Tenby Tywyn 400April 30, 2019
2020 Tenby Tywyn 400 km audax reconnaissance
8th August 2019: didn’t sleep well before the unfeasibly early alarm 3.50 am, to be in time for meeting Ritchie 5 am at Tenby. Why is it that long audax events always seem such a good idea a few weeks away, yet such a bad idea the night before? At least it was mild and dry, promising a nice day ahead. Almost no traffic as we spun up the main road to Kilgetty and the right for St Clears and Carmarthen. Light tailwinds and humid warm conditions allowed jackets to be ditched in Llandeilo. In no time seemingly, it was 8.50 and time for breakfast in West End Cafe in Llandovery.
I was having issues with a tubeless tyre leaking air and this dominated thoughts over the Sugar Loaf climb. By Beulah, 12 PSI was not enough and stopping to pump up the tyre every 10 miles was not an option. In went my single spare inner tube. At least between the 2 of us we had 2 left to get us though the remaining 200 miles. Cycling along the roller coaster Beulah to Newbridge-on-Wye road with 2 firm tyres felt fast. Amazing how seemingly minor mechanical worries early in a long ride can drag you down. Possibly the largest date slice in Llanidloes at the Oak Cafe, after pumping up my front tyre from 20 back to 60 PSI. Grateful thanks to the excellent Llani Bikes, who have now twice saved the cycling day.
The Hafren Forest route to Staylittle proved a spectacular approach to the Machynlleth mountain road. By the time we completed the hot slog over Happy Valley and down to a sun drenched Tywyn, the feeling of being half way felt great. During tea in the Talyllyn Railway though, tiredness made a return, growing rather than resolving. A sure indication that action was needed. A front wheel puncture in Happy Valley for Ritchie was an unwelcome reminder of being down to just 1 spare tube. The route next took us back to Talybont and then up the endless climb to Nantymoch. Up top, a stunning upland Cambrian mountain vista of moorland and reservoir was just reward. The roller coaster road though Devils Bridge, Ysbyty Ystwyth to Pontrhydfendigaid certainly tested reserves.
It felt like the last supper as we shared a 12″ pizza and watched the first spits of rain falling outside Tregaron. The forecasts had all indicated we would be in for a soaking after 9 pm. By the time we reached Lampeter, the rain could not get heavier. We were drenched with water streaming off every surface. Then followed a dark wet slog fest, the hills and rain combining forces to slow us uphill and down. A gusting head wind picked up and with yet more heavy sluicing rain past Narberth. Rolling back in to Tenby at 2.30am felt awesome. With 21.5 hours elapsed time, 17.5 of which cycling, it was a memorable day out. The route is here.