Wild Wales 2008

Just got the Route today and here is my interpretation of it.

If your using Internet Explorer and having trouble with it loading try using FireFox
it is a lot lot quicker when using BikeRouteToaster.

13 Aug 08 tidy the route up a bit. A few problems around the 80 Km mark as I’m 50 meters down on the route profile at that distance.
Another one is which side of Afon Wen (river) are we on.


17548 is the final version. It’s the route I’ll be riding on Sunday. I’ve cross referenced it with Tracklogs for the telephone box turns.

Riding it as a Course this year on the all new singing dancing Edge 705 with Maps!!!
Don’t forget your quid for the toll at Barmouth.

Bob Clift Memorial Ride 2008 (Cheshire Cycleway)

Ride write up to appear in a day or two.  Been without Internet for yesterday and today and the site went down to boot. Thanks to Paul for getting it sorted.

Don’t know if it is a sign of the times but I turned up to sign on for the event and wondered where everyone was. 37 had signed up and there probably 10 like me that signed up on the day. A fair bit down on last year. I don’t know if it is the CTC  becoming more of a political being and disaffecting the members that just want to go out and ride a bloody bike.

A rain shower had us huddling under a bit of shelter but it eased off and we were on our way. We ended up at the back of the field as Adelle was having a nap in the car and then forgot her water bottle.


Usual suspects for this ride, with the odd one or two  that joined us as we all seem to want to do the ride at a similar pace.

The Sunlight passed us early on and we did see them at most of the early control points. A couple of miles past the Steps at Delamere we saw Big Phil of the Sunlight coming the opposite way. ” Short Ride Phil” was the retort.


First section is basically as ride up to the Steps at Delamere.
Now I was off the back as it was time to take off an outer layer, but once on the Steps I went to the front to some comments only to be acknowledged once I got the camera out.

Great Budworth is one of those Cheshire Life villages, still spectacular the second time around. Dropped back to get  the shots, turned out quite well.



Once through the village the first stop was the Ice cream farm.


This was a control point but a bit quirky. No scones today as they are for customers. What am I a scone afficinado? They’ve run out but seeing as we are the only ones in sight it is a lame excuse. Felt suffered more than welcome.

The next section finds us riding along waiting for the climb to “The Wizard of Edge” . Phil goes past so isn’t in the shot at the top. This was a great photo opportunity last year but this year due to the popularity of the pub cars all littered the front of it.


Here we lost Graham, only realising we had lost him at the next control. We had had a short stop at the Wizard and then set off thinking we were all up. Unfortunatley Graham went left instead of right and went further off the back. Luckily another group of three riders also made the same mistake and brought him back on course.


The next control is starting to become a bit of a legend. If you mention the ride, this stop always comes up.” We had a control point at someones garage”, preceding it is a climb that is “Engage a low gear” warning stuff. Hurst Lane at Bollington, Ray had overshot by a few yards but this is what we call “Lumpy” , steep but short as are a lot of the UK climbs.

Once leaving the control it is left at the end of the road( to continue climbing) or if you were on Rays route start going downhill. This is the bit that looks worse than it is, partly beause cars coming down it make it look really steep and you get the profile side on.
Going past the terrraced houses is bad enough as it is so narrow with parked cars.

As it was we only had to wait for Graham who was really starting to suffer on the steep stuff. The picture above is at the top of the climb  by some sort of memorial or folley before it descends into Macclesfield.


It all got a bit snarled up shortly after this as Ray stopped on the steepest point which was a few yards short of the turn. I was off the back  looking for a good shot, very easy to jump to conclusions when planning a ride on a Google map.


The next stop at Eaton is held in the village school this year as the memorial hall is geting rebuilt. At this point we are second to last on the road. Dropped back to get some more pictures as we are on the final leg of the ride.

The last two pictures are my attempts at getting Beeston Castle in the frame it just about comes off, pity about the cloud overhead.

This is the turnoff for Beeston Castle, places like this really make the ride. Past the castle we turn off and go downhill to the humpback bridge over the canal. Addelle stall as she is in way too high a gear for steep side of the bridge.  This is easy flat riding now but the wind has picked up and shortly after the Tee junction that takes you to the Ice Cream Farm one way and back to Waverton the other there is a decision to take.
Follow the route along the road by the canal into a headwind or head back past the Crocky Trail. Crocky Trail it was.

More later, but that’s it for the picture uploads.
This post is not finished…until it is finished.


Aqueduct Audax

Truly great day ( for 30 of us). Got confirmation of my entry last night from Stan and finally sorted my route out. The first climb done in the car did scare me but at least it sorted out a few discrepancies when trying to plot a GPS route.
Got to the Aqueduct car park in good time, so good that I was nearly first there. Peter was there from the Presidents CTC ride last year and A.N.Other. 

