June 2000

It finally looks like Summer has arrived and about time to. Thankfully the good weather timed it to a tee to coincide with our treasure hunt and Anglesey run last weekend. Hopefully, this is an omen for Builth Wells where further BBQ’ing and boules playing is promised.

There is a change to your run sheet for the July 16th run. Richard and Winsome are unable to lead the run so Les and Hazel (01490 460516) have stepped into the breach. We will be leaving Corwen car park at 10am prompt stopping for coffee, lunch, and, hopefully, ice cream stops en route so no need for packed lunches unless you really want to.

With this newsletter you will find enclosed a booking form for the September meet at Llangollen YH. If you want to take part then please try to meet the deadline date of July 31st for returning your booking form and payment to Martin Gray. I know that September 30th seems a long way off at the moment but we are aware that most people will be away for August/early September and we need to get every thing sorted i.e. numbers of meals etc. in good time so that the organisers can enjoy it as well. We have reserved thirty beds, initially, and will be very surprised and chuffed should we get more than that.

If you live locally and/or do not need accommodation then you are, of course, welcome to join us for the Saturday night dinner but, again, you need to get your booking forms back to Martin Gray (see bottom of form) by the deadline. We are going to be very strict about bookings after the deadline - they will be returned SORRY. Les has kindly agreed to lay on a treasure hunt for the Saturday, and there will, hopefully, be a choice of runs on the Sunday.

I am trying to lay on some sort of entertainment for the Saturday night but may have to call in the services of our resident cabaret stars to lead us in a selection of simple songs. What about it Hugh and Anne? I’m still keen to see Hugh’s rendition of the sand dance!!

Runs Reports

Alan & Jean 21/5/2000

Alan and Jeans run in May was promising to be a bit of a washout on the Saturday but by Sunday there was a semblance of Spring in the air and with it a really good turn out.

New members David and Sandra joined us for a very pleasant progression through quiet wooded lanes, my memory has, fortunately, erased the hills. We enjoyed splendid vistas of the Conwy Valley for our efforts while Geof decided to be Mr. Angry with a motorist who managed to escape the infamous ire of Russell!!

Coffee was taken in Llanrwst where it looked for certain we were in for a soaking. But the Gods continued to smile on us as we ascended from Betws y Coed to Llyn Geirionnedd although it’s difficult to be aware of your good fortune when you’re gasping for air on a 1in 4 hill.

A rapid descent to Trefriw and we arrived at the Princes Arms to find the Corwen contingent already dining and awaiting our arrival.

It was whilst sitting in the dining room that we spotted what must be the most radical tandem accessory yet, PINK hair. Or was it just the beer??

An interesting diversion took us twice over the river via two little bridges and then a quick spin through Dolgarrog, Llanbedr y Cennin, Rowen, and Henryd saw us back at our hosts enjoying tea, cake, and afternoon sunshine.

Luke & Becky 4/6/2000

In comparison, our own run was a very low key event, in fact we’d virtually come to terms with the concept that ours would be the first unattended run. But the day was saved when a shrill but familiar cackle broke the early morning silence. Yes once more those inebriate Taylors had dragged themselves and their hangovers into the fray.

In view of their delicate condition/years we opted for a short route with a long interval for lunch and a tour of Glynllifon Park.

We enjoyed tea and cake on the patio on our arrival home and, thankfully, Anne forgot she was missing Sing Something Simple and Ed Stewart. PHEW

Geof & Helen 17-18/6/2000

Last Saturday saw the brave setting off from Bangor YH, in rather warm conditions, heading for the bad lands of Llandeiniolen on the Millennium Treasure Hunt. From the phone calls of the lost en route and the stories of those returning it was obviously even more perturbing than I had planned. One of my clues had actually disappeared ( SOLD!!) even though I’d been keeping an eye on it for three weeks!

Some poor bloke found a stream of tandemists at his door inquiring of the date of erection of his home and another found himself explaining just which model of Fiat the piles of rusting junk in his garden had once been.

As for the lost, a certain father and daughter team managed to be up a hill they should have been nowhere near and then phoned me to ask of their whereabouts!!

The Coleman clan could not resist the pull of Tesco’s and paid a heavy price - they had to climb the hill they’d just come down. They also just managed to avoid being put on the No 72 bus whilst investigating the timetable for the No 75!

Anyway everyone managed to get back safely and with most of the answer sheet complete but that was just the beginning of my problems. I now had to decide who was the winner, I’m sorry but the wine had killed what few brain cells I have and the math’s was beyond me so I decided I would award prizes to whoever I felt like!! After all it was my game..

And so it came to pass that David and Sandra won the best dressed team award and the Coleman’s won on account of their determination to seek out swings at all costs!!

The BBQ was already in full swing as the last souls rolled in and the wine was flowing when a boules tournament commenced.

