December 2001

Editorial

Once more I find myself wondering where the time went though I guess we managed to pack more than our fair share of good times into 2001. It was another successful year, even with Foot and Mouth looming large, and a big thanks to all for making it so. The new 2002 runsheet is with this newsletter and is gratifyingly full. It was, in fact, too full so I have removed the Corris weekend though there's no reason why an impromptu can't be organised given enough keenies. Also, I've been trying to get a weekend in the Trough of Bowland organised for over two years now. Perhaps, again if there are enough keenies, we could make that an impromptu.

FORTHCOMING ATTRACTIONS

Don't forget the annual knees up chez nous on New Years Eve, though this year there is a slight change of format. Yes folks, this year we're going cruising, Bodawen will be converted into a cruise liner and your captain will welcome you aboard for an evening of quizzes, dances, and laughs. Even if you can't make the party feel free to call in if you're in the area over the holiday season.

The first run of the year will be on the 13th January, going the round the Great Orme. Details from Kevin and Fiona in the post soon. For February it is Clare's birthday run and Mark has promised a day of exploration in the Berwyns which, although a little strenuous, should be doubly rewarding. I'm looking forward to it already being a great fan of Wayfarer and Borrow's (what do you mean who?) writings on the area. Any chance of the Arans as well just to fill the day?!

RUNS REPORTS

Les and Hazel met all and sundry at the allocated spot for the November run, but where were the Coleman's?

They came into view cycling placidly toward us and, just for a moment, we actually thought they'd ridden from Colwyn Bay to Ruthin. Our admiration was short-lived when it was revealed that their car had expired just short, and cunningly out of site, of the car park. However, admiration was rekindled with the realisation that even with the thought of expensive car repairs looming large they carried on as if nothing untoward had happened, now that's cool.

Clare, Mark, and Jonathan arrived, having cycled from Gwynfryn, and so with all present we sallied forth Ponderosa bound which, of course, means UP.

We were treated to an excellent display of how not to do motorcycling at the Ponderosa. One of the motorised two-wheeled brethren seemed to be trying to bunny-hop an unfortunate woolly object. The outcome of which was one inanimate woolly being, an unmanned motorcycle bouncing down the road, and a once-rider rolling along the ground. It actually made quite exciting viewing for those of us no longer able to watch Starsky and Hutch until one considered the foolhardiness of ignoring the flocks of unfettered sheep all along that stretch of road.

Once lubricated by coffees and teas it was onward to lunch at a specially booked pub in Llanelidan. Unfortunately, it had already been discovered by some old-age travellers who had parked up their "veedub" love and peace bus adjacent to this lovely old inn.

Then to add insult to injury the leather-clad bikers arrived halfway through lunch.

But what a lunch it was and excellent value too. We couldn't fit anything else in so had to forego the delights of the cafe on our return to Ruthin. Thanks to Les and Hazel once again.

Beautiful winter sunshine was a welcome companion on the pre Christmas Dinner run arranged by Alan and Jean Ashcroft.

We puffed our way out of Llanrwst and up through Llanddoged, where we met Les and Hazel. A little more climbing and then a pleasant bit of contour following to the viewpoint above Nebo where we enjoyed uninterrupted views of the Glyders, Snowdon, and Martin changing his tyre.

Then it was all downhill to the Princes Arms for an excellent dinner and the usual prize-giving accompanied by much ribbing and socialising.

It was lovely to see Gwynedd and Peter Jones after so long and hopefully we'll see much more of them in 2002.

Many thanks to Jean and Alan for organising such a lovely day.

And so ends another successful year, thanks to everyone for making it work.

PORTLY AND HARTLEYS GRAND DAY OUT

It was supposed to be a day out for she who must be obeyed but an extra strong cold had put paid to her aspirations.

Portly, seeing a rare opportunity presenting itself seized the moment. He phoned Hartley and plans were made. Nothing short of divine intervention providing SWMBO with miraculous recovery could stop them now.

Sunday morning dawned grey and unpromising as Portly crawled over Bwlch Mawr to the rendezvous. He was gobsmacked at the sight of Hartley actually being on time, let alone turning up, for once.

An unexpected rush of testosterone caused them to find themselves struggling with oxygen depletion going up the old road to Ogwen. Once at the car park they demonstrated their advancing years by refusing to pass up the chance of visiting a public convenience. But Hartley was prevented from purchasing a cup of tea by the promise of Bryn Glo sustenance beyond Capel.

