Family cycling in North Wales – a sunny ride from Rhos-on-Sea

At long last we’ve had a weekend of beautiful weather, combined with no birthday parties, school fetes or other events that conspire against us getting out on the bikes for fun rather than transport.

Family cycling in North Wales - Bikes with Leco Top Tube front seatGiven the scarcity of sun this summer, we wanted to cram as much in to the weekend as possible. Could we do two cycle rides, enjoy time on the beach, see some mountains, have a BBQ and still feel part of the bit of cycling history that was taking place in Paris, as Bradley Wiggins attempted to become the first Brit to win in the Tour’s 99 year history? And could we achieve this and not be exhausted at the end?

Things started badly. Not quite believing the weather forecast, we hadn’t made any plans, other than going to the supermarket on Friday night to get some things for packed lunches. So Saturday morning became the inevitable stress of trying to decide where to go, what to pack and getting the bikes ready and on the roof bars. The boys obviously pick up on the vibe and decide to choose this moment to demand as much attention as possible, cumulating in a total reorganisation of the fittings and fixtures of their bedroom when we don’t provide enough.

By 11.01 we are finally all in the car and the front door has been locked for the third time. Sandwiches are made, boys dressed, washing is on the line, bikes with freshly inflated tyres are on the roof, camera battery charged, boys are fed, watered and toiletted, and Chris and I are still married (just!). At 11.02 we pull off the drive and wave cheerily at the neighbours as we pass. At 11.03 we stop at the end of the road as there is a light on the dashboard showing a door is open. A quick check of all the doors and still the light is on. Then Chris realises the boot is wide open – oops! No wonder the neighbours were waving so frantically at us….

11.04 – we pull away from end of road, with closed boot, only to hear the rapid ticking sound of an indicator not working. 11.05 and Chris gets out the car and whallops the front right indicator with all the force required after a morning like ours and thankfully the regular tick tick tick starts again, and we’re off.

Family cycling in North Wales

We’ve decided to go to Rhos-on-Sea on the north Wales coast and ride part of the National Cycle Network Route 5. We’ve often passed signs to Rhos from the A55 but never been there, and it seems a good way to try and get cycle ride and beach into the same day.

The day is definitely improving as we get a clear run on the roads, and find a parking space right at the start of the route. It’s high tide, so there can be no debate as to whether we go to the beach, so after a quick picnic in the car, we are ready to go.

NCN5 is a mammoth route that stretches from Reading to Holyhead. The section between Rhos-on-Sea and Pensarn is all off road, and follows the coast. It can be very windy but our luck was in and we had a light breeze. The first part of the route is shared with pedestrians as it makes its way along the promenade past cafes and ice cream kiosks.

The cycle path is marked clearly with a green surface, which is quickly wearing away. With people of all ages out enjoying the sunshine it was very busy and a there was great feeling of everyone being out enjoying themselves. There were lots of families with very young children trying out balance bikes and stabilisers.

After a mile or so we came to a derelict pier where the route has been diverted on to the road for safety, so we had to push the bikes along the pavement. This gave us the opportunity to shed some layers – as you’ll see from the photo we were dressed for winter (still not quite trusting the forecast!)

Family cycling in North Wales - National Cycle Network NCN Route 5 at Rhos-on-Sea

Another 50 metres and another route blockage – this time for a major sea defence construction project ( due to complete end 2012). We were starting to think our bad luck was returning, but thankfully we were able to detour on the pavement.

At this point we found ourselves joining the running route of the Llandudno Sea Triathlon. Quite humbling (or embarrassing?) not being able to keep up with some of the runners!

There was also a charity bike ride taking place, so suddenly we were surrounded by runners and other cyclists, with lots of friends and families cheering them on. The boys loved all the noise and variety, and N coped really well with having to ride on such a busy cycle path – a great experience for his confidence and ability.

At one point a rather elderly gentleman passed us, pedaling sedately in the opposite direction. “LOOK MUMMY IT’S BRADLEY WIGGINS!” shouted 3 year old T from his seat, pointing frantically at the yellow t-shirt he was wearing, much to the amusement of everyone around.

After an hour we reached Llanddulas, a natural stopping point where the boys saw an opportunity to play. Lots of puddles and a steep hill kept them occupied and muddy for about half an hour.

Family cycling in North Wales - Riding in puddles on the NCN5 near Rhos-on-Sea

We then swapped T from his rear seat on Chris’s bike (which we usually use for longer rides), onto the front seat on my bike (more often used for shorter commutes).We then retraced our route back to Rhos and an ice cream.

Family cycling in North Wales - family bike ride North Wales coast, flat route

The tide was retreating so we had a lovely few hours on the beach, and tried but failed to catch crabs off the jetty (apparently mackerel rather than ham is the key).

Following tea at the Harbour Cafe and a stroll along the prom the boys were ready to head home. They were tucked up in bed before the Tour de France highlights, so three of our goals achieved – and still a day to go!

Sprog Blog

By N, aged 6:

On the bike ride we saw a pier. It was very old and looked very good.  When we went there was a triathlon. We cycled through the triathlon and at one point we saw a place to stop. At the place to stop we saw sea defences to stop the waves crashing the sides. They looked like stone anchors. I went through a big puddle quite a lot of times.

After we went to the beach very near by. At a shop we got some crab lines, then we went to the Spar and got ham for the crabs. Then we went to the sweet shop and got some stones made of chocolate.

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