A New Years Eve Ride to Remember
Well I always see out the old year with a ride, this one in North Wales, taking in Llyn Crafnant and the formidable Llyn Cowlyd via Capel Curig. The weather was mucky from the start as you can see from the pictures. I arrived at 12 noon reckoning on doing this ride in 3 hrs. I thought that I had plenty of time for this 17 mile, 3117 ft ascent ride!! How wrong can you get!
I parked up the car just ouside Trefriw on the lane to Llyn Crafnant. Took all the gear, map, food, gel, water, gloves, waterproofs, lights etc. It was warm for the time of the year but I had packed for a "just in case" senario.
The ride round Llyn Crafnant was good on a wide forest track which dropped down to the head of the lake and past some cottages. It then ascended on a steep track past Crimpiau which was shrouded in cloud. By now it was chucking it down! I was going to get seriously wet again. Well riding in Britain that's par for the course. I still haven't found a way of keeping dry on a bike after 20 years at it!
The descent to Capel Curig was brilliant. It really tested all I had as the front end tried to do its own thing on the slippery rocks. After a short while I flatted!! I do need to look at these tubless tyres. I fixed it and put more air in the back which made the back end bounce more. I just could risk another flat so soon in the ride. I reasoned that if I used my second tube and then flatted again I'd never get a patch to stick in this rain. End of ride!
On arrival at Capel Curig I took the wide trail which follows the A5 west. This was pretty grim. It became a mud bath and rather unpleasant. I crossed the road and picked up the trail to Tal-y-briach. As I climbed and looked at the map the two just didn't seem to make sense. I knew there was a big reservoir up there sandwiched between a steep sided valley but I couldn't see the route up. There was a man made chanel with water flowing but this wasn't on the map. The path went along this. I checked again and again on the map trying to work out the lie of the land looking at the peaks. This was hard as they were covered in cloud. Light was fading fast and I was thinking that if I could just find the lake I'd be OK as the route was pretty clear from there. If not I'd have to get back to Capel Curig and take the road. I made one last push up the hill to where I thought the lake should be and as I crested the brow there it lay, dark clouds shrouding the peaks on either side of it's shores. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and headed down the slippery rocks trying to steady myself as I slid rather than rode down!
At the head of the lake I could see the narrow lane to the right snaking over the top to get me down into the next valley and the car. By now I was exhausted. I got onto the lane which was steep. I was careful not to run over any sheep as the road sign said!!! There were hardly any sheep around. Even they were not daft enough to be out on the hills in this weather!!
Once at the top the light was nearly gone so I fixed my light to the helmet and went down the lane. This was seriously steep. I don't think I've ridden tarmac like this before. I dropped down into Trefriw and climbed up to the car.
Boy that was one ride. I was starving, cold and wet but felt alive. It had taken me 4.5 hrs rather than my estimate of 3!!