Reliability Ride 2017

Reliability Ride 2017

Not content with organising the paperwork, the route, the venue, Steve and Greg managed to organise fine weather as well for the 2017 VC Melyd Reliability ride.

“This years reliability ride raised £425.00 for charity, many thanks to all who supported this years ride.  The efforts to facilitate this event were well worth it.”

— Steve Sharp / Club Chairman.

Huw McKee who arrived with the buckets for this years fund raising is going on to undertake an epic challenge later in the year. If you were unable to take part in the reliability trial / contribute to the cause at the event – you may wish to read more about Huw’s cycling challenge later in the year, or donate directly.

Many thanks once again to Greg, Steve, Richard, Mark, and everyone who played a part in making the day possible – and to all of those who braved the roads, took in the views, and rode / didn’t ride the whole course. I think you will agree it was indeed a great day to be out on a bike – and money well raised for a good cause.

Festive? Cheers!

Festive? Cheers!

The season of goodwill, vacation, family, and cycling escape is upon us!

Here are a few rides you may be interested in checking your availability for – now long standing traditions:

Last Tuesday of the Year

Tuesday 20th December1830hrs Saints, Meliden. A low key, and well attended event – even for those who do not usually manage to make the Tuesday night rides – curiously 😉 Starting off at the usual time of 1830hrs, and heading out for a short hour and a half’s ride before stopping at the Plough or Swan in St. Asaph. Come join us for the ride, or the social afterwards.

Mince Pie Bimble

Saturday, Christmas Eve, 24th December1000hrs Rhuddlan Nature Reserve. This is a charity event that will cost you £5 which will go to St. Kentigern Hospice. Traditionally this will involve a ride of two groups – bimble and those surprised at how fast a bimble can be! Both groups head around in a loop and back to Trefnant for tea, coffee, mulled wine and mince pies. Nom nom nom.

Turkey Ride

Wednesday 28th December1300hrs at Saints, Meliden, or 1330hrs at Waen Gate. The ride will head down the Waen, and return to the New Inn Dyserth for around 1600hrs. After warming back up, home to get changed and regroup at Chili Pink, Rhyl at 2000hrs for more festivities. Members are welcome to come and join in for any part or all of the day.

Brass Monkey

Sunday 1st January 2017The Brass Monkey Time Trial – is a prestigious low key event for the highly coveted trophy. More realistically – its a jolly around the 9 mile circuit not taking yourself too seriously in fancy dress after a week of excess. Come join in… slowest times of the year… membership required however hangover optional. See the VC Melyd & Rhyl CC Time trial  FB page for answers to further questions.

 

 

Loonies!

“The Lon Las Loonies would like to invite you to our annual charity Santa ride on the 27th December in aid of Luke Davies.  The ride is a gentle 15 miles leaving from Archies Bar in Prestatyn at 11am.  All monies raised will go directly to Luke.  The price is £10 per rider.  Can you please let me know if any of your riders would like to join in.  We all dress in Santa suits”

— Anne (Secretary, Lon Las Loonies)

Ffestiniog 360 2016 Report

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 😀

Ffestiniog 360 2016

Ffestiniog 360 2016

The Ffestiniog 360 2016 is two weeks away. This is a fantastic local event supporting the worthy charity Tŷ Gobeth / Hope House . The event is based, as the name suggests, in Blaenau Ffestiniog – then following a circular route around Snowdon and back to Ffestiniog. This route is around 100km and takes in some amazing scenery. Each year the route direction changes – this year we will be heading out of Ffestiniog and almost immediately up to the Crimea Pass before the sustained descent towards Betws-y-Coed.

Check out the Ffestiniog360 website for more information and entry details – and join the local clubs in supporting this worthy charity and great event.

Thanks to YOUR FANTASTIC SUPPORT our little event is growing in stature. The route itself is quite unique. It happens to be exactly 100k which is a bonus.  It has something for everyone: fabulous scenery, mountain passes, challenging climbs, long down hills, taking in the famous villages of Betws-y-coed and Beddgelert. Riders can please themselves how they approach the ride. Some may want to go for the record, currently 3hr 15 mins, whilst others will take it steady and even stop for lunch. It’s an easy going friendly challenge for anyone of any ability. Of course our aim is to have a great day out and contribute to a worthy charity. Road bikes, Mountain bikes, Tandems, Recumbents – all are welcome so what are you waiting for?

