Eryri / Snowdonia...
The first in our new series of rider blogs, we start with brand manager at Cambrian Tyres, Shelley Childs who headed north for some late summer miles during the relaxation of lockdown rules in September 2020, in one of the most scenic areas in the UK.
The chance was too good to give up on. With some fine late summer sun & my cousin's late invite for a couple of nights stay just south of Caernarfon in a B&B, (or AirBnB as they say these days), it meant a hastily arranged holiday booking at work. In any case, i had my new Grand Prix 5000 Creamwall tyre samples to test out..
The creamwall GP5000 had been a long time coming and limited numbers were distributed worldwide for the original date of LeTour - July, Covid-19 put a spanner in the works and so whilst the tyre rolled out on time, the race itself was delayed until September. Either way, it was great to finally see the world's most popular all-round road tyre available in the popular yet retro sidewall option.
Having lived in Wales my entire life, and cycled all over it's gloriously challenging lands, i love the different 'feel' that each area provides. Everyone has a feel about an area they visit. It may provoke a memory, or if visited for the first time, that feeling is made in real-time - some good, some bad, some indifferent, but in Wales, its almost always good!
Cycling enriches this 'feel', each climb is remembered years later over a catchup with those that were there, descents and coffee stops too. One friend forgot his leisure clothing on a trip to Bala and spent the whole weekend in cycling kit back in 2010, it's not forgotten!
My feeling for Snowdonia harks back to those previous rides & races. Rugged, sometimes rainy, challenging, the people, the language, magnificent. The views of the huge mountains are simply unforgettable, especially on this ride, the back road off Llyn Ogwen heading north towards Bethesda - cycling paradise. Definitely one for the memory banks..
This ride started just a few miles from Bontnewydd at Rhostryfan, and headed south along Lon Eifion cycle path before heading east into Penygroes and onto the B4418 towards Nantlle. This road is recommended to any cyclist, with breathtaking scenery which just gets better and better as you head inland.
Riding from Nantlle to Rhud-Du involved a climb so scenic, that i actually enjoyed the pain of the pretty stiff gradient. The Drws y Coed (door to the forest) climb has been used as the timed KoM for the Etape Eryri sportive in the past and you can see why. Ranging from 5% to almost 14 towards the top, the road widens just where riders would naturally regroup near the summit before the descent to Rhyd Du.
From the Welsh Highland Railway station in the village you turn south and follow the main road which crosses the steam railway line in places before descending to Beddgelert. This descent is almost straight and speeds up towards Beddgelert and care is needed as you get into town.
Climbing north then and its 'Mission Nant Gwynant', scene of many a battle between local roadies over the years, a few in which I've been involved in, where its first to the top of Pen y Pass. We weren't heading all the way to the top this time, and took some pics of the new creamwall tyre at the top of the Gwynant before heading east again to Capel Cuirig and the A5 where we rode north towards Bethesda and the stunning unclassified road at Llyn Ogwen after a decent cuppa at the visitor centre.
After Bethesda we headed left and climbed again towards home via a 3 mile slog along Moel Lyci. Former British Hill Climb champion Dan Evans has the course record and so it's obviously taken seriously in these parts.
The last few miles were spent rolling along down into Caernarfon and a welcome pint at the Anglesey pub which is under the castle walls overlooking the Menai Straights.
If Carlsberg did bike rides.....!