Monday, January 30, 2012

Sport Relief

Just a short post to say that I have signed up to do some fund-raising for Sport Relief by cycling up a hill and round a couple of lakes on the Denbigh Moors. The route is a combination of three that I have done in the past and includes the challenging Peniel Hill - a 17% gradient. Lots of training for that alone. I got in a good training ride on Sunday. I'm fitter than I think after the excesses of Christmas and the New Year.

Oh yes! While I'm here I realised anew why I live and work in North Wales today. I was driving on the A55 eastbound between Llangefni and Bangor this morning. The weather was glorious and the meeting I had just been at went well. I was suddenly confronted with a panoramic view of Snowdonia, covered in a light dusting of snow and topped with cloud.

Breathtaking! Achingly beautiful and majestic! Mere words do not do it justice. Nor does the phone camera. I must remember to carry a camera with me.



Thursday, January 19, 2012


I hate winter. Don't get me wrong. I don't suffer from SAD or anything else but Winter is a time of year when the bike spends most of it's time in the garage because of the weather, because of work, because of the short hours of daylight.

I try and get out at the weekend and also try and get to the gym as often as possible. I went to the gym tonight. It was so busy there were queues!

The problem with cycling in the dark is that many of the roads around here are unlit, narrow and bendy. It doesn't matter how much high visibility kit I have, both on the bike and clothing on me, as a cyclist I am at risk. In my view (and, more importantly, my wife's) the risks are too great and so I don't go out. I don't mind the cold and rain so much and will set out in it at the weekend. The difference being that it is light and I can be seen.

Last weekend I tackled another hill that has been calling to me for some time. Now before you scoff it is not a very long and arduous climb with only 2 short Cat 5 sections but then I'm no spring chicken (coming up on the mumblemumblemumbleth anniversary of my 42nd year)  and nor am I the fittest bloke in the world so it feels good when I take on a challenge and succeed.

Here is the route...

...and it was a gloriously sunny and frosty day.

I suppose that there are some things to like about winter after all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hill madness (at least for me)!

Well, as planned I did get out yesterday after a rather prolonged Christmas break which I can only put down to sloth (I make no apology for this as we had a great Christmas and New Year). The weather is unseasonably mild for the time of year - no sign of frost although we have had plenty of gales and rain. This time last year we had had one severe cold spell and were heading for another.

I had spent the morning doing other things and watching the rain come and go 3 or 4 times. By lunchtime I had decided that I would go out and sod the weather. The rain stopped about 1.30pm so I quickly got changed and took off without a real sense of which direction I would go in.

I found myself heading up Vale Street in Denbigh with the thought that I would either go to Nantglyn or tackle my nemesis - Peniel Hill. The first decision point is at just short of 4km and I took the hard road up Peniel Hill. I have posted about this hill before and I still can't get to the top without stopping 3 or 4 times even in the granny gear! The next decision junction was the other side of Peniel Hill at 8km where I could choose to go onwards and upwards or turn right to Nantglyn. The sun was out at this point so not a hard choice really and I crossed the junction to head up to Llyn Brenig (a large reservoir). The climbing becomes easier from that point - steadily upwards but undulating giving some relief and allowing continuous progress.

The next choice came at the top of the hill and now time was a factor. Should I take the road and head home to make sure I was back in time for our daughter getting home from school or did I have time to set off round the lake on the trail. I know the Brenig - not a challenge to ride round other than a bit of mud and plenty of potholes so I unlocked the front forks and took off on the trail. I got to the Visitor Centre café just as it was closing and entered successful pleadings for a take-out cuppa! (I think they took sympathy!)

Shots of the Brenig and the bike

The lake looked very atmospheric at 3pm as the sun was heading towards the horizon. Sadly the phone camera does not do it justice. The bike looks good, all muddy against a slate wall (a personal opinion) and it is turning out to be a pretty good choice for more that just commuting.

I was home just before 4pm after thoroughly enjoying the descent back down to Denbigh (always a blast).

I plan to do a charity ride for Sport Relief and this might just be the start of the training.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

The 8th already!!?

Oh my goodness!

Here we are, well into the new year and I have not been out on the bike. My last outing was a relatively flat ride through the Vale of Clwyd on 31st December - always a treat due to the scenery, the song thrushes singing and new-born lambs in day-glo orange gillets to keep the rain off.

The route ends up in Ruthin, an historic market town and the half way point.

The road back is quite busy and there are some idiots who seem to think that bikes don't need much room. Fortunately they were few on the day so all in all it was a good ride.

I only have pathetic excuses for not getting out since last year - 60mph winds, lashing rain and hail, cold, dark when I get up and dark when I get in from work (yes I'm finally back at work after rather an extended period off) and so on.

The main motivator is the excesses of the festive period. I have put weight back on that I had previously lost. Lots of hard work is called for now.

I really will have to get out tomorrow as I have the bonus of an extra days leave left over from last year (I had miscalculated). The weather is set to be tame in comparison to the last week or so, therefore no excuses.