet. Its not the same as rolling terrain, but I am thinking my legs will be ok with the climbing to be done in Wales. I plan on hitting the bike hard this summer - mileage rides will be headed down valley, while I've got 3 mountain climbs in the other directions - Castle Creek, Maroon Bells, and Independence Pass (the latter my goal this summer).

I will certainly come up with some alternative routes along flatter sections - and I am hoping the Porthmadog bridge will be open by the time I get there - or I'll hope to time it with the train to get across as I haven't heard anything good about the diversion you have to take. I am expecting it to be much like my ride in Ireland, though hillier - and hopefully a lot less windy once I move away from the coast and hit mid-Wales.
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Old 02-15-15, 04:29 PM
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I was there in September and I don't recall much in the way of wind ... rain, yes ... but not much wind.

And the hills are different from the Rockies ... my experience with the Rockies is that they might reach 8% and go on forever. The hills in Wales might reach 25% but they're only 1-2 km long. The hills in Wales are more like hills in the NE USA.

So, while you're waiting for good weather, I'd recommend joining a gym for a couple months and doing some weightlifting and perhaps a spinning class a couple days a week.

I was in the best shape I've ever been in when I toured Wales (I'd just spent the previous 6 months preparing for the Paris-Brest-Paris) and I was walking and struggling to push my bicycle up the hills.
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Old 02-16-15, 09:59 AM
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I certainly like the challenge hills present. But yes, out here, I don't think the grade is allowed to exceed 10% due to the snow plows/winter weather...but they do go on forever and forever.

I would join a gym, but out here a gym membership runs about $130 a month and that's not the sort of money I have laying around right now. I live pay-check to pay-check and am literally spending all my money on my Wales trip.

But you're right, I need to start doing something to get in shape. Any suggestions given the gym is out of the question? I had been planning on XC Skiing this winter, but there literally isn't enough snow to do that. They even cancelled the big XC Ski Weekend event out here because of the lack of snow - too much grass showing. The 5 day forecast is as follows out here -

26'f, 31'F, 40'F, 42'F, 46'F

Today and tomorrow would be considered warm (by a few degrees) for this time of year (normally). We've had a record of 6-inches of snow in January...haven't had that little snow since 1962! For the record, I live at a Ski Resort...and these 40'F+ temps we've been having is not normal.

I've been thinking of filling up a gallon of water and putting it in my backpack...and then doing lunges with that on my back. Basically, I need to 'make' my own gym at this point.
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Old 02-16-15, 05:09 PM
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As I mentioned in Training & Nutrition ... stairs. And walking, running, and hiking. Hiking up the side of a mountain will get you into shape for Wales.
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Old 02-16-15, 06:10 PM
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the good thing is that you have lots of time to get out riding before July. Ride as much as you can with your panniers on, do as much climbing as you can or feel like, and over time you'll be fairly ready if you get yourself out regularly.

Machkas comment about being in the best shape of her life and still pushing her bike up hills--this doesnt surprise me at all having walked up and down some 20 and 25% roads in Wales. I can't recall if you've talked about your gearing, but having gearing for the weight of your bike in prep for these hills seems like its a real priority. I know that if I ever go over there to bike around, I'll be going with some extra low gearing thats for sure--and trying to keep the weight as low as possible.
Not having a tent, sleeping bag and all that stuff would be nice just because you could easily remove ten pounds off your load, and when its this steep, every bit less makes a difference.
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Old 02-18-15, 01:22 PM
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My gearing is whatever comes standard on a Surly Disc Trucker. I bought in 2 - 3 years ago and I don't recall changing out the gearing on it.

But yes - thats exactly why I've booked my trip for the end of July. With the odd weather we've been having, I would not be shocked to see Snow into April and May this year (an extended, late arriving winter). My Ireland trip was in May, so I had literally not ridden my bike more than 100 Miles that year before heading over to Ireland. I had a few days of short rides while I got adjusted to Ireland before setting off on the trip, and did relatively short miles. So I plan on being in better shape this time around, with some longer and more challenging days thrown in.

