Wild Wales Challenge 2012

I have to hand it to the Merseyside CTC they continue to selflessly organise an excellent event that they don’t get to ride.
In the middle of Wild Wales no less.
Probably the toughest ride since the Etape in 2009 I haven’t done myself any favours by putting on 20kg and it shows.

The electronic tag sign in for the second year had about 600 of us on the road in a little over 15 minutes. This had the unforeseen consequence of the biggest queue at a control point I have ever seen with about an hour wait.

It defined the British and queues, orderly with no one pushing in except Zel of The Sunlight. Who I would class as marginal ;>)

2.5 miles in after tagging on to a club doing 9.5mph across the lake shore we were confronted by the climb of the Hirnant.

I’ve been shying away from hills since the Etape  and I’m about to get my come-upance.  That along with the lowest gearing I could muster, it wasn’t enough.

One theme that does shine through is that the more time on the bike the morethe

weight falls off. Expect a big increase in ride miles.

The Hirnant Pass probably defines the dictionary definition of a glacial valley.
Next up a fast descent to Lake Vyrnwy where I should have stopped to take a picture of the dam as it looked spectacular with water spilling over the weir.

One of the features of the ride was it was almost entirely up and down, the only flat section being the ride along the lake.

Some of the views today were stunning.

Possibly the longest queue at a feedstation EVER

Stopped on this climb to recover and take a picture it was earily quiet and far in

the valley below you could see the sheep running around the purple heather.

Another missed photo opportunity were the 3 Model T Fords along the route.
Someone had a support vehicle following them around the ride, all well and good but where’s the challenge? The annoying part was having the same car come past you on narrow climbs 4 or 5 times with me being a soft sod and stopping to let it pass.

There was a stop at Machynlleth for food and drink with riders emptying the shelves of the Co-op of water. The shop manager coming out with a plastic bag to put the empty or not so empty bottles in.

Out of Machynlleth I ended up riding with a chap from Chester Tri  who sticking in big efforts on 39X27.  What doesn’t come through on a post like this is the number of people you interact with. You tend to end up riding with a section of riders of a similar ability. If you are suffering they are suffering.

Dinas Mawddwy stop had no queues and the card reader had packed up so it was a manual checkin with the main event a few miles down the road.

This climb is relentless the easy bits can be 18% with the Sunlight telling me it’s 29% at the top which is where the armco starts.

Nothing worse than looking in the sock draw and finding 1 Assos sock, talking of which had a chap fall off in front of me on the Bylch who was wearing one fluro pink one and fluro yellow/green one and they were long to boot more like legwarmers.

Highest road pass in Wales

Ancient capital capital of Wales no less, you learn something every day. Thinking back there was a chap on a recumbent trike , mountain bikes were more suitable at times or at least the gearing.

Wolverhampton wanders no Wheelers won the team prize with 39 riders turning up.

Great video from Alan of the ride, great site too.


Weekending 12 Aug 2012

Been a while since i last posted and an awful lot has happened.

Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour the France was one of them.

This post is going to be in reverse order with the latest first and working back as far as I can.

Sunday: A first for me a commute to work. Been thinking about it for a while spurned on by the fact that the guys at work who have purchased bikes on the Cycle to work scheme are getting in more miles than moi.

It’s a 7-7 12 hour shift so a 15 mile ride before and after it, making it a long day.
A 5:35 AM start after perusing the Mersey Tunnel bylaws the previous evening had me wondering how long before I’ll be doing it in the dark. The mornings are now drawing in fast.

Made good time down to Birkenhead where the clubs and pubs must have finally chucked out their last clients. Half of which were on the floor as they presumably had trouble standing.  Heading into the tunnel at time of morning gives you a chance to look at the MerseyTravel SuperLambBanana decked out in TeamGB kit with a pair of sunglasses on it.

It’s near a 30mph ride Down into the tunnel so you should be at the same speed as any traffic, the hackney cab passing me at about 60 stands out like a sore thumb. After the midpoint things get a lot slower, this is when the Garmin 800  decides it has lost satelite  contact. Tunnel miles don’t show up on your ride.

Once out of the tunnel things change in about a mile. Up til now I’ve been a leisure cyclist, not too many worries, always stop for lights, pick the nice routes generally enjoy the ride. A trip down The Strand and past Liverpool One changed all that.

I’ve been doing this run for 13 years and it’s bad enough in a car when the lights go against you on a bike it’s 100 times worse. There’s the rub I know the light sequence by heart all compounded by the fact that most lights won’t pick up a bicycle. The turnoff for Otterspool prom at the Quarter was the worst. I can see why the commuters ride on the pavement, you get to jump the lights.

In no time at all I’m at the Jerrico Lane lights. Fairly straight run in from here with the only decision being to take the Garston Bypass.  If it wasn’t for the fact there was next to no traffic I would have taken the hit and ridden through potholed Garston.  On a weekday things might be a lot different.  In the dark Garston Bypass could be deadly.

Last phase of the ride is Speke Boulevard  where I take to the cyclepath (pavement) at Peoples Ford to see what it’s like. It’s not bad but not great, another one of those places where the road is smoother but would you want to risk it in rush hour. I ride 23mm wide tyres might be entirely different on 38mm tyres.  Arrived at work at 6:30 so journey time was 55 minutes and I was buzzing. Showered, changed and I was good to go.

The ride home took a slightly different route avoiding the Festival Gardens as I’d witnessed some of the worst driving in a while on the Saturday drive home. A Jeep not content with undertaking manoeuvres was overtaking on rises and going into roundabouts, those overtaken were after him and it looked as if it could end in a nasty incident.

The lads at work were all over the Sabbath Silk Road, picking it up to see how much it weighed, even had to get the Sidi Ergo 3,s out the locker to show them how the cleats worked.  HOW MUCH ???????

Opted to take the cyclepath down Speke Boulevard on the way home narrowly missing a runner by the bank and getting call a “Queer” by the PeoplesFord junction as I was using the pavement. Rode through Garston rather take the bypass and took a left at the cricket club to take to the front at Otterspool Prom.

Although I’ve been slagging it off for a while I  took 8th on the Otterspool prom Strava segment by 8 seconds while being baulked by a dog and it’s owner. Wasn’t looking to set good time but if it’s there go for it as everybody else is.

Talking of Strava more and more are coming out against it for various reasons.
My main gripe is short segments as part of short rides, loads out there posting segments  on 15 mile rides(1 hour).  Once your out there for a genuine ride (a couple of hours or allday) why on earth would you be worried about a time.

You’ve posted a time in the past unknowingly on a unknown segment that hasn’t yet been created and all of a sudden you have lost your new KOM status to a group ride. Group rides should NOT  be on Strava.

More retrospectivly latter, I haven’t got to the train yet. A few pictures to add more on the Tour De  Frank or lack of. Lot to catch up on.


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