Hard to believe that we are almost at the end. Tomorrow I will make a final push on to Rhyl where my Slow Cycle Around Wales will be finished. Complete. Over.
I am writing this blog post from my friend’s house in Dulas on Anglesey (more details below). I’m not gonna lie, it’s all a bit emotional. Let’s get into it.
Ending homelessness in Wales
Long time readers will know that this bike adventure started as a thing that I wanted to do for me (and it still is that). Using it as an opportunity to raise money for Llamau to end homelessness in Wales wasn’t an afterthought, but it was something that was made possible because I had decided to go on this adventure.
Seeing how many people have got behind the fundraising for Llamau has been genuinely moving. Over 100 people have donated already and together we have raised £4,857 plus another £948 in gift aid. That makes this one of the top fundraising campaigns of the past month in the UK (apparently).
I think we can do even more. Please help over the next 24 hours by telling everyone you know about the Slow Cycle Ride and asking them to make a donation to support Llamau’s work.
Here is the link to Just Giving which you can share. Or just share a link to this blog.
Big last push. Let’s do this.
I have a confession to make.
I’ve not really been alone on this journey. I know it’s going to come as a shock, it did to me too. But I have been traveling as part of a team and I thought I should come clean and introduce you in this penultimate blog to at least some of the gang.
First (you’ve met him already) is my Brother from another mother, the bio-bike. My steadfast companion. His voice is kind of like Mr T from the A-Team. His role is to push the team to new acts of daring and risk taking. “Ease off the brakes”, “let’s go down that dirt path instead”, “call this a climb?”.
Held together with zip ties and gaffa tape following the Tumble, we’ve been on this journey together.
Next is my Garmin 530, gps bike computer. He/she has the preprogrammed route and provides directions and stats like speed, heart rate (connected to my watch), elevation, distance travelled etc. He/she is like a slightly hysterical version of Holly from Red Dwarf (both male and female versions), patronising, mostly right, but sometimes hilariously wrong. If a tiny computer could roll it’s eyes … “look I’m just showing you the route that you planned, if you want to listen to that oaf (Brother) and go hooning down that trail instead, fine, but I will find the biggest hill ever to get us back on route.”
He / she also has the tendency to break out into Samuel L Jackson or Christopher Walken impersonations when we are off route. “Oh I’m sorry did I break your concentration”, “you need to turn the bike around”.
Finally, my trusty 5mm Allen key, which for some reason has a French accent like the candelabra from Disney’s beauty and the beast. Whenever I get it out it’s like “oh ho oh, you need some more adjustments sir? Your seat is too high? I told you yesterday that it was too high, didn’t I?”, “allow me, voila!”
Addendum: I totally forgot to mention my glasses, which you will recall from a previous installment fell apart after a couple of days in the rains of Pembrokeshire. They are Private Hudson from Aliens. “Seventeen days? Hey man, I don’t wanna rain on your parade, but we’re not gonna last seventeen hours!“
Anthropomorphising my kit may be a sign that I am ready to go home.
Lovely start to the day as I chatted to lots of people at the fab Awelfryn campsite next to Traeth Llanddwyn. This was my last night of camping on this adventure and I couldn’t have asked for a better billet.
A new “Rob from Shropshire” (this time not called Rob and from Manchester) offered me a coffee unprompted (Legend) and I had a lovely chat with a couple from Cheshire who were keen cyclists and deeply committed to bio bikes (“e-bikes are just cheating” – their words not mine).
Most importantly, Charlie (7YO) gave me extensive advice on how to see Red Squirrels. I could either go to play golf everyday like his dad (who sees loads of them) or else look up at the top of trees, which is how Charlie finds them. Sadly, despite following Charlie’s advice (looking up, not golf) I did not see a red squirrel today.
Cycling around Anglesey is a lot of fun. Rolling hills. Light traffic. And, today at least, glorious sunshine. Also, tiny horses.
I followed cycle route 8 up to Holy Head, had a quick look at the Roman Fort, waved to my friends Andy, Egle, and Innis in Ireland, and found Reubens coffee shop (strong recommend) just in time for lunch.
The rest of the day’s cycling was pleasant and uneventful. I saw some cute baby goats, took a break at Cemlyn Bay, and visited the Pearl Engine House on the Industrial Heritage Trail (mostly for the gravel trail to be honest).
All of which eventually brought me to Dulas to stay with my friends Pete and Suzi. They have an amazing house a few minutes from a secluded beach and I can’t think of anywhere better to spend the last night of this trip.
Pete is one of the co-founders of Raspberry Pi and served as a trustee of the Foundation for something like 9 years. He’s an engineer from Salford, whose passion in life is inspiring the next generation of young makers and he has given a huge amount of time to running hands on workshops for young people. In fact, he is one of the people who has done most to inspire young engineers in the UK in the past 15 plus years.
Suzi is Pete’s better half, an ex-copper and tri-athelete who still likes to hop over to Ibiza for a quick visit to Pacha. They are – in short – both mega-legends.
Stopping in Dulas makes tomorrow a bit longer than originally planned, so I’ve got about 100km to get back to Splash Point where this all started.
Ask me anything (for money)
Trying to catch up with all the questions, so I am going to try a quick fire round.
Phil McB (Cambridge): did you buy a titanium pooh shovel and if so was it worth it?
I think it’s aluminium not titanium, but it’s very light and has absolutely been a great investment. It hasn’t had much use because Wales has excellent public conveniences, but it has provided piece of mind. One day I’ll tell you the story about the pooh trowel and the cow who was being a dick.
Jane (Cambridge): has life on the road distracted you from thinking about work?
Having to focus on the road, the route, not falling off, food, shelter, finding public toilets, birds of prey attacks, the views, finding my spork, the NPCs etc has indeed been very distracting. I’ve still thought about work, but differently. I think you’d call it perspective.
Tim (Cambridge): what is that you are cooking with?
I use an Alpkit Koro with a 900ml titanium pot. Very simple, but all I am really doing is heating water and warming up precooked food. No Michelyn stars being won here.