One thing that quickly became apparent was that this was a serious ride. You only had to look at the equipment being unloaded off or out of the cars to see that you don’t take on a ride like this lightly. Carbon was everywhere, a year or so it unusual but not anymore. I used to get asked if my Trek was carbon with various remarks about it.
There was a chap with a nice new shiny Rourke in I think 953. The AAA points mark it out as a serious ride and looking by the low entry numbers I think it scares a lot of people off. Call it a Sportife, charge 3 or 4 times the entry fee, put a start finish banner up and there would be hundreds here.

DSCF4097.jpgCrossing the Canal at the StartThe Canal Basin.

You can talk about gearing all day and by enlarge we did. You need some low gearing for an event like this, the lower the better and then your still likely to find it not low enough. I’m riding 30×27 which is quite a popular combination for a triple once you’ve found 25 a struggle on some of the steep stuff. Compacts usually come in 34×27 and there were plenty here using that gearing. It’s the trade off for not putting a triple on a bling carbon bike. It all comes into focus within 2 Km of the start.

Once we had been set off it was a spectacular ride over the canal and a descent to the River Dee.  Here we got to see the aqueduct in all it’s glory. No time for a picture yet as the is a small climb up past the finish and then on to the first dish of the day.

Methodist Hill  and a no swearing clause in the route. Marked down as 18% and the Garmin Edge 705 proved it true. This was seriously steep and had me maxxed out along with most of the field on their carbonfibre exotica. Don’t forget all those Compact chainsets.

Now I’m struggling along with the rest of the Lycra clad brigade when this chap on an old nail of a bike  just spins past us. Not only that he has a saddle bag across the back that could deliver mail to a small postal district.
Peter and PhillOverlooking Llangollen

He just disappeared into the distance, I’m pretty sure it was Stan the organiser.  I voiced the opinion that this guy was taking the piss only to have it confirmed further up the climb. He was gone and we were left floundering in his wake. 7 km in the first checkpoint, name on the silo which I got and the others of Phil and Peter missed. What goes up comes down and it was a steep descent onto the A road leading to the Chain Bridge Hotel.

Crossing the DeeThe Chainbridge HotelPeter

There is a bit of history here, 27 years ago I spent my honeymoon there and went back for my 25th Wedding anniversary. Spent a couple of days on Brian’s trail bike that I managed to set fire to after the wedding reception. Just Married, bike on fire, a great start. The place was on the up when I went back and I’ve got to admit the scrambled egg with salmon for breakfast is one of the finest things I have tasted. It was superb.
Cooked to perfection, memorable for the rest of a lifetime.

Caught up with Peter and Phil and then it was on to another highlight of the day, the Horseshoe Pass. Phil was off the front and I went up chatting to Peter. In the granny at a few steep bits but it’s not the worst thing on god’s earth. I think it’s reputation comes from it being an A road. Stop at the top for a photo shoot and then on past the Ponderosa.

Fellow rider on a Giant leading Horseshoe Pass IIThe Horseshoe Pass

DSCF4110.jpgPeter and PhillMoi and Phil

The next bit has me going downhill on the drops, I ease up for the cattle grid as I don’t want to puncture as Guy did on another ride. Next thing this chap on the Rourke is having a go at me, No Fear with this guy, he has taken lots of yards out of me by not slowing for the cattlegrid but stops for his mates at the roundabout up the hill.

Further on I’m on the front but the dreaded Cateye rear light bracket comes into play. The road is that rough that the bracket slides down the seatstay and starts rubbing on the cassette. Phil and Peter stop twice but Rhyll CC are gone. The light gets put in the pocket. A wheel is always handy on a ride, you’ve just got to get on the right one. The first control is the cafe car park by the river in Ruthin and gives us a chance to regroup.

The next section  out of Ruthin is really nice with a gradual climb along a valley through Clocaenog Forest. What goes up must come down and there is a steep descent to Pentre-llyn-cymmer. Don’t ask how you pronounce it even the simple stuff is hard enough.

Climbing through ClocaenogGrabbing a wheel off Rhyl CCRhyl CC at the control

The control at Llyn Brenig is a chance to grab a bite to eat and fill a bottle from Stan,s van and a chance to mingle again with other riders. Rhyl CC were really good to us on this ride, pointing out danger points  and warning us of what was to come.

Climbing out of Llyn Brenig the scenery changes to rolling moorland with no trees for miles. For some reason we have lost the  Rhyll CC wheel, Peter falls back on the fast descents as he is on a flat bar bike. The descent to the next info point is big ring stuff with me getting up to 40 MPH. I was going great guns until a car overtook me and a startled sheep ran across the road.

The car braked heavily, there was another car coming the other way to compound things with this sheep and it’s lamb darting all over the road. I’ve mentioned before about descending on the drops because of the better braking leverage and boy did it come into play here. Grabbing the brakes at 40mph had the rear lock up and step out on me in an adrenalin filled moment. The sheep and lamb darted back onto the moor and Peter and Phil drew up having watched the antics from behind.


Regaining a bit of composure I wasn’t going to waste the rest of the descent so gave it another go to the next info point at 100 Km. ” Distance to Bala on the signpost” , well it didn’t have one. There was a note on it but I didn’t see it, but what did catch my eye was all these familiar bikes outside this Cafe in the middle of nowhere.


