Wild Wales 2011

The route for this years Wild Wales has been out out for some time and I hadn’t given it much thought. I sat down a couple of nights before the ride and tried to enter it. It’s written in handlebar shorthand and needs to be viewed with an OS map. Three hours later I was done, briefly put anything with double chevrons on an OS map was in the ride.

It’s two years since the last Wild Wales which ended in torrid conditions with a ride of 20 miles back through sheep slurry. This year a crud catcher went on the back. I also lost my dad the week after. In fact the funerals of father and father in law were within 24 hours of each other.

Then it hits me I haven’t been out in this neck of the woods  for two year.  I’m getting up the small 10% stuff in the middle ring but haven’t tested myself on the really steep stuff.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/110252799

First test of the day was trying to get money into the temperamental parking meter. Then I discovered I’d come out with 2 righthand gloves so no gloves on the ride.

Not as many pictures this year,  can’t find the ones where you could see the sea after the first Control.

A large queue was forming at the start but the new swipe in system meant you were in and out in seconds.
Setting out on the ride I tagged on the back of a group with Janet and Lowrie in it.  We seemed to be following a chap on a mountain bike so I moved up near to the front, where Geof Dutton AKA “The Dog” jumps on my wheel.  Geoff never misses a wheel that’s why he is know as the dog.
Wild Wales 2011 by frankkinlan at Garmin Connect – Details

Had to stop to take a picture of the Llama,s  they were really curious about what was going on, running up to the fence to see a group of riders go by.


Stopped before this steep descent as the valley looked really sharp and detailed, it hasn’t come out in the picture, must be the new Oakley,s.
What goes down must come up and the first climb had the rear wheel spinning out.  The next stretch looked even worse.


 Dave Newby the front Northender still on the bike.

Dave Newby has to dismount on this stretch taking the Doc with him.
Stopped here just after Llyn Brenig to remove the rain Jacket.

 Control at Llansannan 

Got a bit lumpy after this turn, opted to walk the steepest section getting back on the bike when a septagerarium/octagenarium came past me.
More nasty short sharp climbs had riders falling on them. On those I opted to walk there were guys hardly advancing on me at 2 mph in Keo,s.
Ros,s fella went down on a particullary bad descent and had to take the road back to the start.
A chap on a Planet X went down and broke his bike and another of the Sunlight went down twice, falling on the same turn.
It was about 1:3 in places and you could feel the high spots in the rim as you tried to make it to the bottom in one piece.

Got caught out by the route, saw a sign saying 20%  so got 30 yards up it and bailed off. Couldn’t see what was beyond the bend and the Garmin hadn’t told me I was off Course. Two guys went past, one of them saying “No shame in walking” only to see them at the next control as I was leaving.
Chris (who was riding to the routesheet) called me back as I had missed one of the fluorescent arrows.

Later part of the ride, there was a couple offering drinks by one of the reservoirs but most were just flying by. It was one of those parts where you just had to make the most of the road. It doesn’t get much better than this.

It was easy to make a mistake in the final section of the ride, even on the gated road section which featured in the previous ride.
Following  a Bala sign had me off Course and retracing my steps had me meet up with a chap that had rode the Etape. Chatted about Audaxes and such as another group went by and took the wrong turning through a farm. God knows where that led to but it wasn’t Bala.

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These are the pictures from Maindru the event photographers. I’ve got to admit I am well impressed with them.

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This one is the favourite one, but I’ve another one with the Tom Simpson Memorial in the background that I’m still awaiting.

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Didn’t know if this one would turn up as a rider stopped right in front of the guy. Great positioning to get the tower in shot.

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Must be near the summit as I’m smiling, I wasn’t smiling in the forest more like nearly in tears.

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An earlier Col,  generally the photographer sat in the road and you could go either side. Really impressed with the detail on the Ventoux one you can see the barcode lines of the frame number.

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L'Etape du Tour 2009

Once you’ve got your Etape entry and managed to get to the event, the first thing you have to do is register the day or two before. For me this involved a 27 mile ride to the start village  to sort out any teething problems before the big day. It did start out as a group ride but split and split again as there are some big hitters and the pace was high.

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I’d dropped off the front group and took to the Edge which was programmed with the Start Village.
took a picture of this bridge across the Rhone as it looked Ok coming up to it rather than some of the more bland crossings.

