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.

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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.

SconeAAA++++

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.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/148408

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.
 

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Northend Ride to Hideaways Cafe.

This is the second time of writing so I hope to get it published this time.
Eureka is full of Northenders on their Saturday rides. There are about three rides leaving the cafe and I opt to ride with the fast group.
This means I’ve got to chase the group as they stop for no-one, not een me taking pictures. I’d just about got on the back by Woodbank. Others had gave up and opted for another group.
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I just had to post the fourth picture as it is a shot of the Northend at a red traffic light. Nothing too unusual in that but the number of times the front rides thru on green and the tail gunners get dropped by a red light happens to often.
Anyway I got dropped for taking the pictures. Later on I got dropped again and lost cintact with the group. It came together again at Buckley when the group rode across  a set of traffic lights I was coming up to. I was in if it’s a hill it must be on the route mode.
Now there some tough climbs on this route. There was on by the hall with the white gates that was steep. I was in the granny ring and Tempo and Chicago passed me only for me to pass them back further up the hill. Needless to to say I was in the red but thats the way I cycle. It’s about the only time it happened for the rest of the time I was off the back.
18% kept cropping up on some of these gradients which is seriously step.

The climb up to Hideaways Cafe is 18% in parts and just gets rougher as it goes up. Once you leave the mettled section it is just limestone but worth it. The pictures at the cafe don’t do justice to the beauty of the area.The best shot would have been when we left the cafe but I couldn’t afford the time loss.

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The cafe managed with our numbers bespite being overloaded at first. We were the only customers.Pancakes for a few of us went down very well. Apple and Bannana pancake went down really well.

I took the ride down from the cafe steady as it is rough. Needless to say I was last. The worrying thing was a Labrador choose to chase me down the road at a great rate of knots. The hippychick owner having no control of the animal.

That was about it I was well and trully dropped, even at 30 mph at Loggerheads I was falling behind. I just latched on to Peter and Clive at Mold but they were off the back too. It was a fast trip down Ewloe hill turning off through Queensferry and GardenCity. Once up Woodbank we were sorted. Cafe and home via the missing link.
Great day even when you don’t think they will turn out like this.

 

Discovering Shropshire Audax.

I’d signed up for this Audax at the last minute having been in touch with Ray about which one he was doing the week before. He had opted for the 118 Km, 77 mile one rather than the 200 Km event. Pah I hear you cry I wouldn’t get out of bed for that.

Well looks are deceiving and I had spent Friday programming the route into Marengo. Cross referencing it with Anquet OS mapping. It turned out to be a hilly ride due to the rolling hilly nature of the area.

Every time I looked down at the Edge it was showing 10% gradient or seemed that way.

At the start there is much mirth among our group as Ray is checking tyre pressures by squeezing the tyre and coming up with a figure. The funny thing was he was remarkably close on three occasions. Triple puncture Guy should have had his sorted before the event and we had a stop a mile or two down the road to check that the tyre wasn’t going soft. Ray pronounced it Ok at 110 PSI. This puts us towards the back of the ride after a quickish start.

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The first control is just past the world Heritage site, IronBridge. You can just see the bridge in the third picture. As you come down the valley you can’t help but wonder what this huge building is with cooling towers. It turns out to be a power station in the most unlikey of situations or perhaps not given this was at the heart of the industrial revolution.

I fell off the back of a fairly large group for these pictures, the actual one of the bridge not making it onto this post.

The first control was at the Tandem shop after negotiating what looked like a landslide. With the card stamped it was time to regroup and do a bit of climbing. It was staring to brighten up a bit and although the roads are still wet it hadn’t rained on us.

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Things get a bit spread out on some of the climbs but it allows me to get a few shots in at the top. The last one in this sequence is at the second control point at Rays Farm. The turn is near the bottom of a hill and it’s a sharp climb up to the farm. The chain derailed on the Toy as it got shoved into the granny ring. But no damage done. Busses full of kids were struggling up the hill.

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Once out of the control guess what, more climbing. The next section involving the highest point on the ride, Wenlock edge.

Guy Unknown RiderChester Road Club in formationLast one

After the final control things have brightened up again and it’s turning out nice.
Now the thing is when your riding as a group you go at the pace of the slowest member but things get spread out a bit on the hills. It’s just the way it is, as once you get bunching of riders accidents tend to happen on the steep bits. Touching a wheel means your on the deck.

