Snowdon on New Year’s Day

Snowdon on New Year's Day

Boots and a packed lunch in the car, we were following the twisting roads across Wales to the highest peak in the country. It’s not a mountain I am familiar with as the only thing I knew about where we were heading was the car park at the bottom of the Watkin Path. We’d ventured up to one of the first waterfalls on the path last summer, taking a dip to cool off on a hot blue sky day.

The 1st January 2019 obviously looked very different; deciding on how many layers to wear by looking between the seasoned walkers and those less experienced in the car park. I’ve learnt from my mistakes of over-estimating how well my body copes with the cold, so I opt for more layers than less.

Laces tied we cross the road to the stone pillar reading ‘Watkin Path’ that shows the start of our New Year’s Day wander.

The winding roads had already brought us far from any sort of noise that daily life seems to entail these days. Yet, walking up through the trees pushed it all further away.

Snowdon on New Year's Day

We reached the waterfalls that we’d came across last summer. The water still looking just as enticing to jump into. The water so clear, yet it still has a colour you only find from water in the mountains.

Whilst we weren’t expecting to have Snowdon to ourselves, we were glad to have chosen the less popular route to the top. We might not have been able to see much of it with the clouds hanging so low and rain coming down, but it still offered sights to remember. A mountain-side teeming with history and tough work, but now it is something used for leisure.

Snowdon on New Year's Day

At first we were following the river and crossing railway sleeper bridges, but soon we found ourselves ascending steps made up of perfectly placed rocks. We mainly walked alone but did come across other walkers every now and then. Some in two’s, but others in groups with their four-legged friends.

500m.

600m.

700m of elevation.

We were slowly edging closer to the peak.

Fog making visibility difficult and way markers few and far between, we took a turn on what we thought was the path. When walking turned to scrambling, we only then started to think we’d taken a wrong turn. You know, past the point of being able to turn back…not like us at all!

Snowdon on New Year's Day

The only thing I will say is that I feel sorry for the poor guy who followed us thinking we knew where we were going.

Two became three whilst we got ourselves out of the pickle we’d found ourselves in.

A few points of brushing off our bouldering skills later, we all looked at each other when the sound of people reaching the summit came into ear shot.

It was one time I was actually thankful for fog as it meant we had no clue how steep the mountain-side actually was. Although, without the fog maybe we wouldn’t have made the slight navigation error in the first place…

Snowdon on New Year's Day

The thought of being able to have lunch kept me moving up the mountain. We climb the steps to the official summit by doing that typically British thing of forming an orderly queue on the steps and waiting our turn to see the grand total of bugger all. You’ve got to love Wales. Even when the weather’s against you, it can still put a smile on your face.

We head to the side of the closed cafe in order to get out of the howling wind. Our planned lunch stop turned into a quick sandwich break only for us to get moving again.

Our scrambling adventure meant I had to ditch my thick gloves, so the mountain sapped out any sort of warmth my hands had. I was relieved to come across a sign for the Watkin Path that pointed us away from the steep ascent we had just climbed.

This confirmed we had definitely strayed away from the Watkin Path.

We left the swarms of people that had climbed the Pyg track behind and began to feel more human again the warmer we got.

We passed groups on their way up.

We were overtaken by those swiftly on their way down.

But all of a sudden about an hour had passed without us seeing a sole.

Snowdon on New Year's Day

We stopped for a short while as the sun started to burn away the clouds. I threw my arms up in the air and shouted:

“Sun me!”.

The mountain we had just climbed slowly started to reveal itself. The rocks were jagged, but somehow still uniform. Their shadows came and went as the sun tried its hardest to come through.

The further down we got, the more the clouds started to clear. It seems we had quite literally had our heads in the clouds. Still drenched from our 5 hours wandering, we were fairly close to the bottom, only to pass a couple saying:

“We must be over half way now!”

Ryan and I looked at each other and smiled.

Back to the railway sleeper bridges and waterfalls, we breathed a sigh of relief. Then burst out laughing as we followed train of sheep down the path, with one attacking, going for the breakaway.

Then there was a stop Ryan had already anticipated when his eyes fell on a black Labrador who I would soon be giving all of the attention to. We chatted to the family of four, then covered the last stretch back to the car park.

Snowdon on New Year's Day

We got changed out of layers, then stopped at the closest cafe as during the walk Ryan had realised his coat wasn’t exactly waterproof anymore. We sat in the Moel Siabod Cafe with our hands wrapped around cups of coffee desperately trying to warm them up. We were also munching on cake I’d bought after feeling guilty I’d eaten the Mars Bar Ryan was planning on eating…

The cafe was full of friends, families and their woofers in tow. There were no Instagram perfect selfies going on here. It was all wind-swept hair and damp clothes, but it was perfect in the real sense of the word. Everyone was smiling, chatting and completely disconnected from the digital world.

