Llangollen – you seriously expect us to ride up that?

The Llangollen Panorama Audax is an 84 mile ride that starts in Cheshire near Tarporley and then drops down to Wales looping round Llangollen and back up to Cheshire.  Myself, Andy and Anthony from North Cheshire Clarion tackled this Audax on a bright, but quite cold, Saturday morning.

The first section of the ride, a good 20 miles, took us through the flat plains of Cheshire and into Wales, before starting a slow ascent.  The next section, lasting another 20 or so miles incorporated much of the climbing on the ride.  It started with a couple of short sharp peaks before we took a break at the first cafe stop not far from Garth.  A pot of coffee and a scone later and we were warned by the other riders that the hills we’d been over so far were simply tasters for the big one to come after Llangollen!

The road carved out of the side of a mountain is known as the Llangollen Panorama and offers rugged scenery and great views across the Vale of Llangollen

Llangollen Panorama road

View across Vale of Llangollen

Andy and I - Llangollen Panorama

Dodging the landslide rocks and sheep on the road we turned off the road and headed through Llangollen – a small touristy-type town – and out the other side.  Here we headed up the “big” hill.  For those who know Mow Cop then this is similar, except it is not as steep as the ramp but goes on for longer!  The climb takes you from 300ft to 1185ft in a little over 2 miles.  Dropping very quickly onto the granny ring the hill gets very steep very quickly, but goes on and on.  As my heart rate got higher and higher I started to weave to keep it down.  On one of the turns my front wheel went onto the gravel near the edge of the road and simply went from under me, sending me into the concrete before I could react in any way and unclip my feet.  It was even too quick to get my hands down so I hit knee and elbow first.  After dusting myself down I set off again – quite a feat given the steepness of the road.  As I clipped my second foot in I pushed off hard.  My weight was all at the back of the saddle and I was pulling against the pedal stroke on the handlebars.  Which inevitably brought my front wheel up off the ground, and at that slow momentum there was only one outcome.  Again I couldn’t unclip but this time I got my hand down, which was a big mistake.  Two fingers immediately swelled up around the joint, with the one in between having a large slice-like gash.  Fallen off twice in about two minutes!  More than I’d done in years before.  A bit shaken, I walked the next 100 yards or so trying to stop the bleeding.  The rest of the climb, once back on, was less eventful but very, very hard.  The downhill into Chirk, and the second cafe stop (cherry bakewell!), was very fast – and I realised that I was struggling to change gear and pull the brakes with my sore fingers.

Stupidly steep hill!

A long section of flat allowed us to get our average speed back up, hammering along through sunshine countryside before hitting another couple of small lumps towards the end of the ride at 68 miles and then a final 5 mile climb to the end.

Another well-organised Audax with a great atmosphere and great route.  A bit fed up I’m nursing very sore fingers now but I suppose you live and learn.  In total it was 84 miles, 14.1mph average, with 3428ft of climbing and 5279kcals used.

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