Saturday 28 May 2011

Xtra bank holiday ride to Llangollen

Just sometimes I plan an extra ride, if the weather looks particularly good, or if there is an appropriate cycling event happening, or if I just feel the need for some hills.  The latter caused me in May to call upon the ladies to see if anyone wanted to join me on a tootle into Wales, and specifically to Llangollen.

A few people politely declined (I am keeping a note of all these excuses!), but Sue and Lisa agreed to join in.

Jenny & Sue climb lower mountain
I met Sue at the Roodee, at 9:30.  Not a bad starting location.  We set off out along Lache Lane to Kinnerton, where we met Jenny - taking her new bike out for spin but with no particular plans.  Imagine her joy when I suggested she join us (at least to the cafe in Caergwrle) which meant she had to climb back up all the hills she had just sailed down (well, she did want to get used to her new gears!).

Therefore three of us met Lisa at the cafe (a new one for the ladies and not as far out as I thought, so it will be on the list for a 'normal' Saturday ride!). 

Tudor House Cafe, Caergwrle
Twas a damp and breezy day, Jenny and Sue could not stay out, so Lisa and I pedalled off towards Cefn (Y Bedd) and turned right up the road past Ffrith (known to cyclists as 'the steps').  Coats on and off intermittently, rain had actually ceased by the time we were near Bwlchgwyn, and across to Minera.

One more hill (!!) brought us on to the top of Worlds End, where hills gave way to a brutal headwind!  Bleak is another description!!!

Sue riding into the wind on Worlds End

We dropped through the Ford and took the panorama road to pass Castell Dinas Bran, before dropping to the Wharf Cafe on the canal.  At this point the sun came out!!  We were able to sit outside and enjoy the warmth with a spot of lunch.

Rocky cliffs of Worlds End

Lisa heading to Dinas Bran (centre pic)

at the Wharf Cafe above Llangollen

The canal leading out of Llangollen
We followed the canal (saved dropping to the main road, which can also be quite busy) and rejoined just as the canal goes under the road.  We headed up past Vale Crucis Abbey and the Britannia pub, and steadily climbed the Horseshoe Pass, stopping once for a photo (and enjoying being pushed up the second half by the same roaring wind which was now on our backs!).

Lisa on the last bit of the Horseshoe Pass

Another short break at The Ponderosa, before dropping spectacularly down the other side.  I remembered a small gated road that cuts out the main road, roundabout and a particularly nasty junction; so we followed that, comparing sheep and enjoying the extremely quiet lane!  As we rejoined the main road (and Lisa realised where we were!), we were able to be blown over the Llandegla Moors and then drop over the other side past Treuddyn and home.

I did 57 miles from home - but, believe me, they were QUALITY miles!!!!!

Sunday 15 May 2011

Plagued with Punctures!

13 at the cafe, puncture No.1 fixed
It is bad enough to experience a puncture when out of a ride, but to have one (or two) before you even set off is just darned unlucky!  So began our May ride, with a first timer and her flat front tyre.  Jean leapt to the rescue, and I left them to find and fix the hole while I attended to the next mechanical question - Angela arrived mudguard in hand!  It had 'fallen off', so we just took it off and left it with the cafe to pick up at a later time (good excuse to come out to the cafe!).
After the puncture was found and fixed, we set off - but most unfortunately Jean now had a flat tyre.  She waved us on - but in retrospect I should've told her to meet us in Waverton - just didn't think - so this is my public apology - sorry Jean, I will buy you a cup of tea next time to make up for it!

Joining the canal near Vicars Cross
I had a plan b and c in case of rain, and the wind was strong so was not sure how we would get on. We set off up the canal, and followed it out past Waverton (joining the road at Eggbridge), until Jane (another one!) also had a puncture.  I sent the ladies ahead with Marvellous Moira while we attacked Jane's puncture.  As we crossed the canal at Golden Nook (I love the way all our canal bridges have names - is that just a local thing?) we found Emma, Jane and Jo attending to Jane's second puncture.  (We have had words about this!!).

It was just getting so complicated, as now the other 7 girls had pedalled off into the distance of Tattenhall.  I left the four with directions to 'stay together and follow the road!' while I bombed ahead to find them.  With the tailwind I was averaging about 21-22 mph!  However, I was also conscious how strong the wind was (that we would have to head into to return), and that the time was getting later, so I ditched plan a (we will try that another time) and reverted to plan b which was to head to Old Ma's.

Finally we all landed at Old Ma's, and enjoyed a variety of refreshments before some headed back.

Heads down into the wind at Gatesheath

...and on towards Bruera.

We, the main group - now 8 of us - returned via crossing the A41 and into Bruera and Saighton.  Stopping at the top of the hill by Abbeygate College there is a lovely view across to Eaton Hall. And the sun was out!

View to Eaton Hall across the fields.

21 miles.  4 punctures.  No rain!

Sunday 1 May 2011

Fabulous Belles on a Treasure Hunt

It is such a long time between rides i thought I would blog about the Treasure Hunt Janet and I did on 30th April.

Organised by one of the ladies from Wrexham Group (and also currently secretary of Chester and North Wales CTC) I know it would be a good (difficult and challenging!) Treasure Hunt.

Diane leaving Expresso Cafe
 So, bright and early on a Saturday morning following a certain wedding, I caught the 8:22 Cardiff train first stop Wrexham.  A couple of miles back roads brought me to Gwersyllt, and the Expresso cafe - as good a start as any to a days riding!  As more people arrived, I noted Janet (esteemed leader of Bicycle Belles) crossing the car park, and we agreed to partner up for the treasure hunt.

View to Beeston from Gresford lanes

Sue and Janet enjoy a break between events
 The route was pleasant, the weather glorious, and the clues devious!  We got most of them right (despite having an answer for everything - no comment!), and came second out of the four teams (teams of two).

Noting the number on the postbox
 Many lanes were retraced in the afternoon map reading.  Janet left me and I joined forces with a couple of friends (although it should be completed alone).  The idea is simple - you are given a list of map co-ordinates (24 of them), which you have 15 minutes to plot on your map and decide a route to visit as many as you can.  The locations were all post boxes, so easy to spot as bright red!  All are worth at least a point - some up to 5 points!   We didn't really enter as we rode together but it was most pleasant and we got 18 points!  I had an advantage as I knew the lanes very well, so could quickly navigate between points, but a strong headwind made us rethink the points we were aiming for.  You only have two hours to complete the challenge, which is not long!

This is the first map reading comp I have taken part in locally, and I think I have devised some strategies for next time. 

Many thanks to Lowri for the time and effort put in to devising both competitions, and look forward to next years events!