Anyway David and Sandra won all the honors so they aren’t playing again coz they’re my balls and I’m going home…...

Sunday dawned hot and sunny as our not so little band set off for Anglesey, picking others up along the way and losing Gerald and Sue almost immediately. After a few fraught moments we were pretty much all in the same place at the same time and enjoyed coffee in the hothouse atmosphere of the Holland Arms café followed by lunch at Aberffraw.

Afternoon tea was taken at Plas Neaudd before people started going their separate ways winding up one of the best weekends we’ve ever had.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Geof and Helen for their hospitality at the hostel.

Although I’m led to believe I missed out on a certain clandestine hospitality involving a half bottle of scotch.

WICKLOW INTERNATIONAL RALLY 2001

I’m not sure if anything has appeared in the Journal about this yet but my last committee meeting minutes indicate that next years international rally will be at Glendalough YH.

It, initially, occurred to me that it would be a jolly good wheeze to hop over on the Holyhead ferry to join in the fun and games, if only for a long weekend. From previous experience it is only a half days ride from Dun Laoghaire to Glendalough via the Sally Gap.

However it now appears that the committee, in their ultimate wisdom, have deemed it appropriate to make no provision for camping!! I include the relevant minute below.

"Mike (Johnson) described the facilities available at Glendalough YH. However, as no camping is allowed in the National Park there would be no camping at the hostel. There was the possibility of a campsite opening this summer about two miles away, but this was not yet certain, otherwise the nearest camping would be five to ten miles away. There is also plenty of B&B in the area. Cait (Rickard) said that she thought that the lack of camping at the event HQ would deter many family members. The committee agreed that this was a problem but could not see any alternative as the largest campsite in the area,(in Ireland?), would not be big enough for the usual numbers attending and did not have any fixed accommodation. It was agreed by five votes to one to base the 2001 International Rally at Glendalough YH and asked Mike to confirm the provisional booking."

Given that the YH only has approx. 80 beds this makes for an awful lot of disappointed people, particularly families who prefer the cheaper camping option.

An explanation has been put forward for this "oversight" which, if true, is deeply worrying. But until the Committee sees sense and seeks to include all then it makes it impossible to organise a weekend trip because we will almost certainly need to camp.

Of course we could go any way and find a campsite elsewhere. Comments please.

POSTCARD

Just received today (20/6) a post card from Pat and Ken Brown who have arrived in Normandy with more than 2000km between them and Nice.

 

A FAMILY HOLIDAY DIARY

LANZAROTE 2000

by

Graham Lewis

The words of our family doctor rang loudly in my ears as we ground our way up the mountain passes in Southern Greece. "No reason why you shouldn’t cycle whilst pregnant Mrs Lewis just not up any hills." That was four years ago and I came home with legs like Cippolini.

Somehow we have managed to time a cycling holiday to a mountainous country whilst expecting monster number two !

The doctors advice is the same, I must be mad! Rhiannon is three and a half now, and almost out of her child seat, I just look it as a greater challenge. We are in an apartment in Puerto del Carmen.

Day One A short ride on busy roads takes from the airport to Puerto. It is possible to avoid the main road if you follow the coast road but it’s difficult to find.

Day Two Sun, sea, sand, and ice creams.

Day Three All roads lead up on this volcanic island, but the gradients are easy and even the minor roads have good surfaces. The small amount of traffic we encountered was courteous, encouraging us with friendly toots and waves.

We made our way up to Tiaz then to San Bartolome on roads bounded by long frozen lava flows. We saw men working in fields where they were managing to cultivate various crops in the mean gravel which passes for earth - just!

We swept down off this high central plain to Tahiche and the lava house built by the artist Sezar. The house is amazing with each of the underground rooms having an opening to the sky in the centre of the ceiling. Many of these openings have trees growing through them. The rooms are wonderfully cool after the heat outside. There was even a small swimming pool in one of the rooms. All in all well worth a visit.

The cafe at Sezars’ house was badly lacking in cycling fuel, so we found one in Tahiche where we found out how much over the odds we were paying down on the tourist strip.

Re-fueled we climbed back onto the plateau and headed through Nazareth and Monzaga. Monzaga is the site of another Sezar legacy for it is here that he placed a National Monument to the toil of the peasant. More importantly there is a shady cafe here!!

We continued across the plain passing vines growing in the lee of small horseshoe shaped walls which we decided protected the vines from the constant northerly winds.

As we approached the vineyard of El Grifo, est 1775, the whole plain was a mass of small walls each dedicated to its own small vine. The free museum was well worth a visit and the wine reasonably priced. We indulged in couple of bottles for later as it was virtually all down hill from here. Still, we coaxed our resident baggage carrier Dave Hargreaves to carry them - just in case.

A swim in the pool rounds of a great day.

Day Four Family to beach and me doing work for my OU degree!!

