NWCR Circle Of Hope 2015

NWCR Circle Of Hope 2015

The FWC was looming. I had two centuries under my belt this year – a chunk of climbing, and this was going to be my last chance to get miles in my legs before The Daddy. The NWCR Circle of Hope is an event well attended by the club – and there had been a fair amount of ‘who is going / how are you getting there?‘ in the weeks leading up to it.

The 100 route takes in a some great scenery, through North Wales and Cheshire.

Come the morning the sky is dark, the rain is hammering down, and one by one we the Facebook thread increments with “not going” responses.

A group of three of us ventured over to Hope, windscreen wipers busy as we rolled into the school car park. Seeing another club member, we did the obvious thing, drove over to him, while his head was in the boot of his car, real close, real quiet and sounded the horn. Oh yes. He was pleased to see us.

The discussion turned to what we thought the weather would be doing – and “the sun will dry us” became the quasi-religious mindless chant for the day. Sure, we were going to get wet, but the sun will come out, and as long as we stay warm it should be fine.

Bikes out, clothing decisions, pockets filled, good to go. Not too cold – but wet.

Registration, and the wonder that is ‘Sportive Toilet’. Emerging eyes watering in the rain, Strava started, and off we go. No numbers, just coloured tags on our bikes and bright hospital bracelet style tags for food stops.

It was ‘orrible. The rain was still falling. The winter bike was the right choice for the day.

The ride started off with a slow climb, as we ascended the rain lightened, but was replaced by drizzle, as we headed up into the low cloud.

Heading up to the roundabout at the turn for the Horseshoe Pass was the first time we knew where we were, and as we descended towards Corwen – the cloud started to clear, and moments of sunshine.

The turn back took us back alongside the Dee. The river valley kicking up and down, the narrower back road still wet, muddy, graveled, but it was a lot better than driving rain. The sunshine certainly lifted our spirits.

Air Cadets in their crisp packet jackets (how I do not miss those) and woolen trousers stood around a table stacked with water bottles in the light rain. Bottles filled. Thank you. This being said – it must have been wasteful to be handing out so many 500ml bottles – lets see those familiar barrel types next year? Less recycling, less energy.

The up started as we headed over the foot of the Horseshoe Pass, and we stopped on the other side to try and reduce layers and refuel. Gary – fully layered up after his hyperthermic Cheshire Cat finds a safe place to ferret away a coat he was wearing as an extra layer. Then on towards the ford.

Okay – so, lets be straight. A *lot* of people have slipped and fallen crossing the ford at World’s End. The big difference with me is that I was caught on video doing as much. Nice. One of those things you do not live down 🙂 Nine times out of ten we cross it in the other direction. It is quite a climb to get up to that point, and then over. I reach there to see Mat on the other side with his GoPro running. “Oh how I laughed” : /  The stepping stones had moved with the water, and it looks as if it had been recently de-mossed. However it was still as grippy as greased PTFE bearings on sheet ice. Teetering across the climb on the other side up through the trees is quite steep but nothing too troublesome.

Clearing the trees you remember that the ascent continues for quite a way before turning to the right and skirting along the tops of the moor. Then the pace picks up, as the gradient increases, down to the sudden left turn and the main road… this thankfully did not come as a surprise to me – however there were no real warnings for those who may have been ‘making progress’.

That was it really – the climbing is done, and the last 50 miles is flattish. That sounds great doesn’t it? Right up to the point the wind gets up, and you are now riding flat open exposed roads in the wind.

The latter half of the ride was a lot harder than it should have been.

With the climb up to the finish we were pretty much done. Wearing too many layers, too warm, and getting warmer riding into wind and little in the way of shelter.

Met at the finish by Sally – we collapsed, sat around, felt a bit sorry for ourselves. The route ran up short at 93 miles – but we felt absolutely no need to do a further 7 miles. We were cooked – literally. Too far too warm.

Most memorably we popped over the road for a beer to join a group of people dressed as Romans. Yes, really, Romans – as in SPQR Roman. On the up side, they had marched from Chester – and they looked considerably more spent than we did : D

The route was good, the company was good, the charity is worthy – it is a shame the weather spoilt the start, and meant that so few took part. I look forward to next year.

