Brian's (Wet) Welsh Weekend 2017

Our happy group of seventeen adventurers on the Welsh Weekend assembled at Brian’s home ready for an early Saturday morning start.  Most of the group were regulars with one newcomer, Bob Ballinger who was riding a BMW twin.

start at brians start at brians2

We set of on wet roads and encountered showers on and off (mostly on) to the Prees Heath Truck Stop where we had breakfast.


bills bsa1
Bills BSA at the truck stop showing signs of trouble to come.


Leaving the breakfast venue we rode off with Charles leading us into wild Wales along interesting (wet) roads on the route devised by Brian.   He has changed the route a little this year to take in a few different roads.


t makes u p
Some of the stops were not planned but T makes U P.  When you've got to go .....


Our next stop for refreshments was at Lake Vyrnwy where Bill was having a bit of a problem with the ignition on his BSA single.  Back on the road we passed Lake Bala and splashed on to our base for the weekend, the Biker’s Retreat in Dolgellau.  On arrival at the Biker's Retreat we received our normal warm welcome from our hosts, Tiv and Nigel.  On Saturday evening we usually walk into town and have a few drinks at one of the pubs and then back to the retreat for the evening meal.  The evening meals and breakfast are all taken in the dining room at a long table.  The conversations are varied and entertaining with everyone talking about bikes or telling an amusing tale.

On the Sunday morning ride our first call was to the railway station at Devil’s Bridge.  The weather was mixed (mostly damp) as we headed up into the mist on the hills.  I was leading and we had a few unplanned wrong turns along dead end roads. Eventually we all landed in dribs and drabs at Devil’s Bridge station.  Refreshments were in order here and with a quick look at the railway engine before heading off for the Elan Valley visitor centre.


devils bridge cafe
The café at Devils Bridge.


The rain increased as we got closer to the Elan Valley visitor centre.   As wound our way up along twist and turns peering through the gloom I marvelled at the tenacity of our group to keep riding in these conditions and was amazed at our ability to ride our motorcycles under water!  Surely we must have taken (another?) wrong turn and perhaps we were riding in one of the Elan Valley’s reservoirs!  Brian was still following behind in the warm and dry of his car, all the while wishing he was on a bike getting cold and wet.  (Yes, really.)

At the visitors centre there were quite a few other motorcycles in the car park including some interesting old Ariels.  We went into the café where the run off from our riding kit added to the fast spreading puddle on the floor.  (Look you. Are those shark fins sticking up out of that puddle?)  We were told that the level in the reservoir was actually low! Nobody thanked us for doing our bit to raise the level.

We all went out to the car park for an impromptu entertainment show.  We stood in the rain to watch the first act of a show which featured spark plugs being juggled between bikes to try and get Bill’s reluctant BSA going.  This first act came to a close with much kick starting but no throaty bark from the BSA single’s exhaust.

The second act contained much more action and some audience participation as some of us resorted to pushing the bike up and down.  Sadly the curtain came down on this second act with continued silence other than the heavy panting of the pushers and the splashing of the rain in the puddles.  “Never say die” is a great motto but this BSA was seriously dead.  (A phone call to Nigel back at the digs had him doing a 100+ mile round trip in his van to rescue Bill and his BSA.  Good man.)

The third act featured a duet with Charles on the electric pump accompanied by John Birchall and his Triumph’s slow puncture.  I didn’t hear any applause but the tyre did stop up.  (Some might say that not getting the clap is a good thing but it wasn’t that kind of boy’s weekend.)

The gang headed back to the Biker’s Retreat with the roads getting unexpectedly drier the further we rode.  Could it be that or bad luck on the weather front was changing?

As you can imagine this had been a bit of a tough day.  Everyone was really pleased to get back to the digs, get dried out and enjoy one of Tiv’s great meals followed by a few alcoholic beverages in the bar with lots of talking and good natured banter.

Monday morning and the ride is to Tywyn where Brian has arranged a trip on the historic Talyllyn narrow-gauge steam railway.  Brian is no longer lonely driver in his car as over the last day or two he has gained a few passengers due to aches, pains, non functioning bikes, etc. Just as we are about to leave, Ian joins the car crew when he finds his rear tyre flat.

The ride to Tywyn is without incident until we reach Tywyn station where the heavens open with a vengeance.  Nobody mentioned it so I guess that we have just come to expect the rain clouds to follow us around and pounce at will.  Brian had exercised  his considerable charm and diplomatic skills to get permission to park our bikes in the station yard.


station yard
Bikes parked in the station yard at Tywyn.


tywyn engine
"Douglas" - The engine taking a leak at Tywyn station.


We had our own reserved carriage on the train.  I’m not sure whether this was because we were special customers or to avoid us frightening the other passengers.  The timing didn’t work out for a meal at the other end of the line so we ate at Tywyn station when we got back.  The ride back up the coast road to Dolgellau was most enjoyable, probably the best ride of the weekend.  Back at the digs we put a plug Ian’s rear tyre and then went inside to enjoy another good meal and an evening socialising in the bar.

On Tuesday morning we said farewell to our hosts with the some of the group travelling back together to Burton and others choosing  our own routes or splitting off in different directions as they neared their home towns.

You may think that these words have not painted a picture of a great weekend but that would be the wrong impression.  We got out on our bikes despite the weather and did some riding.  The accommodation was good, the meals were good and the company was excellent. What better could you wish for than to spend time in company of a group of like minded motor cyclists? Eddy. 


P.S. Did I mention that we had a drop or two of rain?