Etape 2009 8480

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


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

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.




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



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.


Northend Ride to The Ponderosa Cafe.

Saturday is a ride day for The Northend at the Eureka Cafe. It’s a big enough club to run multiple rides on a Saturday where in many clubs Sunday would be the big ride day. It was an easy enough ride out with not too many bikes in the rack when I arrived.
Seating was outside in the sun. No Franks Breakfast today after dining out yesterday which must be a first.
If you haven’t got a plan whose table you sit at will decide where you go for that day.
In my case it was Peters ride, Wales it was and the Horseshoe Pass came up in conversation. Other groups came in including Clives Spartans and a social group or two. That’s at least four rides according to ability.

18Apr09 Northend Rides

Saw Big Phil go out for the Sunlight (with his  705 bleeping away) but the usual suspects are in the middle of the picture.

Dave Newby turned up, with the group that rode with him threatening to throw his Garmin 705 over the hedge after he led them into an industrial estate rather than straight up a hill. Ended up with Clives group thinking it was going to be a big club ride going  down Woodbank. Peter and group stopped at the lights. Clives group had other things in mind and took to the road. Time to join Peters group, and then there were 6.
It was a great day looking back at it and we all had problems of one sort or the other.
Met Tiny (Mike) for the first time, rides a Trek 1.2 in what must be the biggest size they do.

Quite a hilly ride for a group that doesn’t have any big hitters in it. The route took the same route up to Hawarden but I didn’t get dropped at the roundabout this week.  Any climb over 3% seems to sort us out.

From Hawarden it was along the A550 where a motorist takes offence at us riding two abreast by sounding his horn at us past Penyfford. Turning right to Pontblyddyn we’re taking the A5104 past Pontybodkin up towards Llandegla. Barry gives me a shout as he drives past with his bikes on the back of the car as I,m half wheeling Dave on a climb. You can spot me a mile away in the Discovery kit.

Vicky is off the front on the climbs on her new bike along with Tiny and Dave with Peter somewhere in between with Dave and I bring up the rear. Descending the moors  around Llandegla we are all strung out at speed with myself third in the line when a car towing a wide caravan comes past me leaving very little room.
It’s bearing down on the back of Vickys bike and a shout to her to keep in goes unheeded.

It’s trying to get past before a tightening bend comes up. It’s as if the caravan club is having a rally somewhere as the number of caravans and motor-homes going past.

Once things had quietened down it was time to have some fun. I could see the others having a go so it was time to get in the big ring and get down on the tri bars. I’m just about to sweep Tiny up when a rough patch of road dislodges the saddlebag which had only been clipped on after last Tuesday’s timetrial. It bounces down the road at 30 mph and luckily a car and three motorbikes miss it.


This is just after the roundabout that heads to the top of the Horseshoe Pass.


 The next section is mainly downhill with the ultimate destination being the bridge at Carrog. Peter stops and picks up Tiny’s map that had come out of his pocket.  He has a map because he dropped off the back on one ride and didn’t know the way back.
We leave the main road at Bryneglwys which narrows and climbs out of the village towards a steep drop into Carrog where we stop at the road junction. There is time for Peter and I to repeat tales of getting dropped on the same hill while dehydrated as there was no Cafe stop in Corwen but straight on to the drovers road.


There is a steam engine rally at Carrog and it looks like I’ll be out this way tommorow with Jack as he’s  Thomas the Tank Engine mad.


Peter has had his ride incident by slipping and falling into Vicky’s new bike, gouging his shin.
Dave want’s to go the pub up the hill. On the next section it is time for Vicky to christen that new bike not once but twice. The first time was on one of those short sharp shocks that is typical of this drovers road.
Still in the big ring her foot came out of the pedal as there was not enough tension in the new SPD’s.

She went down in a heap, thankfully not getting hurt. Gave me a chance to take another picture.


The next one was self inflicted, 39×12 is not a gear to do a climb that I’m in the granny ring for.
Damage: Scuff on the new levers and a small mark on the hood.
There is another stop at Rhewl where there is another bebate about having a pub lunch at the Sun Inn, Peter talks Dave out of it saying you don’t want to be climbing the Shoe on a full stomach, which is probably true.


We're going up that!


John Skates who I know through that four letter word “Work”.


We turn left at Llantysilio which brings us out onto the Horseshoe Pass just below the Brittania Inn.
Before that there are some roadworks to contend to with traffic lights. Peter and a few other sail through and thats probably what Dave and I should have done as they were quite long. No way would a bike get through them on one turn of the lights.
For safety we took to the other side only to have a stream of cars and bikes come through while we are only half way through.

The climb is steepening up and we  already had Mark blow up, even contemplating the burger van in the layby. Tiny pulled over with back pains, that would trouble him later that we didn’t know of at the time.
Dave steadilly gets dropped by myself which is no big news as Vicky has been dropping us all day.

