New year ride solutions

Fair weather riders

I was going to open with a reference to my latest ride being the first of the new season but I realised that a ‘riding season’ is so subjective. There are those that ride all year and those that only ride when the weather is warmer and drier.

I sit between these two camps. I don’t get pleasure in riding in inclement weather but it certainly doesn’t bother me. I’ve invested in enough suitable clothing to ride in all conditions. While a warm sunny day brings out the best in all of us, I wouldn’t see the lack of sunshine as a reason not to ride. Its all about choice, and I ride when I choose to.

With only a few days gone since the passing of the new year and with the weather cool but stable a decision was made to take the bikes out for a run. There was no plan other than to meet in Chester at 10am on a Sunday morning with the inference that the ride would be North Wales based on our meet up point.

Warning Will Robinson…

Despite my previous comments it had been over two months since I had last been out for a ride when I had a day out in the Peak District. I hadn’t touched the bike having being distracted with Halloween, Guy Fawkes night, Thanksgiving (I know its a US holiday but in honour of my stateside friends I joined in), and Christmas.

I settled back on the bike and got back into the swing of things after a mile or two but not long after turning onto the motorway my dash lit up with warning symbols. My tyre pressures were low and out of their normal operating range. Frustrated at my lack of regular maintenance skills I pulled into a fuel station for a top up but the lack of an air pump on the forecourt matched the lack of coins in my pocket to operate one if it had been there. It would just have to shine brightly on my dash until later.

Proceed without a plan

For once I’d not prepared a route and thought I’d freestyle it. The day was mostly about just getting out rather than achieving anything else. We agreed that the first stop should be a quick coffee so we took the fast route into Wales on the A55 North Wales Expressway and onto Starbucks just past Bodelwyddan. This was a small outlet next to a fuel stop that didn’t even show up on the Nav5 but we had visited it often in the past. It would also give me the opportunity to get some air in the tyres and get rid of the glowing yellow triangle that had been fighting for my attention.

Over a coffee we decided to do a simple loop of the Llanberis pass via Betws-y-Coed. Simple but picturesque with some stunning scenery as you climb up the eastern ascent of the Pen-y-Pass at the foot of Snowden (A4086).

Approaching Llanberis

Normally we would get almost to Bangor before leaving the main road for the A5 through Bethesda but I dropped a pin in the wrong place on the GPS and we turned off early on a road we had never traveled before on the B5106 towards Trefriw. The route took us past the Surf Snowdonia Adventure Park with its strange inland surfing lakes, currently dormant and drained of water. Still, it was interesting to see where they were having seen them some time earlier on the news when they opened.

While unintended it was an enjoyable road, especially in the later stages as we approached Betws-y-Coed. Its comforting to know in these days of GPS that you can make mistakes and find new and often overlooked routes.

Betws-y-Coed was welcomingly quiet although it did limit the choice of cafe in this closed season. With our requirements little more than a cup of tea and a sandwich this posed no problem to us and we were soon on our way again.

Heading out towards Capel Curig we took a left onto the A4086 and a right towards Llanberis (still on the A4086) just before the road became the A498. After the initial climb we took the opportunity to stop at the Pen-y-Pass car park, usually heaving with visitor and cars in the spring and summer months.


Llanberis and home

Having had our fill of the views and having watched with curiosity the walkers and climbers go about their business in the car park we backed the bikes up and departed.

Back on the road we dropped down through the valley towards Llanberis and back to the A55 for a blast home.

After the dark night, cold and wet days it was good to be back in the saddle with renewed purpose. If everything goes to plan I should be able to get a good number of miles under my belt and be properly ‘bike fit’ before July’s trip to the Alps. Those mince pies are but a memory now.

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