I tend to favour going off the front and waiting at the top, sometimes to take a picture sometimes not.  A rider passes me as I ease up at the top of one of the climbs so I’ve got to return the favour on the next climb. More of a dash down one side of the hill and a sprint turning a big gear up the other. Honour restored it was time to slow down for the others.

It’s not all one way, but the faster riders tend to be at the front anyway. These rides aren’t races but there is an element of competition lurking under the surface.

Another rider passed comment on the Nike Lance 2 shoes. If it was going to be wet I wouldn’ have worn them. As it was they got lightly soiled we shall say at the end of the ride. Nearing Upton Magna there is a tractor and muck spreading tailer that has plastered the road with muck. It spreads for quite a distance. Now I don’t hang around as any traffic coming the other way would plaster you with the stuff. Given the speed I’m not expecting cries from behind me. Guy has leapt on my wheel and I’ve no mudguards.
You can picture the scene, to add to it Janet is on Guy,s wheel. It was a fairly clean ride up until then. Within another couple of hundred yards we are back at the start another great ride over.

The Edge is playing up at the moment by not splitting the rides up properly. Will post a link to the route when I get it sorted.

Link to Google Map of Ride

Missed out a few bits and pieces about the ride, two rides in two days takes a fair bit of writing up and the Edge not splitting them has had me trying to work around a fix for most of the week. SportTracks saving the day in the end.

 

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.

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.
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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.

 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

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 Llangollen

I felt good riding out to the Eureka for breakfast and it had the making of a fine day. It was a toss up between going out with the CTC or go out with the Northend. Most are agreed that I need to be going out with a faster group.

I talked to Dave who was on a borrowed bike. He had a coming together with his wife and his Colnago is broken with a snapped seatstay. Expensive.

I also bumped into Graham who has commented on here before I went out with the Northend.

It was a bit stung out at the start with two groups going down Woodbank. With two rides to choose from I opt to go with Peter on what turns out to be the hilly ride. It’s a bit quicker pace than the other group and there are 6 of us in it.

What Peter doesn’t know about rides in Wales isn’t worth knowing. It was a decent run into Wales through Ewloe and Buckley. Once past  Pen-y-Stryt things start to get rather scenic and steep. One of the group leaves for Llandegla. There has been a fair bit of climbing so far but once you reach the top the views are stunning.

The scenery is a feature of this ride. If you like Welsh hills and countryside this is a good ride within reach of the NorthWest.

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Double click on the thumbnails to enlarge.

The views are stunning around here, from here it drops down to the River Dee. Part of this descent was down a dark lane of overhanging trees. It was here the sunglasses meant slowing down as I couldn’t see the road surface properly. We follow the road down into Llangollen where we find the Cafe we are scheduled to stop at closed on Wednesday.  We relocate to a Cafe opposite the toilet block by the carpark. It wasn’t too bad a stop, beans on toast for me  and the we get our water bottles filled. Not a bad little place, it can’t take big numbers mind you but we’ve been to worse.

Once we had left we stopped at a shop we a name about 80 letters long in Welsh.
Dave, who is American by the way gets a transalation by a Welshman whose name I have forgoten. It was an amusing translation. Ok we’ve rested but the next stretch is hard with a capital H. First off is the climb after the bridge. This is steep right from the off but worse is to come. It’s all in the route profile but there are sections of this climb that are between 20-34% and that is steep. I’m sure I saw 37% flash up and that is a new high for me. This is granny ring stuff and you must have a fit granny.

One of a pair of large walkers asks me for lift up a steep bit, not a chance. Once past the farm Queen Victoria stayed at it is the up to the ford.

We stop for a blow at the ford, a few cars go past along with a few 4X4’s full of kids. Everyone tells me how steep the next section is so I take my sunglasses off. I want to see this for real. Not wanting to get the Carbon Fibre Nike’s wet I opt to ride across the ford. Well I was second across and nearly ended up on my arse. The rear wheel was spinning  out on the algae or moss. this was scary stuff as the others looked on. And then it was on to the climb, not too bad at first but then it steepens up. Through the trees it gets steep and a half, the two Daves pass me on this stretch.