Peter’s headstart through the lights is unassailable as we are on a similar level depending who has a good day.  It’s a steady effort with no wind to blow you up the final section, strangly.
Sweat is now running down the peak of my cap and dripping off the end.
I’m wondering how the hell am I going to cope in July. It rears up past the shoe doubling back on yourself here you get chance to see how well your doing. Dave is a fair way back and once it levels out it time to have a good go to get to the cafe.

Dave turns up and so does Mark and Mike. Mark’s on a new BH so both are locked together by my security cord as it barely justify’s the term lock.

Once seated in the Ponderosa it was time to exchange tales. Dave says “Did the Mountain Biker pass you?”, aaaarrrhhhhhh!!!. Daves broken the roadies Number 1 first rule: “Never let a Mountain biker pass you”. Fein a mechanical, puncture, anything but don’t let  him get away with it. The only exception is “Wilco” who blows everyone apart with saddlebags on.Hic

Departing the Ponderosa it’s all downhill so to speak with with Vicky dropping  me  on the climb up to the roundabout. The route back was via Llanarmon yl Lal  and Loggerheads. Vicky was due in Deeside for 4pm and that was were we where headed. At our turn past Loggerheads Tiny falls of the back so I call to ease up. It does come back together but breaks up again a bit before Northop traffic light’s.

Peter swings off and by the time I’d got back with the other he was nowhere to be seen. It was a fairly brisk pace and I was sure Tiny was in sight when we turned.

At High Street Lights in Connahs Quay I finally caught the others, we stopped in a layby a little further on.
Peter arrives with the quip “Thanks for stopping” , the problem was waiting for Tiny meant he couldn’t cross the road due to the traffic.

Well, we did stop and we were all back together again, we popped into Deeside Cycles to see Chicago. He’s had a HAIRCUT and no longer looks like Earl  Hickey, but the resemblence is there. (damn close)
Vicky is after some Tri bars to  further humilitate us.
 It’s a sign of the times that stock bikes are now worth more as components than a complete bike.
There were some good deals on frames that weigh zilch with a Raleigh brand on them.

We are the last back at the Eureka, sort ourselves out and then it is a ride home, Vicki splits before the Missing Link and Peter splits at the Eastham turnoff on Benty Heath Lane.

Another good ride. No one got dropped, lost or ended up in a ditch on this Northend ride.

The Ride:

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.

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

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.


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.


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.


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. 


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. 


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. 




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.




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.




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.


Roz taking a picture of Barmouth.


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.

DSCF3503.jpg DSCF3502.jpg



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.


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.




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


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. 


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.

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.

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.

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.

Horseshoe Panorama Audax.

I’d toyed with the idea of riding the 220Km event to settle on this one as I thought a couple of new climbs was enough fun to be having in one day. I’d got up early enough for the longer ride and only realised the event started at 9 AM when I checked the routesheet. Had the Nuvi guide me there and it did a great job in getting me there with the time of arrival very accurate.

Time to sign on and watch the 220km riders set off. There is also a 400km ride going on that rides the 170 km event too.

All pictures blow up to fullscreen if double clicked. 


Met Joe who comments on the Edge 705 page in the car park. It seemed like a sensible idea to ride together so we did. There was another chap doing his first Audax, new to cycling, hadn’t ridden that far before.

Once we had set off there is jockeying for position as various groups of riders settle into their own pace. It’s about 18 to 20 mph at this stage and then a small climb sorts us all out. The chap doing his first audax drops off. Club riders start moving up towards the front and it’s about staying on a wheel. There was a chap in a PDM top that was always just out of reach.

Then we had a bit of a log jam with a combine harvester blocking the lane. PDM chap squeezes through then the group with Joe got through and I was near the back and with a bit of hesitation a break had formed. There was a last minute alteration to the route that didn’t do me any favours so I ended up following a group of four.

Untill they got the route wrong and did a U turn. Guess who left his route sheet in the car. Then it was into map mode on the Edge and see where I could rejoin the route. Rejoin it I do and the Edge picks it up again and recalculates the Virtual Partner.

I’ve been on my own for a few miles now but recognise parts of the route.


This roller coaster has been in another Audax that passed through Chirk. We missed it because we followed the road down the steep hill to the river. There was no missing it this time as it is a short steep climb on the turn by the farm buildings.
After two humps of the coaster it was left turn and into that granny ring again. A track that defines the word rough. Picking a fine line up a steep climb that will have you spinning out on the loose stuff.

Glad to get back on the black stuff and after negoticating the roundabouts there was a stretch downhill on the A55 that was a blast.

Opted not to take the aqueduct foot bridge as the Aqueduct 200 will take some beating but wanted to do the hill that we came down. Stopped at the top with two others in front to take in an energy bar.
Steepens up by the canal bridge.  You don’t see too many people down the bottom as it easier to take the path on the aqueduct.

Before we got to the bottom of the Old Shoe we saw a group of Merseyside CTC coming the opposite way. Peter from the Northend informs me that no one from the 400k returned any greeting to him as he greeted them all. A 5 am start on Saturday morning may explain it.


This was early on so it couldn’t have been the group I rode out with. Just goes to prove you are never alone out there.