Register now, secure your place. Even if you can’t make it on the day your modest entry fee will not be wasted and you can feel good knowing you have helped Ty Gobaith. The T-shirt this year will be better than ever so help us to count the numbers and go to www.ffestiniog360.com and register now. If you have already registered nag a few friends into doing the same.

“The Crimea Pass. This year the route is anti- clockwise! This means we turn right from the start point and head North West out of town to the famous Crimea Pass. The leg and lung burn for the first half mile will soon sort out any cobwebs. If you are not a regular rider like me then there is no problem, get off and push, you will soon be on your way again.  Get ready for a long downhill – never mind the zip wire – this is just as good and free. If the road is damp we recommend caution. Enjoy but stay in one piece and you will reach the village of Betws-y-coed with hardly any effort.

Route markers and Control points. The route will be well marked at turning points. It is also printed in great detail on your route card. There will be up to 3 control points where you need your card marked. Here you can also take a stretch and top up with mineral water. Watch out for the fluorescent green signs at turns and control points.  Riders with fully marked cards need to give them up when claiming your T-shirt and slate plaque. Your card will go into a rider’s only draw for a prize worth £100. There will be another News Letter before the event and we will tell you where the control points are situated. We are doing this to avoid dangerous situations when some riders jam on at the last minute which can lead to problems.

Reliability Trial 2016

Reliability Trial 2016

Greg and Steve have toiled away in secret preparing the VC Melyd 2016 Reliability Trial. The funds raised from the event are going to St Kentigern’s Hospice, a local charity. The route is old school – maps – and not a TCX, GPX, Strava, or Garmin route in sight. Directions are posted en route. This is probably for the best given the route we are about to undertake. Both routes looking at around 1000ft for every 10 miles, and a wondrous array of unfamiliar yet local ascents lay ahead of us on both of the two routes provided. The entry is paid and friends are here relying on our support or at least the banter leans towards that theory. Your reliably informed there is no escaping the trial now.

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The secret is out, the maps are marked and laid out for all to see, the distance is set and the roads are marked, how many hills can you reliably climb, how many miles will the bike remain true. But the banter should carry you through!!

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The warm up lap begins.

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The hills keep coming but the smiles remain and the punctures are nowhere to be seen.

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Upwards and onwards, surprised I am by how many hills we have in this beautiful part of the world. “Oh Joy!” (Donna) comes the call “I’ve found another gear!”, “Just like finding a fiver you never thought you had” (Gary) comes the reply, mud hills and scary descents cannot take away the banter. The higher you go the better scenery that’s why we love the hills.

12967361_1081726681885268_7027866474640707602_oCould this be the bit we have all been aiming for! Not yet after all this is a test of your reliability, just a little down and a few more hills before the descent back down to the sea.

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Congratulations to Steve and Greg for their efforts in providing our route and their efforts in helping St Kentigern’s Hospice, the midpoint refreshments along with a final slice of humble pie just to soften the pain of tired legs.

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FFestiniog360 2016

FFestiniog360 2016

The Ffestiniog360 is back. Last year it raised an amazing £7,800 for Tŷ Gobaith.

The event is scheduled to take place on Sunday 29th May this year.

This will be the 5th year of the Ffestiniog360 – and this is a well attended event from local clubs, with last year heading out with two groups. Hopefully we can do the same again this year.

ONLINE REGISTRATION is now open… come join us and support an exceptionally worthy local charity.

Almost 500 riders registered for last year’s event. A slightly damp start put off quite a few, however we are still extremely grateful for their support. The sun came out after 11 am and many of us ended up with a tan. Marshalls reported many riders should have gone to Spec Savers as they completely missed the right turn at the Wynnes Arms and went straight on to Llan Ffestiniog. They did happily remember to turn right and get back on route at Maentwrog. This of course meant they avoided one of the most interesting and apparently feared sections of the route. I refer to the minor road which runs parallel to the A496 and the other side of Afon Dwyryd. Despite the heroic efforts of a marshal ushering riders safely onto this road a few chose the horrible A496 instead. We must remind everyone this event is a challenge and part of this challenge is to stick to the route. We know it’s a trade off between a busy dangerous road and the small risk of a puncture but it’s a risk well worth taking. In addition the minor road is steeped in history and natural beauty without a petrol head in sight!