 

 

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

With another scorching day on the cards, Ryan wanted to take me to Mallorca’s infamous climb, Sa Calobra. He warned me however there was going to be a lot of climbing! Formentor had possibly been the most climbing I had ever done, but now it was going to be Sa Calobra.

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Heading up the Col de Femenia, the long ascents of the day began. This first climb was possibly one of my favourites of the day. It was quiet and everything was so untouched. Being so early in the ride, the climb wasn’t easy. The encouraging writing on the roads may have been just that…if I had a clue what any of it meant being in every language but ones I understand. I make that sound like I can speak a few languages, but it’s just English unfortunately. Learning Spanish or French would be good though.

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Finally hitting the top of Col de Femenia, I could spin my legs a little. Normally I’d stop and have a breather, but I’ve figured it’s better to keep going past the top of climbs so my legs don’t seize up. My body definitely doesn’t like stopping and starting!

So we passed a few cyclists and had a little descent to ride, but climbing would soon resume. We had a break at a T-Junction where Ryan said this was the point I could bail on the ride if I wanted to, and we could go left to go and do more riding on the flat, or right to Sa Calobra.

Whether I could cope with the ride or not, we went to Sa Calobra. I knew I would have regretted turning left and not going to see what Sa Calobra was all about.

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

I don’t remember much about the climb to Sa Calobra if I’m honest, what has stuck is getting to the Orange Seller at the top of it.

6 miles of descending lay ahead to the Port at the bottom.

I imagine going early, the descent would have been a lot less cluttered. Buses, cars and other cyclists not too confident on the descent meant it wasn’t as flowing as it could have been. Next time, I think I’d love to get up earlier and get there before the crowds did. Ascending wasn’t too bad when it’s busy, but descending can be a bit sketchy!

Getting to the bottom I realised I’d not quite filled my pockets with enough snacks to get me round. So although Ryan advised me not to, I grabbed a baguette as it felt like I’d already burned through my breakfast! I’ve hit a wall like that before, where you’re stomach feels empty. It’s just a downward slope for me from there. Even with the 6 mile climb we had to go back up, as long as I wasn’t going to sprint up Sa Calobra I’d be fine.

It’s funny what you learn from cycling when you’re younger and how useful growing up on the trails at Llandegla has been…ha! That climb taught me how important pacing was, which not many other cyclists going up the Sa Calobra seemed to understand. It wasn’t easy but I managed to ride all the way up. I stopped for one photo…but soon regretted it so just carried on to the top after that.

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Going down Sa Calobra you don’t really get chance to take in the view because you’ve got to have your full attention on the road. But going back up makes up for that.

I was happy to leave the busy Port that had a train of buses dropping people off every few minutes. There’s a few cafes, but that’s all there is down there.

Ryan sprinted off to try and beat his last time up there, but I wasn’t up for that. As long as my pedals were still turning I’d be alright…I hoped!

Making sure to take in the view, Ryan managed to come back down to meet me before I got to a corner where photographers were. Operation get photo for above the fireplace was go…ha!

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Now it was the last push to the top.

When the Orange Seller came back into view, it was a big relief. A 6 mile climb may not sound like much, but I’ve never ridden anything close to it before!

You’d think the blog post would stop there, but unfortunately my stubborness meant the ride didnt’t stop there. It didn’t stop going up either.

Puj Major, Mallorca

Back when we got off the coach at Hoposa Villaconcha, the driver joked if we were going up Puj Major, which is the biggest climb on the island. You can get to from by the Orange Seller. We were on the slightly easier side up and I asked Ryan how far it was to the top of it.

5 miles, which meant an extra 10 miles onto the ride.

The 5 back will be downhill I thought, so why not? I was most of the way there…

It turns out, the climb up Puj Major wasn’t bad in comparison to Sa Calobra. It wasn’t as steep, and there were plenty of views to take my attention away from my aching legs.

It was like cycling through a holiday brochure…ha! A glimmering blue lake, blue skies and mountains dominating the skyline.

Puj Major, Mallorca

This road was so quiet compared to the Sa Calobra. Only one or two cars and coaches, rather than the streams of them which were on Sa Calobra. For such a picturesque view, I was surprised so many tourists were letting it pass them by.

The higher you got the more of the valleys revealed themselves. With a tunnel marking the top, the end of the tunnel opened up to the top of Puj Major.

