24.7 miles, 2,980 feet of climbing
Accommodation: Tyn-y-Groes Hotel, Ganllwyd, Clywd
Rain, rain and more rain. It barely stopped raining today. From the moment we left Penmachno the heavens opened. At first we tried to ride up the loose quarry slate which festoons the path up the back of Cwm Penmachno toward the Manod Mawr quarries, but it is in vain and we are pushing before long. I defy anyone to ride the whole way up, for it’s so steep, loose and protracted. Or maybe I just ate too much for breakfast! Toward the top though there are some nice rideable, technical sections through the woods, and once over the pass we whiz down the tarmac road, strafing water from our tyres with a satisfying high-pitched buzz.
And then, we’re in the town of Llan Ffestiniog. Wanting to find a cafe to dry off in we come up short, but make up for it by adjourning to the pub, where we’re met with fantastic hospitality and an offer to drape our wet clothes all over the pub’s radiators. And, of course, that’s where we are entertained by our friend Myfanwy. The slightly confused but very friendly barman takes our order for lunch, and we opt for the large roast dinner – apparently the small version is £7 and the large version is … also £7! Really! He said he was new. Before long, but with dry clothes, we set off again, into the rain once more and heading toward Coed-y-Brenin forest.
Soon we reach another fantastically exhilarating section, this time on a steep gravel road which is virtually a mudslide. The slate-strewn ground beneath us is literally moving, as the rain continues to cannon down from above. Trees have fallen in recent storms, and at times we have to bend down to the top tube, our heads on our handlebars, in order to clear their trunks! After another long day we make it to our hotel for the night. Sadly we find the drying room to be so cold (although it does at least have a dehumidifier) that we definitely don’t choose to dry our clothes in our room after being expressly told not to do so. No. At dinner, we meet a couple of lads biking the nearby trail centre … when we explain our trip to them they doubt our ability to finish it, and we wonder whether, if the weather carries on like it has, we can too! It has been another epic day.