It used to be the highest petrol station in Wales but is now a cafe. It turned out to be a worthwhile stop . Scone for me, I don’t remember what cake Phil had but it looked and was really good. Peter missed out and was to regret it later. The others were on the leather sofa,s and it was another of those places that you wouldn’t want to leave but had to, to make the finnish. Junction of the  B5391 and B4407

This place wants making into a control point next year if it runs. Tea at 75p in the middle of nowhere isn’t going to break the bank. 

Next up was the run into Bala going from 1200 to 550ft in the car park. It’s virtually all downhill to Corwen and we nearly have a run in with a boyracer in his Subaru Imprezza. The road was really potholed forcing us to come out. Others had passed OK but this lad wants to gun it as close as possible. I was expecting we would see each other again as what else is there to do but drive around in circles when you are out in the sticks.

Sure enough he trundles by when we are stopped as Peter is starting to suffer a bit. The ride back to Llangollen is a bit lumpy with a small climbs that went up to 17% gradient on the Edge. The road takes us past the Horseshoe Falls and we join the route out to the bottom of the Horseshoe Pass.

Word from Stan is the second left past the motor museum is the easier way up to the Panorama. The first left looked really steep and would have been a struggle. We stop at the next left for a discussion about going up that one. Peter doesn’t feel up to it, Phil doesn’t see the point with 2,600 plus metres under our belt so the road it was, turned out most had opted for the same thing. I think maybe a few of the solo riders did the last climb as you know your own pace and ride with that in mind.

DSCF4120.jpgNearly There.DSCF4124.jpgDSCF4126.jpg

DSCF4127.jpgDSCF4125.jpgAnother fine day for the Toy. 

The turn in to Trevor can’t come soon enough. I’ve got to get a picture of the aqueduct from the bottom and Peter has to get some food in him even though the finish is about 300 yards away. A drink awaited at the finish and bought some excellent Bara Brith from the village hall. Chatted with some of the other finishers and then we had to decide the way back to the carpark.
Stan suggested walking over the aqueduct and it proved to be a sound suggestion. It was quite busy even though it had gone 6. Canal boats running bridge tours and the one that you can see with Phil who I think were on holiday. Their holiday just got a bit more interesting as their engine cut out right in the middle.
Phil and I are hobbling across on Look cleats and they still hadn’t got it going when I parked up the Toy for the final shot. There is a canal boat full of people on a trip backed up behind them.
Pack the bike into the car and head home until the next one.


Stunning detail when you zoom in, even where Phil and I walked across the Aqueduct.
There is a lot that hasn’t made it into the post but I have to stop somewhere and this it it. Another great day.

Hawkstone 200 Audax.

What a day this turned out to be.
It didn’t start out too well as I had an email from Ray about not starting if there was snow on the ground. An inch and a bit later had me heading out to the start. M56 was closed around Daresbury luckily the Garmin Nuvi 250W had the rerouting in hand.
It took a bit of forcing mind you as it wanted to send me back to where I came off.

With this delay time was tight but it did get me there in the nick of time. Phil was there and that was about it. Others were setting off but not on the route but down the A50.
Now with no routesheet or map Phil and I opt to follow the Garmins but take it steady on the lanes. We haven’t much other choice.

64 had entered but only 32 rode. That would explain why we saw very few riders on the ride, 10 to 12 tops. Seamons I think had a chain gang down the A50 as when we reached one of the controls we were told a group had come through nearly an hour before us.

Following the proper route from the start the roads were clear with no ice to speak of. Jodrell Bank came into view so I stopped to take a picture. One of the few on the ride. Very few of us rode the full route.

Jodrell Bank in the snowDSCF3960.jpgDSCF3962.jpg Moi

I really like the Jodrell Bank picture  as we were riding for a fair few hours  through similar scenery. The snow didn’t dissapear until later. The next two pictures are of Phil closing on one of the few groups we saw on the road. In the morning everwhere looked like a Christmas card and it was really pleasant riding.

Once your seperated music starts coming into the equation, I had spinning class music bouncing around my head. Soulja Boy CrankThat, google it. I had thought ” This is a nice easy ride” only to find we had only done 20 miles. Only 105 to go.

Next stop is the “Red Rooster Cafe” another control point. Well worth a visit in IronBridge. Not a big place but well worth it if you can get a place. I had egg and baccon baguette. This was the halfway point and I needed filling up.


A minute after taking the picture of the IronBridge there was a snow flurry a minute later sunshine. The next section takes up back around Upton Magna and it’s the first time Phil has seen the power station on the outskirts of IronBridge. It just looks so out of place.

There is another control point at Wroxeter  which required a trip to the visitor centre. This was livened up by sheep escaping onto the road by the farmer who hadn’t shut the gate.

I’ve got this saying “All roads lead to Wem” because for some reason they do. Every roadsign you seem to come across always seemed to have the same distance on it. The road to Wem is fairly open and the wind is starting to pick up.

