WILD WALES CHALLENGE 2003.
Once again Phil and I decided to have a long weekend away in the caravan to include the WWC on Sunday 24th August. We travelled down on Thursday to a small caravan site at the south end of Lake Bala. Friday was wet all day so we didn't venture out on the bikes (we needed dry shoes for Sunday). Saturday also dawned dull and damp but we had arranged to meet Rob Sharpe, Ray McCarthy, Bob & Joan Grainger, Gerald Atkinson (the Grainger's brother in law) and Rob Dickinson (Gerald's son in law) at Cefn-brith, Cerrigydrudion, Nr Bala.
The Graingers were staying with Ray in his two berth caravan (ooh er Mrs!) in Betws-y-coed and Rob S. had arranged for the rest of the group (plus Dave Cane - who arrived later) to stay at Tyddyn Bychan (a Deluxe Bunkhouse).
With the weather looking ominous (but very warm) we pedalled 2.4 miles (must be a record) for lunch at Cerrigydrudion. After much discussion a circumnavigation of Llyn Brenin was decided upon and we 'managed' another 15 miles before afternoon tea at the visitor centre. It was then only a couple of miles back to the Bunk house but both Gerald and I had punctures ( and ruined tyres) on this stretch.
Rob had arranged with Lynda (at the Bunkhouse) that we would all eat there. Lynda catered well for all our different tastes and we all went our separate ways about 10pm having arranged to meet in Bala at 8am the following morning.
After meeting as arranged and
signing on, we left Bala about 9am heading NW along (and up) a
tiny lane to turn right onto the B4501. Pete Levene (who had
driven down from Stockport that morning) and Dave were doing 'their
own thing' although we kept meeting up with them on route. Along
here for a couple of miles we then took the first left, climbed
before dropping down to a sharp left turn, following this lane
with a nasty little kick on the next junction. With a right
and a left we were met with another steep climb. This is where
I first resorted to 'Shanks Pony'. After a short walk and back
on my bike we continued climbing before dropping down a very dirty
lane then green lane to Rhydlydan and along hilly lanes to Ysbyty
Ifan, crossed the B4407 (more hills) and just before reaching
the A5 we took a left to later cross the B4406 and cycled along
'Fairy Glen' into Betwys and the first 'control'. Joan (who wasn't
taking part in the challenge) was here to meet us to see how we
were going on. In the queue for the 'check in' was Will Wright.
He'd ridden down from Hazel Grove that morning (92 miles) was
riding the WWC (82 miles) and then riding home straight after
We were quite late leaving Betws and with the long steep climb up the back lane (more walking for a couple of us) we started to get concerned about timing. We were continually splitting up and regrouping on the climbs with Rob S. leading us. Ray had 'done' this lane on Friday and warned us about the drop back down to the A5. The next stretch was more to my liking and very pleasant along the river and once we had emerged back onto the A5 again we made the decision to stop for lunch at a nearby cafe/petrol station/outdoor shop. Here Phil bought himself a pair of 'amphibious shoes'. Something he didn't know he needed till now!
Leaving the cafe, refreshed and replenished, we knew we had to get a move on and at 1.30pm we had two hours until the Porthmadog 'control' closed. No time for any mishaps. It was from here that Gerald decided to continue with Pete and Dave. The drop down the A498 past Llyn Gwynant was wonderful and with Rob S, Rob D and Bob G ahead of me I continued past the left turn at Nantgwynant only to find them pedalling back up the hill. Turning round we discovered, from a lady sat on a gate at the junction, that the others (behind us) had taken the right road (Ray knew the route). After the long drop my legs would not get me up the next three little lumps but I eventually caught Rob D, Bob and Ray at the 'Secret Control'. Phil had gone on thinking we were ahead but, eventually realising that we must somehow have been behind him, waited at the next junction.
It was a nice tail wind along the next stretch and we arrived in Porthmadog with half an hour to spare. Having eaten lunch earlier we were able to continue straight on (and up). Yet another walk for me on the long steep climb. I was, however, not alone. We all regrouped in Gellilydan at the last 'control' before splitting to continue on. What a lovely lane (walking) past the Roman Amphitheatre and (cycling) back down to the A470. It was on the next stretch that Phil told the others to 'go on' without us as there was no way I could keep up and the B4391 seemed to go on forever up. What a relief when I reached the long drop to the A4212. Although I knew what a lovely lane the last stretch was I couldn't face the steep climb part way along it - so opted for the main road back as I was exhausted. The downside to the 'A' road was the amount of traffic and it was about a mile further.
We made it back about 7pm to the
welcome snack and plaque, the last of our group.
Bob & Joan were going back to Ray's caravan, Phil and I went back to ours and the rest of the group had a long drive home. Thanks, Rob S, for organising us all again and next year I will make sure I am fitter!