With a little bit of spare time on my hands and the decorating finished at home, I decided to take off for a couple of days and leave England! I headed for a small Island of the coast of main land Wales, Ynys Mon, or better known as Anglesey. I boarded the train at my local station, had a quick change at Chester and I was soon into Wales whilst chatting with a science teacher about cycle touring. We both disembarked at Bangor station and parted ways. I headed for the gateway onto Anglesey, the Menai Bridge.
It was a painless start to my day tour of Anglesey, I turned east once I had crossed the bridge towards Beaumaris. Instead of cycling through the main town, I turned off up into a side ride that old allow me to see more of the scenery. The miles passed and I was slowly heading north-east away from Beaumaris and its famous castle. A few, short sharp climbs and I has views of Red Wharf Bay. The views from this mini summit were awesome, the bay stretched for over 5KM and with the haze, it was difficult to see the other side. Once my camera had been put away, a steep descent (1 in 3) put me onto the coastline
It was a real treat to ride along the bay, no traffic to worry about and due to its expanse, you didn’t get in other peoples way. It was a great place to chill out, bask in the sun and let you mind become free. I had my first river crossing on the beach, so I dropped down a few gears and nervously rode through the river. The sand below was firm, the water was not too deep and my large tyres soon found traction. It was incident free and a great relief. I carried on riding, spinning a low gear to keep the bike’s momentum going in the soft sand. A ‘selfie’ photo opportunity was taken and I enjoyed a moments silence.
By this point, I had only crossed half of the bay and I was enjoying the solitude, when I came across several horse riders. They were in the distance but were heading in my direction, but they soon pulled over, The riders lined up their horses in a line and now pointing away from me, one of the riders shouted ‘3-2-1’ and they raced off to the far end of the bay. It was a real treat to witness the race, either they were training the horses or some form of betting was taking place. Either way, I passed them once the race had finished and I was getting close to the far side of the bay.
I was within touching distance of leaving the bay behind and getting back onto the roads but one obstacle was in the way. The main Estuary from the Island to the sea was in front of me and it was flowing quite fast. From my geography days, I know that the best places to cross are the widest, as the water should be most shallow, so I took my time to find a spot to cross it. The sand along the Estuary was soft and it did not fill me with confidence to the walk on it. I carried on upstream and found a narrow bend in the river the had a small sand bank coming off it. It as the best place to cross, so I took my shoes and socks off, and waded into the water using the bike as support. The water flowed just passed my knees but I was safely through, thankfully the far bank was not deep! A quick clean of my feet to get rid of the sand and I was at a small pub! A perfect resting place, although I was boring and opted for a coke instead of a beer as I still had a long way to ride, so I fuelled up on ham sandwiches with chips 🙂
Its amazing how much a bike can disarm people, everyone says hello and talks to you. Even more so with a touring bike, people want to know how far you have been (about 20km at this point) and where you are heading (about 45km down the road). Factor in a bike with huge tyres and the interests grows rapidly. Most people want to know why I have such an usual bike and why, so I explain about my ring plans and how I’m using the beach as training. It was much easier to explain on Anglesey about a bike that can ride on sand than in Cheshire, where it appears no-one has ever been to the beach!
After dinner, I headed North towards Amlwch, an industrial not too far from a Nuclear Power Station. Once again, I had to use the roads and with the type of tyres I had on the bike, progress was slow. I took a mini detour on the way to cross a small bay, this time it was on 1KM long but still good fun never-the -less (although my detour added on an extra 5KM to m tour!). After a quick stop in a corner shop to get more water and to stock up on mars bars (sometimes I think bike touring is more of an exercise to see how much food I can consume!), I turned west and went inland to explore the windfarms.
There was an obvious reason why this area was picked for a windfarm! I battled with the wind and steep climbs along this stretch but once again, I was back to being by myself and traffic free, I guess you have to take the rough with the smooth. Exiting the windfarm, I was now about two thirds in my first day and I had about 20KM to go. I followed more country lanes and I eventually joined up with a sustrans route that would take me along the north-west coast to my camping spot. This made navigation straight forward and much less stop-start. The route took me to Cemlyn Bay. After a few photos and soon realising that it was impossible to ride on a shale beach, I stayed on the cycle route.
I went back on course and pushed on. It was 4:30PM and I only had an hour of light left. I wanted to get to my camping spot at dusk in the hope that no-one else would be around and that it would give me just enough time to find the best place to pitch my tent. The sun was now setting and I was treated to a stunning sky, the colours cheered up my weariness and I was spurred on. After a few twists in the road and a 5KM detour to get to the site (my little short cut that I had spied on google maps went through a private road), I was on the last leg.
My navigation to this point had been pretty good, only once did I have to refer to my GPS but its always to last bit that catches me out. I turned off the road and onto a dirt track that would take me to the shore. I remember from google maps that I would have to take a right into the forest and I would be finished for the day. Thankfully, the light didn’t fade quite so quick as I had to make a few detours in the last 1KM. The storms of recent weeks had brought down several trees and made passing through the forest difficult. Ok, with the combination of a swamp and fallen trees, it made it impossible, so I used an alternative route down to the shore and my home for the night.
The spot I had chosen was certainly impressive, no one was around, so I had it to myself. The only company I had for the evening was the sound of the crashing waves and Bill Bailey on my ipod. I had a little explore of the area and when it went dark, I settled in for the night, eventually going to bed at 9PM! I had rode 65KM in a little over 6 hours, which I think is a fair speed on a bike that is loaded with luggage, had tyres that are 4inches wide and had crossed several rivers and beaches 🙂