Author Topic: RR: Carmarthenshire Snapper  (Read 2115 times)

RR: Carmarthenshire Snapper
« on: 31 March, 2008, 10:49:39 pm »
I rode to the start of this one, with Dave Lewis, who was less than fresh after a sodden Making Hay the day before.  The route to the start at Bynea traces the start of his inaugural Estuary Welsh in 3 weeks time, and the last 22km of Dai Harris' United Counties.  It includes the sharp climb out of Clydach, so cold fingers and toes soon had warm blood being pumped to them.

One of the advantages of cycling to the start is that it reduces faffage potential.  I could have faffed with my computer, as the battery died just as I was resetting the 'trip' distance.  I had a spare one but couldn't be arsed to change it - why not try the 'no computer' mode of cycling that others swear is so liberating?  I knew the route pretty well so didn't need to refer to the distances between the instructions. (In fact, some of the distances on the routesheet were so out it would have been misleading to use them).

Anyway, a quick chat, a storing away of brevet cards and we were off in a 12-strong peloton along the virgin tarmac of a new Llanelli 'link-road' (what other type is there?), the sea-front cycle path to Burry Port, and the main-road dash to Kidwelly.  The riders pretty much stayed together so we all ended up sitting together outside the Ferryside cafe control,  out of the wind and in some fine sunshine, no less fine for being unexpected.  I left with my riding companion, Ian, behind a couple of quicker riders.  We weren't to see them again, but we got to the Arrivee before them so don't know what happened to them.  We settled in to a pleasant ride across country to Fairfach, and then the back road through Bethlehem, Llangatog and on to the West End Cafe at Llandovery.  For the 20km from Fairfach to  Llangatog bikes we met far more bikes than cars.

The speculation at Ferryside suggested that the sun and dry roads would bring out the bikers.  And sure enough, as we approached  the West End Cafe we could see a large knot of shiny blackness outside the cafe, monopolizing the tables.  Never mind, the service was as quick as ever.  But the young boy employed solely to sit at a table and stamp / time brevet cards was absent.  Now that the Brevet Cymru has been cancelled maybe he's been 'let go'.

The next leg is the really scenic section, not in the traditional Audax sense, or at least not only in the traditional Audax sense.  There's a  gradual climb through light woodland along the Towy to Rhandirmwyn,  and it was here that the clouds darkened and we felt the first spots of the rain that had been forecast.   The route then turns off there and loops up and round, through a hamlet called Cwrt-y-Cadno (Fox's Court), to Dol-y-Cothi where gold is mined.  The road is narrow but good and there were no cars.  There was more climbing, through tight valleys and with high hills on either side.  But when the watershed is crossed and you're in the upper Cothi valley, there are some patches of flatness at the bottom of the valley and the grass in the meadows there is emerald green.  It was glistening in the sunlight yesterday, and the lambs were as white and fluffy as the clouds had become.  The threatened rain never arrived. 

At the car-park checkpoint by Drwslwyn Castle Colin told us we were the first to arrive, which surprised us.  Both of us had punctured since Llandovery and both times had expected Dave Lewis or Tim Jones to overtake us.  Dave must have been tired from his previous day's exertions and it turned out that Tim had also  punctured, and discovered his pump didn't work properly.  He was riding with a first-time randonneur, who, whether through foolishness, naivety or optimism, didn't have a pump with him.  However, he did know that the farmer at the next farm was a cyclist and was likely to have a pump.  As he did.  Sorted.

The last leg is something of an anti-climax - flat, poorly-surfaced road out to Carmarthen, then busy fast A road to Kidwelly before doing the outward route in reverse.  The last 20k are very flat but I was finding it increasingly hard to keep up with Ian and I was in a fairly poor state - cold,  achy and quasy -  and Bynea couldn't come quick enough.   Cycling to the start was great.  The prospect of cycling home seemed bleak.  So I wimped out and phoned home for the cavalry. 

As other finishers arrived it became apparent that we all had the first info control wrong; not surprising since we'd copied.  It was pointed out to the organizer that the control was hardly necessary.  He said that the original validator was a stickler, and added - 'That Ian Hennessey bloke isn't much better'.

I didn't miss my computer much, but did find myself looking at the holder a few times to see what speed we were doing.  However, it now has the replacement battery in and is in place ready for tomorrow's commute.  I have spreadsheets which need feeding, after all.

Re: RR: Carmarthenshire Snapper
« Reply #1 on: 01 April, 2008, 08:26:52 am »
Hi Nuncio,

It sounds like we should have picked this ride over Making Hay.  Was it particularly windy?

'Accumulating kilometres in the roughest road conditions'...

Re: RR: Carmarthenshire Snapper
« Reply #2 on: 01 April, 2008, 09:36:23 am »
A bit windy sometimes, yes, but nothing worse than mildly annoying.  Actually it was probably windy all the time but you don't always notice it when its behind you, do you.  Definitely the better choice of the two rides regarding weather.