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The plan was to find the bike store overnight then sign in. I arrived at the registration, signed in then had to find the  bike store. As it was the overnight bikestore was cancelled as there were hundreds of bikes there and not the 30 exclusive ones that the brochure would have you believe.
It turned out for the best as if there were any traffic problems you could be stuck 10 km from the start with no bike. So the bikes went back in the trailer, assembled.

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The Start Village was good but you’d better have deep pockets these days as even an SIS Gel was 2 Euro. Plenty of carbon wheels to drool over and you do come away with the impression that it is not a sport for those on a budget and people will pay what it takes to ensure a success.

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People just couldn’t help themselves, they had to touch Lances bike. 

It was back to the bus after this after I bumped into Dean coming in to register. The goody bag is a nice Trek rucksack this year.

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 This is the jersey fully loaded with everything I’m going to ride with the night before after a tip from one of the group.  It was a good tip as there were no worries about anything in the morning.

It was a 4 am Breakfast with the coach leaving at about 4:50, what noticable was the volume of traffic and as the event got closer, people riding in from a few km’s away. There was a lot of them too, all trying to reach the right pen. I know you are supposed to get there early to get at the front but in real life it doesn’t happen.

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This is what it looks like to be at the back of the field of 9500, bottom right is the “The Doc”  who has joine d the Northend. I knew we were in the same pen but to find him in front of me was a surprise.

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The “Doc ” has invested in a hydration pack and we will have to compare notes about how it went as I blew up along with a lot of others on the climb from Bedoin.

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The chap in the Bianchi shirt is Craig who is also on the trip.

It’s a nervous wait in SAS 8 waiting to move, the first group went off at 7:00 but nothing seems to happen for an age. There is nothing you can do in this situation but keep calm and be observant. When we finally move it is about 7:25 and we make our way to the start line crossing it at 7:30, only 10 minutes in front of the broom wagon. It was some distance to the start line so if your marginal about making the then get an early number if you can don’t leave it to the last minute like I did and fret about the broom wagon.

With the thought of the broomwagon only 10 minutes behind the pace was brisk at the start. There wern’t that many quick guys to go past so it was a case of grab a wheel see if it was good and keep moving forward.

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The intention is to tag all pictures with Etape 2009 and a rider number.

I’d think you’d call it riding at threshold, I was having a good time, moving up with the pulse around 160 odd for the first hour. There was a fire cracker of a bang as someone had a puncture a few K in and you looked at some of what people where carrying and it was next to nothing.

Hands up those who don’t carry any money?  There are a few out there as I’ve met you. This question will come into play a lot later in the ride.

You only had to look at the Mavic assitance stands, overrun by top end bike owners wanting a tweak or fix for nothing. Hence the 27 mile ride to the start to sort things out, but I digress.

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This is the descent of the first Col which was marred by at least two accidents. It’s a straight road so it shouldn’t happen but it did and was an early wake up call. Accidents  do happen and they hurt. On the run in to Bedoin I’m along side a guy that has dried blood on his face and only one arm on his glasses, True Grit comes to mind. Enough of the bad bits and back to the ride.

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By now I’m having the time of my life, drafting groups as no one wants to lead. At least  at a pace that means the lead is doing all the work and the rest of the world is sucking his wheel. It proved fairly easy to draft, move up the group and jump from group to group and I don’t mean that in a boastfull manner. It’s the world bigest clubride with the captain having thrown a sickie. No one wants to lead as there is no coheasion in any of the ride. It’s 9500 individual riders looking after themselves.

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Comic readers should recognise the above kit if they read the thing. Recogised the kit and had a chat, turns out he had picked up a puncture and gave me a good tip about the next climb being harder than it looks on the profile with a few false summits.

The first food stop was at Buis de Barronnies which looks a nice place. I wasn’t quite ready for what I saw and it’s 72 km into the event so you should have depleted some of your supplies. I had to some extent, bar a Torx bar that refused to open on the move, so that off the list.

The descent of the Col d’ Ey was great and that leads to to the first food and drink stop, Buis le Baronnies. 

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It’s still a bit of a bunfight if you hit the first tables but the thing that hits you are the thousand upon thousand of discarded plastic bottles on the ground.

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I’d wedged my bike behind the only free space, a Mavic assistance vehicle and got chatting to another 705 owner, filling bottles.

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You need to make the most of these events so it’s no great shakes to return favours taking pictures.
The tables further down the line were a lot free-er and I had a piece of nice cake with nuts in it and picked up a few caffine gels. The old guy (older than me) jestured that this would give me power for the climbs.
I was really touched by the helpfullness of everybody and it wasn’t just at this stop.

A feature of this years event was throw away Waste Zones. It worked quite well in most instances except for one place that wasn’t but looked like it was. some poor chap got bombarded with all sorts of plastic.
At one station I even saw a Camelback or a copy.

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 On one of the Cols I came alongside a chap from Audlem CC because of his top. We got chatting then came across a photo point. The are put in by the photographers to make you look good. The first one was seated and we’ll see how it turned out, the second was out the saddle as if we were climbing gods.

I’m not the bravest of descenders but had a good go on stuff like this, the only guys that went past me where the guys on carbon deep section rims, like Mavic Cosmic Carbonne’s. It was all safely done with good warning signs at dangerous points.

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The chap above is French and a triathlete by the look of it as the double seat bottles are a Tri item. 

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It’s great to take in the scenery and look back on how many riders you have passed.
The first hour or so was all about checking numbers, are they coming down. Fortunately they were. It’s when you see low ones come by that you wonder what has gone on.

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Throughout the ride we are taunted by our tormentor for the afternoon, the Ventoux. This is the view from the Sault side of things and part of the pain is that you loose a lot of height to get into Bedoin.

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I just had to include a shot of the lavender fields that were dotted around the ride, you miss the first one but make sure you get the second.

Somewhere around this point was the first elimination point(Sault) and water stop. I was expecting electronic timing but I’m told there was a clock and if you didn’t make it a barrier was put across the road. You won’t believe how good it felt to make the first one. It was a 10 km descent to it after being directed away from a village water stop by a local. It still didn’t stop people filling bottles and Sault was awash with them.

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This was the climb from Sault and it proved to be tough, there are unseen bits before it but this puts into perspective the warning I’d had about double false summits.
What goes up must come down and its a very fast descent  down towards Bedoin.
A bit tricky with riders wanting to stick to the middle of the road but it was possible to gain a place or two once they knew you wern’t a Kamakaze pilot.

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The run in to Bedoin slightly down hill, notable for all the women riders getting cheered on by other women spectators.

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It was a bit of a madhouse in Bedoin, highly emotional have read Vals text wishing me well, having just made it there was another. I’m about an hour up on the broomwagon instead of ten minutes.

There is a woman on the food stand that probably saved my ride, it’s as simple as that.
I’d gone for more of the caffeine boost gels (brown in colour) when she saw what I was taking she said “Non” and pushed the blue coloured electrolyte gels my way. What I hadn’t realised was how dehydrated I was and this was going to repay me later. I thought I was  OK but this was my first scorcher of a ride and I would pay for it.

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Heading out of Bedoin was another emotional moment with tears in my eyes thinking how far I have come to be here. Success was only 20 km away, the route looked familiar thanks to the Tacx trainer.
I even managed a picture of the summit. What lay ahead tested many to the limit including me.

Bedoin to Ventoux: The Thirteen steps of the Cross.

With 4-6 km of easy 4% and two water fountains in that distance you might be tempted to think you don’t need any water.

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The above sums up what the Ventoux was like on the day, sheer hell.
I stopped 13 times according to the Edge and walked on two sections. The above maybe the first or second time but my pulse was 175 BPM and I’m told it was 42 deg C in the trees. The sun is overhead so there is very little shade.

Loads are walking, guys are laid out recovering under trees, some are throwing up. You have to see it with your own eyes and wonder if you are going to make it. The wooded section is unrelenting and rather than walk I tried to break the ride into 100m vertical climbs.
This gave me time to recover so I didn’t totally blow up. Seemed to be working until an 11% section before I reached Chalet Reynard. Here I was struck by cramp of the legs which I have never suffered before. I know I’m in trouble now, take an electrolyte gel but there is nex to no water left.
I opt to walk the 11% section as I am having trouble with 9% section. This happens twice, you need to realise that I know riding is better than walking and wouldn’t walk if I didn’t have to.

 

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After the Woodland section it thins out at the treeline to give you another look at your tormentor.

Chalet Reynard

Approaching the water stop things looked the usual mess as I pulled in behind another rider, only this time there is no water. Etape blown. We are directed over the way but my french is still at a level when I gave it up at 13. I saw no hosepipe that others used but did see a green water fountain. The problem was it was just a trikkle at best and there were 4 guys of whatever nationality trying to shove a bottle under it. It gets better one of them has to press the button to get the water.
Queue, alien concept. Two minutes of this had me looking elswhere.

