Day 17

Wed 14 Oct:  Beaumaris to Flint, via Conwy, Llandudno and Rhyl

A glorious morning on the Straits, with the sun rising over Snowdonia on a clear, still day. Hard to expect a phone camera image to do it justice, but I gave it my best shot.

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Over the bridge, off the island and on to National Cycle Network Route 5 for most of the day. A pretty climb out of Bangor then down to the mostly dead flat N Wales coastal route, criss-crossing the busy A55 and Holyhead-London railway line.

Good surface in places, quite fast progress for a while then very rough stretches with crumbling tarmac, rough cast concrete and patches of soft sand blown across the track.  An increasingly bone-shaking day as the miles rumbled by. Great views over left shoulder to receding Puffin Island, the detached tail of Anglesey. Ahead, the approaching Great Orme.

23 miles to Conwy ILB Station. Very scenic setting, between the Castle and the quay, close to the lovely pair of old bridges: Telford’s first suspension road bridge and Stephenson’s & Fairbairn’s tubular rail bridge. Like a pair of not-so-mini Menai road & rail bridges.   No ILB volunteer crew available today so a kindly RNLI Shop volunteer signed my chart. Thanks Elaine.  Only 4.5 miles to the ALB Station at Llandudno but quite a challenge to find it. Luckily, as I began to ask a young Traffic Warden for directions, I spotted an RNLI Landrover on the move. A quick U-turn and I was on his tail. No great chase needed, destination reached within 100yds and I was soon introducing myself to the cheerful Les Jones (mech).

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Being a sort of peninsula with quite a big rocky lump (The Great Orme) at the end, Llandudno has two shores to launch from, depending on the location of the emergency. The boathouse had to be built midway between the west shore and the north-east shore, i.e. In the middle of Llandudno town. Launching the ALB therefore requires the towing of the large Mersey class lifeboat 0.5Km through town to the most appropriate shore (as explained by Les). Thank you Les and Marcuss (LOM) for the tea break. A very historic feel to this old, dark boathouse. Full of fascinating old charts & RNLI memorabilia.

Another caravan lined 18mile dash to Rhyl along NCR5, the very quiet, safe, flat, increasingly rough concrete & tarmac cycle route. Thanks Derek (ALB crew/launch tractor driver) and Chris (ALB crew) for meeting me at your boathouse. You were right Chris, some of the tarmac on the next road section after Prestatyn was even rougher. But nowhere near as rough as it can be in a B or D Class ILB at speed over choppy surf on your way to save someone’s life! So I’ll stop moaning. One day.

The next 21mile section to Flint seemed to take for ever. Arrived a bit behind schedule. Thanks Allan (LOM) for being patient and welcoming me with restorative choc bics & hot tea. ANOTHER new cycling buddy! Allan is a serious, regular road racer. A National Champion, no less!

Time for a couple of days back home to rest a bit. Today’s ride was also starting to take its toll on the bike. The mileage: just short of the first 1,000miles since starting at Penlee ALB Station last month! Time to treat GranFondo to a first service. The full chain-set, derailleurs etc are gunged up with a unique North Welsh grinding paste, a black mix of fine sand, concrete dust, road dirt, road kill and chain oil. On departing from Flint, another puncture. Good job the station is a short walk away, my train departs in 13mins.

Day 18