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Top Left Hand Corner Of Wales!

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Now there's a title for the older ones in the club!! What TV programme is it from?

Anyway onto the blog!

Last weekend as part on my Etape training I spent 2 days cycling in Snowdonia. It was arranged with this mob http://etape.org.uk/ . Stayed in the YHA at Swallow Falls near Betws Y Coed.The rides are led by some local chaps who know the area like the back of their hand. Day 1 started in Y Bala with a very cold wind blowing across the valley, but at least the parking ticket machines were broken! We headed out towards Dolgellau and left there up a climb to Caer Idris, which was ok, probably 7%. We then went down a lovely descent with hidden hairpins etc, technical is the term I believe. Unfortunately one chaps wheel was knackered by it! The descent took us down to sea level and we followed the coast South for a fair distance then turned inland for another couple of reasonable climbs to get to a village called Corris for the lunchtime Cafe stop. I was alway dropping off the back as I am a plodder! So missed the cafe and carried on down the hill, I eventually realized and had to ride back up to the cafe, an extra climb I could have done without. After lunch the climbs were a lot more challenging, 17% and 20% with lumpy routes between them, all very challenging!! I was always arriving last at the tops of the hills and as a consequence got the least amount of rest!! I was getting rather knackered, which was unfortunate as the last hill of the day was Bwlch Y Groes, about 1.7 miles average 25%. It is page 155 in the 100 climbs book. It was murder! I only got a 3rd of the way up and had to walk the rest, which was hard enough. a bit disappointed with myself, but I was very tired!!! It turned out that only the guides got up it, everyone else put their feet down at some point and walked, I just walked the furthest!!! My friend came off zig-zagging, and he had to walk to a flatter bit as he could not get the bike rolling where is came off. That Hill was murder, do have a go sometime!!! The up side was the descent down to Bala lake, it was grand! Lumpy ride along the lake and return to the car park. Ride 81.5 miles, 6.3 hours max speed 39'9 avg 12.5 mph. A very hard day for me and early to bed!!!

Day 2. A later start, a shorter ride, down to Betws and along the Conwy valley, 1st climb up to a village called Nebo as I was still knackered from the previous day so plodded up that, next was up over the moors back inland, which was a bit desolate, and arrived at the cafe which was in the middle of nowhere, but served up excellent food. The afternoon we rode to Festiniog the descent out of the village was great, 14% for 3/4's of a mile. Then cross country to Beddegelirt and from there was a long climb of about 5% up towards the top end on Llanberis pass. We carried onto Capel Curig and back to the hostel. I found this ride hard as well. But survived!! 60 mles, 5 hours, 39'9 max again, 11.8 avg.

The road surfaces in North Wales were excellent, puts Hampshire to shame. I have to say that it was a wake up call for me, although the gradients won't be as severe in France, I reckon I will have to get out more!!!!

That's all folks!!!

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