Day Five "Volcanoes" she said, I should have twigged straight away, climbing and lots of it.

We were off on a long loop around the volcanoes of the Timanfaya National Park in the South West of the island.

At 10.30 pm on the 1st of September 1730 an area 5km North of the village of Yaiza erupted. Over the next six years the fertile farmland of this high interior plain was swallowed by molten lava the greater proportion of which emanated from the Monte del Fuego. The volcanic activity finally stopped in April 1736 after a total of 51 square kilometers had been covered by lava and fallout.

What makes this particular eruption so important to vulcanologists is not only its scale and duration but the detailed records of activity made by Father Andres Lorenzo Curbelo, the parish priest of Yaiza.

There are more than 100 volcanoes on the island, most look like huge spoil heaps and it’s up one of these, Guadilema (603m) that we pedaled in the morning sun. The higher we went the steeper the road got until we arrived in the village of La Asomada near the top of the pass. We cycled on through vast lava fields and as we gained more height we began to see many smaller volcanoes.

After Mancha Blanca we regained the National Park and carried on up to Monte del Fuego and the summit restaurant. This establishment makes full use of the volcanoes heat by cooking your with it! The meals were generous and reasonably priced and, thanks once more to the hand of Sezar, the tables had superb views.

We witnessed a dramatic demonstration of the heat beneath our feet when two park wardens pushed some brushwood into a hole in the ground and it spontaneously combusted. But more spectacularly a warden poured water down a buried tube creating an artificial geyser, what a noise!!

The best thing about starting the afternoon at 610metres is that it should all be downhill to home - wrong. After an initial descent we had to climb back over the flank of Monte del Fuego and then a 9km descent through the lava fields, past some camels, to Yaiza. The last climb of the day was a steady 10.5 km back road up out of the central plain to La Asomasa before heading down to a well earned bear ( I think/hope he means beer - Ed).

Day Six On the Beach

Day Seven The Michelin road map was its usual worthless self. We found a perfectly surfaced road where we expected to find a footpath to take us to Puerto Calero avoiding the busy main road. Puerto Calero appears to be where all the well to do and their boats hide from the tourists.

Up, up, and away we climbed to Yaiza via Uga. The 10km on the main road were unavoidable but very wide well made verges and cautious though fast drivers meant it wasn’t too bad. A perfectly surfaced back road out of Yaiza took us to the idyllic village of El Golfo.

It had only taken us two hours to get this far but it was just too nice so we had an early lunch. All the tourist buses stop above the village at a tat shop/cafe but few tourists venture the 1/4 mile into the actual village which is probably a good thing! We installed ourselves at Casa Placido on the edge of the ocean. There was no menu, just a waiter repeating his sales catch phrase - "veeerrrrryyy goooooood feeesh"- and he was right it was fantastic, probably because it was so fresh.

A short steep climb around a coastal volcano and down to a freshwater lake only yards from the pounding ocean. We mingle with the tour bus totty ( this sounds more like it - Ed) who gawk at us as they had done minutes earlier back up the road. The rock formations here were amazing. We stop at various holes along the coast road to look down to the ocean and inspect the salt pans as we pass out of the National Park.

Crossing the main road we climb through the very neat and affluent looking village of Las Brenas. The road continues to ascend for 5.5km mostly at a painful gradient. Finally the mountain beat us and just below the col where the gradient became impossible we got off and pushed into the village of Femes.

Behind Femes was a high fertile valley which was noticeably cooler, so much so that we stopped for the delicate flowers (my loving stoker Deb, and Rhi our pushy 3 year old passenger) to pull on jumpers. The day was almost over once we reached Las Casitas high above Puerto del Carmen away in the distance. We covered the 16km home in less than half an hour.

Day Eight No matter how good you are mountains are hard work on a tandem, especially if you are towing your family up single handed. So Deb kindly agreed to spend the day on the beach with Rhi while I and Dave headed off on a 120km plus ride taking in plenty of climbs on the way. The local bike shop hired me a fairly old but serviceable racing bike for around £8 for 24 hours.

The plan was to head over to La Santa on the far side of the island and check out the purpose built sports complex there. The usual climb up to San Bartolome and over the central plain to Tinajo was refreshingly easy on a solo . La Santa was set up in a fairly ugly arid bay but the complex itself looked very well equipped for the whole family.

From La Santa we headed for surf city Lanzarote style a huge windswept beach full of combos and cool dudes. The small town looked very Mexican.

We were glad to turn our backs to the wind that thus far we’d been riding against, racing inland and climbing slightly. We indulged in some rough stuff to climb to the old capital of Teguise where we were rewarded by a glimpse of the real Spain. Teguise had real character with its maze of tiny cobbled streets.

We carried on up and 27km later arrived at the summit from where we flew, grinning all the way, down to the coast.

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