The next bit is a bit surreal. This is nearly as steep as it gets and we are going up it. Then Victor Meldrew comes up behind us in his poxy Ford Fiesta tooting his horn. This chap gives pensioners a bad name and should have his license taken away, whats more he shakes his fist at us as he drives past Dave. An absolute moron. Only to get baulked by young David. Hope his wife is deaf as he got from two of us.

If your a ride write up reader lots goes on in these rides that doesn’t get written up. We are after all spending many hours with each other. Just getting to the Ford was steep enough and the section after that was really steep. It’s a rolling section to Minera with a steep downhill section.

We stop to regroup at the Minera junction, chat about the climb and chill out.  A mountain biker comes down the slope at 30 plus and piles straight through the junction with five of us looking on. No Fear. Either that or he sussed out the road was clear from up above.

The next section is to Cefn-y-bedd and it eventually crosses  the A55 at Dobshill with the eventual climb up to Harwarden. The next section see,s the group split, traffic is a bit a busy and various riders loose sight of each other.

Well I’m on my own again this time for at least the third time. The route back is much the same. Once back at the cafe I bump into Andrew who has downloaded the Wild Wales Route. There are a few out there that have already downloaded the Wild Wales Route. I may be adding a few points in the next few days but I think they will only be confirmation points. Just to confirm your on the right route on some of the tricky sections.By all accounts there are a lot of people out there that haven’t got entries that will be riding anyway.

At the end of the ride in the run into the Eureka Ray comes up to my back wheel and says “Carbon Shoes?” and scares the shit out of me as I didn’t know he was there. First time I have seen his new toy, a Trek Madone 5.9 SL. It looks the part in black. I’ve picked up a lot from Ray over the last year and I would class him as a mentor  in my recent cycling life. The route planning I owe to him. The understanding about Basal Metabolic Rate and a whole host of other Lifestyle enhancing techniques and functions I owe to Ray.

Pacing yourself on a ride such as an Audax, I’m still learning this off Ray. I’m sorry but you can’t pick up the gems that I have learn’t over the last year by riding with a group or club such as the North End. The pace of the racing based clubs is just too fast for newcomers to pick up in a few rides. It has been a great experience riding with the CTC for the last year and the rides have been the best I’ve done or likely to do.

For God,s sake don’t get some perceived perceptions about the CTC from reading the likes of this site. It is an organisation full of helpfull, selfless people. Some you could call quirky but a jolly good bunch in all. If your wondering where you are in the scheme of things the CTC ride at about 13 mph average  on the flat.  Club riders are about 17 mph plus. You’ll get a lot more help should you encounter a problem from the CTC than you would from any club, this particually goes for women.  Should you be able to keep up with the pace.

Racing biased clubs are not female friendly at all, it’s quite a step for first timers to do a CTC ride when they don’t realise quite what they have let themselves in for. There is a social/networking side to the CTC that the racing clubs just can’t capture. 

Back home to a session on the scales which has me at 81.6 Kg a new low. I’ve a Lifestyle and Weight Management Followup class to attend.

Throughout the ride the two Daves are sprinting for village signs with old Dave getting beaten on all but one I gather. He is hampered !!! on a loaned Carbon Fibre bike with full Dura-ace. Every time he gets beaten on a climb its because he has 39 x 21 on the cassette. If it’s not the cassette it’s young Davids weight. Wild claims of 60 Kg including the bike get bandied about. All in good fun. Age might have something to do with it too. David is waiting for GCSE results.

Link to Google Map of Ride

Link to MotionBased Player of Ride

MotionBased gives you my data for the rides. If you download the course (crs) you will be competing against me. The elevation metrics are real. On the climb up to the ford I can see my heartrate as 101%  and anything more than 80% is in the hilly territory. Don’t forget my metrics are for a 48 year old bloke who is relatively new to all this. A couple of time trials and the TLI events dosn’t  make me a racer.
For me to see 101% effort means it was a tough climb.

I’m now trying to make these ride write ups as appealing as I can to a broad cross section of internet browsers.  Given that I started from such a low level, I’m really pleased how things have come on. I’m under no illussions that I have reached the top of the tree because although it might be a personal best for me it might be someone elses off day.

