Around The Block


Hi folks

Yesterday I took the bike out for a spin ‘around the block’; not just any block, but a 30 mile loop. But I call it around the block, as frankly, it’s one of the shortest routes I can do here as there’s no crossing them there mountains once you’re in ’em. Here’s the route.

I decided today to thrash myself by cycling up the St Annes hill. This is a steep little bugger and if you are going to attack it, there’s a good chance your breakfast will be on the tarmac before you even reach the top, but it’s quicker than going around through another little village called Tregarth and up the less steep climb. It doesn’t start off great because the surface as you turn into the road is pretty rubbish and no amount of pot-hole-dodging will give you a good line. But it’s straight up as you turn into it and there’s pretty much no let up and according to my Veloview stats of the climb, it has an average gradient of 9.1% with a maximum of 41%. Well, I’m not sure how realistic that maximum is, but after all, it is extracted from GPS data and it is pretty damn steep in places! I’m also pleased, as I went from 34th to 7th place on Strava for the climb. I’m no Strava slave by any means, but I do feel quite smug about that 🙂

After reaching the top of the 0.9 mile St Annes climb, I carried on spinning quite hard to get up to the top of the entire climb; I wasn’t working 100%, but I was pushing quite hard. I planned on stopping for a minute to get the following panorama shot. This was taken with eight portrait images, stitched in Photoshop:

Pain is worth the view...
Pain is worth the view…

To counter the fact I just posted a rather splendiferous view, I will now post an image of me demonstrating how I was feeling after the climb. I apologise if I put you off your dinner:

Somewhat shafted.
Somewhat shafted.

I had some fun now to descend down into the village of Deiniolen. I turned left down a nice fast road, narrowly avoiding a couple of families out for a walk with their small humans wandering all over the road. And making no attempt to warn them of my incoming, if-I-hit-your-child-I-may-kill-them-speed, down the hill. Thank goodness for my very effective brake pads and my amazing bike handling skills. I dropped down through the village and on the roller-coaster road of Clwt y Bont, praying that its godawful surface didn’t destroy my rims and kidneys.

Turning left on to the main road, I free wheeled down to Brynrefail to make a very quick detour for another photo; it’s amazing I get any cycling done really but at least when I am moving, I work quite hard. That’s one reason why I cycle alone most of the time, as I wouldn’t want to slow people down or have them complaining that I’m taking photos; the way I see it, you can combine a good bike ride and workout as well as appreciate the scenery. And I think you’ll agree, we have some of the best scenery in the UK:

The stunning view over Llyn Padarn to Snowdon and the Llanberis Pass. Quite possibly one of the most photographed places in Wales and justifiably so.
The stunning view over Llyn Padarn to Snowdon and the Llanberis Pass. Quite possibly one of the most photographed places in Wales and justifiably so.

And my bike also wanted a piece of the action:

She feels better now.
She feels better now.

After making my way along from here and along ‘tunnel bends’ and its current road works (why they can’t fix the entire road surface is beyond me, as in some places when heading north on it, we cyclists have to take dangerous lines that force us into traffic, otherwise, we’ll fall into potholes and end up in Australia), I plod through a very busy Easter holidays Llanberis to ready myself to climb up to Pen y Pass, a climb that is approximately four miles, depending on who has added the segment on Strava, that is…

Here is a shot I took whilst moving as I approach the last village before entering the Pass proper:

Nant Peris. Crib Goch (right) and Glyder Fawr (left) rise up on either side.
Nant Peris. Crib Goch (right) and Glyder Fawr (left) rise up on either side.

Those eagle eyed locals amongst you will notice that there is something missing from the shot. No? I removed the 30 mph speed limit sign as I didn’t like it. What do you mean you never pay attention to the speed limits? 😉

I was going quite well, and pushing along in big ring until just before arriving at Cromlech where I was forced to drop into my 34. I decided to video it on my camera, as I’m a pauper who cannot afford a GoPro. It’s actually pretty hard to climb up a gradual ascent with a camera in your hand and in a large gear. It’s not very exciting, but it gives the folks that are not local an idea of what it’s like to cycle into the Pass of Llanberis; bearing in mind, this is the bottom…

Eventually, after much puffing and sweating and crying (not really, I don’t cry) I reached the top, where I turned around and shot another quick panorama back down the road:

Pass of Llanberis. Crib Goch is the mountain on the left, that a lot of tourists confuse with Snowdon.
Pass of Llanberis, 350m/1,148ft. Crib Goch, 928m/3,028ft is the mountain on the left, that a lot of tourists confuse with Snowdon. It is also the wettest place in Britain. Not today though.

I descended down the other side and turned left, straight into the pretty cold northerlies that were blowing today, so that put paid to any fast spin across to Capel Curig. I turned up into the Ogwen valley with the wind still in my face (Ogwen wouldn’t have it any other way) and just stayed in a manageable gear to get me across to the other end where I wanted to take one more picture of Tryfan. This is one of the few mountains in the UK that has to be climbed with the use of hands and feet, pretty continuously all the way up to its 918m/3,012ft summit, where you will no doubt get the urge to jump across from Adam to Eve. Don’t fall though, I don’t want to have to come and rescue you:

The view from the top of Nant Ffrancon on Pen y Benglog. This mountain is stunning from any direction.
The view from the top of Nant Ffrancon on Pen y Benglog. This mountain is stunning from any direction.

Naturally, the wind was still in my face as I descended down to my village, so I couldn’t really get my average back up and to be honest, I couldn’t be bothered, as I just cannot stand riding into wind. It just annoys me and makes me swear.

Hope you enjoyed looking at these images today. I’m going up a mountain tomorrow, so I will have something different in a couple of days.

Cheers.

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