We value every rider and what matters most to us is your safety and the money you raise for Ty Gobaith, for which we are extremely grateful.

This event is not a race; it is a challenge with a generous time allowance to suit all abilities. Having said that, there were some very good times.  3 hrs 15 minutes seems to be the time to beat if anyone fancies going for it.

Apologies for lack of photographs last year but this year we are hoping to have back our fantastic photographer, Alwyn, who produces brilliant work and great action shots.

The online registration for 2016 is now open. Please register early and help us get 500 entries again. Go to www.ffestiniog360.com where you can register and pay online or send cheques by post. You can also download a poster to display in shops or your place of work. There is no price increase and the cost is only £15.00 with generous pre-ride and post-ride refreshments, a T shirt and a slate coaster plus the riders prize draw all included in the £15.00 registration fee. If every rider raised just £10.00 from his/her family and friends it would make a sensational increase to the amount we raise!!!”” — Ffestiniog360

Ty Gobaith is the sister hospice of Hope House, we care for life threatened and life limited babies, children and young adults from all over North Wales.  We have been proud to be the charity of Ffestiniog 360 for the past 4 years, the support that Len and the team give the only children’s hospice in North Wales is second to none.

We are delighted that so many people registered to take part this year and furthermore some people raised additional sponsorship, the total raised being £7865.59  – every single penny is able to go direct to support the children and families that use our vital services.  All of our services are free of charge and we need to raise £1.2 million a year for Ty Gobaith alone

Thank you Ffestiniog 360 and everyone who took part, hope to see you all next year for the 5th Anniversary.” — Katrina Lawson of Ty Gobaith

Tour de Môn 2015

Tour de Môn 2015

The blessing and curse of joining a club like VC Melyd is the constant inspiration to push yourself further than you ever thought possible. When I first ventured out with the club as a ‘fat/fit(ish)’ mountain biker my challenge was to finish the Tuesday evening club rides, then it became to finish at pace and need less than a week to recover. Fortunately there is a wealth of knowledge which is freely shared on all aspects from training, nutrition and equipment (thanks all for helping along the way).

Anyway, to cut a long story short I became faster and fitter than I ever thought possible, loosing nearly 5 stone along the way and set a goal to complete a sportive over 100 miles. Whilst to several in the club this is normal, for me this would be a major milestone. I selected the Tour de Mon as the beast to slay; no particular reason, but hey it’s close to home.

So the battle date selected, the terrain familiar, the weather (well it’s Anglesey, how bad can it get?), 103 miles with just short of 4000 feet of climbing. I’ve spent well over a year contemplating the event and at least a few weeks actually doing something about it. As added incentive I decided to raise money for Bowel Cancer research having lost my Father-in-Law, a wonderful Anglesey Gent whose loss last summer prevented me from participating. I also told anyone who would listen that I was entered, so failure would be humiliating to say the least. However, if greater incentive were needed I was dealt a devastating blow just days before the off. My mum, a keen cyclist in her youth had prepped and preened herself and was set to travel to North Wales to cheer me on; but as fate may be she would never make it. Now I had her memory to ride for too.

So when the alarm sounded at 5:00 on Sunday morning I was filled with anticipation and dread in equal measure. I threw my kit into the car and checked and double checked the bike ready for the 7:00 start. If I’d known it was that early then maybe… well it was too late for that! The weather forecast was, oh yes Welsh, rain and or sunshine possibly at the same time so I packed for all eventualities. It was great to see fellow VC riders on the start line, Richard’s sage voice of experience gave encouragement. So after the inevitable faff I crossed the start line, we were off, and whatever may be will be.

The first part of the tour was around South Stack, one of the most stunningly rugged coastlines in Britain. The climbs were short, but sharp, the atmosphere jovial. I knew very quickly that the Aero wheels I’d bought from David were a good choice, the bike felt felt great, quick, stable and bags of stopping power. The confidence boost was incredible and I started to make progress up the field. However, having been humbled in the past I was ever mindful of the advice from ‘Wardy’ our triple ironman and started to take on fuel. I’d prepped bars, drinks and gels and as the terrain flattened out through Treaddur Bay I started the munch and drink that would see me through.

