Sunday, 28 July 2013


Milnethorpe Sands are in Cumbria. My younger daughter, Jo whose second sport is cycling took me here. She wanted to show me where she broke her leg earlier this year. "Why do we want to go there?" I asked. "Because it is a beautiful bike ride" she replied.
When we arrived, she pointed out into the estuary. "It was there" she said "about a quarter mile out. I was kite surfing, misread the shallows and flipped over." I think that it is called a wipeout in kite surfing circles. Apparently she dragged herself back to shore, went into recovery mode and is now better.
Jo kite surfs the world and had just come back from Puerto Rico where she had been taking a kite surfing course. Jo has a website for medium and advanced courses. She does not normally have accidents.
We finished with cakes and coffee.

Saturday, 20 July 2013


Red kites were flying as I left my base at Rhydlewis, a tiny village about 4 miles from the coast. The O.S. map showed plenty of hills. I wanted to discover the valley of the River Teifi, sample the coastline and taste the inland countryside.
Rolling hills not dissimilar to Devon greeted me as I cycled to Cenarth where I met the Teifi and Lon Teifi, the long distance cycle route from Shrewsbury to Fishguard. The river at Cenarth has deep pools that hold salmon and where fishermen used to swing their nets from coracles, tiny boats made from animal skins. Today there is a museum and a few local people still have coracles.
The cycle route meanders to Cardigan following the river. Tree lined water meadows are seen with rolling farmland behind full of sheep and cattle.
The river enters a gorge at Cilgerran and an ancient castle looks down. Further on the cycle route follows an old railway through The Welsh Wildlife Centre and nature reserve just east of Cardigan.
I discovered two outstanding unspoilt beaches cycling north out of Cardigan, Mwnt where there is a tiny church and Penbryn. These are owned by the National Trust and local people must feel that they have two treasures.
The ride back took me through the hamlet of Betws Ifan where a workshop created in 1900 still displays enamelled metal signs that the owner's grandfather installed.

Sunday, 14 July 2013


Today seemed extra special as I cycled through the quiet Devon lanes where I live. I have cycled these routes many times. I left Ivybridge and went to South Brent. A mile south from here is the Cobbly Way at Avonwick. I clung on for dear life as I bumped over the cobbles and peddled off to Harbeton and Totnes.

It took me a while to realise why today was different. The morning was sunny and hot and it was not just me that appreciated the benefits of the weather. There was no traffic but this alone is not unusual. Cars like main roads and leave my little roads alone. What was special was the sound of birds singing, butterflies everywhere, wild flowers in the hedges and the smell of fresh cut grass for hay making.

Monday, 8 July 2013


This is the fifth year that I have joined the Balti Bike Club of Stafford's annual ride to the Welsh coast. Their main rule is that it must be at least 100 miles long passing through Snowdonia. This year it was to be 116 miles to Criccieth and we duly undertook the ride on Saturday.
Our meeting point was at Stafford Castle for a 6am start. Nine bleary eyed cyclists arrived with Andy heading the back up vehicles. He soon wakened us up with his bbc style interviews on his camcorder so our thoughts are recorded for posterity. I hope that I did not make a mug of myself!
Snowdonia beckoned. It was a 40 mile warm up over beautiful Staffordshire countryside to reach the Welsh border where the hills start.

The sun rose crystal clear in the sky and as we left Wem, it started getting hot. I had some factor 30 German suncream from a previous ride and on one occasion I plastered so much on my nose that I was asked by another rider if I had taken tips from Shane Warne. Well no, but my suncream became very popular with some of the others. At Llangollen, I was ringing wet with perspiration and had drunk 2 litres of milk (best drink for these conditions) as well as lots of water.
At Carrog while the others were enjoying lunch beside the River Dee, I cycled up to have a quick look at an old steam engine.

Lots of people have a nostalgic fascination with steam trains including me and I do not know why. Cycling is more fun though and I was relishing moving on.

We left Carrog for Corwen and Bala where by now we were in Snowdonia. The peaks were stunning in the glorious sunshine. How lucky we were with the weather. A wind blew up to cool us off. We had all spread out a bit because of the terrain.

Our fabulous back up crew kept us replenished with home made cakes and water. They always give magnificent support. There was the most enormous downhill through Ffestiniog. It would have been a killer if we had been cycling in the opposite direction. Becky and I whooped with joy as we passed 100 miles then I realised she might have been filming me.
The twist in the tale was at Maentwrog where with just 10 miles to go there was a 1:6 hill that did its best to break us. After that it was an easy ride into Criccieth where we had that mixture of elation and weariness that goes with a good challenge. A hot shower, dinner of roast lamb and a pint of cider soon replinished me.
Balti Bike Club's website can be found here and you can follow me on twitter.
Keep pedalling