Mistook the gas cylinder for a toilet block then went inside with the bottles and bought a beer. Good job I had change as a note was refused. Remember what I said about taking money on a ride? Then got told there was water in the toilets. Getting in there was a queue of 4 but it was soon sorted. Two bottles filled in seconds, down the rest of that beer and the dream was alive again.

Back outside an orderly queue has formed, they must be desparate.
I’m back in the race with about 6 km to go, peddaling at about 9-12 km/hr.

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Bump into another 705 owner , have a chat and get a decent picture of him which he wasn’t expecting.
Looks like a titanium bike.

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The moonscape is really fierce and I’ve had another moment coming out of Chalet Reynard wondering whether I can actually complete this thing.

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This is probably the thirteenth stop, look back on what youv’e conqueured and look forward to what is ahead.

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My mind is going into overdrive wondering if I’m going to make the time limit now.
It is touch and go but only if I stay on the bike. The KM countdowns are most welcome. There is a shrine and photo point at Tom Simpson place of death but it doesnt appeal. Surprisingly close to the summit ,not the 2 km they would have you think.

A little after there is a 500M to go sign, the longest 500m of my life.

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Looking down at those still ascending the climb you are left wondering if they are going to make the finish time of 17:30, a lot didn’t. Over 2,000 didn’t. 

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Says it all.

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Shot is a bit sqew whiff but captures the view of the Sault  side. I’m sure you could see the curvature of the earth up there.

Descended like a demon with the Pro pictures to prove it.

The next thing was to get to the finish 5 km down the mountain, this was to hand in the transponder pick up a finishers medal and in my case get back to the coach. Met up with the STI rep who pointed us in the right direction, also saw the “Doc” and Deano who had collapsed after the finish.

Descent to Malocerne 21km down the mountain was fast but saw at least a dozen with puntures or blow outs due to heat in the rims as the surface was fine.

Phoned Val up after I had got down to the village to let her know I was Ok and had finished the thing.

Found the coach OK and then it was time to find out how others had done. One of our group got put in the ambulance 2 km from the summit and he was way ahead of the broomwagon. They wanted to send Deano to hospital but he was ok when fed.

I’ve been informed by Eamonn ( a climbing god) that this ride was a 9.5 out of 10 and who am I to argue, it was really hard but over 7000 did finish.

If you’re looking to do an Etape you either need to have exceptional organising skills or go as part of a group. The logistics are very complicated if you haven’t done one. An organised trip/ride is expensive but you do get support. Spare a thought for the Americans who pay about $5,000 for a ride like this, turn up on custom built bikes and have supplies dotted around the course.
It matters nought when you are half way up the Ventoux confronting a few personal demons. 

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/9368366

Just going through the numbers on the garmin 20 odd days after the event,
25 minutes stopped on 9 occassions in the woods.
Walked 3 times @ 4 km/ hr, allways get back on the bike.
12 minutes at Chalet Reynard.
4 minutes after the Tom Simpson memorial which I remember stopping after but didn’t think it was that long.

Mills Hills Audax 2008

A tribute ride to the late Graham Mills which ticks my hilly and hard boxes. I never got to ride any of Graham’s rides but the were legendary among the CTC. This one belongs up there.

I’d entered online with only four days to go and spent the next three days watching the weather forecast  and plotting the route for the GPS. It looked like it was going to be a wet start with good weather later on in the day. This was a ride for the winter trainer with mudguards on.  I’d also been down to Keith at Eureka Sports and bought a Montane Jacket that was light and has arms that go over the wrist when riding.

Ride day, up early and it is bucketing down. Going to the start through Brimstage is flooded, someones BMW is in a deep section with the water lapping around the doors. An Aldi truck is stopped with its hazard lights on. I make the start with minutes to spare.

This ride has been on the cards for months it was a pity only 19 entered with me being number 17. It must be Hills in the title.  Anyway I sign in with Stan and have a look at the Brevet Card. First info is coded into the GPS and it is the maker of the silo.
Selected to do Course and set off only to miss the first turn and head down the HighStreet soon to be stopped by an Off Course bleep.

The ride heads up by Chirk Castle past a set of gates that you wouldn’t want to paint as they are very ornate and massive.  Soon I’m in the granny ring  only to get stopped by a herd of cows moving fields. Once we were at the top of the ridge above the Llangollen Valley you were looking down on mist or low cloud below you. Stans info point has dissapered with only a small silo that is freshly painted left.

