Well it was with no small amount of nervousness last night that my wife and I went along to our local Energy Cycles club ride. It was my wife’s first and I hadn’t been along for about a hundred years, so was looking forward to it. As the rabble all gathered out the front of the sports centre in Pen y Groes, young and old(er), it was clear that there would be some division with regards to ride speeds. It’s good etiquette to discuss the kinds of expected pace prior to setting out, so nobody gets ‘dropped’ (left behind) or conversely if the ‘slower’ ride is too slow for you, you’d get bored and bugger off.
So after some discussion, we divided into two groups and rode off into the sunset.
Not really. Besides, we were heading east.
We all headed off in the same direction in a quite frankly huge gathering of riders, which would cause quite major problems for the less patient drivers out there, especially on the roads we were following. The fast group sped off as my group strung out along the road; there must have been around 25 of us, so it was a really good turn out. We were heading for the Drws y Coed Pass, where we would have to climb up and over to drop down into the village of Rhyd Ddu, with grand views of Snowdon the whole way. The road rolls along nicely before Nantlle, especially as the road has been re-surfaced in the past year, so we flew along. I decided it was high-time for an on the bike photo:
I hung around at the back with my wife, but after getting the go ahead from a friend (thank you Garry Ellis), I pushed a little harder to catch up with the others; a good climb will always sort the men from the boys! I’m clearly still a boy.
We all arranged to stop at the Rhyd Ddu train station (not a major railway) to re-group. We stood around nattering, as you do, and I was starting to get hunger pangs, despite having quite a large plate of pasta before leaving home. I suppose I already had burnt some off though, as I’d ridden from Bethesda to the start point of the ride, which is 28km/18 miles in addition to the route we’d be riding. So I munched on an SiS Go bar, whilst feeling sorry for Dave Owen and his five Jaffa cakes, as he hadn’t eaten before leaving home.
There’s a nice view from here, looking at the east end of the Nantlle Ridge (a fantastic mountain walk) with Y Garn’s steep northern nose dropping down into the pass below, with Mynydd Mawr’s bulk looming up on the right:
From here we all grouped up again, as an impatient bus driver decided to honk us all out of the way; personally, I thought his honks were less of a “hey, large square shoe-box shaped vehicle behind you” and more of a “I’m an impatient t**t who can’t stand cyclists on a straight section of road, that I can over-take easily“. But hey, there you go. We are as considerate as possible on the roads, with the guys at the back warning those in the centre and front of approaching vehicles, so we can bunch up allowing people to over-take safely; it’s actually safer for you to over-take when we are all bunched up, than when it is for you to attempt it when we’re strung out in a long line. So next time you encounter a big bunch of cyclists, please think before you over-take and please do so carefully, for your own safety as well as ours 🙂
After we’d descended down into the village of Beddgelert, we made our way south towards Tremadog and this is where the pace usually picks up, as it can be a very fast road, and it’s been re-surfaced! I was certain my wife was being looked after by other riders, so I got my head down with the others and started to put the hammer down; some recovery ride this was turning out to be! The pace really picked up now, but on hitting a little lump, my friend John gave me a little nudge up with his hand (it’s important to try and maintain the pace if you choose to go with it); John is super-fit to be honest! After my little nudge, I thought “Sod it” and went for it. I hadn’t ridden at this pace for a long time so I knew it’d hurt, but I’m glad to say I’ve still got it in my legs, even if my chest and head were disagreeing! I eventually pulled through to the front and did the work for a while until I decided I was too knackered to continue, and slowed down as we reached Eric’s Café; who just happened to be closing up for the day as we sped past.
We continued on to join the A487 and then turned right onto a minor and quiet road, that climbed up quite a way before becoming more rolling and fast; not a single car. Unfortunately, I suffered with a puncture along here, but had help from Garry and Derek (who just wanted to test out his new pump, really 😉 ). Normally, I’d get my tyre on with a little help from a lever, taking care not to pinch the tube, but instead all three of us had our thumbs on the tyre at the same time to force it over the rim; thankfully nobody drove past as it must’ve looked quite amusing – how many cyclists does it take to put a tyre back on? Three!
Further along, we became blocked by road works, but usually these can be navigated around as long the works are not too major:
I caught up the group who’d been savaged by midges, but after here it fragmented a lot, which unfortunately caused some confusion and concern as some of us joined the cycle track across the road, whilst the others including my wife, carried on along the road down towards Nazareth. A few of us hung around to wait, as I shared half my banana with Dave Owen, who was no doubt dying of starvation as his stomach tried to eat his liver, but not long after he went home.
I got a call back from the wife, who somehow had arrived back at the car with the others! So, I left Derek and the others who made for Caernarfon, whilst I turned back towards Pen y Groes and my waiting wife, who had some much needed Haribo Tanfastics! I was glad of not having to ride another 18 miles to Bethesda…
It was a great club ride, if a little fast; so definitely not what I’d call a recovery ride, in the true sense of the word. Well done to everyone who came along, and especially to my wife, who’s average speed rose quite considerably having to keep up with us lot! So we treated ourselves to biscuits and Frijj milkshakes at Tesco. Ahhh, much better 🙂
See you next time.