Puj Major, Mallorca

That’s one skill you should master before riding in Mallorca, removing your sunglasses whilst still riding. It’s not ideal stopping to take them off whilst riding uphill!

With the view from the top, riding up Puj Major from the other (and longer) side will definitely be on the list. However the other side is 14km long, so I’ll ork up to that…or just be as stubborn as this holiday and do it regardless.

Puj Major, Mallorca

Then there was the bonk.

My legs started feeling weird and I was struggling to ride straight.

I needed to stop.

Pulling over, luckily Ryan had brought more food than me. So I had an energy bar and a gel. I normally don’t go for the emergy bars/gels. I’d rather eat normal food that isn’t so packed with sugar.

I’d hit rock bottom though, which is no real surprise when the longest rides I’d ever done were 40 miles and this one turned into a 70 mile ride….

A quick stop at a petrol station where I debated between a Mars Bar and Twix (ironic when I’ve just been talking about sugar I know…desperate times ok?). We soon got back on the bikes, as the wind was picking up and I was starting to get cold. All I wanted right then was a warm shower. No jumping in the pool to cool off unfortunately, I needed the opposite!

Close to tea when we got back to the hotel, I jumped straight in the shower so we could be the first in line! I was so hungry and craving pasta…ha.

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

It was all a bit surreal really. I’d always wanted a big day on my bike, but never been able to do more than 30 or 40 miles. I’d seen so many new places and didn’t realise how many miles had passed by. I didn’t realise how much I’ve missed riding in the hills over Winter too.

Do you still remember your first cycling holiday? Have you got any memories? Drop them below!

SaveSave

Puerto Pollensa, Mallorca Cycling Holiday

Over the past few weeks I got to a point where some time off was long overdue. My weekly routine was feeling monotonous and I craved being in the sun so bad. The result? Me and Ryan booked a holiday a week before flying and had the most amazing few days away.

Mallorca

Exploring Puerto Pollenca, Mallorca

The last time I went abroad was something like 2010, so it was a mad rush to figure out what I needed to take with me. The mad rush put aside, we were checking in at the airport on our way to the cycling mecca of Mallorca.

Puerto Pollenca Beach, Mallorca

Puerto Pollenca Beach, Mallorca

Sun, smooth roads and beaches were all this girl needed to switch off for a few days.

After the nerves of hoping my bike got there ok, the first time I’d be riding my Liv this year was on the lush roads around the island of Mallorca.

A hotel with a big presence of triathletes, I could even jump in the heated training pool or go for a run if Ryan wanted to do a crazy training ride.

Hoposa Villaconcha Training Pool

Hoposa Villaconcha Training Pool

We were staying in Hoposa Villaconcha in Puerto Pollenca and I was so happy to be so close to the beach. A short walk and the golden expanse of sand revealed itself with cafe’s and their bike stands lining the sea front. I’ve never seen somewhere with such a focus on cycling. There were families that had hired bikes mixed in with seasoned roadies going on mega rides into the mountains. Hills aren’t really a thing in Mallorca, they’re definitely mountains.

We managed to fit so much in to the few days we were there, I’m going to split in all into a few blog posts rather than one HUGE one! So look out for what happened when we tackled:

  • The Lighthouse of Formentor
Formentor, Mallorca

Formentor, Mallorca

  • Sa Calobra
Sa Calobra, Mallorca

Sa Calobra, Mallorca

  • Walking Puerto Pollensa to Cala Boquer
Cala Boquer, Mallorca

Cala Boquer, Mallorca

So I’ll be posting more about each day, so keep an eye out on my Instagram so you don’t miss a thing!

Are you off on a cycling holiday this year? Mountain bike or road, leave your favourite destinations below!

Destination Bucket List

Sometime in everyday life you lose sight of where you’re going and what you want to do. You get lost in daily routines and following trends. So why not filter out those things for a while and re-focus on what you really want.

Do you want to travel to somewhere new?

Follow a certain career?

Do more charity work?

Around this time last year I took a chance in putting in an application to start on a career path I thought would always be just a dream.  A year on so much has changed for the better. Some days are still tough, but not every dream you work towards is going to be plain sailing. Filter out the outside world and what they’re doing and focus on you. You’ll be thankful you did it.

Familiar with the saying ‘work hard, play hard’? Make sure you do have goals outside of your career and experience as many new things and places as possible. Write them all down and tick them off as you do them, which is what I’ve done with places I want go.

1. Mont Ventoux

Apparently a climb every roadie has to do…apparently it is in some big cycling race. The name doesn’t spring to mind though….

2. Africa to see the elephants…

3. To see/ride horses on a ranch in America

 

4. Monaco

5. Paris for the photos and clothes…