Went on a trip to Llandudno over the weekend of end May/beginning June 2008. I took the ferry across from Dublin to Holyhead.Arrived in Holyhead at 11am.
Cycled along the A5 to avoid the A55, and though the cycling was strenuous for someone of my fitness levels, it was very nice.
The young fellow in the photo below was cycling along on an old mountainbike. I overtook him at a stage and happily cycled on, forgetting about him. Until about ten minutes later, he comes haring past me when I slowed to take this photo. From there on, he kept peering over his shoulder and then pedalling furiously when he saw me. This went on forever, and eventually I stopped for lunch earlier than I would have otherwise so he could for heaven’s sake just get ahead.
Hill from hell. I know, I know, three quarters of you cycling maniacs would think nothing of it. I’m old, fat and unfit, okay?
I’d been told that there was definitely a cycling route alongside the A55 motorway, both by finding (eventually) some references to it on the internet, and also by a local I asked. I therefore looked out for cycling route signs, and eventually found markers for route 5. It was an absolute nightmare to try and stick to wherever bicycles are supposed to go along here. At one point the route started up the mountain in the direction of Snowdonia, with me not having a clue if I’m on the right route or going to end up miles from where I was supposed to be.
I felt really down, until I saw this view and just somehow knew everything was going to be fine. From there on this section is among some of the most beautiful I have ever cycled along.
This path ended in a small road parallel to the highway again, but no signs as to where cyclists should go. At last I just cycled on to the end of the smaller road, even though I was told it’s a dead end by someone I asked. Turned out it wasn’t a dead end for cyclists. However, I soon was in a situation where I hadn’t the faintest clue where to go, and crossing this footbridge seemed the only option.
After that things were better. Much better.
This was taken in Llandudno, looking at the route I’d cycled along to get there.Return journey was even more of a nightmare. All went well and I reached the end of the path I’d mentioned above. Had a profound thought here and had to write it down.
At some point I saw sign boards saying, very clearly, “Cycle route 8: Holyhead”. This had to be the elusive cycling route I had been told of. Not keen to repeat some of the nightmarish bits I had to go through on the way there, I thought I’d rather follow the proper route. All went well for a while. The route wound its way through back roads and was very well signposted. Up to a point, where at a crossroads all signboards ceased to exist. By this time the route had wound so thoroughly through the countryside that I had no idea where I was or which way was up. I went straight on, and cycled through a stunningly beautiful section.
That’s the last photo I took, because after this things went seriously pear-shaped. I reached a tiny village where I asked for, and received, directions. I had somehow ended up way south of where I was supposed to be. I had to reach Holyhead in time to board the ferry I was booked on, so the rest of the day was a mad dash to get there on time. I did; in fact, I had an hour and twenty minutes to spare when I got there, but I had pushed myself to a state of utter exhaustion in the process. I found the insecurity of not knowing wtf I was, not having any idea how far I still had to go so that I could pace myself, all that led to a mental drain that made a distance I can usually cycle with little difficulty into a complete nightmare. It’s a shame, as the countryside thereabouts is stunningly beautiful in places. Not as nice as Northern Ireland, but then, I’m biased! I love the Mournes and the Cooleys!
I’m an inexperienced cyclist, so yes, I’m sure a lot of you are shaking your heads here, but next time I go somewhere I’m not familiar with and am far from support, I will do my utmost to lay my hands on a detailed map of the area, and rather rely on my own map reading than signposts to find my way.
Silly me! But a lesson worth learning.
Total distance: 90km
Travelling time total: 7h00
Total cycling time: 5h30
Average speed: 16km/h
Total distance: 103km
Travelling time total: 7h30
Total cycling time: 5h37
Average speed: 18km/h