Saturday, 10 August 2013

A grand day out!

 With Miranda loaded with bikes, spare bike parts, food, spare food, drinks, spare wheel and Spotty the Bernese Mountain Dog we set off for the start of our epic challenge. Steve drove us through the night while Matt and I thought we might get a few extra snoozes but its hard to sleep when you are excited and even harder with a Bernese Mountain Dog drooling in your lap. Once we found the right start point (Steve got a bit muddled and tried to kick us out in the wrong place) and Matt and I found the right path in the dark (this did involve wandering about a few gardens in Llanberis until we found a sign saying do not trespass on the railway) it was a straightforward trek up Snowdon following the railway line to the summit.
 We got there at 2.30 am and a quick photo, snack, drink and we descended via the Pyg Track knowing that we could always Google the views later.
 Just past 4am we found Miranda and a snoozing Steve, swapped mountain gear for lycra and got on our steeds for the first 50 miles to Cader Idris. Lessons learned here, sunglasses in dark are not good and no matter how macho you want to appear leaving your gloves in the car was a mistake, as was a sleeveless top. It was bitter cold until the sun came up.
 6am saw us far enough from Snowdon (big lump in the middle) to get a decent pic and we pushed on wondering where all the downhill sections had gone. In the car on the way there seemed to be an awful lot of downhill, in reality while pedaling there seemed to be an awful lot more of uphill. Tech details will appear on training blog but GPS confirmed that we went up many more hills than down.
 8am and we arrived at the stop for Cader Idris and after a few more calories set off along the path to the mountain. Serious underestimate of the difficulty of Cader Idris, its a nightmare of steep steps and boulders so yours truly changed the planned route to avoid unnecessary peak bagging and cut up the inside right to the summit. This meant we got to the top for a bit of flapjack (read ships biscuit as Matt had mistimed the cooking time, but hes a bloke not a chef) and a sit down before the rush back down.
 The reason for the rush down had nothing to do with timings and more to do with us having convinced ourselves we deserved bacon butties and tea at the cafe at the start of the trail.
 Which is why we look so fresh here and why Steve was so cross as A) he had all our kit ready and B) Spotty ate his sandwich.
 Back on the bikes we had a long stretch ahead so we broke it up into sections, the first 25 miles or so we did in around an hour and it was great fun but a bit daft considering what was ahead.
 But we stopped every no and then and spirits were high despite the effort taken to get there.
 On the whole traffic was well behaved, we did have one close encounter with a lorry in Rhayder at 4.30pm but at this time we were sat on the pavement eating sandwiches and drinking coffee so his driving on the pavement was not aimed at cyclists, more his attempt to get around the war memorial.
 5.30 nd we made Builth where friends and family had turned out to greet us at Burger King, looking back I should have had a burger or something more substantial than a cup of tea and a Werthers Original.
 Because 18 miles down the road I hit the wall, big time. My heart monitor gave me data backing up how I was feeling but basically my heart rate went from 112 as we were cycling to 170, then down to 72, and back again and no amount of calm thinking brought it under control so we slowed from 17mph to 9mph and I tried to stay focused. The waves of nausea and dizziness made balancing on the bike a tad trying but we found Steve and Miranda and salvation was found in a family sized bag of peanut M and Ms. And a slice of lemon cake, half a pound of Jelly Babies, a milk shake, another milkshake and a Snickers bar. We made Brecon by 8.30 and then the long haul up to the Storey Arms began. Thanks to the massive sugar rush the average speed up this massive 5 mile climb was 10mph and by 9.10pm we were in sight of the finish.
Pen-y-Fan is a doddle of a mountain, well that's if its not dark, pouring with rain and blowing a gale. We had been ever so lucky weather wise, sunshine, not too hat, a stiff headwind for some sections bit otherwise perfect. As we set off up Pen-y-Fan the weather broke, what was light drizzle and a slight breeze in the car park turned into torrents of rain, 40 mph winds and zero visibility, which will explain no photos and a time of 1 hour 40 mins to do 4.5 miles. Eventually we got back, 11pm, where Matt's family, Beth and Steve were waiting and we were very pleased to see them. Even more so when Matt's mum produced fish and chips from the car and so the challenge ended with a hot meal and a panda pop. Thanks to all who helped in this challenge, especially to Tracey for putting up with my training, and to Steve who did a good job of driving and making sure he was where we wanted him to be. Tech stats will be on the training blog, but its enough to say we did it, in 22 hours, no injuries and very happy,

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