Sunday, 9 June 2013

Welsh ramble and the Wirral Bikeathon

It has been a great weekend of bike related activity. It started yesterday with a great ride out into the hills of Wales.
After a week of great sunny weather, everyone was looking forward to a fun day in the sun. Iain had been out into Wales a couple of weeks ago, and his route looked very interesting, so I decided to use it, as it took us into Wales in a different direction to the usual way.
We met at the 12th man, at 7.30, and the temperature was already a pleasant 14 degrees. 8 of us headed out towards the new Burton Marsh path, picking up Dan along the way. At the entrance to the path Dave and Darren were waiting for us. Once across the marsh, and the Dee we headed round towards Connahs Quay. Along the path by the river Pauric caught up with us. He had left a little late and had seen us and tried to close the gap, which he did eventually as we slowed to allow me to have a natural break! 

The 12 of us then turned out of the Town by the High School and intimidate started to climb. As you should know by now, this is not my favourite part of cycling!
We climbed up to the Mold Road, where Pauric discovered why his gears were not working properly, unfortunately, an intact cable attached to the shifter is essential! We scratched our heads and couldn't think of any way to fix it, so after a quick discussion, pointed Pauric down the hill towards Shotton and Graham Weigh Cycles, where he received great service and was able to ride home.

We carried on and up via Northop to Pen-Y-Parc, the first high spot of the ride.

We came up THAT!

5 miles later, and after a now regular foray onto a farm track, Keith suffered from the only puncture of the day. It was a good excuse for a couple of photo's. The scenery in this part of Wales is beautiful, only made better with a fantastic bike in it!

Cycling heaven
Great scenery (behind the bike!)
 That wasn't the last of the bad luck! just after probably the toughest climb of the day, a section through the forest leading to Maeshafan, which is 11% average, but just at the top, it ramps up over 20%! this took its toll on John's chain as not far up the road it decided to break! Luckily Iain is a prepared Palefish and had a chain tool, and a link, so after a little tinkering, we were back on the road again. It had however taken us nearly 4 hours to do 40 miles!

Busted Chain!
We set off again, an managed to reach the Mountain Bike Centre at Llandegla without incident.

I couldn't believe how big the slices of cake are there! And very nice too (but not as good as the cake at Eureka!)
Lycra in a sea of MTBers!
 After a refuel and rest, we started our return leg of the journey, but once again we were hampered by another incident. This time was a painful one as Derek slid on the gravel on the road out of the Cafe, and was unable to keep balance and hit the deck. Luckily he managed to protect his brand new Onix, and with the dust print he may have come up with a new Jersey design in the process?

As it had taken us longer than expected to get to Llandegla, we decided to take a more direct route home, rather than the planned loop round Chester, so we headed down the Steps, I enjoyed this much more than going up them, then on to Hawarden and Deeside, where Dan stopped. He had done fantastically well, completing his first 50+ mile ride that also included all the climbing!

When we reached Eureka, we split up. 5 of us decided to top up with fluids, and the other 5 headed home.
While we were there we saw Karen and Keith, who had been out on another long training ride. It is only a couple of weeks until the Iron Man race they are competing in, in Austria. The level of fitness needed for these kinds of events in amazing.

Enjoying the sun at Eureka
It was only a quick pit stop, and we were soon meandering through the lanes back to the 12th man.
Even with all the mechanicals, it was a great day, made even better by the sunshine and the teamwork the lads put in to support each other.

Today was a first for me. Dave (Badders) asked if anyone wanted to help at this years Wirral Bikeathon.
It is a charity ride, in its 15th year, and it is suported by local cycling hero, Chris Boardman, and Dave's family are also heavily involved in the organisation too.
Dave came round at 8.30 and we headed up to our rendezvous point in Arrowe Park with the chief Marshal.
It turned out that Dave and I were going to be in charge of one of the most dangerous junctions of the whole route! Luckily, we managed to get through the day without incident!
It was great to see loads of family's including young kids out on their bikes enjoying the sun, and also be able to make their day a little more enjoyable, by shouting encouraging words as they passed us!
There were some of the club riding today too, and I was proud to see the Palefish Jersey's amongst all throng.

Junior Palefish
Pete having fun in the sun
The Don family 
The Wallace Boys
As well as the Palefish riders there was also the Famous Pro cyclist taking part, who was very obliging and posed for a great action shot as he sped through the park! ( I did try to tell him it wasn't a race!)

Mr Boardman going too fast for my Phone to capture a good shot!
 I was also very impressed by the chap who completed the route on one wheel, especially the off road downhill section!
 I also spotted the Wirral Mamils out with their kids, and managed to stop them long enough for a quick photo, and also long enough for Shaun and Ade to fill my head with ideas of a possible cycling adventure next year. Cheers lads!
The Maxi Mamils, and Mini Mamils
 When all the riders had passed through our half of the course, Dave and I took the oppertunity to have a walk up into the start and finish line, with Sian, Dave's daughter ( Junior Palefish rider) who had completed the ride with Mrs Badders!
We saw the lads from The Bike Shop in Moreton, and also managed to catch a few words with Chris, and get a great photo of him with Sian

Chris was thrilled with the attendance at the event, which could be a record with over 1500 people taking part. We chatted about the continued ride in popularity of cycling, and he was very excited to hear about our club and the fact that we encourage people out on their bikes and join a club, without the expectation to race or take it too seriously.

It was a great day, and definitely a different way of seeing a cycling event. Thanks for letting me help, and hopefully I will be able to be there next year too.

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