Now I’m not a religious person but as I continue to explore the coastal area of Tywyn and Aberdovey I can’t help but think the land is blessed by a cycling God. The roads are smooth, quiet and have views that would have Monet scratching his head as to where to start. Below is the first of a series of sub 50 mile routes I have had the pleasure of experiencing so far.
The profile of the ride is relatively flat in the main with quite a challenging spike after around the 20 mile marker delivering 6 miles of 1000ft of climbing before a fast descent back down to neutral ground with further favourable elevation losses back to sea level. The roads are quiet with a mixture of standard A/B roads and some single lane roads of which are so quiet you may have some disgruntled squirrels shaking their heads in disapproval as you disturb their peaceful tranquility with the sound of your spokes cutting through the air. Or in my case sounding like a walrus with a chesty cough looking for some Cavonia at the summit.
The Sea View
Starting from the quiet town of Tywyn after a freshly baked croissant from Popty’s, (who daily fills the air with heavenly scents of freshly baked savoury goodness at sunrise) the route heads north along the coast towards Fairbourne. Here your view stretches along the sea and is about as coastal as you can get. High enough to take in the view, but not so high as to impair your vision with sweat in order to get there. The road slowly winds up along the coast in the direction of Fairbourne and then starts to cut inland to head towards Arthog.
From here you follow the A493 towards Abergwynant and pass through Penmaenpool as your tyres continue to kiss smooth flat roads working seamlessly with the tarmac accompanied by inland views of Snowdonia National Park. Unaware of the challenge ahead the small town of Dolgellau provides a distraction from the route as I followed the one way system through this dainty little town which is full of inviting and tempting little cafes beckoning me to stop to sample the freshly baked cakes on offer. I remember passing through the town wondering what the landscape will deliver when I came across a road and thought to myself ‘wow, that is some incline’ when all of sudden my Garmin starts beeping at me telling me I’m off course. The picture here doesn’t do it justice but this category 3, 1.6 mile climb was painful. Averaging 8.5%, but peaking at 17.5% the road quickly kicks up as I start kicking myself for not stopping for a sugary hit at the cafes just gone as my search for energy gets deep. The climb then inserts a teasing decline before another 400ft climb over 3.5 miles with gradients hitting above 6% but after the initial kick this climb felt twice that.
The reward at the top of the climb is 3 miles of 4.4% descending to give the legs a rest and time to reflect on what, for me, was the toughest climb to date. Filled with a sense of achievement after admittedly nearly stepping off the bike to find the summit by foot, the route takes me west on the A487 and starts heading back in the direction of Tywyn.
Do you remember a particular car advert where the in built sat nav keeps sending the driver in the wrong direction and then reaches a stretch of road so smooth and long and says ‘now drive’? Well I couldn’t help but recall this advert when I was presented with this stretch of asphalt. The road surface was clean, smooth and at the time of cycling, traffic free. To add to this the mountainous backdrop whispered sounds of encouragement as I reach for the drops and power down the road with the added bonus of the morning sun on my back. What more could I ask from this bike ride?
And there it was, a Da Vinci Code moment of discovery that can only be described as the day Moses cycled through Wales on his way to the red sea, parting the mountains and with it laying the most beautiful piece of blessed tarmac ever to have hit the earth. This just took my breath away, which didn’t help as I was now 30 miles into the ride and feeling it!. The view stretched down to a teasing glimpse of a lake that looks purposefully placed to complete the picture of paradise. I cycled through the mountains and the view of the lake got bigger, but before reaching the lake the profile descends down a fast road that has me in the drops, tucked in with zero cadence. As the mountainous landscape changed with every km, I suddenly found myself accompanied by two others that have taken advantage of the morning sun, only their view changes a lot quicker than mine despite taking a break from the mach speeds they usually reach. I’m not a plane buff, but seeing two ‘fighter type jets’ twist through the mountains is nothing short of impressive. I’d like to think they were looking down thinking the same of me….perhaps not.
The bottom of the descent introduces flat road, and I mean flat as the road hugs the lake. There is literally a raised curb that separates the road from the lake and to the left is a high bank leading up to a mountain peak. I consider stopping but a second thought told me that if I did, I would lose the best part of 30 minutes in the view. With the road so flat you can’t resist the urge to get in the drops, power down the roads and lean into every curve. The only problem with that however is the lake soon comes and goes. Before you know it you pass the fishermen out on their boats who I still expect to be there today, it’s so quiet and still. The road then swings round to the right to allow one last glimpse at the lake and road I have criminally powered through and in the distance the mountains that I can’t believe I have just ridden through. The legs are now starting to ache after that effort but a look at the Garmin tells me there are just 7 miles to go.
The Home Straight
The road takes me onto the B4405 as I head back to Tywyn high street and just when I think the route can’t deliver anything more, the fatigue in my legs is distracted by the landscape presented on the final leg. This just sums up the route which is further highlighted by blistering sunshine. A short climb up to Abergonolwyn to pass the Tallylin Steam train and then down into Tywyn centre. I finally reach Tywyn high street and before heading back to base I drop into Dolly’s Upper Crust for one of their milkshake specialities and sit outside to remember the route once more before returning to the hustle and bustle of family life. Discover Wales people, no seriously!
The GPX file (embedded from RidewithGPS.com)
Click the “View full route” in the upper left to visit RideWithGPS, or just grab the GPX file.