Day 4: Glasbury to Llwyn-onn, distance: 68km, climbing: 1,000m

Re-reading yesterday’s blog I realised just how shattered I was last night. Forgot loads of stuff that I meant to include! Not least of which was the amazing birds of prey that I saw all day as I travelled through the mountains of mid-Wales.

I’m no ornithologist, so I won’t attempt classification, but they were bloody big and majestic. More on birds of prey below. Let’s unpack day 4.

Power anxiety

As well as a sub-standard blog post (and forgetting to clean my teeth before bed), the other symptom of my exhaustion was messing up my power situation.

I left my garmin connected to the battery pack not realising that it hadn’t been able to upload yesterday’s ride. I think it must have been trying all night, because the half-full battery pack was completely depleted this morning.

Luckily I have an emergency back up, but it doesn’t feel great to be using that on day 4. These battery packs are 20,000 mAh / 72 Wh. So they take a minute to charge. Power anxiety is real. Better type faster.

Fear is the mind-killer, I must not fear

I went to bed last night exhausted and full of fear about the climb into the Brecons today. I feel a bit silly now.

Sure, it was tough, but it was glorious and my legs and lungs were more than up to the challenge.

I really appreciated all of the DMs, comments, and motivational voice notes from folks who offered support. It really helped. Keep them coming. And if you haven’t messaged me with your support yet, perhaps take a moment to reflect on that 😜

What also helped was my cool little speaker and the Sun’s out, guns out playlist that I blasted out (at a moderate volume) up the brutal, lonely climb. Hitting the downhill off the top of the Brecons at 40km p/h to the soundtrack of “Nowhere to run to” by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas is a memory that will stay with me for some time.

Muzen wild mini Bluetooth speaker

I have also started cycling really slowly up hills. Granny gear all the way. This isn’t a race. Feeling much less knackered as a result.

Where’s the water

In yesterday’s blog I noted that the River Wye was running low. I hadn’t realised quite how bad it was. This morning I got chatting to some guys who run a canoe business on the Wye. They said it was grim. They were turning people away because there just isn’t the water to go canoeing, with knock on effects on campsites, B&Bs, cafes and more. It’s not canoeing, it’s the economy.

They joked about rebranding next year to offer walking tours of the river bed of what used to be the River Wye. Quite.

That was on my mind when I cycled up into the Brecons and passed three reservoirs (Talybont, Pontsticill, and Llwyn-onn) all of which are much lower than normal.

Pontsticill reservoir, dryer than usual

Reading about the efforts to reintroduce Golden Eagles to Wales today (which is pretty cool), I wondered if I was guilty of environmental bike-shedding. Excited about the cool birds of prey while the water runs out.

The ride report

Link to the Strava route.

Followed cycle route 8 again this morning, left it, and weirdly picked it up again later in the day. Made a mental note to research this more and consider cycling the whole thing in future (sorry, Jane).

Also realised that there is a thing called the Taff Trail (part of route 8?), which takes a different route from mine into Cardiff. One for another day.

The point at which I left route 8

Most of the climbs were gentle compared to yesterday. Gentle but long. Very long. Tough in a different way.

Long, slow gravel climbs

Delighted to discover canals again. Had a lovely chat over second breakfast in Talybont with a local cyclist who said the canals were a godsend when his legs gave out on a long hilly ride. He would always find the canal and follow it home. The first high-priest of Canalism right there.

Hallelujah for canals

Talybont reservoir was extraordinarily beautiful, if a little lower than typical.

Talybont reservoir

Day’s cycle ended with a wild goose chase around Merthyr Tydfil trying to find some camping gas. Ultimately I was successful, but as you can see from my Strava map (below), it was comical / tragic. Anyone who knows Merthyr will appreciate how much climbing that little jolly involved.

Comical / Tragic cycle around Merthyr

Another big day of climbing, reaching 1,000m, with some significant % being in Merthyr. Felt much more doable today.

Decided to use the camping gas and consume one of my dried meals this evening. That’s 165g I don’t have to carry tomorrow.

Tonight’s supper

Fourth night camping and I am still feeling pretty good about my tent. Had a chat with a chap who was taking his family around the country in a campervan this afternoon and he said “the thing I love about tents and vans is wherever you are and whatever is happening outside, they’re always the same inside”. I liked that.

Ask me anything (for money)

I am so grateful for all of the donations that are still flooding in for Llamau. Click here to make your donation.

I figured I needed a new gimmick to get you lot digging deeper into your pockets (clearly me punishing myself cycling up hills isn’t enough), so I am introducing the Ask me Anything (for money). With due trepidation.

How it works: make a donation on Just Giving. Then ask me a question through a comment or DM or whatever. I will endeavour to answer your question as honestly as I deem appropriate. There are no refunds if you don’t like the answer (it’s for charity dude).

If you have already made a donation, tough. You’ll have to make another one. I don’t make the rules! (Or do I?)

Here’s an example:

Greg (from Cambridge) asks: is it true that you cut your toothbrush in half and why?

Answer. Thank you Greg for your question. The answer is yes, I did saw my toothbrush in half, but not for the reason you might think.

Toothbrush sawed in half

Most people assume that this is some kind of extreme weight wrangling. The lower half of the toothbrush is unnecessary grams and every gram counts, right?

That’s a fun myth that I like to perpetuate, but the truth is that I have a very small wash bag and I needed to cut the toothbrush in half to fit it in. Yes, you can buy a silly folding one, but this is cheaper.

What question would you like to ask? You know what to do…

Tomorrow, I am heading over the valleys and into Cardiff where I will hopefully be meeting the team from Llamau and finding a garden or public park to pitch my tent. The South coast beckons.

3 thoughts on “Day 4: Glasbury to Llwyn-onn, distance: 68km, climbing: 1,000m”

  1. Well done on the climbing. I think you have been disadvantaged by your native topography. If you live in a place where hills are unavoidable I think it’s psychologically easier.

  2. Question from Bethan (she’s going to make a donation): what happened to the paracord hanger, did it come unknotted?

  3. Look like a spectacular day 4. I used to see a girl in Llangynidr (just beyond Talybont) and whilst in the Navy visited the area regularly as our training center was there. You must have cycled right past it as you went on that long slow climb up the side of the Talybont reservoir. I have hiked that 5 miles many a time.
    I couldn’t agree more on the granny ring and importantly staying in the saddle. If it gets really steep or you need a rest , zig zag across the road.
    I trust you are using some tabs in your water to avoid cramps . Don’t overdose on them. I maxed at 3 in a day.
    Very envious !

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