Typically, I like hills and climbing - but I hate rolling hills. I'd rather do a 20-mile climb then a dozen smaller hills over 10 miles. Of course, that was back when I was rather fit. So yes, the plan is to hit the bike hard this summer out here (beyond riding 2.5 miles to work every day which is nothing).

The hard part is doing stuff now, with this odd winter, to get a jump on the fitness.

Also - back on topic - any route deviations to Points of Interest/Places to See?
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Old 02-18-15, 04:47 PM
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I did Holyhead to Porthmadog, Porthmadog to Dollgelau, Dollgelau via Bala to Betws-ey-Coed, Betws via Conway to Holyhead, at the beginning of October last.
They were working on the Porthmadog bridge and should by the looks of it be finished by July.
As raybo says the Sustrans section above Harlech is a killer. Straight up 20%+ and no way the steepest parts can be ridden. Just swallow your pride and walk/push. It's worth it for the views.
In October I didn't find the main roads too busy but can imagine there will be a lot more tourist traffic in July/Agust.

Best of luck.
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Old 02-18-15, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by mcallaghan
Typically, I like hills and climbing - but I hate rolling hills. I'd rather do a 20-mile climb then a dozen smaller hills over 10 miles.
And you've chosen Wales?
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Old 02-19-15, 02:24 PM
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It may be busier when I am there, as that is 'peak' season - summer holiday and all. But if Wales is anything like Ireland, staying off the main through-fares should be pleasantly quiet (if not quite a bit bumpy).

I am quite looking forward to the trip - a little over 5 months from now!
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Old 02-19-15, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka
And you've chosen Wales?
Chuckle...I too would prefer a long climb rather than a gazillion ups and downs but like you said,he sure as heck is going to get a lot of them there.
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Old 02-19-15, 02:37 PM
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You are going to want that 12-36 cassette and 20T granny ring.....

For practice, you could ride up the ski slopes. Parts of the roads you'll encounter in Wales are steeper......
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Old 02-20-15, 01:22 PM
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I'd need a Mtn Bike to do that, and they don't allow Mtn bikes on the main local mountain because it is too dangerous.

There is a short road that goes up a ridge out here - a couple of switchbacks - but that looks like it peaks at around 12% grade. Feels steeper, probably because of the lake of O2 up here.
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Old 02-20-15, 01:54 PM
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can't recall if you have mentioned actual weight of your load, but here are some gear charts for your bike, stock and with a granny change to 24t and cassette change to 34.
Stock your bike has about 22 gear inches, withthe changes I put in its 19g.i.

Ive ridden in terrain similar to what you'll be hitting in Wales, with about 25lbs of stuff, on a bike with 19.5 g.i. I recall thinking that if I was to have 30 or 40lbs I would want at least one gear lower, less than 19---for me usually about 21 is good for moderate steepness found on most roads (maybe max 12-14%) but the crazy steep stuff getting up to and over 20% is a whole other level of hardship getting up.

anyway, just a word of caution that perhaps lowering your gearing is something to think about. A smaller chainring is relatively cheap, and cassettes up to 34 or whatever are probably in the $30-40 range.

or you see how it is on this trip and learn from it, or you have to walk sometimes, which I personally find more tiring than riding and a pain in the keester, but not everyone feels that way. I guess the only way to know is to do the trip and see how it is for the weight of your bike and the steepness of stuff you hit.
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Old 02-20-15, 04:36 PM
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I'll try counting the teeth on both front and rear to see what I have. I *don't* think I changed them when I originally ordered it, but don't have a record either way. Lower gears would be useful around here too - though on the downhills I sometimes find myself spinning air even on the big ring in the front.
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Old 02-23-15, 11:30 AM
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Will count the teeth tonight. Got busy over the weekend.

Here is a tentative gear list. Am I missing anything?