Phil stopped at a cash machine here and then it was what seemed one of those straight roman roads to Prees Heath and the control at the Raven Cafe. A place that even welcomes bikers never mind cyclists. We were too late as it was closed so it was off to the garage to get a receipt instead.

After the stop it was a case of finding the non existant footbridge, Phil and I headed off to the roundabout looking for it even though the Garmins were pointing the other way. Then we saw a group of three riders going down a lane we hadn’t seen across the dual carriageway. It was a case of lifting the bike over the Armco to get to the other side.

Conditions slowly got a steadily worse but we had got on the back of the group of three. Then things took a turn for the worse, snow flurries.The overtrousers went on for the rest of the ride. It was really grim at times but it is not as if if you can call it quits when things get a bit tough. Then it let off a bit.

Crossing BoothLane at Middlewich Phil couldn’t get across the road and we split with the other group is sight of the finish. Not the end of the world but we came to a T junction at Jones’s Lane and Brereton Lane where so bright spark had reversed the Holmes Chapel sign. On the map it looks an insignificant juntion and with no waypoint on it and a 50/50 decision the tampered signswayed it. Right instead of left. It proved to be a bad move. Heading over the M6 instead of under it we had a couple of mile detour. Then had to endure a trip down an A road in driving rain with lorries going past at 60 mph.

Got to the finish about 15 minutes later than planned. There was some really good soup waiting for us at the finish, and a coal fire. Could have stayed there all night. 125 miles in 10 1/4 hours. Glad to have done it, it was 50/50 at the start but turned out OK. I mention to people that I went out for a ride at the weekend and the usual reply is how far did you go?. 125 miles, most don’t want to drive that far never mind spend over 10 hours in the saddle.

CTC Chester and North Wales 50 Mile Tourist Trial Sunday 16th March 2008

I rode this event last year and surprised myself by being first back. Now I wasn’t expecting the same this year far from it. I’ve had this nagging doubt that I’ve been overtraining probably just nerves as I had such a good year last year.

This year there were 108 entries which is a fair bit up on last year. I’m in the tenth group to go off which means the ones that started first have 50 minutes on us. Everybody seems to hate the climb straight out of the scouthut. It’s not that hard but it does sort everyone out right at the start.

I’ve got gear problems from the new chain I fitted last night, it’s jumping about all over the place and stuck in a low gear I end up going off the front with Phil from the Chester Road Club in tow. I’m just trying to gain a bit of time to sort it out.

Once at the top it’s big ring stuff to 5 ways and the Mile Road. Phil and I have started to pick off riders that started earlier as it’s still a fast pace. Chris is by the side of the road in a bus shelter fixing a puncture. He still has the hill at Marford to climb and hasn’t got much chance of catching his group.

Phil and I pick off a few more going to Borras and the first control. This gives me the chance to sort the gears out while Phil has his sheet signed. The next section to Farndon is fast and last year we had passed half the entry by this point. Not so this time as the field is larger and more spread out. Gave us time to sort ourselves out wile crossing the bridge. A good turn of speed over the bridge gives you momentum on the climb on the other side. The Edge is doing it’s job, Phil is having a few problems with his but he is riding off Ray’s route.

Next up we come across a group with Roy and Joan in it with Andy. There is a bit of banter as we are either slow or they are quicker as we had passed them by Farndon  run in last year. The control point had been moved a few miles along but it wasn’t a problem. That’s the trouble with GPS, it’s accurate to 9 feet, shift a control point and your buggered. This years ride went pretty well.

A bit further on after the second control point we latched on to Allans group. These are handy guys. One of them stuck with us. Phill lost something but we caught the other guy up .Next stop was  Overton and although we missed the turn the mileage was the same.

Signing in Bob is prompting me for a 3 and 1/2 hour finish time?. Hadn’t thought about it but it seemed do-able.

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Not too many pictures this year, the second one is Ray Guy and Martin at the serving hatch. Despite going like bats out of hell we had only managed to put ten minutes into them.The time is above them. We passed the couple on the tandem further down the road an they weren’t hanging around. The last one is of Phil, managed to stick with him most of the time when I wasn’t on the front he sure does know how to push.
The low battery warning on the camera started flashing so it got put away.

There were fairly strong headwinds on the way back with the next section to Bangor on Dee being strong due to it’s open nature.

Saw some other riders still riding to the control including Roy and Joan again.
Didn’t put the extra mile in this year as I had programmed in the turn to Farndon, last year I was heading off to Churton.

The run to Rosset was straight, exposed and could have been better once we had crossed the main road we came to a T junction where we had a wrong turn. The Edge soon showed it up and we only went off course by about 200 yards. With 3 miles to go it was worth looking at the ETA and as the pace was constant it proved very accurate. With a mile to go another pair of riders appeared on the horizon so the pace was upped. We needn’t have bothered as they wern’t on the ride.
At the scouthut it looks like the control wasn’t open as the door was closed. Going inside the control was open and the sheet duly signed. 3 hours 5 minutes for the 50 miles including the stop. Average speed 17.7 mph according to the Edge.

Rode home via the Eureka for another good day.

The Year in review.

