Julian Allen writes…..

After the best part of two weeks very hard work unpacking boxes, trying to get rooms sorted in our new house and thinking that the next contractor would turn up in the afternoon, I was encouraged to get out on my bike. So I did, only to get a phone call half an hour later saying that the TV aerial man had arrived. Cue a dash back home to find out why we had so many TV sockets, none of which appeared to work. The hill up to our house from the village centre is seriously steep but thankfully very short. Nevertheless I appeared at my own front door panting hard.

Today, being Sunday and missing the Sunday ride – thought about you – I set off up the hill from our house. That there is a single arrow on the map is but the merest hint of what is to come. Long and very steep with little respite. Despite a few weeks off the bike I did manage it, but what a brutal way to start a ride. Finally reaching the summit there was a good downhill in compensation but I knew that I wanted to reverse that particular road for the journey home.

Of the ride itself – to Welshpool – I would note that one could survive on two gears, one very low and one very high. The flat road – well there wasn’t much – but I could see that a third gear might have a use – until I turned into the wind. Forget the middle gear, not needed. In Welshpool I found a Tourist Information Centre where I was able to buy a CTC guide (and not CUK) on rides in the area. There are some really interesting looking rides that are very accessible from home and they note the food stops – I have a ride calendar!  In compensation for the hills, the views were glorious especially coming back to Montgomery, with the ruins of the castle sticking up from a sheer cliff face. Also of note was the state of the roads: firstly in very good repair and secondly the car drivers, or rather the lack of car drivers, even on a B road. The few that passed by were almost French in the courteousness towards a lone cyclist, moving right over into the other lane – well it was a dead straight Roman road with nothing oncoming.  Cycling here is going to be very hard but great fun.

The workshop is planned but not built, as other rooms have taken priority but I think it is now pretty high on the agenda as I shall have to review the gear ratios or get fitter or lose more weight or all three. I have found a local bike project but the throughput of bikes sounds very low – they have 2 needing work and one of these is just tyres, the other has a stuck seatpost so may not be fixable if it has cold welded itself to the frame. Good thing that I need to do some work on my bikes.

The key challenge with living in deepest darkest rural Wales is the broadband speed. It is frankly non-existent. It is an order of magnitude slower than the standard broadband speed which BT should be providing – and BT say they will achieve that for the whole country in the next 3 years (dream on!) Uploading photos is therefore a bit of a challenge, I tried and got: ” An error occurred in the upload. Please try again later”.  There is only one thing for it – carry on sorting out the house and then get on the bike.

Hope to see some of you soon up here – bring the mountain legs or an electric bike!

  1. There’s a Travel Lodge, Premier Inn and a hotel called the Moreton Lodge where we stayed when recce-ing a tour about four years ago All are right by Oswestry and all are quite reasonable.

  2. Do come – in about 6 weeks we will have the guest bed delivered. Plenty of room for a mobile home – but perhaps not flat. Lots of room for tents. Alternatively the Old Vicarage at Dolfor was absolutely lovely – we stayed there on the night of the move up here – bit pricey perhaps but for us on that night worth every penny and the breakfast was excellent. Bring waterproofs!

  3. Julian – great to hear you are settling in…and up and down.
    Paul, Chris and I were only discussing on Sunday the possibility of a SADR group visit at some stage in the future, please keep your ear to the ground for some suitable accommodation. On the other hand, if you’re struggling with the hills there’s no hope for us mere mortals.