Leaving Herefordshire in what felt like the heaviest rain shower this year set the tone for the first half of our Welsh cycling adventure. We have spent six days on the bike and five of those involved rain (the only time we didn’t get wet was the unloaded mtb ride we did with Chuck). Currently we are sat catching up with more friends in South Wales and you guessed it…it’s raining! Turns out that August in Wales is as unpredictable as any other time of the year in these parts, the only difference is that it’s slightly warmer than winter and you can still wear shorts.
Luckily we were using our two week trip around Wales to get used to life on a bike and give our kit a true test before heading to South America. So far this tour has justified the need to take decent Gore-Tex jackets and waterproof socks on our actual trip, despite them being a little bigger and heavier. Hopefully the second half of our trip will allow us to try out our warm weather gear too.
We made our way to Aberystwyth in three days, cycling through the Elan Valley with its steep, lush valleys and reservoirs, past Strata Florida Abbey and into the familiar territory of Nant-yr-Arian.
Mid-Wales is the perfect territory for off-road bikepacking with ample opportunity for venturing away from civilisation and into the wilderness. The bikes rode exceptionally well, at times handling trails that we’d ride on the full suss mountain bikes and the heavier bikepacking set up was preferable to the rear pannier configuration we had previously used.
Two days of eating lots, catching up with friends, drying out gear and watching the downhill mtb World Cup later, we set off on the bikes again, this time headed for South Wales. We planned to do the 120km journey over two days and on the outskirts of Cardigan the weather broke in force. Torrential rain caused us to abandon our search for a wild camp and we rolled into a very conveniently placed campsite, dripping wet and freezing cold. It was money well spent for a place to cook under shelter and a comfortable, dry nights sleep. The following day and 50km later we arrived at our friends in Pembrokeshire and began the process of unpacking bikes and drying more gear again.
Travelling down the coast from Aberystwyth, we found it more difficult to get off road compared to Mid-Wales. Near the coast the only option was to follow major roads, something we weren’t prepared to do, so we found ourselves on back roads that went up and down quite a few steep hills.
So we are currently one week into our Wales trip and it has been exactly what we hoped for, interesting, challenging but overall a lot of fun.
Part two of our trip begins tomorrow and we have no real plans for the next week other than slowly make our way home. We are going to be playing it by ear, seeing what the weather throws at us and what we find along the way, kinda similar to how our real trip will be.
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