What a year this has been. I’ve had some fantastic rides with the CTC culminating with the Wild Wales. This has been my most memorable event  as it was the event of legends. I didn’t ride it as a Northender as I wasn’t one at the time but rode it as a CTCer. It was a great event, i rode it with people I knew and we didn’t get lost thanks to the Garmin Edge 305.
These were not at race pace but at a pace an average cyclist could maintain.
Think 13 mph and you should be OK.
The Audaxes and Ray  taught me a bit of discipline. Pacing is what it is all about in audaxes. A group suffers at the controls as the individual dosn’t hang around. 

I’ve had some great moments on the Audaxes on 2007, Ray,s sense of balance meant we all finished what we had started with no one left behind. Numbers are set to increase for 2008. This is all good stuff as the group is more powerfull than the individual. Unless I am on the front trying to maintain 13 mph into a 26 mph headwind (Poynton to Chirk).  From coming from nothing it was a groundbreaking year.

The Tour de France Prologue was amazing and I was glad to have been there. Red Ken deserves the credit, a tribute to cycling.

Highlight of the year was the TLI Roadraces at Oulton Park,  following 1 Brimtage 8.75 mile TT I deceided to take on Britains  Best amateurs. This was perhaps  a step too far. Lapped after 6 laps was hard enough but at least I wasn’t dragged off the track, that was to come. A great series and something to look forward to for 2008.

I also had a great time plotting out then riding the Steve Cummings training rides from Cycling Weekly. I was between groups at the time and this was the chance to see what I was made of on my own.  Done solo there is always enough interest in the route to keep you occupied. Do you have the nerve not to brake down Dark Arc Lane or how much speed do you have up the switchback. I was at a peak around this time and riding for the fun of it.

CTC Hillclimb Llyfasi

A year ago you’d never in a million years have me doing a hillclimb but times change and I’d even toyed with riding out to the event. With limited access to the internet I’d got the details from the CTC Cycle magazine.

As it turned out 24 of us turned up on the day and it went off really well.



I’d rode up the first part of the course with a few others to see what gear to use, turning back before the first bend. I’d been told about not going off too fast, but this seemed OK. Middle ring and 25 or 24 on the back. I started fifth and this was the first time I have started anything in the pedals  so its a bit unnerving the first time.
The chap in the stripes is my minute man and looks to be going well.

A minute later I’m off, have a good go on the first section with the dubious honor of having a car pass me on the narrow road. It was soon past.
round the first bend things steepened up considerably and I’d also caught my minute man I was under the impression that he had had a problem.

Looking down at the Edge my pulse is about 175 BPM its time to drop in to the granny ring on this one and spinn it out. I figure it can’t be this steep all the way up. As it was it flattened out a bit and it was time to shift up a gear or two. The finish being at a gate on the flat. Fast sprint to the finish and that was it event done.

Back to the time keeper to give my number in and take a few pictures of the other riders. 









More later including the freewheel and presentation.
The results to my great surprise I came second with a time of 7 minutes 29 seconds. Well beaten by the winner doing it in 6 minutes 48 seconds. Third place was a second behind me so it was close.

It was a short ride to the start of the Freewheel most of it downhill. Taking a leaf out of Andy Walsh,s Majorcan dowhill Northend epic on Youtube I decided to have a go at filming while on the move, with nearly disastrous consequences. The road got rough and the hand that was holding the lever was having a hard enough time trying to keep the speed in check before a large jolt made the lever slip. Results are a bit mixed so I won’t post them.

Freewheel 001.jpgFreewheel 002.jpgFreewheel WinnerFreewheel 004.jpg

And so on to the Freewheel. Now this is what I’d call a quirky event, freewheeling down a hill and seeing how far you can get up the other side. You might get beaten on the hillclimb but revenge is sweet on the freewheel. I don’t think I’d travel half way across the country just to do the freewheel mind you.

Now I’d have thought it was all about aerodynamic and rolling resistance, how wrong can you be. the chap in the third picture won the event by getting past the telegraph pole.
Carbon exotica like the Toy wern’t even close to the British steel and the chap on the Bianchi. I had a look at his tyres they must have been 35-38 millimetre touring tyres with a tread pattern in them!. Mind you, what was in the saddle bag?  Hutchinson 700X23,s in Discovery Channel team colors just wern’t up to it in this event.

Freewheel 006.jpgFreewheel 007.jpgFreewheel 008.jpgHeadless rider

Your final stopping point is marked on the road and at the close I counted my position, 11th. With the event over it was off to the pub for some lunch and the presentation from Lowri.

Great day, my first  hillclimb and freewheel. Probably be back for more next year.

CTC Presidents ride.

Ride write up to follow, I’ve posted some of the pictures I took on the ride to get things moving. These are compressed thumbnails for the blog the original are about 2.5Mb each if you want an original copy.

The Presidents Ride starts and finishes at the pond in Christleton and there are a fair few turning up maybe 50 or 60 and comprised of two rides a 15 and 18 mile route to the Jessie Hughes Institute at Eaton. Roy ends up leading us off and it turned out to be a good ride. Met a few new faces from other sections including a chap that had ridden the Discovering Shropshire audax the day before.

