May 19, 2017


Day five, and I was ready for a rest day (but that's not today). I was feeling a little bit off, and we were slated to climb about 2,000 feet.

Rocky mountain stream, Snowdonia National Park, Wales
Faced with a steep (though short) climb before we'd even warmed up, several of us were quick to dismount (max grade today, 22%).

I wasn't expecting to be rained on. [You'd think I'd learn?] Luckily, it was only a short burst, not much wetness.


Was that a hailstone that just bounced off my mirror? Ping! Another one hitched a ride on the lid of my bag until it melted.

Three riders from the Gwernyfed  RFC, heading south on a two-day ride, near Beddgelert, Wales
We waved at a stream of cyclists passing in the opposite direction, members and supporters of the Gwernyfed rugby football club, on a two-day fundraising ride from the most northerly club in Wales to the most southerly.

There was talk of a steam train, and whether our timing would align to see it. I caught a glimpse through the trees. Evidently it's coal-powered—and a very sulfurous coal, at that. One of the Welsh Highland Railway's trains, I believe.

We stopped for our morning break at a pub in Beddgelert, which was fortuitous for me as the menu offered a ginger beer that helped settle my system. Shortly after we stepped inside, the rain came pouring down. It stopped by the time we were ready to roll out, and I was the only one who suited up in my rain gear. [Which meant, of course, that we would see no more rain.]

Figure on a tricycle planter advertising local bike shop, Beddgelert, Wales
Regrettably, we didn't pay a visit to the local bike shop, but were surprised to find a wicker bicycle mounted above the stairs inside the pub.

Wicker bicycle wall hanging, Beddgelert, Wales
We continued on our way through Snowdonia National Park, heading for the coast.

Cliffs in Snowdonia National Park, Wales
Looking at the map, and the roads not taken ... I just might have to come back here.

Sheep grazing at the foot of cliffs, Snowdonia National Park, Wales
We had a schedule to keep today, as we would be crossing the Irish Sea (by ferry) to Dublin. We made good time, affording a chance to admire the nature reserve at Foryd Bay.

Low tide at Foryd Bay Nature Reserve near Caernarfon, Wales.
Our riding ended at Caernarfon, where we enjoyed lunch and a stroll around the town square near the Castle. Despite the weak start to my day, I felt pretty good at the end: 33 miles, 1,830 feet of climbing.

Caernarfon Castle, Caernarfon, Wales
A local cyclist struck up a conversation, wanting to learn about our trip. “You weren't cycling on Monday?!” she exclaimed.

The scavenging gulls were a menace! You had to keep close watch on your food, and they'd dive at a table as soon as the diners departed, knocking plates and cups to shatter on the stone plaza. Before the trip, while I was languishing sick at home, I had binged on Hitchcock movies. Fittingly, the last one had been “The Birds.” Here, we laughed at a little boy chasing them down—he couldn't have been more than four years old. “Shoo, you bloody bird!” he cried, flailing his arms at one. [He hasn't seen the movie.]

Ribride speedboat, Caernarfon, Wales
To free us from the time pressure of biking across the Isle of Anglesey to reach the ferry at Holyhead, the group would get a tour up the Menai Strait on a speedy boat (45 knots, at one point).

We cruised under the Menai Suspension Bridge, regarded as the first modern suspension bridge (completed in 1826).

Menai Suspension Bridge, Menai Strait, Wales
From St. George's Pier, the van carried us onto the ferry and the next phase of our adventure: Ireland, the third country of our Five Countries Tour.

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