From the info point it is downhill to the Chainbridge Hotel this bit is steep and I’m going to need a new set of brake blocks after this ride. Compounded by the front wheel having a dent in it meant the headset was getting a good rattling. New rim next week, whatever I had hit has damaged both wheels, the rear having been replaced I didn’t think to check the front.

The next climb is the Old Shoe, I’ve done it once before and had to stop as I blew up basically. Stoped for a picture down the bottom and remove the Crane Sports Over Trousers. Just one problem I can’t fit them in the saddlebag loop. I have to wrap them around the top tube. This time I tried to pace myself knowing what was instore and I made it in one. Ponderosa was empty with all the fair weather bikers off the road. Next Control is at Llysfasi where Stan is waiting.

The next section is classed as rolling hills. The descents are tricky on this ride due to rivers of water running off the fields and fallen leaves on the tree lined sections. Throw in some gravel down the middle just to make it interesting and you have a descent that is shall we say testing. It’s on one of theses descents that I begin to think this is one ride where you don’t want a “Mechanical”.

Should have shut that thought out as next minute I pick up a puncture by a Church and a Pub. Couldn’t find the cause so a new tube went in. Tempted to go the pub but got a picture of it instead. The good thing was the sun came out. The rider on the flat bar Specialised went past, it must have been one of his first rides as I’ve seen him stop twice and later saw him riding back up a hill that I was going down.

The river at Corwen is in full flow  and has breached the flood plain. Found the Control and had a pot of tea and a teacake. The previous riders had finished off all the cake and I was offically out of time to boot. Card was stamped, a bit of  banter about doing 90 miles, not a bad stop.

Picture of Craft Centre

The run out of Corwen is flat and gives you an opportunity to get the average speed up.  See the Specialised lad again and later find he has called in.

Rewind back a bit to Melin y Rigg here I’ve stopped to take a picture of the descent which is glorious. There once I’ve found the info point it is across the river/raging stream only to find out how the Welsh villages do their shopping. Asda Online of course, I’ve got to stop at a cottage to let the girl through and again the road is awash with water. It is another steep climb out of the village.
With local shops and post offices all closed it’s the only way to exist out in the sticks.

Next up is the small matter of the Hirnant. I’d stopped by the bridge for a picture thinking this was it, it looked steep but I was easilly fooled.

Picture of Climb

Once past this first climb you are confronted with a glacial valley that just rears up. It looks formidable before you reach it. Once past the cattle grid  the ride switched into a HDTV mode, I’m riding slow enough for everything to be in focus, every blade of grass, sheep dotted on the mountainside. Possibly the best section of any ride I’ve rode. The forces invovled in forming this valley must have been immense. I thought I wouldn’t make this in one go but surprised myself. Once you go around a bend you loose the view of what you’ve just climbed.

Next stop is a control at Lake Vernwy. The  ride around  the lake is flat and well surfaced, about as good as it gets. You can hire bikes too from one of the Cafes. The road was awash for a section of it, this meant riding in the middle of the road to stop the oncoming traffic otherwise they were going to drown me in the bow wave.  Tried to sign at the wrong control point which cost me £2 for a smoothie at the RSPB shop. The right control point was 150 mtrs further on and looked closed but wasn’t. I was back in time but not by much. It was a short stop but I was at the back of the ride and the girl at the stop said she heard the others say it was hilly.

Indeed it was, I hadn’t figured on how hard this last section was. Relentless hills is what the routesheet said and thats what it was. Grannyring stuff with me pulling in to let cars past at passing places. Most knew what the score was apart from pensioners in Micra’s who wanted to drive through me on a narrow lane.

I  spent a lot of this ride out of the saddle looking at the front wheel spindle, it wasn’t until it leveled off a bit that you got to see how good the views were. Another factor in the ride was the danger of me finishing out of time. Not having seen another rider since The Old Shoe meant I was nearly the last man on the road.
I was behing schedule at Corwen, 15 minutes up at Lake Vernwy and finished 15 minutes before the close at Chirk.

The Brevet card says 10hours 20 minutes which is a long day in the saddle. It was turning dark by the time I hit Chirk Bank, the Cafe was well closed and it meant the control was in the carpark where we started. Learnt about what the ultimate Audax bike should have, a rack to stow your gear when the sun comes out.
That’s next on the list. Bullet proof tyres too, it maybe me but Conti Kevlar Ultrasports have given me a lot of grief since they went on. Brakes that work in the wet on a 20% hill, I did have a moment on one.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/1017786

With the above GarminConnect link you can view my track, sections where I have gone off Course and switch to hybrid view.