On the way out, by the Ice Cream Farm a tractor rally passes on the other side of the road. I hould have stopped then as it is a fairly unique sight but as luck would have it our paths crossed later in the day.

DSCF3354.jpgDSCF3356.jpgDSCF3357.jpgCTC Presidents Ride 002.jpg

Once youve dropped down to the rail bridge and crossed the canal you know know there is going to be a grinding of gears on the climb up the hill. It never fails to catch a few out. It’s the short sharp shock climbs that have me doing the spinning classes a couple of times a week.

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CTC Presidents Ride 006.jpgCTC Presidents Ride 008.jpg

There are tea and cakes laid on at the Jessie Hughes Institute. Institute conjured up something grand when I first heard about it and I’d drove past it before not realising that this was it. It’s a wooden hall that is due to be replaced by a brick building. A bit of a blast from the past.

There is a presentation for the the late Graham Mills whose death has left a big hole in local, Welsh and Audax cycling. He’s going to be a tough act to follow and has been missed by many.

Had to stop to get a couple of pictures of the vintage tractors that were touring the lanes in convoy, missed them the first time near the Ice cream farm but caught them the second time. Makes for an interesting ride coming across stuff like this.

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The pictures that are not square were taken on the move on the bike as the rest of the group were still cruising along and I didn’t want to drop off the back and get lost.

Link to Google Map of ride 

Once we had reached the start a Christleton, four of us headed off back to Chester on the canal towpath. It handily links up with the River Dee cyclepath. Our  paths diverged at the blue bridge with Janet and moi heading back to the Eureka to meet of with Roy and Joan and a few others. Roy told me about the hillclimb last year so I’ll be giving it a go.

Back home via the missing link with the temperature starting to drop. Nice ride, local enough for many not to need a car assist. 68 enjoyable miles.

I’ve forgoten everybodies names so if you didn’t get a mention you know why. 

Wild Wales Challenge the ride.

What a day, I’ve been building up to this for a while and the weather forecast looked good. It was a bit cold early on as I was packing the bike into the car so I opted for armwarmers for the start of the ride. With 600 riders to book in things were busy at the start. I still hadn’t got anyone to ride with and there were clubs there from far and wide.

The Northend and the Sunlight were looking for a fast time to knock Macclesfield Wheelers off the fastest club so they were out. As it was I ended up going with some CTC riders I’ve ridden with on events before.

First picture is of my riding buddies for the day, second is Peter who led last wednesdays Northend Ride. Pace and Big Phil are the two Sunlight riders. The final picture is of the group going out of Bala. The chap in blue we aren’t going to see much of today as he is about to get dropped off the back as it steepens up only to collect a puncture. Cliff has all the luck but all of it bad. 

We do a fair bit of climbing on good roads out of Bala before we turn off to the left. This is taking us to the turn that the route says Engage a low gear. They meant it. People are in trouble right from the turn. Falling off, grinding to a halt, going back down the hill to start again. My lowest gearing is 30X27 and I needed it. Some are already walking and there are a couple of tandems that are on the climb.I meet graham and vicky at the first control on their tandem. It’s a good start so here are some more pictures.

The last two pictures of Allan are on bike shots. Before that Peter is in the middle of the other riders, a bit further on he is giving assistance  to the Sunlight. Once back on the main road it’s a chance for groups to reform before climbing up to the summit and entering Powys. This gives Chris and I a chance to test our legs passing some but getting passed by others like the Macclesfield Wheelers.

From the summit it is a very fast descent to Llangynog where the turn is catching a few out. This takes us off the main road and down a lane along the valley.

DSCF3177.jpgDSCF3178.jpgDSCF3180.jpgThe first control

Took a fair number of pictures on this ride and it was just the usual suspects. The chap in the Gan shirt was riding at around our pace and likewise the Northend chap. We had a fast memorable descent into the village from this junction. I just had to stop to take a picture as I wasn’t getting enough of the scenery. Next up was a drink stop at a garage shop that was getting a steady stream of cyclists. Allan tells theme there are around 600 to follow.

Phil and Gary are the two Sunlight riders here. Chris is inspecting his bike for another chain problem. He suffered a DNF on the Cheshire Cycleway ride with a snapped chain.

One the next stretch is a steady climb that eventually ends at Carno. I get talking to a chap on an old Peugot. He’s a runner and is doing the event on his own as the chap that put him up to it didn’t turn up. His entry cost more than his £12 bike. Going well for a first timer, really well. There was also a Mountain biker at the start who had never ridden more than 50 miles, I don’t know how he fared.

DSCF3192.jpgDSCF3193.jpgPeter certainly gets aroundDSCF3196.jpgDSCF3198.jpgDSCF3200.jpgDSCF3201.jpgDSCF3203.jpg

There’s that guy in the Gan top again. Any of the Sunlight care to name the chap on the Mountainbike?. Final control before the Bwlch y Groes was just timed right  with a chance to catch up with other riders.

