Striving over the Seven Gates

Road cycling in Dolgellau, Wales.

The Bank Holiday came around and we were off to Dolgellau again. Even with plenty of rain forecast, I couldn’t wait to get back to the Welsh mountains. That’s the thing I suppose when you go west in Wales, you go from hills to mountains. Jagged skylines and the weather making its way across to you by rolling over the peaks. Sunshine one moment and grey skies the next. Even in shorts you need to make sure you’re carrying a waterproof jacket!

With a fairly late start (after a much needed lie in!) we were heading off on our bikes. We being me, Ryan, Cheri & Neil. I knew of certain climbs and roads we’d be doing, but only names. No real idea of what lay ahead, apart from a fairly big day out on the road bikes. Although I certainly didn’t expect it to be the furthest I’d been on a road bike to date…

Cycling, Wales
After a fair bit of main road, with a few country lanes to begin with, we were heading towards a road named the ‘Seven Gates’. Aptly named due to the 7 gates along it…however there may only now be 5. The further we went the more feet of climbing we’d gain under our belts with the views across the Rhinog mountains revealing themselves. Little lambs dancing around the fields with little bleats as their mothers went out of their sight.

I was a bit of a nightmare to ride with to be honest due to my body temperature constantly changing. Going up the climbs I just could not keep my core temperature down. Forever trying to figure out the best combination of clothes so I could actually just keep riding!

As the Rhinog mountains dominated the skyline, I couldn’t help but think they remind of a scene from the Pixar film Cars…

With a stone-brick bridge arching over a running stream heading back down the hill we had just climbed, there was a cyclist with a rather less than ideal situation. A snapped rear mech cable. What made it really awkward was it had snapped near the shifter, so it was definitely deemed useless…but when 3 cyclists turned up with a fair bit of experience of making a bike useable to at least get somewhere to fix it properly…the lady was in luck! The 3 cyclists being everyone but me…ha!

A cable tied mech later, she was a least able to make her way back to Bala and pay a visit to their bike shop who would later change her gear cable.

Cycling in Wales
Bike mechanics finished with, it was time to head towards the top of the Seven Gates and begin the descent. By far the longest road bike descent I have ever done, but I somehow got down it. It was the type of road where if you weren’t in your drops to begin with, it was very hard to move to that position. And when the descent increases to 17% whilst dealing with everything else, it was definitely a nerve wracking descent! Says the girl who use to race downhill mountain bikes…yikes what’s happened to me!

Cycling in Wales
Through the multiple gates, we then made our way to Bala round the back of the lake. My legs seemed to wake up at this point after being somewhat less than cooperative to this point, my legs just wanted to dart up the short but sweet climbs. I tend to do that…have random spurts of energy when out riding, or maybe it was the promise of food in Bala that kicked my legs into shape…

Cycling, WalesCafe Stop, Bala
Pulling into a cafe in Bala, the rest was much appreciated. However, I may have gone a little over board with food. After coffee, a baguette and cake…the ride back to Dolgellau was interesting to say the least. Ryan seems to think it was the fact I’d ridden 48 miles. Not 48 Cheshire plains miles, but 48 miles in the middle of Wales. But I guess we’ll have to see how I fair on my next long road ride to find out!

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