I have mixed emotions towards the three elements of this blog title.
Take Bumble bees for example, I can cope with them if they bumble on past me about a meter away. They’re better than wasps, worse than flies, but I can cope. I can’t, however, cope with Bumble bees crashing into my face, about 2cm from my mouth, when I’m sailing down a long hill at 30mph. The small bug felt more like a tennis ball.
Crimea pass, I can cope with when It’s a Welsh name said in passing conversation when Ryan’s talking me through the route I’m taking that day. Crimea is also an okay word when described in a sentence as “rather pleasant”. I eventually found out that Crimea Pass is actually a pretty substantial hill climb from Betws-y-coed towards Blaenau Ffestiniog.
So Saturday after work, my parents and I drove over to North Wales to see my brothers and to enable me and Ryan to get an impromptu Team Pedal training day in on the sunday. When we arrived Ryan had some bad news that he had pulled his back and it was causing him a considerable amount of pain . In the hope that it would be better in the morning we planned a 100 mile route out on the A5 towards Bala and back towards Caernarfon and home again . We talked a bit about the ride, and current training and preparation for our big ride to Switzerland as it is only 2 and a half weeks away now! It was also a great opportunity to have us all in one room discussing the finer details of day to day camping life on the trip; i.e. what kind of meals we’ll be having , what time we aim to be finished cycling for the day and how many euros we’re planning on taking the fund the trip. So all in all a good excuse for a good chin wag. We headed to bed at about midnight and set alarms for 7.45 the next morning , hoping to be out by 9am for a long ride. Sadly , Ryan’s back was no better in the morning, and was in fact a lot stiffer. After he attempted a slow climb onto the bike, he concluded that he couldn’t go out on a ride, and that I would in fact have to go out ALONE. Now, whilst I do enjoy cycling alone, it’s nowhere near as enjoyable as it with Ryan and Jen. Setting off on a long ride, it’s also much more daunting when I’m attempting it alone.
I set out on a roughly 80 mile route following the A5 down to Betws-y-coed and then following A roads in a biiiig loop around Snowdon back towards home again.
The first leg of the A5 was a little disheartening as it took me a little while to fully warm up, and I had to stop twice to adjust my cleats on my shoes. After a rocky start, I set a good pace of 15-17mph and got stuck in. I have a mini-tradition (as in I’ve now done it twice.) that I stop for a photo at Llyn Ogwen. It’s too pretty not to.
Whilst I was out on this ride, there was also a pretty major racing event taking place around Snowdonia; The Etape Eryri – The Snowdonia Sportive. Upside to this was the roads were full of cyclists and it was a really great atmosphere, at one point I was cycling down the A5 into Betws-y-coed, whilst the race was trudging uphill in the other direction which made me obnoxiously thankful ( even though I was fully aware that , to go down a hill , means at some point you WILL have to go back up). Downsides to this, I hate to say it, were that on several occasions is seemed to me that traffic assumed that ALL cyclists were travelling in that one direction, thus missing me completely and cutting me up. One traffic flow officer was actually waving a car across in front of me , and I had to shout to make her aware of my presence. By this point the car had already pulled out halfway into the road. Anyway, busy atmosphere, busy roads, all to be expected. All in valuable experience I guess. It’s safe to say as well that throughout the day I got pretty tired of doing the “Cyclist-nod” to every single cyclist who passed me. It would be rude not to, of course.
So , as I mentioned earlier, Crimea Pass…. a very, very, very, long hill from Betws-y-coed up to Blaenau Ffestiniog. To say I wasn’t expecting it would be a gross understatement. I would say “you’d have thought Ryan would’ve warned me” but really, I know better. In a way I’m glad he didn’t, I think my lack of dread, and my sudden surge of fearful energy got me partially up the pass with some optimism and vigour. I then settled into what I like to call my “all day pace” and eventually reached the top. I had to stop and take a photo part-way up , but sadly the photo doesn’t really do the pass justice.
Crimea Pass up to Blaenau Ffestiniog
I wish I could remember all the finer details of my ride, as it really was an incredible route, and although after reaching the top of crimea,I sent Ryan a text simply saying :
“” “PLEASANT” were your words!. “”
..I actually really enjoyed the whole ride.
A view of Blaenau Ffestiniog
After reaching Blaenau I stopped for an essential bagel and banana as my energy was dwindling. Had to take a picture though of the WORLDS SMALLEST BANANA : (please note, I have quite small hands as it is.)
I then went on to follow A roads into Porthmadog, Tremadog and finally Dolbenmaen before joining the national cycle route that took me to Caernarfon. I had to play some music on my phone for a little while when I was on the cycle path. I found that silence ALL day just meant that I kept on either repeating or sometimes singing Welsh town names round and round in my head. “Blaenau Ffestiniog” was a popular tune of the day.
When I reached Caernarfon (and the finish line of the race that was taking place that day) a couple of people clapped as I cycled past, thinking I was taking part in the big race around Snowdonia. I smiled sheepishly and thanked them, even though I hadn’t done even half the amount of hills that the racers had done. As I was cycling through I actually managed to spot the family out on their walk. My initial thought process was “awesome, cycling done, I’ve got a lift back”….then I realised the likelihood of that being kosher. After a quick hello, a chocolate orange ice cream and a quick dose of the awesome atmosphere of the aftermath of the race at the finish line I was back on my bike for the final 11 miles of my route. The sky was cloudy, it was attempting the rain and the green fly population was rapidly increasing.
I finished the day with two hills up from Tregarth towards Racub. Put every last ounce of energy into it, and ended the day pleased with what I’d done. My story concludes to this wonderful , wonderful ending. After cycling the 75 ish miles, it was ALL worth it because when I got home I had the promise of Luke’s speciality CHOCOLATE PECAN PIE waiting for me. YUM. Now that I can definitely cope with!!!
The days ride was awesome, North Wales really is stunning, and I think that every time I visit it. Sunday’s ride was a huge achievement for me as it was the longest distance I’ve done alone without:
A) Getting lost B) Falling off my bike C) Ending up in the wrong city
So, overall, a good day, and great prep for the trip.
I have Wednesday off work , so I’m planning a ride for that . Then this Saturday I’m running my 10K race for life with my friend, Lauren. Riding sunday will be interesting after the run, but it uses different muscles, so I’ll probably prefer cycling to walking anyway ! Then it’ll be the weeks rest before the Switzerland trip. It’s all coming around SO FAST!