Firstly let me apologies for the delay in getting this post up! To be exact, nearly 6 months! After getting the bike, the whole, ‘moving into a new house’ thing kind of got in the way, but while the weather was still fine, the 3 Amigos set off for a weekend in Wales.
First let me explain the 3 Amigos; they’re my brother (Richard) and a good friend of his that he went to uni with (Ewen) and myself and we’ve been biking together for over 20 years! Bloody hell, how did that happen?
The essence of the trip was simple, get to Wales, ride some roads, eat some food and stay in some suitably respectable accommodation. The last point may be a little tricky as Ewen was in charge of that!!! He lives up in Cheshire, and spends a lot of time in the Welsh hills so knows it well, though from his army background he’s happier in more ‘basic’ options – something my brother finds particularly challenging. You would think that Ewen spent years living in a tent on a battlefield, but he was an officer – go figure! The trip was set up quite quickly as it was late in the season; 23-24 September.
I set off from sunny Norfolk early Saturday (about 6:00am) with the first stop being Huntingdon to meet up with my brother. From there is was off to Shrewsbury – Dobbies Garden Centre no less, to rendezvous with Ewen. Then it was straight to North Wales.
The roads were amazing, the weather was kind with little or no rain the whole weekend, which was an absolute God send. We road to Bala, and Llyn Tegid then on to Lake Vyrnwy and the Artisans Café for lunch. Richard & Ewen spend a lot of time in Wales walking and climbing (bloody idiots) so know some really good spots off the beaten track, and this place didn’t disappoint; a cracking bacon sarnie!
After lunch there was some more riding before Ewen led us up a small track; my first bit of off road riding. I didn’t have much time to figure out where we were going and before I knew it we were in the ruts and heading up the hill. Thankfully the track was not too bad and soon we were in the clouds! There is something very liberating about getting somewhere you wouldn’t be able to get in your normal family hatchback. I performed perfectly, as did the GSA, though my brother dropped his KTM 990 Adventure when trying to turn it around on the wet grass – “road tyres” was the excuse!
If you’re interested in the route, you can expand the options using the button at the top left of the map – here you can turn on the route for the two days along with the start & stop points along the way. Day one is red and day two is blue. There is a lot (especially travelling their and back) where I was on the same road hence only the blue track showing.
After lunch we headed west towards Llanuwchllyn and then just before Bronaber we found another track up to a spot for some fresh coffee. It’s become a bit of a tradition, that when we’re anywhere with Campbell and the bikes we’d find somewhere to brew a fresh cuppa.
While wondering around and enjoying the view I look down at the back wheel of my bike only to find a HUGE nail sticking out!!! “Arse”, and a few other expletives came out. The tyre wasn’t looking too flat, and showed to be about 20psi. Thankfully Ewen had a pump and we quickly decided not to remove the nail, but just give it a top out of air. I presumed that I’d picked up the nail when riding the trails, but looking back, I think the nail had been in their some time – topping the tyre up lasted the rest of the weekend and ride home, well almost the whole weekend – we did top it up a little to be on the safe side the next day, but it didn’t interfere with the riding. I was hoping it could just be plugged, but when I took it to a shop after getting home they advised a new tyre – £105 fitted – not too bad. Right, enough about that; back to the weekend.
Coffee done & some photo’s taken (see above) and back on the bikes. Now heading along the A470 and A4085 towards Betws-y-Coed. Ewen had found a track he wanted to explore on the outskirts of Betws-y. Unlike the first track which was well used by farm vehicles, this one was more of a walkers path – some vehicles had used it, though it was by no means a well warn path. Lot’s of stone and rock with some big old puddles. “Momentum’s your fried” kept coming over the intercom from Ewen. Up on the pegs and in second gear and the trusty GS didn’t bat an eyelid; for that I was very grateful. If I’d needed any skill to get around this track I’d have been in trouble!
Getting to the end of the track we faced a small obstacle – the gate was closed so we had two options – turn around and go back, or squeeze the three bikes around the gate itself. Panniers off and a little bit of teamwork and we were through.
Next in to Betws-y for some gas – well for the 990 again, and then off to the accommodation. Along the route we found the Moel Siabod Café on the A5 for some grub. Pie and chips and warm enough to sit outside – can’t be bad for late September!
The final leg; towards Base Camp Wales in Lôn Ddwr. We got their around 8:00pm and it was now dark. It had been a long days riding, though great fun. We were shown to our rooms, one each as Ewen and I are both big snorers and nobody want’s to be riding with Richard if he’s not had a full nights sleep!
The rooms were comfortable enough – a shared bathroom and downstairs a communal living & kitchen. All for £14 per night each – you can’t say fairer than that. Richard may have questioned Ewen’s choice in accommodation, but I was more than happy – biking should not be 5-start. A walk into the village for some beers, then back to bed (after being assaulted by the children of the other guests).
We were awake early (5:30am) so were on the road by 6:00. No breakfast or coffee, this had already been planned for the route ahead. We headed east out of Lôn Ddwr on the B4418 and then the A4085 through Snowdonia. All the roads were incredible, well surfaced, grippy with long sweeping turn after turn. Heading along the B4391 Ewen had another spot in mind for coffee. Up the B4407 to an old quarry for a brew.
Back on the B4391 towards Bala we were off to the Ponderosa Café on the Horseshoe Pass for a fry-up. This place is a bikers Mecca. Even though it was late in the season, there were over fifty bikes of every type. Harleys, Italian sports bike, Japanese, retro British and the usual scattering of GSs and other adventure bikes. The breakfast was big and tasty – the two criteria I use to gauge any meal, but it was now time to head home.
We left the Ponderosa and headed back down the A542 and then on to the A5 south before a fuel stop at the BP near Oswestry. Here we said farewell to Ewen who was heading back north to Chester, Richard and I would now crack on back east. We stayed on the A5 below Shrewbury, then the M54, M6, A14 before I broke of at Huntingdon for the last leg back home. The GSA made the whole journey a pleasure – being able to stick your legs up on the crash bars and relax meant you could use the full 290 miles full stop without needing to stop to give your arse a rest.
It was an amazing trip – a great opportunity to get to know the bike – it performed without a hiccup, and was immensely comfortable.
We now have Scotland planned for June 18 – can’t wait!