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Cambrian Challenge


May 15th & 16th

There were many imponderables in organising this event.  We weren't sure whether the start venue would be suitable for large numbers of riders, machines, cars, trailers, etc.  We weren't sure whether our destination would be suitable ditto.  Lastly, we weren't even sure whether anyone would arrive at said destination, bearing in mind the proposed route, which traversed the southern end of the Snowdonia National Park, an area not famed for its flatness.  Consequently, my 'invitation article' in the last Buzzing was circumspect, verging on the downright pessimistic - perhaps too much so, because only the home team appeared at the start!  As things turned out, our fears were largely unfounded.  Paul Raybould ignored my advice to "select a machine from the more powerful end of the NACC spectrum" and arrived on his Winged Wheel.  Suffice it to say I now have a great deal more cyclemotors and Paul's pedalling legs!  John Allen tried to ignore my advice but couldn't get his Solex running, so Mike Crumpton, in a gesture typical of the man, loaned John a Mobylette.

What of the run?  We set off at mid morning from the pretty village of Llanrhaedr under blue skies and were soon climbing.  The moorland above Bala is a desolate area but as it wasn't dark, snowing, wet or windy, in was unlikely that anyone would get a puncture.

Lunch was taken overlooking the largest natural lake in Wales, after which we pressed on to Llyn Celyn where we regrouped before continuing to Trawafynydd with terrific views of the Rhinog mountains beyond.  The route then proceeded along a most beautiful estuary to Harlech, where tea and buns and a chance meeting with another NACC member set us up for the last stretch to our overnight accommodation at Llanbedr Youth Hostel.  There, Mike surprised a large German lady in the shower, so we took him to the pub to settle his nerves.  The conversation subsequently ranged from Django Reinhart's guitar technique to Paul's most embarrassing moment with a trombone.

Sunday morning dawned dry and sunny again, so the Youth Hostel contingent diverted two miles to dip their tyres in the sea covering Shell Island causeway.  Paul's dad, Henry, showed off his new camera and then we went in search of Catherine and Jon Chesworth, who had overnighted in the Barmouth Hotel.

The run home followed Barmouth estuary back to Dolgellau, then on to one of the stations on the Llyn Tegid narrow-gauge railway line where we stopped for a look around and a cuppa.  The Winged Wheel showed a voracious appetite for sparking plugs but otherwise all machines ran faultlessly.  Back at the start, I was delighted to spot my wife on her way home from a camping trip.  So bag and baggage went into the 2CV and I set off alone for home 20 miles distant reflecting on how lucky we had been with the weather.  Just then, it started raining!

First published - August 1999

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