After the control we are heading out to the main event of the day, part of cyclings folklore the climb of the Bwlch y Groes.  You know what they say about women and Maps, it isn’t true. On the turn that takes us to the right of the valley is a women calling the Macclesfield Wheelers (some of them) back down the hill. The Garmin has been calling the turns to great effect, faultlessly in fact. It’s a really nice stretch of the ride. I’m taking it easy as I don’t know what to expect all I know its 1000 ft straight up.

The ride up to the start of the Blych y GroesAllan and ChrisJust before the start of the climbZooming in at the start of the climb

Allan and Chris had gone gone on before me as they were descending quicker today and I wanted to get the pictures. You ride through the trees up a 25% gradient to a turn where it all starts. This turn was programmed in to the Garmin as XXXX and sure enough it bleeps and I know I’m in for a hard time.

At the start it isn’t too bad at 10% and I get to take the next picture on the climb!

On bike shot of the Blych y Groes You still don’t know what is before you from this picture but once your around the next bend you will be stunned by what you see. A climb that just goes on and on getting steeper towards the top.

There are Sunday leisure drivers going up and down the hill which spoils the climb for a few riders as once you stop it is nigh on impossible to restart on a steep gradient.  Two cars slowly passing each other nearly spoil it for me and a chap whose wheel I am on but an urgent call to  ******* move from him sees them pass but it was incredibly close.

I come up upon Allan walking and ask if he is OK, he is but has been baulked by two cars passing. It takes the shine off the climb for him but it was 20% plus where he was forced to step off. I’ve only got one speed when it comes to climbing and this climb has me maxed out. My heartrate is 170 bpm plus and the climb is about to get steeper. Reaching the Armco is a goal in itself and I don’t want to be a repeat of last year. A girl stops too and I say ” I’m not walking not this far up” and she is of the same mind. We have done most of the climb but the kick up in gradient is just too much. Once the heartrate comes down to something normal I set off again. I used it as an opportunity to take some pictures. Clipping in on a 20-25% gradient can only be done if you ride across the road. The trouble is it’s only 10-12ft wide at this point and there is the risk of a fall if it doesn’t come off.

\Made it this far!But there is still this to climb!Chris on the BlychChap I passed further down the climb

Well the move comes off and I’m back on my way. The cleat went straight into the Keo,s. I get up to where there is a chap cheering everybody on at the steepest part of the climb. On the bend after I am forced to stop again, 180 BPM and it’s probably wise to stop for a minute than blow up totally. I’m within sight of the summit and was offered a restart from a chap who was on the bend watching us all struggle. I said I was ok and managed to  get in the clip again. Not as smooth as last time but I was in.

The final section had me hitting a max for the day of 183 BPM, this is as hard as it gets and there are a group of riders at the top watching the other come up the climb. You do feel you have accomplished something when you get to the top.

Andy sent some pictures of me on the climb that I’m going to cherish for a long time, thanks Andy.

\DSCF3214.jpgDSCF3215.jpgThe Northend at the summit of the BlychDSCF3217.jpg

\P1000525.JPGP1000526.JPGMoi at the top of the Blych y Groes

It was the highlight of the ride and you want to stop just to see what you have done.
The whole day has been a fantastic experience and it’s not over yet. There is a descent to do and then the final climb of the Hirnant. At the bottom there is a sharp uphill section that registered 31% on the Edge but it soon fell back and although it is a higher altitude than the Bwlch y Groes it didn’t feel like it at all. Maybe it’s because the gradient tapers off towards the top.

\It’s all downhill back to the finish which is just as well as your done with climbing hills. Heading towards the sports centre the Edge give one last bleep “Route complete” and that was it ride over. Handing your card in for signing off your rewarded with a hefty lumps of slate with Wild Wales Challenge 2007 on it, I don’t think it’s going to be my last.

 Peter makes it back to the finishDSCF3219.jpg

The weather has been kind and made for a memorable ride for all the right reasons. It’s a credit to the CTC and the Merseyside DA. Just remember to get your entry in early to get a ride.

Link to Google Map of Ride opens in new window.

Link to MotionBased map player includes all the ride data. Scary stuff.


The Edge has me Burning 7000 calories on the ride and I was a kilo lighter the next day. 88.6 miles 10,300ft of climbing. One of the highlights of the year. I thought I had a good year last year but this is proving to be even better.

31Aug07 Links repaired to ride map and Motionbased player

Audax Around Snowdon, O Gwmpas Yr Wyddfa 103km

With most of the country worrying about the weather, I’m pondering whether to use “The Toy” or use the Iceni training/wet weather bike. One look out the window meant it was time to prep the Iceni. Nothing too drastic, just swap the bag, bottles and put the Garmin Edge 305 on the bars. The other important thing is to take the right shoes as the Iceni is fitted with SPD,s.

Craig  watching Ray loot his car.jpg

This was the better of the two shots as it includes the church.

