Team Super Six’s Tour of Snowdonia - Day 1 The Snowdon Circuit (LGD - 218 Days)
Saturday 7 October 2017, 64 Miles
Click here for Route Flyby
Poking our noses out of the front of the hotel at what should have been sunrise we realised that we were going to have the first taste of Welsh weather – grey skies, damp roads, wind and possibly rain. The mountain tops that were visible last night were now shrouded in thick, low cloud. But in no way were we deterred – the remedy was an extra slice of toast and tea. By 9:30 am we were at the roadside and ready to go.
|Ginseng gel - no thanks!|
With a quick shout of Gadewch I ni fynd (that’s Welsh for ‘Andiamo’ – get your head around that if you can!) we left Porthmadoc heading along the coast for Criccieth before turning inland to cross the Llyn Peninsula above Pwllheli and ride along the coast as far as Penygroes. The route today was a sort of large circle around Snowdon which I hoped would give the team a good glimpse of northern Snowdonia on roads that I knew from the first time I lived and rode in the area when I was a student in Bangor in the mid 1970’s. A nice little uphill pull gave us a taste of what lay ahead. Vincenzo recuperated with a ginseng flavoured gel – out of date of course. The rest of us happily restored our sugar levels courtesy of Geoff’s jelly babies.
|Summit of Drws-y-Coed|
From Penygroes we turned inland for the first main event of the day – the climb of Drws-y-Coed. This is a climb that I know well as it features in the Etape Eryri as a timed hill climb. It’s four miles long at an average gradient of 2% with a maximum near the top of around 12%. Enough to raise the pulse rate! Reaching the top above Rhyd-Ddu we should have been rewarded with a great view of the western flank of Snowdon. Sadly the low cloud meant that all we could see was a wall of grey and the team had to take my word for the quality of the view they were missing.
|Where are the Welsh Cakes Mark?|
Once we were all together again we headed west to Waunfawr and a nice little pre-lunch ascent over a ridge before dropping down to the Llanberis for a café stop. Our café of choice was Pete’s Eats which in these parts has acquired legendary status. We weren’t disappointed and mugs of tea and assorted toasties soon restored our energy levels. As the ‘host’ I just had to introduce the team to a Welsh delicacy – fresh, homemade Welsh Cakes. They seemed to be a big hit – we pretty well cleared the cake cabinet!
|Geoff has a 'moment' at the top of Pen-y-Pass|
As we finished lunch we could see that the weather had taken a turn for the worse and rain had started falling. So we simply donned our gilet’s or capes and set off for the climb of Llanberis Pass which features in Simon Warren’s book – Another 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs. Here’s what he has to say about it: “So stunning is this road you half expect Gandalf the White, staff aloft, to come charging down the valley on a horse. This is truly awe-inspiring scenery.”
Michael was first to the top and I completed the 3 miles about a minute after him with a time close to 18 minutes. Waiting at the top in the wind and driving rain was a bleak affair but the group’s humour kept us all warm. Vincenzo, who had adopted the lanterne rouge position today, was last up and asked how long we had been waiting. He didn’t seem very convinced when we claimed it was only a couple of minutes.
From Pen-y-Pass we then had a long, fast descent over the next several miles to Beddgelert and the Pass of Aberglaslyn. The descent was pure joy. Fast enough to beat the car traffic even though the road surface was wet which slowed things down a bit. Aberglaslyn Valley is my favourite area in Snowdonia and weather notwithstanding, was at its best today. The autumn colours, steep gorge-like rock faces, tumbling rapids and waterfalls, the adjacent Welsh Highland Railway (steam) and a sweeping road make this simply one of the best routes available to ride.
|Not a café stop|