First up an admission. I was broken yesterday. I think a combination of fatigue from days getting longer and harder and a lack of sleep caught up with me. My legs were empty and all I could do was just get through it and think of a hot bath. I fell asleep on the sofa and had a mammoth sleep overnight which is unlike me. I began to think I’d pushed it and taken on too much.
Today though, I awoke, refreshed and recharged and ready to go again. Legs were a bit sore but the sensations were good.
I planned to leave about 11.30am. I was packed and just turning on my Garmin. It went straight to its diagnostic screen. Bricked. I spent 90 mins trying to sort it to no avail. I was considering navigating by phone from my pocket which was a pain but doable but I have amazing parents who offered to buy me a new one for my forthcoming birthday. I found one in Halfords, bagged some colleague discount and got back but I had to wait for it to charge. It only had 30% in it which wasn’t enough. I estimated I needed a min of 60%. 1.50pm and it was ready and I finally got away just after 2pm. I just needed to crack on now and get to Oswestry.
Within metres I was on the first climb which snakes up the back of my parents house for 1.5 miles out of the Conwy valley. The gradient varies from just steep to a bit silly.
Over the top and the road surface took a turn. Just rough, broken and potholed for miles and to top it just up and down. So thats big gear, first gear when you’re carrying 20lbs of kit. It was really cold so I stopped and donned my gillet and then the sun came out! The descent to Betws-yn-Rhos is a fast one. I rounded a wide corner and the road was blocked . Car and some guys in high viz on the right and a minibus in front of me sat there chatting ffs. I slowed right down to nearly a stop for mr high viz to nonchalantly tell me ‘..you never know what you’ll see round the corner’. To which I thought, yes, morons who just stop and block the road on a blind bend, downhill.
I eventually dropped into Denbigh via some unattractive housing estate, skirting its castle and then back into the lanes in search of Ruthin. Great lanes. More rough roads though. Must be the council. I stopped for a bit of food on a bridge. Packed lunch courtesy of momma. I nommed it quick and got going. Didn’t want to get cold.
Ruthin is a nice little village I’ve only ever gone past. The centre has great little square and high street. It was noted, must stop by next time I’m passing. I was heading towards the Horseshoe Pass now and the main climb to it is the Nant-y-Garth pass but my route was quiet, wide, great tarmac and had great views. I just engaged the low gear and enjoyed the views over to my right and ahead trying to guess where the pass was. Once I got onto the pass road it was busier. Decent surface and from this side not to long. I think most of the height was gained on the preceding climb. Rather than descend on the main road I chose the Old Horseshoe which basically goes straight down rather than work its way around the perimeter of the valley as the main road does. WHAT A ROAD. Its frickin steep but the surface is perfect. As a climb it would be epic. The only downer going down it was the last section is dead straight so you can just let go but you enter a wider road with a row of houses and there are speed bumps which you can hit at 40mph unless you brake. Not impressed.
I’d considered stopping in Llangollen but I was conscious of the time. I checked my bottles and gambled I had enough left. I did a bit of the A5 which had new tarmac then right and up and over to Chirk. Couple of hairpins on this climb but the steep section was so rough I considered it Belgian. It was bad to be fair.
Onto Chirk. After such beautiful countryside, Chirk unfortunately boasts a big eyesore of a factory that sticks out on the landscape. A big silver a monstrosity. I skirted town and then descended past its famous viaduct and aquaduct. If I was there earlier I would have probably ridden across the aqueduct but I carried onto the last steep hill of the day at 16% before dropping into Oswestry past its old fort.
My garmin was low on battery now but just got me to my B&B before dying on me.
Fatigue has set in now but just one more day to go but its no ceremonial stage. 75 miles. Longest ride of the week. Early start, late finish. See you in the pub then