Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

For more information on the Cafes I have visited and the latest cafe cycle news go to http://www.cake-crusader.co.uk/

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There is now a Cake Crusader book available where you can follow my journey from humble local trips to world record attempts and near-death experiences. How did a simple method of keeping track of decent cycling café pit stops turn my life upside down? Track my adventures into Europe, up mountains and right across Great Britain as I become a 'rising star' on social media. Will I prove my critics wrong? Should cheese scones be served hot or cold? Do I really have nothing better to do with his time? A must read for lovers of cycling and cake or anyone wanting to make it big in the virtual world

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

St Davids to Lowestoft cycle ride Day 3 (Swansea to Alveston 95 miles)

In search of the best cafe across Great Britain, literally
Day 3 Swansea to Alveston

It was all drama at the start of day 3. First Big George had been, and looked, very poorly during our ride over the hills yesterday and it was only thanks to lemsip cold and flu (other cold and flu remedies are available) that he had been able to soldier on. He had decided to see what he felt like after a good nights sleep and then have a fitness test at breakfast before deciding if to train the next section or come along for the ride.

Second the weather had turned and it was forecast to be heavy rain all day which would make riding conditions rather tricky. Finally I had an issue with my di2 wireless gears on the bike. These type of gears need a battery to make them work and I hadn't charged it before we left. It was now flashing so I didn't know how many miles I had left before the gears died and I would be stuck in just one.  

Over breakfast Big George had his fitness test and thanks to drugs and porridge he decide he was up for it. Myself and Dom (our so called Welsh expert) were both pleased as he had brought the only bicycle pump we had.
Big George having Breakfast fitness test
It was going to be interesting to see what state everyone was in, after yesterdays draining hills, as we set off on the 95 miles planned to exit Wales and enter England. I was hoping for three more good welsh cafe stops today when we would at least find the best cafe in Wales if not anywhere across Great Britain. However as the day developed I felt lucky to have been to any cafes at all.

We set off, after another overly leisurely breakfast, in heavy rain only to find there was heavier to come. My waterproof performed well but I soon discovered my shoes were not able to keep the wet out and I felt my feet sloshing about inside them. A combination of the rain and getting through Swansea and Port Talbot made progress very slow.  
Wet conditions looking out to Port Talbort
We then got onto an off road section at Park Slip nature reserve and after 3 hours we were desperate for a break. We asked our so called Welsh expert where the nearest cafe was and he said round the next corner and to all our amazement it was.
Outside Park slip visitors centre
It was not the cafe stop I had planned but Park Slip nature reserve visitors centre coffee shop was a welcome alternative. We parked our bikes and quickly decided not to make use of the outside seating bench area before going inside and heading straight for the hand driers in the toilet to warm up.

It was then back to order drinks and select cake from the rather small cake selection, although it did have a cake of the day feature, which was lemon and blueberry so I choose that.
Park Slip visitor centre cafe cake selection
While waiting for the cakes and drinks to arrive I showed the visitor centre expert my cycle map and asked if he could tell us where we were as I had no idea. To my surprise he didn't seem to know either and couldn't point our current location out. I wondered if he really was the visitor centre expert or I had just asked another random visitor by mistake. Next time I will just speak to our so called Welsh expert who would at least pretended he knew the answer.
Cakes including lemon and blueberry and peanut slice
Although my cycling guests were both very wet and cold I still insisted they gave their rating input. They thought the coffee was nice but needed to be stronger and the impact of the cold and wet seemed to dampen their atmosphere and ambiance score. My cake was the best of the week so far but overall the Park Slip visitor centre cafe didn't surpass the score of our current leader the Flanagans coastline cafe at Llanelli.

It was still bucketing down outside but we had no choice but to set off again if we were to finish by night fall.

Progress was still painfully slow and I couldn't even raise morale when pointing out the lovely views, that were probably there behind the clouds, during a steep climb. It was clear something would have to change if we were going to finish the ride.
Wet and cloudy on the Welsh hillside
I therefore called an emergency team meeting under a disused railway bridge. The choice would either be my idea; to speed up once the terrain got flatter or the cycling guest idea; bail out at one of the train stations on route. The bail out option seemed to be the most popular but my cycling guests agreed to give my speed up idea a crack if I let them have some lunch.

I agreed but it was another hour before we eventually found a cafe when we arrive in Caerphilly.

It was the Grazing Ground. Things got off to a good start when the really helpful and friendly owners said we could wheel our soaking wet bikes through their cafe into the small outside seating area out back where they would be safe. 
Grazing Ground cafe
There was also an excellent cake selection so I ordered triple chocolate cake whilst my cycling guests went for proper hot food to try and warm themselves up.
Excellent cake and hot chocolate
The cake was good and the drinks excellent and the Grazing Ground went straight to the top of the leader board as the current best cafe anywhere across Great Britain.

Unfortunately there was no 3G so train timetables could not be checked and my cycling guests reluctantly agreed to press on to the next big town that had a station before deciding what to do.

We continued until the outskirts of Newport where it was decided that it was too much hassle to find the station so we would continued on a bit further. It then stopped raining and we came across some good road. So with the use of sports gels, fig rolls and the team time trail skills we had developed in London we started to race along and make up lost time.

With about 15 miles to go we came to our final bail out station but despite my electric gears failing, GPS battery almost out of charge, knackered cycling guests and the failing light it was agreed we would keep going to the hotel. Hooray!

This looked a good decision until we got to the Severn bridge crossing when the wind picked up and the team faded. It was a long last few miles before we finally crawled into our Premier inn hotel reception in the dark. 
Cycling over the old Severn bridge
I was proud that we had completed the ride altogether even if we had failed to get 3 more Welsh cafe reviews done. Tomorrow we start the English leg of the trip but with limbs stiffening up, general tiredness and bike mechanical issues it is far from clear if the trip will be completed.

Map of route

Café Name
Hot Choc Qual
Guest Hot Drink Qual
Effective cake selection
Cake Taste Quality
Atmosphere and Ambiance
Café Score
Grazing Ground, Caerphilly
7
7.5
7.5
7.5
7.5
7.4
Flanagan’s coastline café, Llanelli
5
7
6.5
7.5
7.5
6.7
Park Slip Visitors centre café, Bridgend
7
6.5
5
8
6
6.5
Gingers Café, Haverford west
7.5
6
3
8
7
6.3
Café Crumbs, Carmarthen
6
6.5
5.5
6.5
6.5
6.2
Caffi Becca
3
5
4
7.5
5
4.9















































































































































































































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