The weather forecast was for heavy rain and strong gale-force winds, otherwise known as a storm. Perhaps that’s why only 12 of the 27 entered riders turned up, but they forecast the same thing back in May for Tour of the Berwyns and I didn’t get wet once. That said, it was kind of windy, and this is a hilly ride, so it takes a special kind of stupid, sorry dedication, to ride.
The first 30 miles were directly into the headwind down to Chirk. Luckily, it wasn’t that strong early on, and the rain held off so I was there pretty quickly. After a decent breakfast it was off out into the first of the hills. The wind had picked up now and the first big climb was 1 in 6 directly up an exposed moorland into the wind. It was ridiculously difficult, especially on my Raleigh which is not really a climbing machine. At the top I still had to pedal downhill, such was the wind. Not far from Pistyll Raeder (the waterfall) you have to ride through a farmyard, which takes you through and down a steep descent. It is always really muddy and covered in cowsh*t. On the twisting descent, pulling my brakes locked the front wheel and turning it made it feel like it was going to twitch from under me. Luckily I made it down upright but I couldn’t help but think it was an accident waiting to happen.
I only stopped briefly at the waterfall but when I came out the rain had started. Another rider rolled in, covered in cowsh*t – apart from which he was fine.
From the waterfall it was still into the wind down to the dam at Lake Novowels but when I arrived the road was full of runners milling around. I got off my bike and walked through the ever-increasing numbers until I got to the front. I could hear an announcer saying the half marathon would start in 5 minutes. I asked the marshall if I could go through but despite me being clear before the race started he said no, the road was closed. I asked around if there was another route – and ended up trying to cycle up a muddy, rocky footpath. I ended up walking most of the way and ended up at the wrong side of the dam as the runners went past. So I ended up sat in the p*ssing rain watching them run by for 15 minutes.
The wind was now helping somewhat which was just as well as another huge climb took it out of me. A whole winter of climbing on this bike will make either kill me or make me into Forstermann.
I arrived at the cafe in Bala completely soaking. After eating, as I was about to leave, a couple more guys rolled in, including the now clean cowsh*t guy (the rain had worked its magic!).
There were a couple more climbs left – the Shelf and Hope Mountain, but after those it was a straightforward flat run back to Old Ma’s at Tattenhall. By the end I had mostly dried out too. Bonus!
Ride stats : 131 miles in 8 hrs 45m at 15mph average. 9,517ft of ascent, 7,349kcals energy used. Average HR 141bpm