Cycling in North Wales

Cycling in North Wales


Beware he – or she – who cycles in North Wales. Spectacular though the scenery is and enjoyable though the riding is there are several pitfalls to be wary of before embarking on your journey of Celtic discovery.

Cycling in North Wales
Having grown up in an area of Wales not too far distant from the wilds of North Wales – Aberystwyth – its rural aspect and nature has always been well known to me. However, what I hadn’t done there until very recently was cycle. This shift in focus brought with it renewed vigour to explore everything the roads of the area have to offer, lumped together with confusion, frustration, pain and more than one look of utter disbelief.

Clearly, cycling in North Wales needs either knowledge or preparation; but what does that involve? Well, let me enlighten you with these 5 hastily learned tips…

  1. Don’t trust the roads. Cycling up a small mountain road in North Wales? Be prepared to turn back; most of them turn, inexplicably, into gravel, mulch or mulchy gravel immediately upon reaching the summit. If you’re content climbing multiple peaks in vain then this isn’t a big problem, but you’ve been warned…
  2. Don’t attempt to tackle the gravel. So, you’ve reached a gravelled path but how long can it be before the tarmac resumes? A long time. Unless on a mountain or cyclocross bike turn back, it’s not worth it. Not even the locals seem to know whether their roads have a suitable surface.
  3. The scenery is some of the best; enjoy it. Choose the right path through Wales and you’ll end up exploring some of the most picturesque and stunning countryside Britain has to offer. To be honest, it’s hard to go wrong; it’s all so damn pretty.
  4. Prepare for hills. You’ll climb hills; lots of hills. What did you expect? North Wales is home to some of the most impressive mountains in the UK. Of course, once you get to the top you get to enjoy the view and rocket down the other side. That won’t last though; there’s always another steep incline.
  5. Eat the Cake. If there’s one thing you can be sure of in a small Welsh village it’s cake, or at least a bakery. No matter how far you come in the wind and rain, no matter how many peaks you’ve bested in vain, there will always be a jolly good cake nearby. Go in search. The bara brith will be particularly good.

All things considered, the North Walian scenery makes any hardship worth it; it is after all one of the areas I’ve most enjoyed cycling around. It can just be a little tricky… Honestly, North Wales is not trying to kill you and do away with your bike. Embrace it; the cake will taste better as a result.

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