The Barmouth Boulevard is a brand new audax 208km event heading out from Corwen round Lake Bala, over the Trawsfynydd mountain road and on to Harlech and Barmouth. The return is through the Bird Rock road to Abergynolwyn, Corris, the mountain road to Mallwyd, Cross Foxes and Bala town. It is scheduled as a calendar event for October 20, but can be ridden anytime as a "permanent".
The purpose of today’s ride, apart from having a great day out, was to get Ray to check out the route sheet as initially prepared by DM. It is quite remarkable how many first time errors appear in route sheets (as well as subsequent changes put in by road makers) and the best way to counter this is to get a second person to ride the route and see it through their eyes.
After several false starts caused by rubbish weather, we eventually left Corwen at 07:30 on Tuesday 14 August and headed out to Bala on a day that threatened just a few showers. We turned off the main Bala road to ride alongside the E side of the lake, which road was covered in rather dangerous new gravel in several places, to the first control at the Eagle Inn in Llanuwchllyn. After a good fill of coffee and doorstep toast, we set off for Trawsfynydd over the narrow mountain road. The gravel spreaders had been at work here also and made the first 10k dangerous as well as strenuous up the steep hills. The gravel rather spoiled the spectacular mountain views, as all our senses were required to stay on the bike.
Fortunately the gravel ended abruptly just before the last hill, so we could then enjoy the ride and views over to Trawsfynydd and the subsequent main road route to Harlech. After a deli stop in Harlech, we then continued down the main road to Barmouth, followed by a ride over the Causeway to the Towyn road. This section of road is really beautiful as it climbs above the sea before finally turning inland near Llanegryn, leading to the fantastic mountain views along the Bird Rock road to Abergynolwyn.
The official control here is at the local library/cafe/post office which we now know is open 6 days per week - closed Tuesdays. Fortunately we spotted a nice pub down the road where we got our cards stamped and filled up selves and bottles with liquid refreshment. The route now leads northeast past several lakes and a big climb to Corris. After Corris, we turned off along another mountain road through Aberllefenni that has been recently resurfaced. This nice surface helps just a bit on the 17% and 20% ascents over to Mallwyd and civilisation.
The next part of the ride was one of the hardest in our fairly tired state, as we had to climb 10k from Mallwyd up to Cross Foxes on the main road. No chance of falling asleep here as white van men and tourists whizzed close by on the road and Tornado jets screamed overhead on low level exercises. Once recovered in Cross Foxes, we headed off through Brithdir and then the main road to Bala followed by the Pale route to Corwen.
Overall a hard but very fulfilling day out of 132 miles (212K) and 12,000ft (3500m) ascent in 13.5 hours. Thanks to Ray for his company, improvements to the route sheet and for waiting for me at the summit of the hills.