Garmin TrainingCentre has the total climbing at 10,061 ft or 3061metres

http://www.flickr.com/photos/31260886@N02/sets/72157607902516718/

Paul advised me to set up a Flickr account to get the event pictures up on the site so this is it.

More later.

Wild Wales 2008 (The ride)

What an event packed ride. Another great event organised by Merseyside CTC.
The weather forecast was a bit mixed, damp at first with sunshine to follow. It proved to be spot on. Rain overnight meant the roads were damp at the start. I’d opted to fit the raceblades to “The Toy” and although the rear was fine the front was on for the first time and it was a niggle throughout the day. Bending it in the car to the event didn’t help.

What made the ride was the other riders. Two years on I’ve met so many good people I wouldn’t know where to start. CTCers, Northenders, The Sunlight, people I’ve met at the Eureka, Ice Cream Farm, Audaxes and all those that know me from this site and the Garmin articles.

I’m about an hour early at the start but at least you get a place on the start carpark, it soon fills up and then you are in the carpark in Bala.

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Time flies and soon it time to sign on and start the ride. Riding with Allan, the two Chris’s and Charles. Slightly delayed at the start we head out around Bala Lake, I took a few pictures of the group but the one with the lake in it comes out top. The weather is brightening up and the odd rainbow appears.

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It’s been relatively easy until now and once past the caravan site we hit what must be the toughest climb of the day. Time to change down a gear or twenty. I didn’t get off to a good start, the chain jumped off the new granny ring and I was only about 30 ft up the climb. Time to ride back down and start again.

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Had to stop to get the pictures is my excuse. A great climb, heartrate through the roof and we are only a couple of miles in. 

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Now there is a saying that Campag wears in and Shimano wears out and to a certain extent it is true. Shimano shifts faultlessly thanks to profiled teeth and the likes of chainlifters on the chainrings. Once you mess with it like I did it all goes out the window.
I wore the middle ring out after about 6,000 miles and replaced it with a BBB 7005 machined chainring. Looks great but doesn’t shift like the original.
It was a problem throughout the ride. Poor shifting or derailment just when you most needed it. Maybe great on a double but on a triple it just leads to trouble.
Back to square one. 

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With the steep bit over it’s a series of moorland climbs this was the final one with riders dotted across the hill.  Came across a Northender walking and thinking it was Dave Large yelled at him to get on his bike as I had my camera ready only to find it wasn’t him. Oops.  I’ve compressed the pictures on the site as they capture most of the ride but when you see the 6mp version there is an amazing level of detail. 

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Steep downhill section after these few onbike shots had me on the drops to get that extra brake modulation. Not enough leverage on the hoods to stop if something went amiss.

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The first control at Llanelltyd. Lots of familiar faces here, can’t put a name to them all but you get to know people by their club or their CTC group or even just doing a ride with them.

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The next section involved two river crossings and another stretch of climbing. The first river crossing was priced in the ride. Nice ride across the river and I missed the first turn left by 10 yards. Time to engage that low gear again. The initial climb was steep with a hairpin bend thrown in for good measure. Slackened off a bit after that but you knew it was always up.  A couple of gates on this section  held open until we all got through.

Met up with Roz of the Sunlight on this section who was riding at her own pace, a bit like myself. Once at the top it was all downhill to Barmouth. Talking to Chris a bit later on two riders crashed and landed on top of each other on this section and when I came through there was a walker pushing a boulder off the road.

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Roz taking a picture of Barmouth.

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I slithered down the hill to the same point as Roz, Look Keo’s aren’t made for walking.

One of  the big things with this ride is cattle grids. There are loads of them and along with them are punctures.  I stopped counting but it was a question of not hitting them too fast or not enough air in the tyres or both.

A ride isn’t complete without a puncture picture and that is to come.

The footbridge to Barmouth was a special part of the ride, the views across the river where great, riding  across it reinforced that and there was time to take it all in for the queue  for the toll booth, which was quaint as it gets.(you had to wait for your return ticket even though we weren’t coming back) Little Britain sprang to mind.

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This is the view of the estuary while waiting at the toll booth. Chance to chat with others that had walked across and explain the ride. For a lot the walk across the bridge was the only exercise they were going to do that day. Bala seemed a long way in a car never mind going over what we had for fun.

I miss a load out on these rides but I stopped for a Northend photo at Barmouth.