As I approached RAF Valley for the ‘flying mile’ I was adamant that I would not push hard; but the reality was that once the timing gate bleeped I couldn’t help myself. I’d push a little and it felt great! I hadn’t anticipated the cyclocross section escaping the airfield, but there was the feed stop. Gels, snacks, Mat’s favourite Bananas and a free inner tube, well it would be rude to refuse! A quick pit stop and off again.

Rhosneiger passed in a blur, but as we climbed towards Aberfraw the weather demonstrated just how bad it could get. The golf ball sized droplets were unusual and as the first hit me it felt like I’d been hit with a water bomb. In the seconds it took to pull over and don my rain mac I was already soaked, but hey it was warm(ish) rain. Riding through Newborough through what would later be described as ‘biblical rain’ was and experience to say the least.

I was fascinated by the interesting, yet eclectic bunch of riders attempting the ride, I was also equally fascinated by the bikes. A favourite was a classic Cove titanium Hummer with original Pace carbon forks. Now I’ve ridden across Menai Bridge plenty of times in the past, but surrounded by dozens of others was something special.

Onwards and forwards. I caught up with club from Trevor and we settled into a chain as we approached Beaumaris; the blessed relief from the wind was very welcome. Another short rest, this time passing up the free inner-tubes and I was off again.

We had been encouraged thus far been encouraged by hundreds of people cheering us along. Though I felt sorry for the kids sat under a tree in the rain; though to be fair they looked like they were loving it! Though it was great to be cheered by family as I rode through Llangoed, having tracked my progress on the internet.

The cheering and constant clang of Chain Reaction’s Cow Bells was fun, but being cheered on by name as Dave from Prestatyn in Llanddona was nice (our names on the board instead of a number a nice touch) and recognition of the VC Melyd kit.

I met a friend shortly after Benllech who was riding for the same charity and he was in a bad way; I was feeling surprisingly good. However, the next 20 miles would challenge that. I began to suffer, I was hurting. My legs, my arms, my unmentionables. Standing, sitting it made no difference and having only slept a few hours I wanted to pull over and sleep. The headwind was strong and then Noah returned. Getting to the 85 mile feed station took all of my reserve. Rider after rider retired, every few hundred metres a car would be loading up bikes and riders, but many more endured. We rode on in silence through rivers of water, wind and rain. Eventually I made it to Llynon windmill feed station. Feeling sorry for myself I stopped and rested, but thankfully the rain was also stopping. Fuelled up by the army of volunteers, this time provided by the youth firefighters it was time to tackle the last 20.

The surprise came as I approached Valley again. I knew Holyhead was close and more importantly getting there was flat! I felt a second wind building. The rain had stopped and my pace quickened. I could do this, I’d make it. However, there was a problem with my Garmin. I’d downloaded the route and faithfully it’d given me turn by turn prompts, but now for some reason it was saying straight ahead instead of right to Holyhead. Oh, that’s because we were going straight ahead. Never mind, I was feeling great and pushing it. Not even the return of the rain again and the realisation we were going back up South Stack was going to stop me now. I pushed harder. As I descended the final hill to Newbry beach I was greeted with my very own fan club, a drenched soaked gaggle of kids, wife and friends cheering me through the finish.

I felt great and although I knew the inevitable aches and pains would follow I was elated. I was also really grateful for the additional pledges while I rode (thanks all) and found that my original £500 goal had been reached.

Rise Above Sportive

Rise Above Sportive

It is one thing to have a local professional rider hold a sportive on your doorstep… one that manages to pack over 9000ft of climbing in the 185km between Chester and Llyn Brenig on the Denbigh Moors – to cram in two top 100 uk climbs in Bwlch Pen Barras, and the Horseshoe Pass. Hell, priority club starts following a picture with the legend. But then to have the honour of the organisers asking for members of your club to ride with him and keep people from his wheel… well that is amazing. Darren and Alan had the pleasure of discovering first hand what the difference between fast club riders and a professional was for the day…. and to take their legs home in a bag (o;

Cav’ gratefully acknowledged everyone. He thanked people for wearing his team kit, took the mickey out of people in Sky kit, playfully and tastefully, he just joked with a few riders as we past them. More so though he did go out of his way to speak with those wearing charity kit. After all, that is why he, and we, were there.” — Darren Wareing

Thank you to the organisers, and everyone who travelled to the area to take part in the event… whether you did the Long, Medium, or Short route – what an achievement. See you next year.

