A bad, testing, but ultimately not unrewarding, day. I had my brake blocks replaced at Rhayader’s local bike shop and, to the ripping-off sound of velcro the size of a tablecloth, was rushed £22. I set off back into the rain……and it rained and rained and rained all day, non stop, a wall of water, a gauntlet of drizzle. I rode along little lanes, rolling up and down, all day. Wye valley first, out of Rhaeadr: lovely, a bit misty, but big tops like enormous monuments set out around the valley floor. Eventually I made it to Llanidloes, another compass-street market town with a market thing in the middle. It all had a reassuringly 1960s feel, and I cycled round it with a nostalgic joy. All old signs, plodding shops, sturdy but dull buildings, outdated typography, and nothing post-1970. Excellent.
Rain, rain, rain. I got soaked, often pushing, even oftener cursing. I splashed wetly along the lane that tracked the early life of the infant, but already swollen, Severn. Hills, farms, green sheepy valleys. I stopped for a photoshoot at a viewpoint, of a dramatic V-shaped valley, and after that the weather got even worse. Added to that was a vicious headwind, stinging pellets of rain, mist that hid the hilltops and obacured all views, and tedious uphill pushes along the mountaintop lanes, all for nothing to see.
I wasn’t actually miserable though; just annoyed and bored. At last was the downhill run to Machynlleth; no big deal this place I thought, though it had a rain-soaked street-stall market and Y Cloc. I had lunch in the station and plugged on to the Centre for Alternative Technology.
This was good. Pleasingly, I got cheap entry – £2.45, the unemployed’s one-third-price. Despite the rain, I ambled round the open-air things – energy-efficient houses, wind generators, organic gardens, that sort of thing. I was particularly taken with the water-powered cable car up from the reception (water from the stream flows into tanks under the cable cars and the weight difference makes them move). And the compost displays (urine and cardboard is apparently an ideal mix). And the bike generator that shows how hard it is to power a light (my regular pedalling was 20-25W; an uphill campaign, 50W; my max burst, 70-80W; I am clearly never going to be a racing cyclist).
I stayed at a quiet Corris YH, had three pints of vinegary bitter at the Slater’s Arms with some local drudges, and trotted back soccerless in the sharp cold to my refuge.
Miles today: 44
Miles since Cardiff: 141