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Cardiff to Builth-Wells

June 25th, 2000 · No Comments

Once again Arthur volunteered to take the group on a National Cycle Network trail. Today we were on the Taff Trail for the first 20 miles. After that we were back with the Odyssey tour.

Arthur took us on a side trip to a castle. Of course being cyclists who start early in the a.m. we got there before the castle was open. Rather than wait, we took a few group pictures and moved on. The route up to the castle was very difficult and steep (25%). I along with many others had to walk it. The grades in Wales are very difficult sometimes. Climbing a hill or a mountain can be easy if the grade is gradual. If the grade gets over 10% it gets harder. We have had some grades that are in the teens and even 20%. They are impossible to climb for any length of distance.

The side trek to the castle had us all pushing our bikes up hill both coming and going. I was glad to get back on the trail. Progress was very slow, we had so many riders and the gates were still locked on the trail. Every time we came to a cross street, we would have to dismount and walk our bikes through these really stupid gates. They are built to keep motorcycles off the trail and cyclists from getting hit by a car. For us, it made speed impossible.

After getting off and on the bike at least 20 times, I decided to find a the main street and take it to the next town. I rode for 10 miles or so before I saw a really nice sign welcoming O2K to a certain pub. By the time I got to the second welcome sign, I decided it was time to eat.

The pub turned out to be the place Arthur was bringing the group for lunch. I lucked out, by getting there before he and the 70 people who were following him arrived. Success! I was done eating by the time the group came in. The owner of the pub came outside to chat while I was getting ready to leave. She told me all about her father who used to be a national cycling record holder. He was a friend of Arthur’s before he died. She was a lovely lady, who was delighted to have her pub packed full of cyclists. I wished I could have stayed and talked with her longer. But, I still had a long way to go and time was getting short.

Today was my second day riding alone. I have noticed that more locals approach me now that I’m by myself. At least it seems like they do or maybe the people in Wales are just more friendly and curious. I was stopped twice today. Once while I was riding a car stopped me to ask what we were doing. Mostly they ask if it is a race. I always wonder why I look like I’m racing, I have panniers on my bike that weigh a ton and I don’t really go that fast. Why do people think it’s a race?

Another gentlemen stopped his car and approached me while I was stopped for a “Kodak moment”. He was interested in the route and shared with me information about all the hills I had in front of me. Great, I love that sort of news! This gentleman also told me once I got over the “flat top” it would be all down hill to Builth-Wells from there. Usually people driving in cars haven’t got a clue what “downhill” means. I never trust what car drivers give for mileage or downhill information. Well this guy was absolutely right.

It took over an hour but when I reached the top of what I thought would be called “flat top” I had the best downhill run of the week. It went on and on. The route turned off onto a bike path before I could see the end of the downhill. I stopped to discuss which way to go with Dick, I decided to continue to ride on the main road, leaving Dick to take the trail. As it turned out the rest of my ride was downhill. It was a good decision, I merged with the Odyssey tour about 7 miles later and I was way ahead, the trail was so slow.

On the way down, I did discover that my brakes were not sounding very good. I could hear metal on metal so I made a mental note to change the brake pads, soon!

The countryside is so lovely. The route took us along a ridge where I could see for miles in the distance. The fields were all green and littered with hundreds of cute woolly sheep.

Our campsite was located in the Royal Welsh Showgrounds. The place was deserted except for Odyssey, but I could see when it was open it was probably similar to a state fair. My tent went up easily tonight. I was tired but felt very happy to have completed two days of hilly riding.

Dr. Rod was kind enough to instruct me on the proper installation of my rear brakes. It was easy once I learned which screw to loosen the brakes and not remove the brakes! Thank you to Dr. Rod’s parents for having him! He’s a lifesaver.

Replacing the brakes

Our dinner was served from a portable catering wagon. They prepared a wonderful meal of hamburgers with boiled onions, baked potatoes and salad. Sounds common, to some, but we never seem to get really good hamburgers. I enjoyed the meal this night. The vendors had done a great job on such short notice, it was Sunday, they had just gotten the call from TK&A on Friday. I always wonder how much better job folks could do if they actually knew we were coming way ahead of time!

Sleep was easy for me this cool night. I once again was tired from a very fulfilling day.

Tags: British Isles · Wales · world travel