Welsh Spine #1 – A very wet start

“Everyone wants happiness,
no one wants pain,
but you can’t make a rainbow
without a little rain.”

      For the last couple of days I’ve been looking over all the junk, that has organized itself into groups and is now lying on the floor. Do I have everything I need? Wont I forget anything? I’m sure I will (it’s become a tradition), but then again I don’t have room for much – this alone minimises the risk of forgetting things.
Should I take those rainproof pants I have? Last time I’ve checked, the MET weather forecast looked great and during a phone call with Radek I say that I don’t feel like hauling all those additional grams with me. On the day of my departure I change my mind. “Better safe than sorry” – I think while watching out the browser window at the gloominess of Conwy’s weather forecast where we’re supposed to start our trip. I give Radek a heads up on my sudden increase in vital powers and the willingness to carry additional weight. What a beautiful decision it was! But more on that later…hush, hush.

Packed and ready to roll, but best of all is that my back is free of any load.
This would have to change on a longer trip though –
unless I’d opt for a rack with small panniers.
       If we want to start our journey on Sunday as planned  I have to leave already on Saturday. Funny thing about Wales, I – living here – have to spend 7+ hours in the train with one change, and at the same time the guys living in London have a direct 3 hour connection… well Wales doesn’t have a vast network of roads and rail… sounds like home to me.
Tickets for me and my bike are in the pocket so I hit the road and after arriving at the Milford Haven station I pack all my belongings onto the three-carriage train.
Every mile north seems to lead straight up, as the clouds get dangerously close to us and hang heavily above the green meadows. My plans to wildcamp are definitely scratched upon arriving in Conwy… the clouds stopped hanging and instead started falling on the ground in clusters. I head to the closest camping that I can find on the map, which brings me to Dwygyfychli – fortunately the place was easier to find that to pronounce.

Welsh rail network is mostly run by Arriva Trains. Bicycle reservation is free and optional.
Without it though you are running the risk of not being let on the train
if there’s no spare room. Usually it’s possible to take up to two bikes in a  carriege. 
       The whole night water trickled on to my tent and having it set up under a tree didn’t help my situation. Bad weather pushes itself into my home with small wet spots saying one – sooner rather than later I’ll get wet.
On Sunday around 11 o’clock Pavel and Radek leave their train at the wrong station and have a good 30 km of wet cycling conducted by the chilly winds of the Irish Sea  ahead of them. From the perspective of my warm, red cocoon and comfy mattress I decide to join their misery and go to meet them halfway.
From the south-eastern side the road to Dwygyfychli is guarded by steep walls of the Alltwen hill and the Sychnant Pass. If one would look at the map though, one would see mere hillocks – reaching 200-300 meters height. Cycling up their slopes for the first time was another thing, half way through I knew from the bottom of my heart (literally!), they deserved to be called Hills, Mountains even. If I had a satiating breakfast it would surely land on the road – right here, right now.
The advantages of my cosy situation were quickly overwhelmed
by a rhythmic voice in my head “Solidarity! Solidarity!”
After meeting the guys in Conwy we quickly decide to postpone our start for the next day – heading out in the mountains in such weather wasn’t going to do us any good. We look for a pub, where we will  take the comfiest couch at the fireplace – sadly not inflamed – and treat ourselves with some tea, local Ales and Radek’s snus, and all this while enjoying some live music. It’s not the same as pedaling through the beauty of Snowdonia’s mountains that we had planned, but for today it will have to suffice.

Welsh Spine #2 – The good


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