It was looking promising as I arrived at the car park in lashing rain. The plan was to ride on the road circumnavigating the forest on rough and hilly minor roads, then riding a full lap of the LLandegla red trail. The road route was going to be unforgiving in the best of conditions and the horizontal rain promised an interesting time on the Pulsium, followed by fun, flowing and technical singletrack on the XR729. Combining road and MTB within one ride in winter was the whole point, creating a single long strava segment, requiring two bikes - though what the end result would be is anyone’s guess.
I got ready, dressed for around 3.5 hours of rain and wind, started the Garmin and rolled out onto the main road. The water was lying an inch deep in places and as I turned onto the climb over Horsehoe pass I hit a block headwind. I love headwinds. Seriously, they feel like climbs and climbs are a good thing.
It was slow progress into the wind, and cresting the pass as I turned down the old pass, the wind was moving me everyway but forward. A couple of gusts shifted me a meter sideways and it was a relief to get into the valley, though I new it was a valley I had to climb out of and I know what a nasty little climb that was going to be.
I cursed a cow. Stuck in the middle if road, the farmer was moo’ving it to a different field and I felt the average speed plummet. Once moving through a beautiful wooded valley, alongside a mountain stream, I started to climb, then reached the site where I’d witnessed carnage during Etape Cymru. A ford across the stream was only a few inches deep but the algae coated rock slab underneath was like sheet ice. On the sportive, numerous riders were ending up on their arse in the water and I rode cautiously, not wanting to be any more damp than I was.
A steep ramp led onto a bleak mountain plateau, with thick fog and still lashing rain. I loved the conditions and pushed on onto more familiar roads, past the sign for ‘Worlds End’. It was indeed nigh, only 20 minutes or so until I could get onto the MTB part of the ride.
I rolled into the car park, soaked on the outside, dry and buzzing on the inside, then started the bike swap. You know how it is when you have a new bike. You prod and poke and fiddle with unfamiliar bits. As I put the rear maxle in and started to tighten it, nothing was happening. Panic ensued as I thought I’d stripped the thread. On inspection, something didn’t look right. A quick look from the trail shop mechanic confirmed that a crucial part of the droput was missing. I knew where it was likely to be – on the driveway at home. A call to the local Lapierre dealer drew a blank. No MTB section, and an extra 3 hrs in the car before I reached that night’s accommodation. That’s if I could find the bike part.
I drove up to the house, before I reached the front, I could see a little black bit of alloy that I’d botched out of the frame. Game on, two hard days ahead. While I fitted the insert, I threw some clothes in the dryer. Fifteen minutes later I was back in the car for the drive to North Wales, for the second time that day. To cap the negative, the rain had obscured the Garmin screen and I’d not started the record function. On a positive note, it means I get to go back to Llandegla for a second attempt. Round and About #1, take two. Watch this space.