Had the most awesome ride today and uncovered a well-hidden secret – Wales is road-riding heaven !!!
Yesterday was very overcast with a low fog hanging over the hills as we rode down from Holyhead to Dolgellau via Druid and so we didn’t get to see a great deal of the countryside, though the riding itself was very enjoyable even on the wet roads. The weather forecast for the following day – the Bank Holiday in Wales on Monday 4th May was for sunshine, no rain till 21:00, and a max of 14 degrees C, so whilst our final destination for the day had us aiming for somewhere around Newport Karen was only too agreeable to have us head back north again to the start of Snowdonia National Park so we could see Mt Snowdon, and then follow the A470 down south – a road recommended by Alec, our host in Dolgellau.
We took a quick trip north up the A470 and then A4085 till we approached Mt Snowdon via Beddgelert, and then had an absolute blast up through the valley. The left hand side of the road fell away to nothing and Karen was stunned silent as she contemplated spearing off the cliff at one of the many bends on the road, but the bald TKC80 on the rear of the bike still had enough grip to keep us on the road. Having crested the mountain pass and dropped down to Snowdon on the other side we then turned around and had another run at the pass, though this time the cliff drop-offs weren’t as visible to Karen and hence weren’t as unnerving.
We retraced our route back to Dolgellau – well for most of the way until we peeled off the A4085 and took a hidden B road out of Maentwreg that was twisty and fun, and then hooked up with the A470 and had the most awesome five hours of road riding I can remember 🙂 The road was wide, well-surfaced, and twisted and weaved its way through some of the most beautiful countryside I’ve seen. The road was quick – easily supporting the 97kph speed limit – and at that speed the ride was almost meditative, though it could easily be ridden quicker, though the number of warning signs to riders suggested that it could also catch fast riders out.
The scenery alternated between wide angle views and long shots of valleys as the road followed white water rivers, to tree-lined avenues where the tall trees joined overhead and stone walls lined the road, to sections where head-high hedges created a corridor-effect that play tricks on the eyes as if you were riding through a maze.
Whatever the scenery, the road just lent itself to the perfect ride. Even when baulked by cars – often banked up in a procession behind a slow-moving vehicle, it was easy enough to find a straight section or wide curve to allow for a quick overtaking move, often crunching a few cars at once. Once back in the open air the road would just unfold in front of you, a continuous series of beautiful bends, crafted for the enjoyment of riders. The road gave me the impression that it was just one long magical race-track, sculptured to perfection as it followed the contours of the Welsh valleys and hills.
With the rain holding off and a holiday in Wales today we saw more motorbikes on the road today than we’ve seen over the past six weeks. In fact – we’ve probably seen about 10 times more motorbikes at least, than over the past six weeks. Big BMW tourers seemed popular as well as their RR’s, along with KTM supermotards.
Out of Raglan we picked up the B4293, a well-formed country back-road that eased us into Chepstow and gave us a chance to regain our senses a bit after the rush provided by the A470, which isn’t to say that the B4293 is dull at all as it’s quite a pleasure to ride, it just misses out on some of the scenic valley views as it transforms into farmland, and we throttled back a bit to finish the day on a relaxing note.
I haven’t looked at the mileage today – we did start off from Dolgellau at about 09:30am and we arrived in Chepstow around 5:00pm so it was a solid day’s riding, but it was so invigorating I reckon I could get out on the bike again right now and do it all over again, even though it is dark outside now and I’m tucked up nicely in bed in our quaint room adjacent to the Three Tuns Inn here in Chepstow – right next to the Chepstow Castle. Karen has a knack of locating great places to stay, and as we tinkered through this old town she spotted the inn with a few Harley’s parked alongside, and so enquired about a room to stay. With the BMW parked in the yard behind the pub, our own front-door leading to the road outside, the quaintest room to stay in, a castle behind us – a massive castle, built overlooking the Wye River – we’re enjoying our evening here. We’ve had a walk around the castle – a beautiful if derelict castle, a fantastic dinner at an Indian restaurant recommended by Simon – barman at the Three Tuns, consisting of a mixed starter, Sitar Balti Special (chicken, mince and prawn balti), aloo, paratha, oh and complementary shots of sambucca and Tia Maria courtesy of the kind staff at the Sitar Restaurant, and now it’s time to catch up on our blogging, emails, photo and video downloads, etc etc. Of all things the GoPro cracked a wobbly today so whilst I’ve got stills of the Snowdonia mountain pass captured at 5 second intervals I’ve got no video, and I chose not to record any of the A470 or B4293 – if you want to see how fantastic these roads are you need to come over here yourself and ride them for real 🙂