Tuesday 19 September 2023

RogueRunners Wales '23 Days 0 & 1

 The first thing to note about RRW 23 was the timing - the previous weekend had seen temperatures of 30c across Britain. The weekend we went to Wales it tipped with rain - not constantly, but quite a lot. Also it was the weekend when "all of Wales" went onto 20mph speed limits. The implementation of this was chaotic at best.

As I understand it, the word from the Welsh gov't was "put a 20 in the towns unless it's a major road with lots of traffic" - which undermines the "safety" argument - isn't that exactly where you would want the 20?

In the middle slice of Wales this seemed to have been done with a descent dollop of good sense, 30 limits on the approach, 20 limits in the built up areas where the pedestrians were, but in the north, there were times when we were driving in between fields for miles on a 20 limit & in the south, south of the Black Mountain (which has it's own ridiculous speed limit issues) there is ribbon development of a number of towns on a major A road for about 10, maybe 15 miles - a 20 limit has been slapped on the entire thing.

Add to that the signage - which was appalling for "Safety" signs...

20 one side - 30 the other? I noticed 3 examples of this as well as "20" painted on the road between signs saying "30", "20" signs followed by "30" on the small repeater signs. "20", "30" & "40" signs within a few dozen yards. It was a mess & I can't see any prosecutions sticking until they sort it out. I tried to keep the cameras on in case any NIPs come through.

But - onto the road trip.

We assembled at the Cardiff North Premier Inn which has a whizzy new QR code check in system - which doesn't work, so then you use the alternative "booking Ref" method & it keeps asking if you want another guest in the room with you (what are you offering? - got any photos?), then it demands your phone No. - why? I'm checking in! Then it demands your country of residence in spite of the fact that it presented me with my address & post code. But the biggest issue was that I had to put in my car reg to get free parking - on the check in terminal? No, there was no mention of it there, there's a separate terminal five yards away. The only people in the place to help with this were the bar staff - who had other things to be getting on with.

The following day we set off on the trip proper, but the Cardiff area is pretty car - hostile & just north of it is the Heads Of The Valley road which is STILL being built. The seem to have told TomTom that the new road is open because the SatNav was desperately trying to show my position on it in spite of the fact it clearly wasn't open - in some places it wasn't built! But we did escape that & made out way up to the Black Mountain road, one of the best driving roads in the UK, so the authorities have seen fit to slap a 40 limit on the entire length of it with average speed cameras. In previous years there's been quite a buzz with bikers in large numbers at the cafe's at both ends & ice-cream sellers in the car parks at the top.

This year it was pretty much deserted, no bikes parked up in the village cafes at the south end, no ice-cream sellers at all & the café at the north end had about a dozen bikers sitting round looking miserable. So well done, you've made it safer by making it unused, but you've also done a bunch of people out of a descent income as well. Scotland has many challenging roads, they linked them into the NC500 & the local communities are reaping the benefit. 

Strangely the limit over the mountain is 40 where it's wide & open with good sight lines, as soon as you're off the mountain (heading north) it's a 50 limit on a winding road past people's houses & drives. I can't help thinking they've got that the wrong way round.

We wended our way north through the Welsh heartland taking in the Elan Valley which is always a good drive & eventually arrived at our hotel in Mold. Maybe it was tainted by out experiences earlier in the day, but the Beaufort Park Hotel seemed pretty down-at-heel. Last year is was saved by the helpful & attentive staff, this year they seemed surly & lacking humour.

So, Day 1 a little disappointing then, but were we downhearted? Well yes, obviously 😄