Roads Less Ridden

IMG_1204

I did the typical Lucy thing this weekend where I got a ride into my head and I wasn’t going to settle until it was done. Luckily Ryan knew a more picturesque way to go than main roads, so after some plotting on Garmin Connect I was good to go. 

I was off to Llyn Brenig and that was that. Cambrian Photography were running an Optic’s Fair there so I could get a lift home with my Dad if needed. I just needed to get away from main roads and just ride my bike.

It was main roads really to Ruthin, but a sharp climb out of Ruthin and a sharp right onto a country lane meant I was quickly in the middle of nowhere. Lane after lane my mind was getting lost in the constant climbing. Normally I’d shy away from it, but I secretly liked the challenge. Feeling the burn and knowing there’s nowhere quite like North Wales to ride your bike. Lanes that go on for miles do you can completely get away from it. I guess it’s what cycling is about for me, you know? Where it can take me. Yes I’ve seen some pretty crazy places whilst racing, but this ride was something else. I had the map on my screen rather than what watts I was chucking out. I was just riding my bike. Not worrying about how quickly I was going up the hills, just laughing when the roads were close to disintegrating yet I was still getting up them. Getting attacked by pheasants in the meantime. I must have saw about 40 pheasants and I’m genuinely not over exaggerating. They were everywhere!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Eventually I was on the hill tops making my way across the rolling Welsh hills with 360 degree views. I’d not seen another cyclist for about 15 miles. I couldn’t not stop to take photos with there being views for miles. At one point a group of painted lady butterflies flew off that were resting on the road. My mind was blown at the scenery around me at every corner. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Soon Clocaenog Forest came into view as well as the Wind Farm scattered throughout it. It always baffles my mind how big Wind Turbines are. My route had been so good up to now I was convinced the road would turn to gravel sooner or later, but the route just kept going and going. The 360 degree view was replaced by dense forest. It felt like I had the forest completely to myself.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Passing gravel roads which I’m pretty sure were used for Wales Rally GB, I soon needed to turn off right to head towards Llyn Brenig. I turned the corner and all of the sudden there was an arrow straight road lines by trees perfectly framing the view at the end of it. 

My legs were starting to fall victim to all the climbing and I was doing and the sharp descent meant there was more to come. I looked down at my hands were glistening from the sweat. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. All of a sudden I popped out on the main road near Llyn Alwen.

Relief. I’d made it with a massive smile on my face as well.

Racing is great and I enjoyed it last year. Those Pimbo races were crazy, but this year I just couldn’t get my head into it at all. Right now though, I’m finally loving riding my bike again and the amazing places it can take me. I may not have ridden home, but I can’t wait till I can just disappear on my for the day and see where it gets me.

Crit for C.R.Y. 2019 in memory of Alex Jones

With an abundance of emails during the week leading up to the day of racing at Marsh Tracks, ‘Crit for C.R.Y.’ had a good turnout despite clashing with events such as North West Crit Champs.

Criterium Racing Marsh Tracks

The day kicked off with the first ever National B race held at Marsh Tracks, Rhyl. An under-used track in my opinion. A wide, flowing circuit where racing is made interesting by the ever-changing wind direction. With 24 entries but 21 on the start line, the racing was thrown wide open when Swift Pro Carbon rider, Andy Turner, got called over to the Ryedale GP. With a big range of ability on the track, we just had to wait until the racing got under way to see who would come out on top.

Criterium Racing Marsh TracksCriterium Racing Marsh Tracks

From the off Pro Vision Race Team rider, Ben Lloyd, made an aggressive start breaking away from the bunch. However, an unfortunate crash on lap 5 shattered the field meaning a group of 6 made up the leading bunch, including the Pro Vision Race Team Rider. Impressively two Junior riders, Chris Mann (Marsh Tracks Racing) and Thomas Mitchell (Birkenhead North End CC) held their own in the leading bunch with the likes of riders from Ribble Pro Cycling and Velo Runner.

Criterium Racing Marsh TracksCriterium Racing Marsh Tracks

As the race went on it resulted in various bunch sprint across the line apart from race winner, Joseph Bowers. The Team Chronomaster rider attacked with just over 2 laps to go and wasn’t seen again by the bunch which brought him across the line in 1st. Following Bowers was a sprint between Grant Bigham (Velo Runner), Jack Rees (Ribble Pro Cycling) and Junior rider Thomas Mitchell. Bigham took 2nd followed by Rees taking 3rd.

Criterium Racing Marsh TracksCriterium Racing Marsh TracksCriterium Racing Marsh Tracks

Being the Alex Jones Memorial race, Alex’s parents came to present the trophies to the successful riders. An emotional day for them, but pass on their thanks to everyone who raced. The day brought back memories of the last time Alex raced at Marsh Tracks where he won the race after lapping the field on his own.

L09

With no entries for the women’s race, we waited for the 4th Cat Only Men’s race at 2pm. With 7 riders on the start line, Fibrax Wrexham Roads Club dominated the field with 4 riders competing one of which went on to take the win.

Wrexham rider, Wilf Goodfellow, hasn’t long got back from competing in the Alpe d’Huez Triathlon where he claimed 2nd in his age group. Coming to give criterium racing a go on a day license, Wilf wasted no time breaking away off the front and ended up lapping the field twice over.

