Manchester-Anglesey – 128 miles, average HR 144, average speed 17.7 mph

Set off at 5:30am to my mum and dad’s place on Anglesey. I’ve ridden this route a few times in the past, but the last time was a couple of years ago. I assumed, quite wrongly, that the route would all be the same and the lack of wind and nice weather would equal a fast and incident-free ride.

Basically, the plan is to follow the A56 to Chester, then ride though Connah’s Quay, along the coast past Rhyl then pick up the Sustrans route 5 to Bangor. Route 5 pretty much runs parallel with the A55 and allows cyclists to avoid the busy dual carraigeway entirely. In theory anyway…

The first 100 miles flew by. My average speed was just short of 19mph and I was looking forward to completing the ride at least an hour earlier than I was expecting. 100 miles equals Conwy – it’s at this point that everything went wobbly. The Sustrans path appeared to be gone. “it can’t be” I thought, “I must have missed it”. For almost an hour I searched for the cycle lane, apparently the only alternative to riding, illegally and suicidally, on the A55. The annoying (extremely annoying) thing was that the cycle route signs were still there, so one assumed that the route still existed. It was a bit weird though that the signs were sending me around in circles – across the Conwy suspension bridge to the castle walls, then a U-turn through a subway, around a couple of busy roundabouts and then back again. WTF?

In the end, I rang Deb, vented my spleen, told her I was going to be late but stopped short of asking for a pick-up. A few minutes later I was asking my dad for advice (yes, I was desperate). He suggested the Sychnant Pass – a 200 metre climb that would bring me out a few miles west, exactly where I needed to be.

I pondered the climb for a bit, rode around the roundabouts once more just be be sure I’d not missed anything then thought “sod it” and started to climb to Sychnant from the castle. I’d lost a whole mile per hour off my average by now and I’d been fannying around for ages. Bah.

As it turned out, the Pass was tough but gorgeous. Once over the top, the downhill to Penmaenmawr is super-steep but really wide so off-the-brakes bravery is called for. Yay!

A few miles further on and the route 5 signs appear again. The cycle path runs up the hill between the two road tunnels then across a series of footbridges. Great stuff…until you get to the bit that isn’t finished yet

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Once I’d clambered across the barriers I had to then climb down this

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…which placed me neatly onto the A55 at the bottom. I had to ride on the A55 for half a mile here, which was exciting.

The Sustrans website (which admittedly I should have checked before I set off) says the following:

“Between Conwy town and Llanfairfechan National Route 5 has been dismantled due to its popularity! The Welsh Assembly Government’s Transport Division made the decision to remove the signs due to the number of people using the route and the narrow and missing sections at Penmaenbach and Pen-y-Clip. We are working with WAG to clarify when the route will be reinstated but at present no dates have been confirmed. Please do write to your local members, AM’s and Ministers highlighting this unacceptable step for cycle provision along the north Wales coast.”

…so the bit that was “missing” was indeed missing. Ah well, at least I’ve not gone completely mad. Dismantled due to too many people using it? Uh? If anyone understands the logic behind this feel free to comment.

Good ride though. Felt good, caught the sun ;-)