I’d toyed with the idea of riding the 220Km event to settle on this one as I thought a couple of new climbs was enough fun to be having in one day. I’d got up early enough for the longer ride and only realised the event started at 9 AM when I checked the routesheet. Had the Nuvi guide me there and it did a great job in getting me there with the time of arrival very accurate.
Time to sign on and watch the 220km riders set off. There is also a 400km ride going on that rides the 170 km event too.
All pictures blow up to fullscreen if double clicked.
Met Joe who comments on the Edge 705 page in the car park. It seemed like a sensible idea to ride together so we did. There was another chap doing his first Audax, new to cycling, hadn’t ridden that far before.
Once we had set off there is jockeying for position as various groups of riders settle into their own pace. It’s about 18 to 20 mph at this stage and then a small climb sorts us all out. The chap doing his first audax drops off. Club riders start moving up towards the front and it’s about staying on a wheel. There was a chap in a PDM top that was always just out of reach.
Then we had a bit of a log jam with a combine harvester blocking the lane. PDM chap squeezes through then the group with Joe got through and I was near the back and with a bit of hesitation a break had formed. There was a last minute alteration to the route that didn’t do me any favours so I ended up following a group of four.
Untill they got the route wrong and did a U turn. Guess who left his route sheet in the car. Then it was into map mode on the Edge and see where I could rejoin the route. Rejoin it I do and the Edge picks it up again and recalculates the Virtual Partner.
I’ve been on my own for a few miles now but recognise parts of the route.
This roller coaster has been in another Audax that passed through Chirk. We missed it because we followed the road down the steep hill to the river. There was no missing it this time as it is a short steep climb on the turn by the farm buildings.
After two humps of the coaster it was left turn and into that granny ring again. A track that defines the word rough. Picking a fine line up a steep climb that will have you spinning out on the loose stuff.
Glad to get back on the black stuff and after negoticating the roundabouts there was a stretch downhill on the A55 that was a blast.
Opted not to take the aqueduct foot bridge as the Aqueduct 200 will take some beating but wanted to do the hill that we came down. Stopped at the top with two others in front to take in an energy bar.
Steepens up by the canal bridge. You don’t see too many people down the bottom as it easier to take the path on the aqueduct.
Before we got to the bottom of the Old Shoe we saw a group of Merseyside CTC coming the opposite way. Peter from the Northend informs me that no one from the 400k returned any greeting to him as he greeted them all. A 5 am start on Saturday morning may explain it.
This was early on so it couldn’t have been the group I rode out with. Just goes to prove you are never alone out there.
The Old Shoe is a genuine 1:5 ,20% gradient from this point. Minimum gradient is 1:10 or 10%. I stopped at this point as one I was maxxed out and two it was a good location to take a picture. Upwards to the Ponderosa was a 20% climb with riders walking, below was slightly less steep with riders walking.
Now I’d gone down to a 26 tooth sprocket on the granny ring and I’m still in trouble on these climbs. Somewhere in the downward picture is someone walking, it’s an impressive climb whichever way you look at it.
Stopping to take the photographs has sweat dripping off me, rolling of the front of the Atmos. There is this further 20% effort to go to the Ponderosa which is now doable but still hard work.
Once there it is a bit surreal, the place is packed. Randoneurs looking to replenish some carbs in quick time, Bikers on all day breakfasts and car drivers that could do with a walk never mind an 80 mile hilly bike ride. Ex-biker myself, haven’t been on it for over two years. I get a better buzz these days using my own steam.
Further on North Wales Police are pulling bikers for whatever they have done wrong.
Took a panoramic multi shot that I need to work on.
Going down the Shoe was quick and I got buzzed by a biker that I wasn’t expecting.
Llangollen was busy with traffic but I was soon through it.
Had to stop for this shot of the bridge before the Aqueduct, missed a better one a bit further back that was obscured. We went over the bridge twice on the route once in each direction, next up is Methodist Hill.
The second picture is just after the first turn as at 18% I’m in no position b to take pictures.
This is the last climb of the audax and from here it is all downhill so to speak.
Couldn’t beileve how quiet Chirk was, the whole ride was virtually traffic free and even on the ride back to Upton Magna the roads were remarkably quiet.
On the last stretch I’d been on my own since the top of Methodist Hill. Not a bad thing as I’d been passing fields off rippening corn wondering whether to take the shot. I didn’t but the immageary was superb, a bit like the Tour de France and the sunflowers.
I’m chugging along at my pace expecting a chaingang or two to come steaming past but it doesn’t.
With around 10k to go I catch up with another rider who turns out to be on the 400km event. I didn’t get his name but we have a chat and my arrival spurs him on not only upping his pace but dropping me for a section. He’s a lean guy riding a steel bike with a saddlebag and a routesheet. His route following is equal to the GPS. I still have a lot to learn. Puts my effort into perspective, come across a guy who is doing it for 400 km.
Now in the early section of the ride there is a chap in PDM kit who is always off the front and is in a break (not surely on an Audax) when a combine harvester blocks the road.
Next thing with a couple of Km to the finish he is at the back of a group of four.
“No Prisoners” this time to some protests. 400km guy is spurred on again, no slacking in pace with the end in sight.
Lots more to write up, but at least the pictures are now up.I’ll try to fillin the gaps and there are lots. A great day out.
Saw Joe at the finish, everyone had a good ride. Saw bits of Britain at it’s best, first Audax where I was on my own for a decent part of it. The 400k guy put a different perspective on things, rode to the route sheet, steel framed Mercian with a rack.
Me bling Carbon bike, satnav, good for a day ride but little else.