The Old Shoe is a genuine 1:5 ,20% gradient from this point. Minimum gradient is 1:10 or 10%. I stopped at this point as one I was maxxed out and two it was a good location to take a picture. Upwards to the Ponderosa was a 20% climb with riders walking, below was slightly less steep with riders walking.


Now I’d gone down to a 26 tooth sprocket on the granny ring and I’m still in trouble on these climbs. Somewhere in the downward picture is someone walking, it’s an impressive climb whichever way you look at it.

Stopping to take the photographs has sweat dripping off me, rolling of the front of the Atmos. There is this further 20% effort to go to the Ponderosa which is now doable but still hard work.

Once there it is a bit surreal, the place is packed. Randoneurs looking to replenish some carbs in quick time, Bikers on all day breakfasts and car drivers that could do with a walk never mind an 80 mile hilly bike ride. Ex-biker myself, haven’t been on it for over two years.  I get a better buzz these days using my own steam.

Further on North Wales Police are pulling bikers for whatever they have done wrong.
Took a panoramic multi shot that I need to work on.
Going down the Shoe was quick and I got buzzed by a biker that I wasn’t expecting.
Llangollen was busy with traffic but I was soon  through it.



Had to stop for this shot of the bridge before the Aqueduct, missed a better one a bit further back that was obscured. We went over the bridge twice on the route once in each direction, next up is Methodist Hill.


The second picture is just after the first turn as at 18% I’m in no position b to take pictures.
This is the last climb of the audax and from here it is all downhill so to speak.

Chirk on a Sunday

Couldn’t beileve how quiet Chirk was, the whole ride was virtually traffic free and even on the ride back to Upton Magna the roads were remarkably quiet.

On the last stretch I’d been on my  own since the top of Methodist Hill. Not a bad thing as I’d been passing fields off rippening corn wondering whether to take the shot. I didn’t but the immageary was superb, a bit like the Tour de France and the sunflowers.

I’m chugging along at my pace expecting a chaingang or two to come steaming past but it doesn’t.

With around 10k to go I catch up with another rider who turns out to be on the 400km event. I didn’t get his name but we have a chat and my arrival spurs him on not only upping his pace but dropping me for a section. He’s a lean guy riding a steel bike with a saddlebag and a routesheet. His route following is equal to the GPS. I still have a lot to learn.  Puts my effort into perspective, come across a guy who is doing it for 400 km.

Now in the early section of the ride there is a chap in PDM kit who is always off the front and is in a break (not surely on an Audax) when a combine harvester blocks the road.
Next thing with a couple of Km to the finish he is at the back of a group of four.

“No Prisoners” this time to some protests. 400km guy is spurred on again, no slacking in pace with the end in sight.

 Lots more to write up, but at least the pictures are now up.I’ll try to fillin the gaps and there are lots. A great day out.

Saw Joe at the finish, everyone had a good ride. Saw bits of Britain at it’s best, first Audax where I was on my own for a decent part of it.  The 400k guy put a different perspective on things, rode to the route sheet, steel framed Mercian with a rack.
Me bling Carbon bike, satnav, good for a day ride but little else.


Bob Clift Memorial Ride 2008 (Cheshire Cycleway)

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

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

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


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

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


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

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



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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


Aqueduct Audax

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

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

DSCF4097.jpgCrossing the Canal at the StartThe Canal Basin.

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

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

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

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

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

Crossing the DeeThe Chainbridge HotelPeter

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

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

Fellow rider on a Giant leading Horseshoe Pass IIThe Horseshoe Pass

DSCF4110.jpgPeter and PhillMoi and Phil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

DSCF4120.jpgNearly There.DSCF4124.jpgDSCF4126.jpg

DSCF4127.jpgDSCF4125.jpgAnother fine day for the Toy. 

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

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

Garmin Nuvi 250W

I finally ended up buying an Automotive SatNav and I’m blown away by the ease of use of it. It’s got full European mapping as the intention is to do some training in Spain.
Once the screen brightness is adjusted it is very easy to use.
I can see why I get so much traffic for the Garmin Edge Tutorial. It’s not in the same league function wise.
The amount of data pre loaded into this unit is just amazing. Conversly if your an Edge addict you’ll miss all the heartrate, gradient and  other data that it provides you with.

This is a mass consumer product and it’s got to work straight out of the box and it does. Pre loaded with 6 milliom POI,s it tells you where the speed cameras are. It also comes with all the local restaurants, cash machines  etc which can be really usefull in a jam.

On the way home from West Kirby I took a detour down Mere Lane and wished I hadn’t. This is an unadopted road and full of water filled potholes. I used to use this road as practise when I rode an Enduro bike but it wasn’t this bad!!. Missed a great sunset from the end but it’s a resident thing.They choose to keep it in that condition. Have done since I was 13 so not expecting much movement. 

This is purely a navigation device and you don’t get the satisfaction that you can by programing an Edge. It doesn’t log and you don’t get that funtionallity you get with the Edge.

Apart from software updates there isn’t much more to it. There is no training centre to keep up to date but once it gets used out of Britain it will have paid for itself multi times over.


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