by Nigel Blandford
The plan was simple. A ride over to Llandudno in North Wales in ultra minimal touring style, stay in hotel and back by a different route next day. Thus the Saddlebag Weekend was hatched with two Nigels, Caroline Mcfarlane and Neil Swithenbank, who had a weekend pass, taking up the reigns.
The journey out was via Cheshire, crossing into Wales near Wrexham, then up over Worlds End and Horseshoe Pass before heading to Llandudno via Ruthin. While there was a strong headwind for most of the day it wasn’t that energy sapping and the rain while forecast, never really reared it’s head. First cafe stop was Wrexham then shortly afterwards we started the steep climb on the beautiful, small quiet road to Worlds End. The view at the top was stunning over the Clwydian Hills and the route of the Offas Dyke path. The fabulous decent to Worlds End finishes with a ford which required very careful and slow navigation. The descent continued past some impressive limestone cliffs before we finally came to the bottom of the Old Horseshoe Pass. I won’t try and dress it up. The climb out this now quiet back road up to the new road at the Horseshoe Pass Cafe is the most brutal I’ve had to contend with. Not only was it steep, it just kept going on and on. Somehow we all made it to the top but a little piece of us was left somewhere on that climb. Nigel then made the correct decision to switch to route B which led straight to the coast and avoided more large climbs. We hit the coast at Rhyl then headed west, arriving in Llandudno around 18.30. Just shy of 100 miles and 5000 foot of climbing. We checked into our hotels, beer was drunk, curry was eaten, Tour De France highlights were watched and some sleep was had.
For the journey back next day we had great weather with even some sun, mainly flat and traffic free cycle paths until Chester and a tailwind all the way.
Thanks to Nigel Hood for arranging a great overnighter.