The 2012 season has started.
Two of the SBR team headed out into the wilderness of North Wales this week to strike a blow against fairweather cyclists, to lay down the gauntlet of rides to come and to stretch those underworked winter legs.
Amazingly the intrepid duo managed to choose possibly the only dry day in the whole April on which to tackle the climb of Horseshoe Pass plus a few rolling miles in the Llangollen area.
The route mapping proved the biggest issue of the day. I had suggested Horseshoe Pass simply because I knew it was in the North Wales area and not due to any knowledge of the terrain. Paul had a rudimentary print-out of a route suggested by a work colleague but I think he assumed I had something in mind. We had also hoped to be joined by Garmin-touting team mates so not too much effort had been put into knowing exactly where we were going assuming the bike sat nav would do the job.
As it turned out on the day it was just Paul, Chris and a crumpled piece of paper with very few, and extremely small details on it ( my name is Chris and I'm a presbyope). The pre-ride highlight was the look on Paul's face when we compared gears. I had a compact chainring on the front and a 12-28 on the back. Paul had the kind of ratios Chris Hoy pushes around the velodrome -- he was always going to have the moral victory ( not that it was a competition).
The scenery around Llangollen is stunning and the Horseshoe Pass looms above it. Despite that we still had to ask at reception how to get to the start and we were given directions to join the climb. A few hundred yards on the A5 took us down a side road over a fantastic stone bridge and straight onto the climb. Both Paul and I commented that we could have done with a bit more flat before the hard work started. But start it did and it just kept on going.
As it turned out the climb wasn't too bad, a few sharp sections but overall a long, but steady, incline. Green woods became moorland and finally slate scree as the road wound its way up. I went on ahead to find a small track I had read was a real leg-breaker,I wasn't too sure what I was looking for and I think Paul was keen for something a little flatter following the climb so we decided to carry along the main route.
The rest of the ride snaked through the area with what seemed like more descending than climbing. Frequent stops to study the map followed,this was just as well as the hills were sharp and regular. The countryside never disappointed and the weather even let the sun through as we arrived back at the lunch stop with some good miles under our belts and a satisfying tiredness in our legs. Thanks to Paul for organising a great day on the bike.