My girlfriend is going on a cruise next year with her mum. Norway. Around the Fjords. Sounds great, but not my thing really. This has left me a week in May next year when I could do something on my own again. In August 2016 I went on my own to the Alps for a week. Loved it, so I’ve been thinking what I could do again.
May is too early for the mountains (snow) so I’ve been looking at perhaps Mallorca or somewhere else abroad. My cousin lives in the Abruzzo region in Italy which is attractive but to be honest I’d like to do it on a budget as it won’t be long after a big holiday planned in March. The problem with abroad is although the accommodation is cheap and the flights are cheap but when you start adding in bike hire or the cost of flying your bike etc it gets expensive so I’ve been looking at the UK and riding somewhere I’ve never been before. I’ve looked at Scotland, the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and doing something around a planned event like a sportive or a set route. Well no sportives fell on the right weekend so I discounted those and just looked at areas of the UK to ride. I was kind of torn. Do I drive somewhere and base myself and do my own rides from there or something else? I looked at the C2C route and the Way of the Roses. There is a relatively new Cotswold Way route from Oxford to Worcester which looked interesting but nothing was floating my boat. I’d still have to get to the start. Scotland was too far and too remote. The Dales just looked like a couple of days of torture (but still on my bucket list) and the planned routes like C2C are all a bit samey and done to death. I wanted to do something different for me. Get out into the wilderness off the main roads. Then I found a really good website cycle.travel. Now this site is an excellent resource for planning rides. It includes a number of way-marked set routes plus other resources like B&B’s, hotels, campsites and the route planning is biased for cycling. A route called the Radnor Ring stood out. 84 miles. I could drive to it, ride it, stay, drive back, do something else blah, blah, blah…and then the pin dropped. Why don’t I plan my own route and do a solo cycle tour somewhere. Ahaaa!!!!
Well what was a great idea immediately lead to the obvious questions of carrying kit, the bike, the gearing, the route, accommodation and where? Lots to think about actually.
I think I spent about an hour in my man cave online considering options of where to go. Having street viewed parts of the Radnor Ring route I wanted to ride at least some of it. Looks superb (bucket list). I wanted to ride at least 4 days but I didn’t want to go there and back. That is boring. I needed a circuit. But 4+ days of riding is a lot of kit right? So I came up with a novel idea. Two days to the welsh coast taking in a northern bit of the Radnor Ring route. Then two days up to North Wales to my folks. Free accommodation there, a good feed and my kit washed so I don’t have to carry as much then two days ride home. Boom! there you go, thank you very much I’m here all week…. It seemed to offer everything I wanted. The wilderness, the coast, the sea, hills, mountains, views, distance and a pretty tough challenge overall. If I started Sunday, I’d be back Friday and have the weekend to recover before work again on Monday. Perfect!
So now the outline of the route was sorted I made a basic checklist in my head
- Route (how far each day)
- Accommodation x 4 nights (cyclist friendly, secure bike storage, cheap)
- Bike – Rack, Panniers, Gearing (need to research and get advice)
- Kit – (need to make a list, clothing on and off bike, food, spares etc)
- Training – will need a plan
I decided the route would dictate accommodation. I have a bike capable of taking panniers & racks and I can change the gearing to suit in the New Year. I just need to research them and when I know what panniers I will have I can make all my proposed kit list fit.
So the route was first. The outline plan of my route is two days to the welsh coast, approx 60 miles a day. two days to North wales, 60 miles then a shorter 30 mile rest day to my parents house to recover , wash kit etc. then two days riding home, 60 miles followed by a hefty 70+ miler on the last day. Basically a triangle into wales and back.
I used cycle.travel to plan my routes and although they will require further refinements when I come to book accommodation, I have decided this is my basic route for the week
Day 1 – Bromsgrove – Knighton – 61 miles
Day 3 – Aberystwyth – Bala – 64 miles
Day 4 – Bala – Glan Conwy – 31 miles
Day 5 – Glan Conwy – Oswestry – 55 miles
Day 6 – Oswestry – Bromsgrove – 74 miles
Now the basic route was settled. Girlfriend and parents advised. I then began to research racks, panniers and accommodation but I’ll talk about those in future posts.
I can’t tell you how excited I am. Its another completely different challenge for me