A photo of the Welsh mountains

A slow cycle around Wales

My plan to spend a couple of weeks on a bike in the land of our fathers

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This post was originally published on Substack on 5 April 2022. At that time, I was trying out the idea of a newsletter. I have subsequently discovered that it is really difficult to write on Substack on a mobile phone, so I have decided to migrate the content over to my blog.

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Some time over the past 6 months I decided that I should cycle around the circumference of Wales. The current, rather vague, plan is to do this in late July 2022, with a fallback of September depending on work and family commitments.

The route I’ve sketched out starts in Sunny Rhyl and goes clockwise. It is about 1,400km long with something like 15,000m of climbing. A mix of off-road, tarmac, and cycle paths. I expect to return to Rhyl approximately 14-16 days after setting off. This is a tour not a race.

I am doing it solo and unaided, which means carrying my camping and cooking gear, clothes, repair and maintenance kit, and everything else on the bike. And no, I’ve never done anything like this before.

I’ll explore the rationale for the trip in a future newsletter. Much to unpack there.

The idea of a newsletter is much easier to explain. It was inspired by my friend Chris M. who once cycled across America on a tandem. He published a daily newsletter that gathered quite the cult following. Chris is a much better writer than me and I have no aspirations for this newsletter to be as witty, insightful, or well-read as his.

What really inspired me to follow Chris’s example was his observation that having a newsletter to write gave him something to think about when he was on the bike. I sort of dismissed the thought at the time (too difficult, self-indulgent, surely I’ll be focused on the stunning landscapes).

That all changed last Saturday when I did my longest ever ride: 217km (Kings Lynn to Southwold). It was nearly 11 hours of cycling. Hard work. Beautiful sunshine (until the last two hours in the dark). Lots of time to think. That’s when Chris’s advice came back to me and I decided to give this newsletter thing a go.

We’re at least a few months out from the actual event so, for now, this will be a place to explore my motivation, preparation, anxieties, fears, and hopes. I think it might be helpful to have a record of this pre-ride phase to look back on. It might even help me get advice from more experienced adventurers before I set off.

I also see it as a commitment device. The more people I tell about my plan, the lower the likelihood of me finding excuses for not following through. Professor Thaler would be proud.

Ultimately, I hope this newsletter will give me something to think about on the bike and a way of sharing some of the experience with friends.

If you’re here, please subscribe. If it turns out to be shit, you can easily unsubscribe or send me to your spam folder. I won’t take it personally.

Feel free to leave a comment. I am particularly in the market for stories of people who have been on similar adventures.

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