Back in October there was a suggestion on the Bicycology list to have a social gathering at New Year. As it happens we have a connection with the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales and they have a couple of eco cabins which accommodate 18 people each. It seemed like enough people were interested to make it worthwhile renting one of the cabins for a few days, with the added advantage of supporting CAT at a time when they could use some extra income. Plans were coming together nicely until the freezing weather ended and it became apparent that there were multiple burst pipes in the cabins which effectively made them uninhabitable. Fortunately Corris Hostel is just a few miles up the road. Unfortunately they also had a burst pipe and had cancelled all their bookings but Mike who runs the hostel was extremely helpful and got things sorted out enough for us to stay. In fact it turned out well for him to have people there to keep the fires going and help dry the place out.
I travelled to Wales by train, arriving at Machynlleth (known locally as “Mac”) just as it started getting dark on December 30th. I had my bike with me and intended to cycle the 6 miles from Mac to Corris. There was a choice between taking the A487 which would have been a steady climb on a main road, or the more interesting back road. I was with a couple of other people who were also cycling and we unanimously chose the back road which turned out to be rather too interesting due to lingering snow that had been compressed into sheets of ice. We all managed to stay upright though and arrived at the hostel to a warm welcome and cups of tea.
I woke up with a headache on the 31st and although I joined the others for a walk the day was pretty much a write off for me. I spent most of the afternoon and evening in bed, only getting up just before midnight for long enough to see in the New Year. There were 16 people in the group but only 8 of them were actual members of Bicycology. I knew most of the others already and perhaps some of them will be inspired to get more involved, and perhaps even join the collective. Bicycology currently has 22 official members but some of them have dropped off the radar and it would be great to get some new active members so we can do more stuff.
I was planning to take the train home on January 2nd and I wanted to climb Cadair Idris so I had to do it on New Year’s Day. I woke up early and felt fine but everyone else was still in bed so I set off cycling on my own. When I got to the car park near near Minffordd I locked up my bike and set off up the path. I think it took me three hours to reach the summit and by that time I was in thick cloud. There is a stone hut near the trig point which apparently used to be a cafe and I used it for shelter while eating my packed lunch. I always like to climb a mountain on New Year’s Day and the lack of a view didn’t really bother me. It took me a couple of hours to get down and I was back at the hostel with plenty of daylight to spare. Almost everyone else had walked down to CAT in the afternoon and they hadn’t arrived back yet so I enjoyed a quiet cup of tea. The following morning there was another expedition to Cadair and since visibility was forecast to be much better I decided to stay an extra day and climb it again! Everything had frozen up overnight and visibility was excellent. There were only small patches of snow still on the mountain but we could see all the way up to the Snowdon range which was still pretty well covered.
Although this trip was not a formal Bicycology meeting we did have some useful discussions about our personal highlights of 2010 and some ideas for 2011 which we may take up in our next proper meeting in Birmingham on February 19th. I can’t end my report without mentioning food. We were fortunate in having a number of excellent vegan cooks in the group and the catering was well up to the usual Bicycological standards – but I will leave it up to others to elaborate (perhaps in the comments). So thanks to the organisers and cooks and particularly to Mike for allowing us to use the hostel. I would thoroughly recommend Corris Hostel to anyone wanting to stay in the area.