Llanberis 2012

2 days. 96 miles on the way out, 84 miles on the way home. Over 4000 feet of ascent. 

This is the Weaver Valley Cycling Club annual training weekend to Llanberis. It is a vicious weekend away on unrelenting roads through North Wales taking in Kinnerton, Ruthin, Denbigh high street, "The Sportsman" over the bleak Denbigh moors, Betws-y-Coed, Capel Curig and then Pen-y-Pass into Llanberis. The return home skips "The Sportsman", heading through the forest back into Ruthin.

It is a big weekend. The last big weekend before the season starts in March, the chance to get nearly 200 miles in the legs in one weekend. Llanberis is talked about for months in advance. After 22 years it is full of legend, there are stories of those who battled to reach the hotel first but mainly stories of those who survived. Those who didn't get in the van. Those who battled cold, wind and rain to get to the hotel. While all who take part are from the club, those that do are mainly from a competitive background, lean, fit and have been on a bike for many years.


I had a taste of Llanberis last year but this year was going to be my first big go of it. My training started in November, long rides in the legs with trips to the Cat and Fiddle and Mow Cop, this continued through December to Mid February. As well as club runs I put in long rides on my own, on little breakfast and no energy bars, to get my body used to using energy stores. I also lost weight. I lost 6kg, which put me in at 89kg, still heavy but would make difference.

The nature of the event is that it is every man for himself, a raw, character building training weekend. There is no club run etiquette, if you get dropped you're on your own; which if this is on the Sportsman, you have a very lonely and hard 40 miles to Llanberis in front of you. I got dropped last year on the way home through Betws-y-Coed and it was incredibly hard going.

Leading Up To The Event

Leading up to the event, four of us, Richard Munro, Andy Risk and Al Silver agreed that we would stick together. We would wait, re-group and ride at a steady pace. I owe a huge amount to these 3 guys. They were incredible. Not once did any of us get left behind, we stuck together and worked our way steadily to Llanberis. We were joined by several others (including my room-mate to be Nigel Woods) while others left us to battle on their own. We were last in, having left at 8am we arrived at 4.30pm.

The Saviour: Richard Munro

Our saviour was Richard Munro. I've only really got to know Rich this year through doing Club 10s on Wednesday nights. We both drive to the finish, get ready together and as such we normally talk afterwards (normally about how crap we have both done, if a sports councillor wanted business there would not be a more perfect opportunity!). Rich is a great guy, always encouraging, even after a bad run he had nothing but praise. A lean, powerful guy who produces good Time Trial results. He is never afraid to offer advice, from when to keep it easy on a club 10 due to wind direction to sitting in the wheels on a ride to save energy. His encouragement got us through the weekend. He sat at the front of all the climbs, keeping his pace steady so we could all sit on his wheel. On the way home he was helped by Kevan Underhill. Thanks guys!

The Ride: For Me

For me: until Llanberis I had never done anything over 65 miles. I completed the full 96 miles there and 68 of the 84 on the way back. The way to Llanberis is the hardest. For me, the first half of the Sportsman and the drag from Betws-y-Coed to Capel Curig were the worst. The Sportsman starts at the bottom of Denbigh High Street, and while steep it isn't the worst as you can concentrate up to the traffic lights at the top. After those lights, until you are up into the moors, is the worst. It just goes on and on. You are on the limit, climbing for a good hour. Once on the moors you can sort yourself out.

After a lovely decent into Betws-y-Coed, the drag into Capel Curig was just energy sapping. You unfortunately ignore the beautiful surroundings, your eyes instead fixed on the wheel in front. You grind out a small gear along a road which winds and winds. After a quick cafe stop, the final 10 miles to Llanberis is straight forward. The Pen-y-Pass, which takes you up into Llanberis, isn't as bad as I thought it would be. It is a tough little climb but it has a smooth road and you can get a good cadence up it. The road leading up to the pass, though, is long. I was sat on the front and with 90 miles already in the legs we were reduced to a painful 9 mph.

After a restless night (I think the effort from Saturday combined with litres of electrolyte and energy gels had an adverse effect on me) I set off on Sunday with good legs. Within 10 minutes of setting off from the hotel you are faced with Pen-y-Pass from the opposite side. It takes some climbing. Exhausted, at the top I had a gel. The straight forward decent into Betws-y-Coed then turned into a nightmare. I felt sick all the way down and following the climb out of the town I had to get into the van. Having pulled myself together I rejoined everyone at the stop at Ruthin for the final half home.

A great weekend

It was a great weekend. I need to review my nutrician plan however it was great to get 160 miles in the legs. It was amazing to complete the 96 miles on the Saturday. I think my recent bike fit paid dividends as I had no problems at all. My legs felt fresh the whole weekend and I felt comfortable on the bike.

To Andy Risk and Al Silver. Chapeau! They managed full distance there and back. For Al this was his first there and back, it was great ride. Am I envious? Yes and disappointed in myself too. I had the legs but my body let me down. I would have loved to have done the full distance with them.

A big thank you must also go to Graham and Ann Gregory for organising the weekend, Steve Thomas, Elaine Mossman, Caroline Fearon, Lyndsey Taylor and Dave Hinde for their support in cars and vans. Dave especially got me back to rights back to Ruthin. Cheers.


Pedal Precision said...

Great write up Andy, a good read. Glad you made it there and back and great to hear the bike felt good all the way. All the best,


dj trish said...
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