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One challenge successfully completed - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
One challenge successfully completed
The other week I mentioned the 12 challenges I'd set myself for 2012. Some are physical, some intellectual and some creative. I've achieved two of the intellectual challenges and can now tick one off the physical list.

1) Climb Cadair Idris (893 metres / 2930 feet)
2) Cycle to Barmouth and back (17½ miles / 28 km)
3) Run to Penmaenpool (2 miles / 3.2 km)
4) Make a 3-5 minute hooping video outdoors (somewhere beautiful!)

In an ideal world, the Sunday of the Bank Holiday weekend would not be the day I would pick for this venture, but needs must where the devil weather drives. According to the forecast, Sunday was going to be an isolated fine day in the middle of some pretty horrible weather, so Sunday it had to be. The alternative was to wait several more weeks because the next two weekends are taken up with other things and during the week, other than Mondays, I'm either walking Brith or have other commitments.

It was a bit of a gamble, seeing as I've only been out on the bike once this year and I was about to tackle the longest ride I've ever done. I really wouldn't recommend that approach, but I knew that the cardio fitness was fine and I was hoping that all the climbing of steps we did in Korea would have toned the right leg muscles. That did turn out to be the case and though I was achy and tired afterwards, by this morning only my arms and shoulders were stiff. I hadn't thought about which arm muscles you use when cycling!

The outward journey was a bit of a nightmare because it must have been the busiest day of the year on the Mawddach Trail. The one fine day of the August Bank Holiday weekend meant that, especially at the start, it was swarming with walkers and cyclists. At least it meant that the walkers were looking out for cyclists. At quiet times, they straggle across the path without a thought for anyone travelling faster than them. Also watching out for dogs with a death wish and small children weaving from side to side looking down at their front wheel rather than where they were going prevented me from getting bored.

Now for some pictures...

I paused about 2 miles from home to photograph the George III hotel, which is a very popular pub and absolutely heaving with people. On the left, you can just see the old signals showing that this was once a railway line.

George III Hotel, Penmaenpool

Turning slightly to one's left, you will see the Penmaenpool Toll Bridge.

Toll bridge, Penmaenpool

The next brief stop was considerably further along the Mawddach trail. Here is my trusty steed leaning against a sign that explains why there are no old oaks in the valley. Basically they were cut down and turned into ships. Once ship building stopped, oaks were left to grow in peace, but there are no oaks older than 100 years around this part of the estuary.

My yellow bike

Once I'd had a drink of water and taken the picture, it was off again towards my goal.

The Mawddach Trail was once a railway line running alongside one of the most spectacular estuaries in the country. If you look at the horizon in the photo below, you can see a dot at the right hand side, just before the hill rises from the sea. This is Clock house just outside Barmouth and this is where I have to cycle to.

Looking towards Barmouth

Almost there now, this photo shows the footpath that crosses the Mawddach Estuary, running alongside the railway track. The shot was taken looking back the way I had come.

Barmouth Bridge

Turning to the left, you can now see Clock House much closer. Listening to the rain falling outside, it's difficult to believe that I took this photo yesterday.

Clock House & Mawddach Estuar

And here is my destination, the sunny seaside resort of Barmouth. It was very busy, so I locked the bike to a bench on the sea front and went and bought an ice cream at this cafe. It was good to sit and relax and watch everyone having fun on an all too brief sunny day.

Bath House Cafe, Barmouth

Then I had to get back on the bike and head for home. Despite being tired, I knocked at least 30 minutes off the return journey because by now the crowds had thinned as people set off for home or returned to their hotel or cottage for the night.

So, mission accomplished and I'm so glad I took the chance and just did it. Today has been foul with high winds and torrential rain, but after all the exercise yesterday, I haven't felt at all guilty just lounging about doing not very much.

[Cross-posted from Dreamwidth by way of a backup http://heleninwales.dreamwidth.org/59679.html. If you want to leave a comment, please use whichever site you find most convenient. Comments so far: comment count unavailable.]

Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

12 comments or Leave a comment
readthisandweep From: readthisandweep Date: August 27th, 2012 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's crazy to look out of the window & see the rain sheeting down then look at your lovely photographs. It could be a different country! Had you gone today, you would have drowned...
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: August 27th, 2012 04:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thankfully the BBC forecast was right, otherwise I would have drowned. Well, I'd have turned back, or indeed not set off because it started raining at 8.30 this morning when I nipped out to buy milk and it hasn't stopped once.

I'm just hoping my daughter and family are OK, they were supposed to be sailing to Ireland today. :(
readthisandweep From: readthisandweep Date: August 27th, 2012 05:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Allegedly, the only place in Britain where it rains more than it does in Wales...

I'm liking your optimistic icon. :)
sartorias From: sartorias Date: August 27th, 2012 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Such lovely photos!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: August 28th, 2012 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I would have liked a couple more weeks to fit in some shorter bike rides to improve my fitness, but the day turned out so lovely that I'm glad I took the chance. Though it was sunny, it wasn't too hot and was absolutely right for a long ride. Heaven knows when we'll have another day like it!
khiemtran From: khiemtran Date: August 27th, 2012 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well done! Sounds like a great day!
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: August 28th, 2012 12:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I enjoyed it and it felt like quite an achievement.

I have to admit that if I hadn't set myself the challenge and gone public about it on LJ, I might not have pushed myself to complete the distance to Barmouth. But I did make it all the way (and back!) and wasn't anything like as stiff and sore afterwards as I expected, so my general level of fitness must be improving. :)

green_knight From: green_knight Date: August 28th, 2012 12:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well done you for setting a goal and following through with it! That sounds like a great day out.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: August 28th, 2012 03:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
The idea for the cycle ride was originally yours and I pinched it. Not that you were planning to cycle to Barmouth, but you suggested the Ride to Somewhere Nice and Have an Ice Cream challenge.

I hope you can find another bike soon, assuming you haven't already found one.
paragraphs From: paragraphs Date: August 28th, 2012 07:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I miss it over there so much....

When will you do #4? :)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: August 29th, 2012 12:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Item #4 is proving the most difficult due to the weather. It's also been hindered due to me letting the conservatory get cluttered. The conservatory is the only indoor space I have that's big enough for hooping, but it only allows for stationary hooping at waist, hip or chest level. Before I do the video, I want to work out a more interesting routine involving the moves like the one where you whirl the hoop around your hands above your head, but that means practising outdoors, which has been a bit of a non-starter due to the wettest summer on record.

However, the weather is improving somewhat and I have reclaimed my indoor hooping space, so I may make some progress over the next month or so. It needs to be done before the end of October though because fine days will be hard to find once we get into the winter.
endlessrarities From: endlessrarities Date: September 16th, 2012 06:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well done you! You're doing better in your cycling than I am right now:-(

And it's not as if Wales is pancake-flat... Far from it...
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