Last-day-of-tour-social

Last-day-of-tour-social

The VC Melyd tradition of the post-Sunday-ride-last-day-of-the-Tour-de-France-social-event raised clear of £600 for charity this year.

The donation and sweepstake contributions raising £600 for charity this year.

The donations were split between Saint Kentigern Hospice and Dreams Come True.

A good time was had by all – many thanks to everyone involved in making that happen – with a special thanks to Richard.

 

 

 

Ffestiniog 360 2015

Ffestiniog 360 2015

The Ffestiniog 360 is a bit of a local legend. It is neither long, or high, nor is it delivered by one of the big brands with a highly polished experience. What it is is honest.

The ride itself covers 63 miles, and around 4,500ft – with funds raised going to Ty Gobaith / Hope House – a local, and worthy charity. Marshall’s, tea, biscuits, water, support en route, and brews / cake all come as part of the deal…. oh, that and some of the most fantastic scenery as you head in and out of Snowdonia with a tour of the Ogwen Valley. The ascent is within reach of all, and the distance presents either a challenge, or a faster paced proposition… it is a Goldilocks of a course.

The route changes direction each year – but the route remains the same. It is either the lung-busting-leg-burning-fresh-from-the-car-park-start ascent up the short side of the Crimea Pass, or the eight mile approach from the other side in the closing stages of the ride (the last two being particularly ‘noticeable’). This year saw the latter.

We had rallied together quite the group as a club. We had the classic intermediate and long / hilly Sunday groups and then others – some of which were new… new faces, new names, same colours, all good.

We had opted for a later start than the penned 0830 official one – we are an hour and a bit away – getting sorted – meeting up – and so on – it seemed to make sense. Even more so today as the rain had been hammering down since sun up.

We arrived and the car park was full. We started the crawl around the unfamiliar back roads of Ffestiniog looking for somewhere van sized not a million miles away. On finding a spot, we de-bus to find not, one, not two, three, but five familiar cars and accompanying faces.

Getting our game together was now becoming more of a familiar ritual. The leaving the house with a bag-of-options early morning with that inescapable feeling of ‘what have I forgotten?’ still lingering until the last pocket is packets, shoes are on and you are rolling.

The wet rock and scree spoil walls that hem in Blaenau Ffestiniog are equally corralling in the clouds. They sit there like quiet giants willing their way out. The rain has stopped, the world is a wet one, but moments of sunshine are now starting to peak through from time to time. The van door slides to a close, and we pedal slowly uphill (always), and along to the start.

The start. No, of course I have not brought my confirmation email with me – yes – it may have said to – but that was then – this is now – and no… I am just happy to be here with two shoes and enough gloves… now you want me to print an email from last year? Oh. Panic over – there are lists sorted by names – great success. I am presented with a card to get signed off along the route, and a fluorescent green square of self adhesive vinyl for my helmet. This is not the best – no one likes that. If it was a flat thing – sure – but it is full of vents (for a reason), and ridges, and stuff – not ideal. I see some others have theirs stuck to their bikes… better… but… ahhh – bottle – there we go. Sorted. A brief toilet stop – and I am good to go.

The VCM assemble – we really do have some numbers out here this morning. The lightning fast Jnr’s are keeping themselves to themselves to one side while the rest of us oldies gather together and chat.

Before too long it is time for the off. Now Sundays usually dictate at least two road rides – an intermediate and hilly/long – but no this was a rolling start for all. A fantastically mixed group rolled out resplendent in our red black yellow and while. A right turn and the first descent and suddenly the group was already starting to split. Even with the wet roads, the group clearly went downhill at different rates, and within a few minutes the group around me had thinned down and looked a little more familiar.

The second descent was more memorable. I had clipped the side of a wet manhole cover while braking on the first – and I was now up for ALL of the caution. Wet roads, and a winding descent with stone walls, and the occasional hairpin – what was not to like… it certainly had my attention warmed up if not the rest of me. Somewhere around this point I heard the noise that turned out to be Vic’s over exuberance into a corner followed by wheels in the wrong direction, a sketchy moment where it all looked a bit bleak – and then the most epic of recoveries. Kudos. This was not the day for heroics – you have to be on the bike to ride the course.

