12th – 13th December 2015
Although Stu’s video sums up the weather it didn’t cover the feelings of being out there, braving the conditions to get to a place of sanctuary. The weather was battering to say the least when we arrived in Llandrillo. Expecting to be waiting around we found a parking spot in the car park with a big puddle, got out of the car and got wet feet. Seeing Stu, Mike, Scott and Paul we walked over to say “Hi”. Mike and Stu were easy to spot, they were the ones wearing bin bags! As we stood there and started listening to the type 2 fun Stu, Mike and Scot had endured in the previous 3 days, myself, Cat and Paul started to get cold feet. Not a good start to an adventure (don’t say the M word).
Anyway all great trips start in the pub. Sometimes this is to plant the seed, other times like this ones it decided the fate of the adventure. First choice made, we had hot chocolate and waited a bit for Stu and the gang to dry out and warm up. It felt like in the next hour or so we would be shaking each other’s hand and wishing everyone a merry Christmas as we went our separate ways. Thankfully mine and Cats nervousness was miss-interpreted as enthusiasm so out came the good old OS maps, wetted from the previous few days of travel.
After 10 minutes a route was decided to Lake Vyrnwy which was over them Welsh Mountains. If in doubt which way to go in Wales just remember it’s always up. Setting off out of Llandrillo a short ride up the hill and we got our first mechanical. Cat had told me that her gears were a bit stiff last ride, not registering how bad she meant I decided it would be okay….nope. I managed to make it work….just about. She is very understanding and held back from cursing me until I was out of ears reach, anyway she’s got strong hands. Plodding up the steep incline my chain started slipping on the granny ring….mechanical number 2! Note to self, need to sort gears out.
Anyway we plodded on into the sunset….nope wrong trip. We stumbled sideways into the wind trying to maintain some kind of forward motion with very little success. Why is it that wind always seems to blow into your face and not push you along from behind? We gradually made progress enduring the weathering with the odd laugher for sarcasm. By the time we reached the first road section Paul had been chilled to the bone. The wind was a howling gail which without windproof gear was just no fun so he did the sensible thing and rode back to the car. We were down to 5 we pressed on just starting to loose light. Making our way over to the final climb by other steep climbs Mike warned us the worst was yet to come, yikes!
We made it to the last long climb before the decent down to our home for the night. The climb started steady enough all on tarmac but with gigantic water splashes along the way. A very kind farmer took pity on me and Cat and offered us a ride to the top which I hastily declined. Maybe I would regret this later. The climb was generally steady with Mike taking the lead and the rest of us following. It started to kick up and make its self-known on the last section at the same time the wind blew a right old gust. It stopped me dead, making me perform the perfect track stand and then off I got to push. Behind me Cat also got hit by the wind, it was so strong it lifted her and the bike off the ground, perfect bunny hop!
The top came quicker than expected which was nice after that followed a lovely fast road decent to the reservoir during which Cats battery light ran out of juice. We continued on to keep up with the others, riding side by side using the one helmet light on my head. Every so often I’d turn to make sure she was still there. She would reply “STOP TURNING ‘ROUND, I CAN’T SEE WHERE WE’RE GOING”. She was still there! The decent was really nice and quick with sweeping corners. It was really good to be making progress and know we were only minutes away from our home for the night. Sweeping through one of the corners I lost traction on the rear of the bike and nearly lost control, quickly realising it had flatted. Mechanical number 3…..D’oh. Quick change of tube and we we’re on our way to play catch up. We got to the bottom of the hill at Lake Vyrnwy. We waded through the water logged path to the hide. This was an actual path with logs on either side, and water deep enough to wash the cranks, properly water logged!
Entering into the hide we knew we were in for a good night’s sleep. Half of the room was the bike store, the other half was the kitchen come bedroom. Straight in we all stripped, glad no one walked in on us as we would have had some explaining to do.
All dry and warming up on went the mulled wine. It tasted extra Christmassy and was lovely and warming. Straight onto the food we went. Cat had spent a lot of time planning the meal so we donned on our Christmas outfits (Mr & Mrs Claus of course) and started preparing the starters. Traditionally it was the usual prawn cocktail but with avocado and fennel, yum yum. Following on from that we had duck in orange sauce with stir fry, oh yeah that’s how we roll! To finish off we had Christmas pud with brandy sauce. To say I really enjoyed dinner would be an understatement. We then shared around some mince pies and festive cheer.
Settling down we quickly dropped off after a few stories from Mike and Stu. The night was long and peaceful apart from one little bear snoring away….yes cat it was you!
Awake in the morning we had breakfast and watched the rain come down and ripple the water on the reservoir. We were procrastinating the inevitable task of putting on our wet clothes hoping that miraculously they would dry out. In the end we packed up and left our little hut.
We all said our farewells, Mike and Stu heading to Bearbones Towers, Scott heading straight home and me and Cat heading to the pub in Llandrillo for a pint them home. The climb over the tops to Llandrillo came easier than the day before. The decent down was cold with my face freezing but was fun. Me and Cat were racing as fast as we could. I won, because I’m heavier apparently. As we arrived at Llandrillo the sun came out just on time. We quickly stripped off in the car park as you do and got ourselves dressed and in the pub for a swift half as reward before our journey home.
All in all this was a proper adventure. Many thanks to Stu, Mike, Scott and Paul for making it fun, hopefully next time Noah will bring his ark if it’s that wet again. Biblical weather, good will and joy to all, what a great start to the festive season.