With around a 100 people a day visiting the site through various Google searches I do feel motivated to keep up what I am doing. That’s 3,000 a month, 36,000 a year that have come across my recent story. It is powerfull life changing stuff.

I’ve been called Mr Motivator by two separate individuals in the last week and I did wonder what it was all about. The first was from one of the girls a the spinning classes about the calories I had burnt and the site, the second was at the Lifestyle and weight management followup class. Basically I keep going back to the followup classes once a month even though my programme has finished to keep me on track.
If I don’t go back once a month I’d be a medical statistic rather than someone who has turned his life around.

Covered a fair bit in this post which started out as a North End ride. I’ve been doing this for a year and 99.9 % has been positive.  For me it is a form of online diary, if your name makes the pages I’m not going to forget it. One of the most enlightening things is how much this has increased the circle of people I know and more so people that know me but I haven’t met yet.

Ok, enough rambling, it’s the Wild Wales on Sunday. Guaranteed to give me a challenge. Haven’t got anyone to ride with yet but sure to hook up with someone.

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

North End Ride to Denbigh

I might as well start at the begining, it was down Resthill and heading out on Route 56 when I got delayed by the cows going down the lane to another field. Spoke to what I guess to be the farmers wife about what time the cows get moved as they were herded into the field.

Out at the Eureka I’m early as I need to get breakfast. I tend not to have a breakfast before a ride out to the cafe. It’s the only time I forgo the Quaker Oat Granola I normally have.

I have no illusions about riding with the North End, I’m being tested to see which group I’ll be riding with. Dave who has commented on here is riding with us and he is racing tommorrow. Big Phill is also with us at least untill the top of Paper Mill Lane. Before that it was my ride across the new bridge and boy was it windy.

Paper Mill Lane is the first climb of the day. Andrew and moi are first up and this is where I have a little dig by going off the front. This was equivalent to lighting the blue touch paper and wakes everyone up. Everyone is out the saddle racing up to the junction.

I’ll fast forward to towards the end of the ride at Loggerheads. I’ve been dropped of the back on the descent from the top of the Bwlch to Loggerheads but on the climb at Cadole I start reeling the group in (they have reformed). Anyway having reeled them in I ride past them in the big ring to boot. There is a loud shout of “Oi !!!” which I laugh off. This really set the cat among the pidgeons and it’s a sprint to the top of the hill. This is where I am weak, the TLI Oulton Park Series proved that. I am at or near my limit on these rides so there is nothing in reserve when I spark off something like this.

Once over the top it was a 44mph ride down to Mold which is where I lost contact with the group as I got caught by a set of red lights and a pelican crossing.

Now back to the ride. Next up was Northop and the lights where a prat in a car decides to give us some verbal abuse. It must be a North End thing but I’m amazed what confidence a tin box gives some of these idiots.

The next bit is familiar as I rode it with Janet and Ray a few weeks ago. Same route up to the A55 and onto Halkyn. Around Pentre Halkyn the bottle cage on the Toy looses a screw while I am taking a drink so I have to stop.  The thing with riding with these guys is the pace, it’s fast, even for me. On some of the climbs I am maxed out at 178 BPM. This is just trying to stay with these guys, some of them aren’t even breaking into a sweat. It’s dripping off me.

It gets a bit lumpy around Tremeirchion but the scenery in this neck of the woods is fantastic. We have a run in to Denbigh and then it was a climb up and around the castle. It’s been heavy going up to now and the lunch stop is scheduled in for the Cafe by the river at Ruthin. Looks like beans on toast all round. The  problem in this neck of the woods is water or any form of liquid. I’ve emptied my bottle and it needs a refill.

After the Cafe stop at Ruthin there is only one way back today, straight up the Bwlch. I get shelled off the back on the run up to it and it is quite steep at around 10% on the hairpin bits. Then it is on to the main climb which I didn’t feel too bad on, this was because I’d reeled in Dave and passed him before the bend that leads up to the summit. It’s then a fast run down to Loggerheads where it gets strung out a bit.

Which is where we started, me passing the club captain on the climb before a 44mph run into Mold where I got stuck at the lights. I called in to see Keith at Eureka sports before meeting up with them back at the Eureka.