The course was the reverse of the last time I rode it. I was glad to be going down what was up before. However – for a “mostly flat” course with a big climb at the end – it was not flat, a bunch of noticeable ascents dug into us presenting with unanimous surprise. Particularly that first steep one.

A slow and gradual ascent was upon us. Accompanied by the labouring of a steam engine with the occasional whistle we made our way as still quite a large group of riders up the ramp. Passed by two riders, it was noted by my partner in crime at this time that they would probably not be off the front for all that long and we should just settle in. Fat chance. Slowly the speed crept up, and then a little more, until the two by two went to a single file, and then that stretched further until ….snap… I was off. Off what I thought was the back of our group.

Sadly I watched the group of comrades move away from me (cue exit music from The Hulk) – but glad the burning sensation had ended, and I could go back to not trying to hide how hard I was pushing. I wiped the fine rain from my glasses – promptly knocking out a lens and hearing it bounce on the road. I stopped to retrieve it to be joined by David and Justin who apparently were spat out a little earlier. Vision and company returned we set about taking back the places lost.

Never knowingly under greeting – we actually did as intended, riding back up the now shallower grade far more suited to us, with a constant stream of good morning, hello, nice weather… as we went. At the top there – the familiar form of Alan – who had stopped to get us back to the main group.

Downhill now, another train visible chuffing across the hillside ahead of us. Our group of four now making good progress, and before too long at all back within the fold, and most importantly now infront of those earlier passers. It is the small things. The pace now good, comfortable, but we are not hanging around either.

Trying to picture the route in our heads it is apparent that we are all agreed that we have no idea however it ends up on the A5 and heading through the Ogwen Valley, Capel Curig, Betws y Coed, then Crimea Pass and into Blaenau Ffestiniog to finish. The weather is already easing up – and the gillet off before I started is now a fine choice.

Climbing up and then down through woods with some bends that caught our attention it is on and past what appears to be the first check point.

At this point there is a bunch of shouting backward and forward, and blank expressions. Do we want to stop? Do we need to stop? Should we stop? The latter was the right one, we looped back (from now quite some way up the road) and headed down to get our little books initialled.

One man, a van, a bridge, a river, a rock, some large bottles of water, and a lot of riders.

As it turns out – we stopped, hassled the very busy man for his signature (15 mins of fame didn’t seem to be all that much fun), and ate, filled bottles, toilet, and laughed. Today was a good day.

Curiously revived from the few moments off of the bike we headed back onto the route. Now a gradual climb – which before too long rewarded us with the now wonderfully well travelled “Where’s Wally?” that is the sizeable VC Melyd banner (that has a delightful habit of turning up en route of so many events, in so many countries). More smiles, and encouraged we started to up the pace… meeting more traffic, some without engines – some with.

We are faced with the insecurity at the turn of riders coming the other way (which transpired to be a member of their group missing with a flat) – then catching back up as a group before a junction and on again.

Our still quite sizeable group is now starting to pick its way through the much narrower roads of riders…. and who should we find – much to my own surprise – but the ‘youngsters’. Clearly they were taking an easy day of it! Much mocking for being caught for the fat / old boys – and then on.

Skip forward to the A5 and the horizons darken as the scenery starts to scale up. It’s all good, but it is starting to put a strain on the group.

In my head I can see the Glyderau, Y Garn so it cannot be far.

It is – they are just big – and I am just small.

The road goes on for what appears to be an eternity. We are still passing more than passed – so in my head we are in a good place.

The scenery is stunning. The sky is that kind of blown out highlights of sun through clouds, and the road is wet enough to see but not hiss, you can smell the wet. Alas it is scenery tainted with “where is that @#!??$ lake?!” as the elastic started to stretch.

As we reached Llyn Ogwen, we were now two groups. With a visible gap. Even throttling back from the effort of the climb we were now really starting to make progress, on the front group, through and off. This was what I had pictured. It was now pretty much downhill to Betws y Coed – or so my brain was now telling me. This was strong medicine, and the VC Melyd pain train was now reaping riders at pace.

I didn’t have the best of views. You can hear the noises of others over the wind, and the occasional face as you take a turn, or as they come through. One thing you can sense is the joy. Smiles, yelps, shouts – this is golden.