It’s looking a bit grim driving down the A55 to Bangor but I’d allowed enough time in case I had difficulty find the start. Numbers were nearly 50% down on those that had entered but it didn’t look too bad on the day. Two out of our planned group were no shows but we gained Margaritte. Bangor was busy as we set out and it wan’t until a few mile down the road that I realised I hadn’t pressed start on the Garmin Edge 305. Hence the gap on the google map.

Ray had programmed us in to take the main road and not the cycle way to Carnarvon (english spelling) due to the path being grit. The wet conditions meaning any dirt rapidly becomes grinding paste on the rims. There was plenty of water around as we headed down the hill to Carnarvon and the Castle. I dropped off the back here to get a picture of the Castle as it’s not everyday you ride past historic landmarks like this. Further down the road we arrive at our first control point with a few riders getting their cards signed.

Canarvon Castle.jpgAnother shot of the Castle.jpg

After the control things get a bit breezy and the speed is cut to 10-11mph. The road is very exposed here and it’s not until we head inland that things ease up.

Control 1.jpg

Lowrie (in the blue,centre)of Wrexham CTC gets around, last week it was the Cheshire cycleway 100 miler.

The cycle route.jpg

It’s a tad windy after the checkpoint.

The next stop is Tremadog where all the climbers congregate before and after they climb the  the rockfaces across the the the road from the cafe. There is the matter of a 700 ft climb to tackle before you get to it. It also means 700ft of descent too. There is a diversion off the main road that rejoins a bit further on.  Prior to to that I see Nazareth Post Office, or at least it looks like that as we ride past.

Now the Eagle eyed might have gathered that I am a Nazareth fan(the 70,s group)and the urge to photograph the post office was stong , but i was at the back so it didn’t happen. Well not this time at least. AKA Whitebicycle.

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This is after the climb, boy it was bleak. Bleak was waiting at the turn and having to go back down the hill to see if one of the riders was OK.Soft is someone whingeing about having a change of dry clothing after having walked from the Lamberis Pass cafe to the coach  in the carpark.

I might as well talk about the climb as it is the highlight of the ride, not knowing what was coming up it looked harder than what it was. This was only the second long climb I’ve tackled, most have been shorter but maybe a bit steeper. Yes I know, I need to get out more.

The map player on the MotionBased site gives all the details of the climb . There is a section that is steep at the bottom but then it opens out. You can see the viewing point that cuts into the side of the mountain in the distance. That looks steep and who knows what lurks around the bend. As the climb opens up there is a chance to got up a gear and the speed goes up to 12mph from 10mph. Going up another gear has it up to 14mph in places. I passed three or four fellow riders on the climb and felt on top form. Only stopping at the junction to go up to PenYPass.

Looking at my watch I figure I’m about ten minutes clear of the others and it was time to regroup before going on to the control point. The weather turns nasty at this point and up until this point I have been reasonably dry. I’ve a pair of Polaris trousers on over a pair of shorts with Sealskin waterproof socks keeping my feet dry, until  now.

One of the problems with waterproof gear is that when it gets overwhelmed like here there is nowhere for the water to go. So now I’ve got wet feet. I should have put the Altura overtrousers on earlier as they proved quite effective on the descent.

The next section up to the Cafe is steep, the weather is horrendous and as we round a steep uphill bend we are hit by a wind that nearly stops you in your tracks. No chance of dancing up at 14mph here,more like 8 with 10mph at best when it leveled out. A bleep on the Garmin means we are at the control point.

British Summer Time2.jpg

Now you don’t want to leave the relative comfort of the cafe to set off in a downpour but we’ve a ride to finish. I finally don the Altura overtrousers for the descent into Llanberis. Boy what a descent this was. This was going to be fast, it would have been very very fast if it was dry.

Once I’d got an idea of what was involved I was soon up to speed, this felt like about 30 mph. As we descended there were literally rivers running across the road. This isn’t a day for taking the racing line and I wave a car past, a Merc follows thru. The thing is they aren’t that much quicker than me. Max speed was 37  but there were lots of sections where I was dragging the brakes to keep the rims clear of water.

I’m on the drops for this descent, you need the leverage on the brakes to control your speed. Being on the hoods is not an option you just can’t get enough leverage. There is good feel on the drops and Dura-Ace pads are soft enough not to wear the rims out. I must mention the driving rain at the top as it was really stinging the face so much so as I was thinking of slowing down at one point.Craig.jpg

Craig is next down and he doesn’t like this sort of descent.

Ray and Margaritte .jpg

30 mph near the bottom was no problem and I had a bit of a wait for the rest to catch up hence the shots.

There were glimpses of sunlight as we rode out of Llanberis which coincided with a shower as soon as i uttered the words. Further on we opted for a stop to take off the rain gear. The weather had brightened up and there was some stunning scenery that we had just cycled. My final piece of malt loaf was consumed and we headed of to the finish. It was a good day and the piece of cake at the finish was something else. At about 6pm the first of the 200km riders returned. This was some feat considering the weather.

I’ll post some stats later.

Thanks Robert, it’s a great route and I really enjoyed myself, got to see plenty of graveyards on the route for some reason.

Link to Google Map of Ride