120 miles? Climb the Crimea Pass three times in one ride? Whose silly idea was that then? Ah … that would be mine!
Fortunately there were other folks who seemed to think that riding out to the Ffestiniog 360 was a good idea, so it’s a 7am start for a friendly mixed posse of Melyd and Rhos riders. Realising that we were on the ‘driving out route’ to Blaenau meant that my usual ‘crawl, pant, mutter’ approach to the long climb up the Crimea Pass was going to be witnessed by all and sundry, with accompanying toots, waves, and ‘motivational calls’ (well, that’s what it sort of sounded like … ). Ah well, I’m sure a bit of public humiliation is ‘character building’ …
Top of the Crimea, and we see the first of the ‘360’ riders starting to climb up from the other side (the sensible ones … who drove over). There is something distinctly masochistic about dropping down the Crimea in the full knowledge that we’re going to have to turn round and climb straight back up again! It’s a full on descent, so although many a Melyd jersey is spotted heading up the hill, only a nod is possible – ‘hands-off the bars waves’ are not really an option at this speed!
Roll into the sign-on and there’s coffee and chocolates – nom-nom! The sun is shining and there’s friends from every local club here … which for me is the best part of the event – it’s like a mobile party on bikes, when you get to ‘mingle’ with all your mates, albeit with a bit less beer :)
The “360” isn’t a race or a sportive – there’s no timing chips, no winners, and no prizes. The route is simple – a ‘circumnavigation’ of Snowdon over the Crimea to Betws-y-Coed, up to Capel Curig, round to Beddgelert, and back. For some it’s a significant challenge, and ‘chapeau’ to the many riders who were doing it as their first event or their longest ever ride. For others, it’s a great social ride – a chance to chat with friends and ride with folks from other local clubs. Plus it raises some much appreciated funds for the local Ty Gobaith Children’s Hospice.
Rolling back in to Blaenau with tired legs, gazing up at hills knowing I’ve got to climb the Crimea Pass for the 3rd time that day, it’s hard to not give in to the many generous offers of a lift home! Weighted down with a 360 slate momento in my pocket, with a strengthening headwind, it’s a hard slog back up the hill, but the reward is a repeat of the long, fast descent back down to Betws, before bowling back down the valley to home.
Many thanks to the organisers and all the volunteers – it was a Grand Day Out! Great to see everyone, fantastic weather, superb views, and best of all there was CAKE :D