The ride home was through Puddington, Burton, Denhall Lane, Neston and Parkgate and back up RestHill for another great day out.

83 miles. 4700 ft of climbing 5200 calories burnt Avg speed 16mph with a max of 44mph.

Link to Google Map of Ride

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

CTC Bob Clift Memorial Cheshire Cycleway Ride

This is my first go at this ride as I’ve only been with the CTC a mere 10 months. Thanks to Janet the route sheet was sent out to me by return of post and I was able to program the Garmin with it.  I’ll submit it to the CTC rides website so others can share it.
The Start.jpg

I’d parked up at the sports centre and signed on, a few now familar faces and a good turnout from The Sunlight. Now I was geared up for a hard day having driven the route on Saturday. Chris in the middle of the picture was going to have a short ride.
Just before Willington Hall he has chain trouble and that was the last we saw of him.

I’ve written about the start from Willington Hall for the Tour of the Berwyns,  I can’t reccomend it highly enough, it exudes class.

And then there were six, first up was Kelsall and a trip to Delamere. The Switchback at Delamere is on the Steve Cummings training ride. It’s a rolling climb and the dips give you momentum for the next. You can really feel good doing this climb by having a go. It’s not a drag and you gain speed as you crest each rise.

Delamere.jpg

 

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 The stop at the Ice cream farm at Great Budworth was quite relaxed and it was here Roy and Joan caught us up. Time for a picture of them with Allan.

The Wizard.jpg 

It was then on to the first real climb of the day, up the hill to The Wizard of Edge, Alderley Edge that is. It went quite well, I’m going to have to find time to visit some of these locations, you pass so many when you are out on these runs.

Tthe Sunlight take it easy.jpg
Had a good chat with the Sunlight lads at the control point. I’m looking to take things to the next level, so maybe I’ll be a club rider after all. Thanks for the positive comments about the site TJ. I’ve only ever wanted to show other what can be done. I thought I was doing well when I was over 100 Kg. This morning I was 82.0kg so 50KG or two bags of cement lighter than at my heaviest. I don’t know about this site beeing inspirational but the last years been 10 fold better than previous years.

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 The next section promised to be hilly, as I’d driven it in the car the previous dayI was concened I was going to struggle. It was low gear stuff and seemed particually steep in the car. I needn’t have worried, I still had the Wild Wales gearing on and sailed up everything. Don’t forget I’m on a triple.

 

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I took these shots while on the bike, they haven’t turned out too badly, mind you I had to put the camera away for the climb as I haven’t got to the stage where I can do a 15% climb one handed. (yet)

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The view from the top.  Weather wasn’t too bad, a bit more sun would have been better but I can’t complain.

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 Things had been going at a steady pace all day and we thought we were going to get passed by the Sunlight at some stage.  Seeing this pack descend on us, I’d thought they had caught us up.

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This was after the canal crossing with the swing bridge. 

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Don’t know who they are but they didn’t hang around. Steadycam mode seemed to have worked well here. And so it was until the next control point at The Canal Centre.

Canal Centre.jpg

It was quite relaxed here. The Sunlight sailed past at 20 mph having to retrace to sign in at the chap under the umbrella.

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For whatever reason Cliff didn’t manage to take a photograph of me here so I don’t appear in any of them today.

There were four of us left for the final leg from Eaton to The Ring of Bells , Janet was riding shotgun with Laurie I think. Myself Cliff Allan and Adelle formed a CTC chaingang on the run back to Waverton, the speed was 19-20 mph and it worked quite well. The Sunlight didn’t catch us, they were having enough problems with punctures and other things. The group size wasn’t in their favour either large groups mean long stops.

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As I had stopped the Garmin at the door of the Ring of Bells that was where my route finished with a bleep and a course complete message on the Garmin. We signed in, received our certificates and were sitting outside drinking tea and chatting about the ride when Janet arrives with The Sunlight in tow. Allan passes commment about it and I was just in time to snatch the above picture.

It was a good end to a good day, Allan said the pace was just right, Adelle found some speed in that new bike of hers and we all have another 100 under our belts. Only one casualty Chris with a broken chain. The Sunlight said they had 6 punctures, somethings amiss there. Thanks all I’ve had another great day.