But the promise was short lived. The Bryn Glo was distinctly unwelcoming, refusing to serve their needs on the grounds of being too busy. "Short memories these cafe proprietors have these days" Portly muttered remembering a time, not so long ago, when such establishments were begging for custom during F&M. He calmed himself with thoughts of the glories to come. Poor old Hartley was obviously beside himself as he exhausted terms of disbelief.

Left at the army camp and up through the farmyard, into the forest and harmony was restored. An autumnal symphony of delicious gold’s, burnished silvers, and perpetual greens. Who the hell needs "New England in the Fall" thought Portly.

Just to add to the joy of it all the forest gates weren’t locked thus avoiding any of the wrestling manoeuvres normally demanded by taking a cycle this way.

Further calming influence was experienced by the still waters of Llyn Geirionydd, this was surely idyll. The surface of the lake was unruffled in the still air.

There were several cars and passengers at the picnic site but, thankfully, there seemed to be an unspoken rule to maintain the quietude.

Portly produced a flask and butties. Hartley had seen fit to bring his portable jet engine and his latest acquisition. He proudly displayed a shiny new kettle cum tea pot. However, he had failed to spot the one design flaw in this superlative accessory. The pot held up to 1.5 litres, but the tea infuser which sat in the hole at the top was only an inch deep. The consequence of this oversight means that to brew tea successfully it is necessary to boil 1.5 litres of water. It is a sin to waste tea and, not wishing to sin on the Sabbath, the cheery pair consumed exactly 1.5 litres between them. The joke was not lost on the two, by now, waddling chums.

Portly judged the mood to be right for a visit to Llanrhychwyn church. They had just reached the kissing gate when the moment was shattered.

They came from nowhere, woolly socked and armed with hi tech sticks......The Ramblers!!! The hapless pair were interrogated for some time upon their destination, departure point, and all the other questions cyclists have to field from non-cyclists when discovered off the beaten track. Then, their curiosities satiated, as quickly as they appeared they dissolved into the woods. Peace returned and the church once more provided sanctuary from an, all too often, hectic world. This ancient place has to be one of the most rewarding for those willing to make the effort to find it. For a brief moment even Portly came over quite spiritual, quite an achievement it has to be said.

The steep descent into Trefriw was followed by a quick comfort and tea (what more?) stop at the Spa tea rooms. It proved quite difficult to extricate themselves from the cosy, fire warmed, interior, especially knowing what was to come.

From Tal y Bont it was decidedly vertical. They had agreed to stop at Pont Hafotty Gwyn in order to regain composure and the power of speech. It also provided an opportunity to observe some sheep having a bit of fun with hapless motorists. They watched the little procession disappear over the horizon before resuming hostility toward gravity.

The approach to Bwlch y Ddeufaen has a quite unique air to it. After a long and steep ascent one enters a sort of primitive corridor bounded on each side by high earth banks made taller by stone walls on their tops. This narrow passageway funnels the traveller to the mountain gate and one of the best sections of roman road in Wales. Portly was considerably relieved to arrive at the aforementioned gate.

They had finally got the gradient on their side and descended on compacted turf, ancient trackway, and loose rocks in the fords all the way to Abergwyngregyn. This was what it was all about, right at the limit of control going as fast as possible, staying off the brakes and using momentum to ride over kerb size rocks. Totally exhausting and exhilarating, adrenaline induced mood enhancement at no extra cost.

Portly remembered that there used to be a particularly fine caff in Aber’. Sadly no more, the cheery Mrs Corner and her particularly attractive daughter now being resident in a Bistro, no less, in Llanberis. For some reason no one else has seen fit to capitalise on the masses who descend on this small dale and therefore they could find no excuse to stop.

Judging by the number of cyclists seen riding on the A55 between Aber’ and Tal y Bont, Bangor the old road which runs parallel to and above the new is a well kept secret. However, it’s real appeal is that it leads to a junction which provides access to a quiet route to Llanllechid and thus Hartley’s place of residence.

Portly was tempted by the offer of tea and cake, for Hartley’s residence has the distinctly superior selling point of being right next door to a bakery. But the night was by now drawing in and the temperature threatened to drop.

Portly engaged his dynamo and set off for home. He pondered the appeal of cycling in the dark whilst descending to the A5. There was no doubt he actually savoured the idea of his world being concentrated into the halo his front lamp threw onto the tarmac. Perhaps that was the appeal, like wearing blinkers there were no distractions to disturb gentle thoughts on a day well spent in hedonistic pursuit.

It wasn’t until near the top that he realised he was crossing Bwlch Mawr for the second time that day. Then it was all downhill and home, remembering not to be too effusive in earshot of the infirm about a grand day out.

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