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Spoke to Dave Large to see if they were stopping but continued on with Matthew who had stopped for me to go back. Once through the one way system there must have been about 2 miles of traffic going into Barmouth. Amazing what a Pelican crossing can do on a Bank Holiday weekend.

On this section a black Merecedes goes past and out of the window I hear ” Keep going, Frank”. I didn’t have a clue who it was at the time.

We caught Roz up again and she had a wheel until it started rising.  Then it was a right turn that we missed by 20 yards and things got lumpy.

Most car drivers gave us enough room today, only had two close shaves of note. One skimmed Matthew riding to the wooden bridge on an A road and the other was on the hills above Harlech when a 4×4 didn’t want to slow down on a narrow lane which was uncalled for. Car comes by with two girls what I thought were leaning out of the sunroof. It was worse than that they were standing on a tow bar bracket clinging to the car.

We are now in bright sunshine, the wind is in our favour and it’s as good as it gets. Sweat is pouring out of me on the steep climbs, dripping off the peak of the helmet all over the Edge. Due to the high salt content it’s white in colour which is a cue to take on more of the electrolyte I’m carrying.

Found out who was cheering me on after Barmouth, it was Carolyn offering support for her brother who I met last year on a CTC ride. This was on a tree shaded steep climb. I did ask why she wasn’t doing it at the stop, too hard was the reply. She does have a point, there are enough warnings in the entry form.

One of the clubs has marked the route with blue arrows, these aren’t the CTC markings I was told at the start. I did make a few mistakes in the route planning, the most notable one being the second stop where I was in a pub carpark. Letting the software autoroute me instead of turning left the junction before. Whatever we are only talking a couple of minutes.

Now my route has me doing another few miles than the official route distance.  I did end up in Tansarnau when I should have turned off earlier.  Saw a Sunlight backup vehicle on the A494 and then it was on to one of the harder climbs of the day. As we approach the turning I hear a familiar Garmin bleep. It’s not mine though but the chap behind using a 305.

Full  sunlight and I’ve still got my armwarmers on!. It’s signed as Magnox Power Station.
It is steep but I’m struggling with the shifting  as it is stuck in 39×27 and just won’t  have it. Any other day and it would be fine. I have to stop as the hill rears up and I’m not going to make it in the middle ring. I was doing fine until then but another couple of degrees of incline would have seen me off.

There is a big guy leaning on a farm gate half way up telling me I’ve done the worst but it is still steep to the summit. That sweat I mentioned, it’s just pouring out of me.

A bit of a mistake on the descent due to my  autorouting but at least I make the village hall.

Met up with Matthew again, had some decent cake, filled the bottle and it was back on the road. Northend were coming in so it must have been down to the stops that I had got ahead of them. Now I’m not that strong a rider but if you  know where you’re going that usually adds an edge to your ride. Heading back Tempo, Brad and Chicago pass us but turn off on the main A road to Bala (Gods road if you’ve ridden it on a motorbike), our turn is a mile further on.

By the log cabins they catch us up and pass us but as we are climbing Tempo is dropping off the back. We are further back but cresting one climb he is by the side of the road with a broken chain. Turns out it his second, I fish a section of chain out of the bag along with a Shimano pin. Can’t leave the club captain in the middle of nowhere. Looking at the chain I’m not surprised  it broke, it was mass of grease picking up a load of grit and crud to boot.

Stopped at the summit  for the next two pictures so lost touch with the other two then it was a fast descent until that first climb where it was back on the brakes.

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At the bottom of the hill is the final cattle grid and it claims another victim, Barry. Only six miles from the finish too.

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What I can’t work out is how they got in front of us. No ride is complete without a puncture picture so here it is.

Set off towards the finish and I had Martin on my wheel. Dropped back a bit to get a lakeside cycling shot in brilliant sunshine. 

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Martins jersey  looks like he robbed it off The Riddler.

Missed out on a couple of good ones. Signed in at the finish and got the slate. Nice picture of Barmouth Bridge on it.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/647719

Garmin Connect has me at 3,300 metres.

Great ride, thinking about it we could do one of these a week if we put our minds to it. Nice to have a sag wagon, but what do the locals do.

8600 feet of climbing. Finish time 17:10

Finished the post a week later, again if you’ve done an event like this there is a load that doesn’t make it into anything you may write up. The memory stays though.

