It’s 18 miles to work and there’s a very large hill in the way. But still, it’s probably the best commute in the world…

Above the cloud
Setting off, descend into the mist. It was forecast for rain today – never trust a weatherman.

After 1.5 miles you start to climb, for just over 3 miles and 900ft to the top of Bwlch Oerddrws, which translates into English as the Cold Door Pass. Fortunately there are road works on the way up at the moment, so the workmen take the opportunity to shout encouragement: “Quick mate, get a move on before the lights change!”

Bwlch Oerddrws
Bwlch Oerddrws – The Cold Door Pass

After every climb there’s a descent, and this one affords one of the most stunning views of Cadair Idris. I’ve always intended to stop and take pictures here, but when you’re in the car it just isn’t practical – one more benefit of a cycle commute then.

Cadair Idris (Idris's Chair)
Cloud sits atop Cadair Idris

The road drops for a couple of miles from Bwlch Oerddrws and then there’s a choice of route to Llanelltyd: back roads via Brithdir and Torrent Walk, then a climb above Dolgellau, or the quicker climb to Tabor, steep drop into Dolgellau, and a short sprint alongside the A470. I’d like to say the choice is made according to how I’m feeling, but it’s actually determined by how late I am.

Whichever route you take, the next section is along one of the prettiest backroads in Wales, steadily climbing along the upper Mawddach valley.

Mawddach valley back road
Mawddach valley back road

At Tyn y Groes, you either have to rejoin the A470 for a steady road climb, or if you’re riding a fat-tyred machine then follow the forest tracks into the woodlands of Coed y Brenin.

Tyn y Groes
Above Tyn y Groes

After a few miles pedalling through the trees, you hit the Coed y Brenin MTB trails where they cross the River Gain. A narrow footbridge (bikebridge) allows view of the river as it rushes over the rocks heading south to meet the Mawddach.

Crossing yr Afon Gain

Crossing yr Afon Gain

After the bridge join the newly built blue-graded Minotaur trail for a fun blast to wind up the ride. Narrow rolling trail meets forest tracks alongside the River Eden.

The Minotaur Trail
The Minotaur Trail (forest track section)

Eventually all good things most come to and end and this is it: the bike shop.

Beics Brenin, Coed y Brenin Visitor Centre
Beics Brenin at Coed y Brenin Visitor Centre

Of course, that’s just the ride in, and at this time of year there’s a payback for those glorious autumn colours: the ride home is in the dark. The worst bit – after a 700ft, 2 mile climb out of Dolgellau, you look into the distance and see tail lights of cars as they climb what appears to be impossibly high up the Bwlch, knowing that you’ve still to climb it. This evening it looked like they were driving straight towards the moon.

Check the full route here

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