Tour of Wales (Day Three) – Aberystwyth to Llanelli
Day Three started in a similar fashion to yesterday, with a cooked breakfast to replace yesterday’s calories. One big difference was that we were greeted with blue skies, so the arm warmers & rain jacket were relegated to the luggage! We were packed & on the road by 8.45am for what promised to be another big adventure.
Within 2 minutes of leaving our hotel, we were introduced to the first climb of the day – it was only ¼ mile long, but all of it was at a gradient of 16%! A rude awakening indeed. We joined the A487 for a couple of miles, sharing the road with a few early morning commuters. After about 2 miles we joined National Cycle Route 81, which started off on tarmac, before becoming gravel & finally a mile or so of muddy off-road – normally I’d avoid conditions like this at all costs, however this trip is about trying new experiences. There was one small section where the route was too challenging & we had to walk down a steep, slippery descent – sometimes discretion is the better part of valour.
Some 30 minutes (& only 5 miles) into the ride we joined the A485 at Llanilar, where we started climbing up to Rhos-y-Garth – a steady & consistent 650 foot climb that continued for a couple of miles. All this climbing meant that we only covered 9.7 miles in the first hour – the first time this has happened since one of my Alpine Adventures! As we crested the summit, we left the main road behind & joined an unclassified lane/track & cycled through wild & rugged countryside, with huge views in all directions.
We re-joined the A485 at the 15 mile marker & headed through Tregaron, before picking up the B4343 to Llandewi Trefi (made famous by Matt Lucas as The Only Gay In The Village). We were now following a small river downstream, occasionally switching sides as we passed through numerous hamlets.
We arrived at Lampeter after 28 miles & found a great little cafe, where we enjoyed a berry flapjack & cappuccino – if ever you visit Lampeter, look out for The Minds Eye, you won’t be disappointed!
Leaving town, we found ourselves on the A485 once again as we headed for Carmarthen. By & large the traffic was cyclist friendly with the exception of one lorry driver who scared the living daylights out of us both by trying to overtake, then pulling in on us as he realised there wasn’t room to pass. We survived, so no harm done. This was the part of the route where we clocked up quite a bit of the climbing, but because of the hedges either side of us, there were few opportunities to take in the scenery.
We reached Carmarthen after about 52 miles, so stopped in the pedestrian shopping centre for more nourishment – flapjack & sprite to top up energy levels. We then navigated our way across town, then found a deserted & unclassified road to take us out towards the river Towy at Ferryside, where we got our first view of the coast. This was part of a 10 mile detour & it was a great little addition. One of my aims of this week’s adventure was to live in the moment more & just go with the flow – our Alpine Adventures are organised to the finest detail, so this approach doesn’t come naturally to me.
From Ferryside, we followed a small lane that hugged the Carmarthen Bay coastline as far as Kidwelly, offering up great views of the estuary below. This was almost the last of the scenery as we took the A484 past Pembrey Country Park (where I watched the start of the opening stage of the 2018 Tour of Britain a few years ago – this was a couple of months after Geraint Thomas had won the Tour de France) & on to Burry Port.
We then followed the coastal cycle path into Llanelli, where we found our way across town to our hotel for the night. We had another stunning day in the saddle – different to yesterday, but in no way any less enjoyable.