As riders came into site the odd shout of “DESTROY THEM!” came from behind me somewhere. Laughter as I pulled out a camera to take some pics while the scenery was a-blur. I could do this all day – tyre noise, air noise, scenery, big gear hauling, the occasional tap of brakes, the occasional extra input – like being on rails.

Woah – woah – woah – people gathered at the side of the road ahead. Hands up and “stopping!”. Thankfully another checkpoint (which could have been clearer to be fair) as opposed to anything unpleasant. More food, a few photos, card signed, and bottles for me again – vainly going with smaller bidon’s – as my blue 500ml ones match my frame better…. the prices we pay huh? Downside meaning more refills. The incessant dripping from the peak of my cap now no longer being rain – no one wants cramp.

Having watched a bunch of people skip the sign off, and others sign and go faster than ourselves… it felt great to back on the road again, and now REALLY making progress. As we headed into Betws y Coed from Swallow Falls, we are spinning out in the big gears at 50… as a car slowly rolls out of a junction and progresses at this pace – giving us time to get organised, form up, and head safely through the buzzing town, before a right after Cotswold Camping and through the leaf arched lane beside the river. The familiar overly bark-ee dog on (an overly long) chain (of all things), and back out now to the foot of the Crimea Pass.

The Crimea Pass takes you out from just below Betws y Coed up past up through a few small towns, before breaking ground, into Snowdonia on both sides of you and the final kick.

Eight miles in all, with the last two steeper. The rapid pace slows to a meaningful one, and there is a rider, black Castelli Gabba – ahead. You know the sort. I am glancing across now at Alan. Nothing to prove, yet, unspoken – he clearly is not having that. The pace is not increasing – but its not slowing as the climb continues. I am starting to hurt a little more than I am good with and drop from the front into line, and then notice our group – again is no longer a group – but a break away – and I am about to get stuck between the group behind (somewhere I cannot see them), and infront. This – by this point – is no surprise, however it doesn’t stop it from being a lonely place to be – especially if it means no shelter.

The road wanders on, and I am caught between groups. Easing back to just uncomfortable seems to be working out just fine. I get lost in a little world of my own for a bit and I drop back to Gary and Vic as we pass through some villages, then as we gain more height and pass Dowyddelan – I am chatting away to them – to find that the rider… the riders behind me are not Vic and Gary – just some unknown free-loaders sitting in. I say nothing, and ride on.

“HOW DO!” and “GOOD EFFORT!” rally from behind me – Vic is back sans Gary this time, stamping his control on the situation as we are now onto the last two miles of the ascent … I am losing my patience here – this appears to be going on … For. Ever.

Soon enough the top as I remember it is in sight, the false plateau seeing you chunk through the gears, to scrub them off again for the last push. Vic has moved away to now sit and wait. Jolly nice chap…. until I pass then I realise hes proving he can catch me up and down hill…. we shall see about that. As I wind up the gearing I am met with a wall of air and buffeted about as we go over the top and take in the view of the slate mines and quarries below, and Blaenau Ffestiniog sat amidst all the spoil.

As the speed ramped up heading around the bends descending into the town, I catch sight of a coke can rolling down, and across the road – like a slow motion unguided missle its going to connect – so its on the brakes – and back off again … pointing it out I see Vic is right on my shoulder. Back on the gas and down down down into the town, passing other riders, and to the roundabout and through.

Suddenly it seems a bit out of place to be on the drops pushing hard to  … a car park … opposite a station … no numbers … no timing … point … we are done – we sit up and coast into the car park, and lean our bikes up on the few spare bits of wall before heading over to the desk to swap our signed cards for T-shirts, slate coasters – and probably the best tea and cake I have had in a car park.. and so the debrief began with the rest of the group.

What a fantastic day out.

 

– Signage last year was a bit of an issue – this year – bigger – which is great.

– Despite the course being clockwise and thus turns being right handers – it felt good – felt safe.

– Marshalling was great.

– People en route despite the rain in front gardens cheering us on – great stuff.

– Fantastic scenic route rain or shine – local or otherwise.

– Water in wide necked big containers (no 500ml bottles here) available at signing stops.

– Despite the A5 having an “A” in it – roads are not too busy.

– Entry fee goes to charity.

– Superbly organised given they are not a big sportive-co but a charity – hats off to them.

 

Same time – next year? Hell yes. See you there.

*In fact I will let you know when they open for sign ups.