L10

Behind Wilf it was a sprint finish between Kevin West of Hale Velo and Wrexham rider Alistair Brown. Alistair was nipped to the line by Kevin meaning Kevin took 2nd and Alistair took 3rd. The race ended with a sprint off the following bunch including Cardiac Athlete, Chris Bruney.

Criterium Racing Marsh Tracks

Criterium Racing Marsh Tracks

Both races were watched closely by Commissaire, David Robson, who I’d like to say a big thank you to for taking time out of his weekend to commissaire the event. A big thank you to Velotik Racing Team for making it possible to run the event by being the promoting team and helping marshall the event. Thank you to Marsh Tracks for being so welcoming and helping us open/lock up the track.

The Bike Bar rider, Alex Harvey, was also a big help on the day stopping to check on one of the riders who hit the deck. Alex also closed up the circuit afterwards. So a big thank you to Alex Harvey too!

I hope all the injured riders from the E123 race heal up quickly. I hope you’re at the end of your season, so you can come back fighting fit next year.

Running the event was certainly tough at times. I was expecting Ryan to head off to get changed any minute and get his bike out of the van, despite it being almost a full season now without him racing. We’ve got a different link to Marsh Tracks now where Ryan is anxiously waiting to see how his athletes perform in the races. I’m not sure how much we’ll raise for Cardiac Risk in the Young, but I think we successfully raised awareness of athletes attending a local CRY heart screening. That’s the most important thing to us. There’s a few British Cycling fees and track hire to sort first, then I’ll confirm what was raised.

The news of Alex Jones hit us both hard with Ryan’s news still being so raw. I didn’t know Alex personally, but he was someone Ryan had raced against for years. It sort of hit home how serious heart conditions can be when we heard about him. We’ll start planning next year, so we can make sure he’s never forgotten.

Any photos from the day can be found HERE

RESULTS

Alex Jones Memorial E123

1. Joseph Bowers – Team Chronomaster

2.Grant Bigham – Velo Runner

3. Jack Rees – Ribble Pro Cycling

4th Cat Only Race

1. Benjamin Goodfellow – Fibrax Wrexham Roads Club

2. Kevin West – Hale Velo

3. Alistair Brown – Fibrax Wrexham Roads Club

 

Paths Less Trodden

Walking

Often when I’m out on my bike I’ll come across public footpaths that look interesting, but my road tyres mean I have to leave exploring them for another day. You only have to open an Ordnance Survey map to see where all of these footpaths are. The amount of people that use these footpaths is probably very little, depending on where they are obviously.

With a new addition to the family, and by new addition I mean the sort with four paws and a waggy tail, I’m starting to venture out a little bit more. Although I think I’m going to invest in some more Ordnance Survey maps because one of this week’s walk didn’t exactly go to plan!

I suppose the thing that is easy to forget is because they’re not regularly used some way-marked routes might be a little over-grown…so when you approach said stile in shorts and t-shirt. I don’t think there’s much chance of you getting past thanks to a large amount of nettles!

The local people were pleasant. I didn’t expect such a happy reception from a farmer when I was stood there trying to figure out where to go next. Maybe it was the fact he’d already seen me close a gate behind me, but he pointed me in the right direction and off we went.

I may not have got very far, but I guess I still saw a part of the world I’d not seen before. I came away with a nettle sting or two, but I’d given the route a go. A field full of cattle was what eventually turned me around to re-trace my steps. All I could picture was me running through a field clutching a puppy trying to outrun grumpy heifers. I’d rather not thanks…

So my wander out might not have been the most successful, but I didn’t get lost at least. I have a tired pup with fluffy ears after a bath, so all is good I think. Maybe I’ll stick to exploring the forests next time rather than cow fields!

Bringing Back Your Childhood Memories

Bringing Back Your Childhood MemoriesLike cycling, swimming is one of those things you do as a child. Whether that was jumping in a river in the summer, or having it forced upon you in P.E. at school. (How cool would it be if cycling was part of the curriculum at school though?).

You may not do either seriously, they’re purely a recreational activity. Yet both can open up door to adventures that haven’t been accessible to you before. With cycling you can cover that little bit of extra distance. With swimming you can enjoy the sea on holiday and see things from a different perspective. Some of my strongest memories as a child are water or cycling related. Long jump into the pool on holiday. Bobbing up and down in the sea resting on a bodyboard in the sea at Pwllheli. Looking up at my neighbour after I’d landing head first in his hedge after a race around our street went slightly wrong…

Combine the two sports and you get a whole host of new adventures available to you. Ride up a mountain, then jump in the lake at the top. Go bike-packing in a foreign country experiencing new cultures, then cool off in the sea after covering so many miles.

Both offer the opportunity to escape. Pushing off the side of a swimming pool wall, like the pressure of the water on your shoulders taking all of the stress away. The adrenaline rush following a downhill section on a mountain bike, where there’s no time to think about anything but the trail ahead.

Mountain Biking

Sometimes it feels like the rush of cold water over your body is required to relax. Other times it requires hammering the pedals on a trail ride. To completely switch off I don’t think there will ever be one solution. The variety has a greater impact and puts a smile on your face. You’ve just got to go wherever your mind takes you.

Open Water Swimming

Some might find comfort in repetition of only ever doing one sport, but honestly? I find everything so much more exciting having a go at whatever comes to mind. Yet cycling and swimming will always be something I come back to. They take me back to my childhood and both are invigorating in their own ways. And living in Wales it means I can do both in so many different places. You’ve just got to know where to look.