Dave Lloyd Mega Challenge 2009

Didn’t ride this year but toyed with the idea.  Next year is even tougher.

http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/dave-lloyd-mega-challenge-gets-harder-17965

I’ll see how I go on the Wild Wales. Even the mini is going to be tough.
Same hills that the Wild Wales and the Audaxes go over just that it does them ALL.

One to train for.

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.

http://bikeroutetoaster.com/Course.aspx?course=16188
http://bikeroutetoaster.com/Course.aspx?course=17548

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.

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.
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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.
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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.

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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

Wild Wales Challenge Route

I’ve got my entry back for the Wild Wales and this is a link to the ride route that is going into the Edge.

http://www.marengo-ltd.com/map2/index.php?route=1068

I’ve only used 42 points so far and I’ll be adding some more over the next couple of days. At present I will be doing it as a Route and not a course. I don’t really want to spend the whole ride looking down at the map to see if I’m still on course.
I’m quite surprised that you can do a 90 mile ride on 42 points. The start of the Bylch y Groes gets a XXXX waypoint all of its own.

I’ve a feeling this is going to be a popular post so if your looking to program the route into your Edge for the first time you need to download and save the GPX file from the link.

You then need to export it to your Garmin with GPSBabel. Use the Tutorial for the settings but clear out (delete) any waypoints and Routes first.
I learnt about this event when I joined the CTC last year and this is my first opportunity to ride it. Everyone thats ridden it says how tough it is. The Tour of The Berwys Audax covered parts of the route around Bala so I’ve an idea what I’m letting myself in for.

24 Aug 07  IMPORTANT  22:15 I’ve added more waypoints to the route. Quite a few have picked up the first draft which I think is rideable. The extra points are there for confirmation mainly. Latest  route has 72 points.

25 Aug 07 19:45 The FINAL route has been uploaded to Marengo with 79 waypoints.  If your going to update your Edge  delete ALL the waypoints first and then delete the Route WW07 . If you overwrite your existing gpx file you wont have to alter your GPSBabel settings.

NorthEnd ride to Corwen

Saturdays ride to Corwen was another oportunity for the NorthEnd to give me another pasting in Wales. We spent a lot of Sunday talking about it.
It followed last weeks route up to the lights at Northop where we turned left and went up the hill.

I forgot to press start on the Garmin so lost the ride untill Oakenholt and Papermill lane. We join the Mold-Ruthin road at Cadole. This week we are going down the Blwch towards Ruthin. Before that it’s a slog up to the start of the descent.

Dave manages to loose his reading glasses case which promptly get run over. The glasses were OK funnily enough. I think a mobile went down the road too. I’d used up most of my drink on this section of the ride and was hoping to replenish it at Corwen. Peter and I were sweating on the climbs and I had only took one bottle.

We sailed past the turn for Corwen and started on the old road to Llangollen that I had ridden with Ray in “A tour of the Berwyns Audax “. It turns off and heads over to the Nant Y Garth road or so Tempo thought.

The climbs were steep but a wrong turning had us going up one the was Haute Catagory. I was in 30×27 and really struggling. The Garmin said 14% but I was travelling that slow it wasn’t updating quick enough. I’d say it was 25% and I am on the limit. The others have gone but it regroups at a Tee junction. Here the group splits and half ride up the hill while Tempo and others go downhill Heading towards Llanarmon yn Lall.

We stop at the shop but even this was rushed, I had a small bottle of water and two bannana,s and we were off again. Heading back towards Mold it’s a fast ride to Loggerheads with some sprinting at roadsigns. On the climb out of Loggerheads I get dropped and they are not waiting this week. This ended up being a good thing as I was able to break off and get some liquid in me.

I ended up going to Aldi to buy a litre of Orange juice. Here in the queue for the till a little girl says “Nice Shoes”  as her dad explains what cleats are for. They see I only have one Item and let me in front of them. Half a litre of orange juice later I am back doing my own thing. Trying a route out of Mold that didn’t get anywhere.

At the top of Ewloe one of the second group has punctured so I join them for the ride back to the Eureka. Straight Down Ewloe Hill at 30mph and then through Garden City. Up Woodbank and back to the Cafe. Here Andy stops me and we talk about the Edge 305. He has one but hasn’t got around to routes yet but has been on the site.

He is riding a 12 hour race today so good luck. He has found USB chargers in Poundland, so I’m off there to get some. A quid, you can’t buy the batteries for that. Great weather for a beast of a ride, stunning scenery but no pictures.

90 Hard Miles but worth it.

Link to Google Map of Ride