Circle Of Hope ride 2015 Route

Circle Of Hope ride 2015 Route

Give or take 152km of forward, 1790m of up – and plotted on STRAVA by none other than Darren Wareing – weather asides – what on earth is holding you back?! This year’s Circle of Hope ride – heads out of Hope and around anti-clockwise. Leeswood, Treuddyn, and generally downhill towards Corwen before hanging a left to follow the Dee Valley East. Crossing the road that leads up to the Horseshoe Pass, and on up and over the ford and up The Worlds End, dropping down the other side into Minerva, and onwards descending to Bangor-on-Dee. Malpas, No Man’s Heath, and rounding back to the West at Beaston. Alford, Holt, Rosett, and back to hope, with a no doubt unwelcome ascent into the finish.

Lets hope the weather does not put too many people off. Registration (site showing register on the day now) from 7am – start for the 100mile at 8am. See you there 😀

circle_of_hope_profile_2015

Circle of Hope ride

Circle of Hope ride

The Circle of Hope ride is a local charity event that’s been greatly supported by our local cycling clubs since it started. It offers a great 100 mile route.

There are other route options. It’s on the 3rd of May. VCM and RCC always have a good showing. We could treat it as an “extra” away day for the club, both Sunday ride groups as there is a 50 mile option too.

I’m in. Who else is?” — Darren Wareing

The weather is due to be on the moist side – however the event is for raising funds for North West Cancer Research. Routes are 10, 50 and 100 miles taking in Cheshire and North Wales. The event starts and finishes at Castell Alun High School, Hope.

While the weather is indeed looking moist the entry fee could be looked on as having ‘paid to stay dry’ (something those attending this years Cheshire Cat would appreciate being VERY worth while) and in the process the added warm feeling of having supported a local charity.

For more information and entry – visit the CIRCLE OF HOPE website.

Circle Of Hope 100mile – Sunday 4th may 2014

Circle Of Hope 100mile – Sunday 4th may 2014

I have to admit I am sentimental about the Circle of Hope ride, since it was the first sportive I did when I started cycling 2 years ago. At that time, the idea of cycling 50 miles with over 4000ft of climbing seemed a real challenge. The friendly nature of the ride, coupled with the chance to raise some money for a good cause (North West Cancer Research) has brought me back again and again.

Offering 2 distances (50 and 100 mile) it starts in Hope and wends its way over the tops past Llandegla: sweeping descents to Corwen, before turning up towards Minera and the ford at Worlds End. Descend the other side and you have a choice: back to Hope for the shorter 50 miles; or onward over the flat Cheshire plain for the (allegedly) 100 mile route. This year approx 250 riders, with a fair smattering of Melyd and other local clubs were ready at the start. The motorcycle outriders and police escort mean it’s a fast start as people surge to the front (which is the last I see of Alan and Darren before the finish).

As the ascents start, it’s a question of keeping in the bunch and saving your energy. That and avoiding the wheel of the idiot in front who clearly cannot hold a line or keep a steady pace. I consider sharing my opinion with him, but he is quite large and might come in useful for drafting later on, so I stay silent and drop back an inch or two.

 

The miles pass quickly in a group, and soon we are making our way up to World’s End. I have done it several times but it’s always longer than you remember. Just as I’ve had enough, an ambulance hovers into view. Ah yes, the ford is upon us. To cycle or not to cycle that is the question, whether it is nobler to glide through and risk an unceremonious dunking, or just get off and walk. I decide on the latter, just as a guy walking across in cleats shows that even this is not without peril and nearly comes a cropper.

Then its back on the bike for the short and steep ascent over the cattle grid. Relief that you’ve now done all the climbing gives way to terror/ exhilaration of the fast descent back down .

Then its right onto the Cheshire plain. Sally Donna and Gary are waiting at the bottom (yes I am a cautious descender) and off we go for a flattish 50 miles. A group from Fibrax Wrexham are in front and we latch onto their chain. In their slipstream we average over 20mph, and we’re loving it. A few miles further on however , and the legs are starting to complain. Luckily Malpas and the second feed station are in sight – the guy manning it looks surprised when a hoard of locusts eats everything in the back of his car, tyre jacks not withstanding

No time to delay, Donna wants to get back to take Boris for a walk, so we are all flat out trying to chase her down. No time for a stop at the ice cream farm this year. But the result is we are back at the finish in just over 6 hours (15.5 mph average – best ever).

But, But, my garmin says only 96.4 miles done – clearly the course setter is a man and prone to exaggeration. There’s nothing for it, I’m going to have to keep going, which is why had you visited Mold on Sunday you would have seen me riding in circuits round Tesco’s car park, before shouting “Yes , 100!”

If you’re thinking of doing a sportive or charity ride, Circle of Hope is a great one to start, small friendly and with a course that allows you to decide on the day between the 50 or 100 miles. See you next year!

Written by Sarah Overson