Clocking up the Miles to Pass the Time

When Lucy said she was doing a Breeze course in Bangor, I thought that sounded like a great idea to go with her and enjoy a nice ride in Snowdonia as I waited for her.After it was planned I then found out that the course was running 9.00-17.00.

I now had a lot of time to fill, so I foolishly decided to go and ride 100 miles.
Lucy had started her course and I was left to faff about and get ready to ride. Heavy rain didn’t make me hugely enthusiastic about the idea though. Eventually the rain stopped and I thought this was my window. I headed out to Llanberis, which was the first major climb of the day, the Pen-y-Pass. Spray off the road made it impossible to stay dry.


The Pen-y-Pass is a fairly enjoyable climb. It reels you in with a nice gentle gradient at first before properly kicking up towards the summit. At the foot of the climb the weather looked to be improving, so I had removed my waterproof and gloves, only to layer back up for the cold and foggy descent. I shot down the other side through the fog and intermittent rain showers into Betws-y-Coed and then onto the next, and hardest, climb of the day.


The small village of Trefriw isn’t known for much, but it’s where the climb of the Old Cowlyd starts. This bit of road is insane, its been described as the hardest climb in the UK. While the Pen-y-Pass starts gently, the Cowlyd delivers a sucker punch from the outset. 

Have you ever climbed something so steep your feet hurt? 

Well that’s what the Cowlyd has in store. The almost relentless gradient eases off slightly about halfway (but not enough to leave your easiest gear) and then you hit the hairpins. All 8 of them back to back and incredibly steep. Never have I wanted a climb to end so badly. 

20 minutes of pain and suffering later I finally made it to the top.

Now it was the short ride back to Betws and onto the Crimea Pass, which would take me to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The Crimea is one of the few wide roads in the area and again starts out fairly steady with a few kicks, until you get to the last mile which really hurts. About half way up the heavy rain returned. Rain heavy enough to cause a car to loose traction and almost spin a full 360 degrees right in front of me. This ride was turning out to be quite eventful to say the least.


If climbing the Crimea was bad the decent was even worse. It was cold and wet with the rain drops like tiny bullets hitting my face.

Yet I was stubborn enough to have the Stwlan Dam as the next thing to tackle.

This dead end service road is closed to traffic and takes you up to the Dam at the top. The road snaked up the mountain with hairpins thrown in for good measure.


It was such a relief to find there was a cafe near the bottom. The kind ladies in there took pity on the drenched cyclist and made me an extra strong coffee and served up my order of egg and beans on toast in no time at all. I threw the food down my throat and then tried to warm up and dry out some of my kit.


After warming up a bit and plucking up the courage to continue, I set off but only to find myself cold again!

Now on the lumpy road to Beddgelert, the further I went the nicer the weather got. However, from Beddgelert I was riding on the long drag up to Rhyd-Ddu, which isn’t the steepest of roads really.


With fresh legs it’s hardly anything. But with legs battered by 2000m of climbing over the 77 miles I’d ridden? It hurt and went on forever.

After that it was over to Caernarfon and along the coastal cycle path back to Bangor. I was glad for a bit of flat riding as every little hill struck pain into my legs.


I got to Bangor with 96 miles on my Garmin, and although I was very tired, I couldn’t stop that close to the full 100. So after a couple of laps around some random streets I finished up at the university to find Lucy sat in the car having just finished her course. Not bad timing really.

Where to Cycle when it gets Cold…

Now into October, we’ve definitely all felt the temperatures drop. Not only is getting out of your nice warm bed for work a bit more difficult, but so is getting up to go and ride your bike. So, where’s best to cycle when the weather gets cold?

1.Your local trail centre

img_2394

Now I know many mountain bikers who avoid trail centres now just out of principle. It’s not ‘real’ mountain biking apparently. BUT these trails do have a cafe (more often than not) at the start and the end of your loop. So, surely a trail centre is a no brainer in the middle of winter right? And with the trails being accessible to the masses, the kids can come along too!

2. Pump Track

img_2593-1

Many use the ‘off-season’ whether they’re pro or not to work on their skills for next year, so pump tracks can be a god-send. Pump tracks can help improve your cornering, jumping skills and how you maintain your speed on the trails. If your local pump track isn’t too water logged, why not give it a go?

3. Velodrome Taster Session

img_3031

You might be a die-hard roadie or mountain biker, but never both right? Well I’m both and open for trying new things. I did exactly that last Summer when I tried my hand at riding round the Velodrome in Manchester. It’s inside…it’s warm…and we could explore Manchester after. Just one pointer, if you’re finding somewhere to park and you pull into a car park full of Audi R8’s and Ferrari’s…the ticket will be quite expensive ha!

Every bike ride doesn’t have to be a big expedition into the hills, on road bike or mountain bike, it can simply be along a canal or on fire roads through a forest. It makes snuggling up with a hot chocolate afterwards all that more satisfying.

Need ideas? Look no further

Have any more genius ideas for riding in colder weather? Feel free to comment below or on my social media posts!

I’m sure it will be a breeze…

Since becoming part of the steering group with Welsh Cycling to make cycling more popular amongst young people, I thought a good place to start would be to become a Breeze ride leader.

But what does this mean?

Saturday morning came and I dragged Ryan out of bed way too early and we made the trip along the North Wales coast to Bangor University. We could have had worse road trips to make I guess! Look out for Ryan’s post soon on the 100 miles he covered whilst I was on the course. Not forgiving miles either, miles on the roads of Snowdonia.

Working my way around the maze that is Bangor University, I finally found the room full of the other women on the course. I signed in and met our course tutor, Zoe, and got to know the other women.

The group had a wide variety of cyclists, from those who race, those who cycle socially, to those who cycle for fitness. We spoke about what we think makes up a good Breeze Champion, which is someone who is approachable and encouraging. Someone who is positive and will give those maybe trying cycling for the first time, good memories that will keep them cycling in the future.

From organising Girls at Moelfre, I’ve already seen the benefits cycling can have on people’s lives. How memories stick and are fondly looked back upon. I might not be riding mountain bikes all that much at the minute, but I’ve come to realise it doesn’t matter what bike I’m riding. It’s the fact I’m out and appreciating the great outdoors all the while. I’m also planning on doing my Level 2, so I can lead mountain bike rides too though!

We had a bit of theory to cover, such as organising a group of women on the road to keep them safe, but we were soon out on our bikes doing the practical side of the course. This was to show that we could safely manage a group of women on a Breeze ride. With the hilly roads that surrounded us everywhere in Bangor, this was particularly interesting trying to pull out of a junction whilst clipping into my pedals!

IMG_5921

Making our way back into the classroom, we were thankfully not too wet from the rain that fell outside. It was more of a drizzle than a downpour. We covered risk assessments of rides and how to go about planning a ride. We spoke about what made

our cycling routes enjoyable with Zoe highlighting that it’s not just the mileage you need to consider, but how to create a route that is enjoyable.

Despite my nerves before going into the course, it’s something I will always be glad I took the time to do. I’ve been cycling for a while and started this blog to hopefully portray cycling as the amazing sport it is. Now I can be a bit more pro-active in encouraging people into the sport and all the benefits it brings.

If a Breeze ride sounds interesting to you, or you know a lady who might consider it, make sure you keep checking back here for my first Breeze ride. As soon as I get a First Aid Certificate, I’ll get my Breeze rides up and running which will be completely free to come along to.