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Friday, 12 August 2016

11th August 2016: Clwyd Circular Special Ride

Another day of Pocket Rockets on and off as I set off in the rain for Hawarden. There was a hardy group of four (John M, Steve T, Tom and Andy B) who elected to hitch their ride with me over the hills and along the Vale of Clwyd today. Out via the main roads to Buckley, we were soon passing Llong and up into the hills as the gloom and heavy drizzle descended along with more wind than advertised. We have now hit the highest point of 1190ft passing through Nercwys and arrive at a crossroads. It dawns on me that the planned road is actually a closed road to a quarry, although OSCycle shows it as patent. A quick re-route finds us going down double-chevroned exit to Maeshafn and into Llanferres.

We are now on the A494 Ruthin Road bound for the Clwyd Gate and Llanbedr. The rain starts again as I suggest care on the downhill run into the right turn at Llanbedr. All are down safely and then a crashing sound as John slides off just after the turn. He is OK and so is the bike except for a front puncture. We huddle under a tree as we take ages changing the tube and annoyingly can't find anything wrong with the inner tube or tyre. We now wander along the floor of the valley ending up on the Ruthin-Denbigh main road. I decide to cut out the Brenig loop section to try to make up some time. 

Out and around St Asaph, there is now 6 miles of cycleways as we ride right along the Clwyd River path in a fierce crosswind into the Wetherspoons in Rhyl at around 1400. The “Sussex Arms” is heaving with holidaying families, but as ever, we are served quickly and the food arrives promptly. Just what we needed after 38 miles of rain and high winds. I promise a flat and wind-assisted return as we access the promenade for 10 miles of NCN5 to Talacre. As we pause for a photo, the wind is whipping the sand off the beach and sand blasting our legs and bikes.

Being sandblasted at Rhyl

Cycling at 20mph we feel no wind on our faces as I am tempted to see if the cycleway extends passed Talacre;- and it does!. So we circle the flattened Point of Air coal mine and commence our transit of the A548 coast road race track. I employ the usual dodges on the way to Flint to ameliorate the boredom of the main road and we end up in the usual cafe behind Sainsbury's.

Steve T needs to get back so he makes his way to Oakenholt and then up to Hawarden with 66 miles cycled with 2900ft of ascents and several mm of rain! We remaining four run along into Connah's Quay where Tom and Andy head for home as John and I access the Greenway. So thanks to the group for "scouting ahead on the hills" today and enhancing a very enjoyable Clwydian Circular in very unseasonable August weather.


PS: It seems the likely reason for John's dismount was a slowly deflating front tyre as he later found a pin-prick hole in the tube. He was very fortunate that this didn't cause him to come off on the downhill run into Llanbedr.

Photograph by John Mills

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