[TABLE="width: 209"]
[TR]
[TD]Gear List:[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]2 x Bib Shorts[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]2 x Bike Jersey[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]3 x Bike Socks[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Booties[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Rain Jacket[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Rain Pants[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Arm Warmers[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Leg Warmers[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Tights[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Short Gloves[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Rain Gloves[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Helmet[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Sunglasses[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Allen Key Multitool[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Tire Lever[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Spare Tire[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Patch Kit[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Bike Pump[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]First Aid Kit[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Sneakers[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Lightweight Shorts[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]MTB Shorts (?)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]1 x Jeans (?)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Hiking Pants (?)[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]3 x T-Shirts[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]4 x Boxers[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]3 x Regular Socks[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Toiletries[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Back Pack[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Galaxy Tab S 8.4[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Camera + Spare batteries[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]iPhone[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Wallet + Passports[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]GPS + batteries[/TD]
[/TR]
[TR]
[TD]Converter + Cables + Rechargers[/TD]
[/TR]
[/TABLE]
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Old 02-23-15, 11:42 AM
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Forget the GPS. Get the Pocket Earth app for the iPhone and load the route via GPX (email the GPX file to yourself, read it on the phone, and then load it into Pocket Earth). That will save you some weight.

Get a pair of quick drying boxer underwear and only take 1. Wash it when you go to bed and it will be dry in the morning.

Is there some reason you have both biking and regular socks? I use wool socks for both. I take 2 pair on tour.

Cotton jeans are way too heavy. Buy a pair of nylon cargo pants with zip -off legs. Forget the shorts, as well.

I use my biking jerseys as off-bike wear. Leave the t-shirts at home. I also bring a wool t-shirt as an extra layer of warmth.

You much also account for the weight/space of on-bike food and water.
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Old 02-23-15, 12:56 PM
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Water will be in two waterbottles on the bike. Given the area and distance I will be riding, it should not be an issue refilling.

As for food, I will only carry snacks. Breakfast is provided with my lodging. I may by a loaf of bread sort of thing and make my own lunch for a few days. I usually just eat some snacks and have a decent dinner though.

I am actually not planning on using my phone at all - international charges and all - but when stateside (esp in airport) it will be nice to get updated info etc. It and the GPS and relatively lightweight.

The jeans - with the (?) - are something I may bring and end up leaving in Chester. I will have something like 4 full days and two travel days (aka airports) where I won't be on the bike at all. Also, during cool evenings, they will be nice to wear for a change. Still debating, though, due to their weight. I have a pair of quick-dry hiking shorts and a pair of pants (which I've never worn) that hardly take up any space and barely weigh a thing either. I will probably bring them.

Skin-tight cycling jerseys are not very fashionable except when on the bike, so I'll have t-shirts to wear to breakfast and after the riding is done for the day. Its a two week trip so that is why I am bringing multiples of things (and I sleep in my boxers) so I would rather have the option to put on fresh, clean clothes every now and then. I was only able to wash and dry things on my Ireland trip by putting them on a radiator at night, as it rained every day and stuff would not dry on the back of my bike.
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Old 02-23-15, 03:15 PM
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this is the link to the specs of your bike. Hopefully its the same as when you got yours.

Disc Trucker | Bikes | Surly Bikes

re washing clothes in a hotel or b+b room--dont forget teh trick of wringing them out as well as you can by hand, then laying them on a dry towel, roll the towel up and then step on the towel over and over with bare feet, this gets the most water out and into the towel, and with synthetic stuff, it will most likely be dry by morning. Been my experience in any case.
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Old 02-23-15, 03:33 PM
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Thanks for the link - though Green was the only color when i got mine. I quite like the look of the red! Should have a count in 2 hours from now.
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Old 02-23-15, 04:27 PM
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Yep - I can confirm it is 26-36-48 on the front.

Looks like the rear cassette is...smallest ring: 11, largest ring: 31 (if I counted correctly).

Also a few teeth on the front seem to be chipped/worn down - noticeably not in their original form. Should that be fine or something I should look into replacing?
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Old 02-23-15, 04:42 PM
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ya, so its a 11-32 9speed that is still on the bike in the link I put up.

those front teeth that are diff are on purpose, they help with shifting. I'm fairly certain that is what you are seeing, take a photo and post it if youwant, but it looks weird but is made like that.
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Old 02-24-15, 10:24 AM
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Will do so tonight. I associated some gear slippage with what look like damaged teeth. Never really looked at the gears too much though - like I said, I am not very mechanically inclined (except when it comes to computers). Once spring starts to roll around, I think I will take the bike in for some full service - its a bit grungy right now, collecting all the dust etc this winter.
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