Bala Part 2.

Saturday dawned overcast. The plans today involved cycling to Dolgellau approximately 17 miles away from the camp site. I decided that I would swim upon returning from the bike so that we could set off and make good time.

We did more bike faffage. My speedo still did not work and Bob was still poorly. The malfunctions had not righted themselves. We hummed and ahed over what to wear. It was over cast and the wind had a bit of a chill to it. Min had her shorts on and off and finally settled on longs. She would rather be too warm than too cold. Kaz had 3/4s on and I chose shorts. Mainly because I have a rule that if the temperature is above 12 degrees, shorts are ok. It is totally arbitrary and I have no idea where it comes from. But, the temperature was over 12.

We set off along the country lane. It would be fair to say that Kaz was a little nervous. She is relatively new to road biking and has been riding a mountain bike as a commuter. She has entered the event in October and was using the ride today to help her get used to riding with unfamiliar traffic. It seems vaguely potty that someone who rides through London may be a tad nervous on the roads of Wales. But the traffic is faster (and moving!) and not as frequent.

The country lanes are ok (although you never know what is round the corner). They were well maintained and easy to ride on.

We talked about the bike shop in Dolgellau. Kaz wanted to look in it incase they had some bike shoes. I also suggested that they may buy some tubes as I was the only one with a spare. It would be too thin for Kaz's bike anyway which runs 700 x35s (mine is 700 x18) .

The A road from Bala to Dolgellau forms part of the Bala olympic triathlon. It is known as a fast course. And it is absolutely fabulous.

The sky remained overcast. We cycled together for a while until the A road. Then I decided that I wanted to go for it. I took to my tri bars and was off. I soon lost Kaz and Min who decided to cycle together. Kaz's bike is not as fast as mine and Min (a much faster cyclist than I chose to say with Kaz) I did not mind. I peddled and was going pretty fast. No idea as my speedo still was not working. Peddling down a hill on my bars I was aware that my tyre had punctured. I suspect I was going at least 25 miles an hour. Fortunately I was able to stay upright, return to the drops and steer the bike to the safety of a lay-by. I set about fixing the puncture.

Approximately 5 minutes later Kaz and Min pulled in. They decided to wait for me to pump up the tyre. But alas – the tyre would not pump up and it was apparent that the new tube had also blown. Oh how my words came back to haunt me. The only one with a tube and 2 punctures.

After a fairly lengthy conflab we decided that Min and Kaz should cycle back to camp and bring the car back and then we would head to Dolgellau. Although they felt bad leaving me on my own, it was safest in case one of them had a puncture too. (Bearing in mind neither of them had a spare tube) I am still mystified by the irony.

We had travelled about 12 miles or so by this time. I thought that they would be about 2 hours getting back.

The day was grey and miserable. I was soon a bit cold. It had been raining and the ground was wet. It was damp and a little bit miserable.

Approximately an hour later I received a text. 17 and sunny. They are having a laugh I thought. I had taken to walking up and down the lay-by to keep warm. Reception on my phone was intermittent so I could not entertain my self with Facebook.

Kaz and Min arrived to pick me up about 1 hour 45 later. They had thoughtfully brought food and drink and some warm clothes. I put on the clothes only to get round the corner from the lay-by to find a bright sunny and warm day. How can that be?

As she cycled back to camp Min discovered that her garmin (which she had charged all night but it had lost all power by the morning ) was no longer working. Another malfunction. She had wanted to keep an eye on how far she was away so she could keep me informed of likely arrival times back. While I waited I examined my tyre. There was a hole in the side wall and so it was unlikely that I would be fixing a puncture anytime soon. The bike needed a new tyre really.

We drove into to Dolgellau and had a wander around the shops and a nosey around for an hour or so. We were lucky and secured a free parking space.

shopping in dogalleau

We then returned to camp via the Spa.

More milk was needed (and evening provisions) as the tent had got very hot during the mini heatwave.

That evening I had a swim in Bala. I swam for longer (about 35 minutes) and enjoyed every bit of it. The chop was great fun but it was also good to swim with the tail wind and be carried effortlessly along. Kaz and Min crewed and kept an eye out for me from the shore. Neither could be tempted in citing a lack of swimming kit as the reason. I swam past the Wiccan camp site. They had pegged out an area where they may enter the water so I swam around it. Min and Kaz later reported that they remained as unfriendly (if not less friendly as they did not make eye contact or attempt to even be civil) when they walked by. In spite of both calling out a cheery greeting.


The evening was relaxing and we sat and ate and drank and chatted. It is a wonder we can find things to talk about for the whole time. There was drumming and chanting from the Wiccan camp but they did not disturb us. Although not even civil they were no trouble or bother either, preferring to keep themselves to themselves.

The next day saw me having a quick morning dip before we "struck camp". We decided to take a ride on the Bala steam train. It is a very expensive excursion along the side of Bala. Most of the lake is obscured by trees but there were points when we could see the flow of the River Dee within Bala. Min had previously read that the Dee flows through Bala but the waters do not mix. Approaching this news with some scepticism we were won over. You can clearly see a smooth river of water flowing into and for the length of the lake. It looks a bit like a rip tide (for want of a better expression) but is well defined.

striking camp

One of the other campers had pointed out the phenomena to Kaz and Min as they walked on the shore spotting for me. It was clear from the train.

The steam train ride took about an hour or so and then we headed to the Holly Bush for dinner. I stopped at a local garage and bought a tenners worth of petrol. I planned to fill up at the Sainsburys in Wrexham but did not want to risk running out as I had hit the red mark. And with the mechanicals I had already experienced did not want to risk it. Train ride

This is a pub in Cwagerle which serves brill food that is fairly cheap. Min and I opted for sunday roast and the best apple and cherry crumble I have ever had in my life. Kaz had a sizzling sweet chilli salmon which looked beautiful.

Kaz and I set off back to London. Only to notice the bikes (that had been ok from Bala to Cwagerle) were now moving around in a disconcerting fashion. We stopped for fuel and whilst I filled up Kaz had a fiddle. But we had to stop in a car park and take them off and start again. And so it was about 1745 when we set off back to London. A great time to be on the M1. And we did have a slow ish ride home. I eventually dropped Kaz off just after 11pm and arrived home myself well before midnight.

It was a fabulous weekend. Swimming and cycling. With a few malfunctions.

Funnily enough my bike computer started to work again when I got home. I am sure Bob will work too when I get to plug him in. I think that perhaps the voltage at the camp site was not quite enough to power him.

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