Following on from Dan’s article about the Velodrome, those who partook in this exhausting spin only to be cycling 160km miles on the Etape Eryri were, at the start, beginning to wonder if that was such a good idea, well at least I did with 2000+m of climb stretched ahead of us. We were in for the Etap Eryri Mawr.
A gang of the VC Melyd crew, namely Alan, Sarah, John, Alex, Sally, Anthony and Darren waring and myself met near the event start to pick up our packs from Rob whom had kindly picked then all up for us the day before.
There is always a sense of nervous anticipation when starting these events, for me at least, also for me this being the first time of doing it. It was good to be with friends from the club and it felt good to be wearing the club colours at last, a big thanks to Sarah for lending Sally and myself the tops.
The atmosphere at the start was great, music pumping, along with the adrenalin. Richard was there with the cash converters crew too, getting in some training for his big event and we also met Mark and Julie Allen at the start, so a good turn out from VC Melyd.
We started off in groups with Alan, Darren John and Rob setting off together, followed 10 minutes later by Sally, Sarah and myself and then Anthony, Alex, Julie and Mark after that.
The first bit was a rather pleasant flat section adjacent to the Menai Straits, we ambled along at a steady pace having a chat. The weather was a little misty, the route easy to navigate with well marked out roads and happy cheery volunteers holding back the traffic and telling us when the roads were clear.
There was a sharp bend and then the route took us inland, away from the coast and unto the hills. We were soon caught by Anthony, Alan, Julie and Alex and rode together as a group for a short while but groups and couples formed at the timed hill climb with Sally and Julie setting a mean pace with me trying to keep up!
The mist dropped around about this time and there was an absolutely amazing rolling descent with the dappled light through the trees casting an amazing light and into the first feed station in Bedgellert. Sally and I headed in, almost missing the turn, followed closely by Alex…soon to see the others sailing past, had they missed the turn or just gaining some extra time!. Alex headed off in haste whilst I had some food then Sally and I headed off and found the group waiting for us.
There was a bit of a climb into Rhyd, I’m not quite sure but think there was another feed station in between Maentwrog and Gelliydan, anyways, I was all ready for another feed but as soon as I had gone over the timing chip Sally was saying that she wanted to go on, we had been riding together so wanted to keep with her (but secretly thinking that I could do with a little stop but hey ho here we go). The others did stop so little splinter groups started to form, Sally and I, Mark and Julie, Sarah, Alex and Anthony…oh and not forgetting the fast group at the front (Alan, Darren, Rob and John).
I think for me, 2hrs in and 60km done, the road from Gelliydan to Trawsfynydd and then the A4212, felt like a bit of a slog. One has their peaks and troughs and this was one of mine, Sally was heading off into the distance, I just put my head down and got on with it. Sally waited for me on the turn into the B4391 and we had a little breather whilst looking at the other riders heading along the road we had just conquered, we couldn’t see any of the other VC Melyd lot so we headed off again.
The route continued through the park taking in elements of the Ffestiniog360 and Alan’s Big Day Out.
Sally tackled the relentless hills with comparative ease.
Our little splinter group started to tire at different times. A lack of water wasnt helping. Mix and match at the feed station saw the creation of a remarkably welcome cheese and crisp roll.
Where was the accordion player we had seen a few weeks before?!
Heading back up from the Chocolate shop Pentrafoelas, and off away from the newly surfaced beach of a route to the top of Llanrwst we descended down instead. Then up through Betws y Coed – past the falls, and another feed station Capel Cerrig before the turn into the valley of the relentless headwind where we met up with Julie and Mark again. Pen y Pass surprisingly coming as a blessed relief from the headwind – climbing up and over and feeling far more myself.
Heading back towards Caernarfon – practically in sight … before turning left and up, up to the climbing centre, again the Ffestiniog360 route, before dropping down again towards the town.
Best Parts:
A great event because of the organisation, scenery and people I was doing it with, nice descents and the crisp rolls.
Worst Parts:
Worst bits hmmmm the road adjacent to traws-whatsitcalled and getting stuck behind a slow van on the descent from pen y pass snowdon cafe. Neither of which were the fault of the organisers.
Would I do it again:
Yes would def do again…. How about the Xtrem!

Words kindly put together by Donna Warren.