The snow was flying along parallel to the ground, driven by the bitter easterly wind when we set off.
We didn’t know it then, but this ride was going to turn into a bit of an epic.
Tired, cold and damp, and a range of hills between where we were, and where we needed to be.
“Just a quick pootle over the hill” – a comment I still get ribbed about. It shouldn’t have been too bad but for Shaman’s brakes which had given up the ghost completely. The levers pulled all the way to the bars without actually doing anything. The final descent, all three miles of it, he ended up walking. That was some ride.
So we’re here on a delightful summer morning for a re-match. In the black and white corner (new bike) Shaman, in the green and purple corner the Berwyns.
The route is taken from issue 1 of Singletrack magazine circa 2001:
The route is made up of four forays into sheep country. The first on old roads and tracks. The second takes up to a watershed – needless to say both my feet are soaked by the time we’re past.
The track down from here heads to a vertiginous edge
And then zig-zags down switchbacks to the valley floor.
It’s a top descent, the back wheel is scrabbling about for grip and the bike is squirreling about beneath me.
AT the bottom we hit some classic British woodland, but only for a hundred yards
The exit from the wood takes us into the remains of a slate quarry.
I remember being introduced to alliteration at school:
Shpeeding Shaman on shlaty shingletrack – that just about sums it up!
Next stop is the village of Llangynog where we ignore the entreaties of the local pub, and head off up the track running parallel to the main road out of the valley.
Too steep to ride in places, we eventually reach the top.
Best open this in a new tab so you can scroll from left to right
Now it’s time for a double track descent to Llandrillo village. Last time we were here we stopped in the bus shelter to eat our butties with hyperthermic fingers. Today is a little more pleasant.
It’s time now for the final pootle over the hill.
As pootles go it’s not that bad. This is the Wayfarer pass, a BOAT used by 4X4 drivers (Let’s offroad!) and MXers.
It takes us almost an hour and a quarter to cover the 6km, 415m climb to the top.
There’s a plaque here
There’s also a log book, in a watertight tin, to which we add our names.
If you want to know what we put I’m not going to tell you – you’ll have to get your arse up there and find out for yourself.
The descent isn’t bad, it’s quite fast with a few opportunities to get some air – and a few opportunities to fall off, one of which I snatch. Needless to say, there are no photos of that!
It’s a nice descent, but not the best one of the day.
As far as the rematch goes, I think we came off best today.
And as a special treat for Google Earth users, the link here should open the route for you!
Google Earth link