Once in Chester, we made a start on our very English (culinary speaking!) weekend. Sausage rolls, custard cakes, and a sweet that reminded me of roscón de reyes were eaten within seconds. Also managed to get a thimble for mum (always good to keep her happy!). Duncan showed me around, took the silly picture and soon we were off to his parents, some km away from central Chester. The lanes over there are fabulous, you're in the countryside after 10 min of riding!
|Chester seemed pretty...|
The alarm went off at 6 am, and I was suprised it was completely dark until past 7 am. Autumn is kicking in. We devoured a massive bowl of porridge with berries, and some bacon, and felt ready for the ride. We decided on our clothing: I wore shorts and short-sleeved jersey with arm warmers. Duncan would do the same. High clouds and warm temperatures predicted a warm and probably dry-ish ride. At least before we hit the mountains. Upon arrival to Wrexham industrial state, we started to spot plenty of lycra and fancy road bikes. Most people wore full lengh lycra, and some even overshoes. Being from Spain, I thought I had made a major mistake and was going to freeze. Oh well, too late. Amongst those, I saw lots of titanium and even more carbon. I think Duncan and I were in the minority, riding old-fashioned aluminium framed bikes. Some folk had converted mtb, convenient for the steep hills that we would face later on. It was 8 am and everyone seemed ready, except the organisers. Apparently they were still sorting out the road closures...and that's because this was meant to be a closed-roads, traffic free event. Well, not quite, as we later learnt first hand! 8:20 am and off we went.
|Smiley faces before the start|
|Narrow lanes were common|
|The Worlds End I think...beautiful scenry, tough hills|
|Steep and technical descends|
|Atmosphere at the second stop while Duncan patched up his tyre|
|Rolling hills past half way|
We put our raincoats on and made our way down the Pass. Or rather, we battled against strong head and gusty winds. Legs were starting to recover and we felt ready for the very last climb of the day. Apparently the World's End via different route. However, the organisers, blaiming it to the weather, decided to cut that bit off the route and direct us straight back to Wrexham. Oh well, we will not complete the 100 miles. Weather got better as we made it down the mountains, and we dried out quickly. Again, we bumped into yet another ridiculous and unexpected hill. We were boiling and had to take our rain coats off before climbing up the hill. You could see how everyone was struggling at this point. After this last hill, it was all gentle dowhill back into Wrexham.
We pressed on and averaged >30 km/h for the last 25 km or so. In some of the latest sections we joined roads that had traffic in either direction. Again, we thought this was a closed roads event? Maybe the organisers had a different opinion? Here and anywhere else on the route, we saw various cars. Some riders had crashes and problems with them, and we were at all times aware of the possibilities of cars coming towards or behind us, which was not the point of riding such an event. Before we even realised, we were crossing the finish line. The weather was quite pleasant (for English standards) and we chilled out on the grass with a plate of pasta. No drinks or anything else offered by the organisers!!! I still remember when I did mtb rides back home...5 euros would get you proper feeding stations and a massive bbq upon arrival. Good old times.
|Blanquita needs a thorough clean|
|At the finish. This must be a yoga move or something...|
- 6 h 52 min moving time
- 50 min stopped time
- 148 km
- 21.4 km/h average
- Max speed 59.6 km/h
- Average heart rate: 138 bpm (max of 175, min of 88)
- Ascent 2636 m and descent 2632 m (difference due to changes in atmospheric pressure?)
- Highest point 477 m, lowest 83 m
- 8 bottles of water (6 litres)
- Countless wees (as usual)
In general, although we had a challenging day on the bike, through beautiful countryside, and lovely locals, I was very dissapointed at the organisation, especially given the £60 price tag. Something likely to be found in a £10 event for sure. The major complaints that I have can be summarised as below:
- Cars let through the closed roads?! We even rode on completely open sections towards the end! Completely unacceptable and potentially dangerous (as others' reports are proving!)
- Feeding stations run out of food AND water. Not acceptable.
- British Cycling membership included on entry? What if you are already a member of LCC, Audax UK and CTC? Why do I need a membership that I do not want when I am covered by three different insurances?
- Advertised as 6193 feet climb, when it actually was >8500 feet, not including the last pass. I would imagine lots of people could not cope.
- No signs, no marshalls at critical points. No GPS files available beforehand either.
- Goodie bag contained nothing but rubbish and publicity
- We only got a bowl of pasta upon arrival. No drinks, of course not. They surely run out of water too.
- £5 refund for a gilet that we did not get and was advertised as £20 rrp? dodgy
It was my first and last "sportive" event. Definetely not worth the money. Someone must have made a fortune out of us fool cyclists though. Wales has so much to offer, for free, so we will surely be coming back in the near future. Saw plenty of mtb-ers, and will probaly take the "fat tyres" ones next time.
The route back was uninteresting, with a rewarding smooth ale and a some good sleep on the train...
I also found other interesting write ups on the net: