Yr Elenydd 300 — my first hilly audax

I finished with tubbycyclist and three others at 19hrs 20mins (although GPS reckons 19hrs 12mins).

Quite possibly the hardest thing I've ever done, ever (but that's not difficult in a first season). Inappropriate gearing and inappropriate fitness didn't help!

I thoroughly enjoyed the views – I grew up in Wales, so felt like coming homesmile  And the controls were rather good and seemed to get better as we got further, I think.

Note: this ride report is a mild rewrite of my submission to yacf, here.  Codified names are the nicknames of people on the forum, sorry about that.  The post date has been changed to the date of the ride. 

I made the mistake on the first section of trying to keep up with the sports riders – I seem to make a habit of this.  I bumped Shobden because of the queue to try to give myself time in hand at Builth for a full English – which I got, but then left at control-closing time. The climb up to the Staircase saw me bonk out – not good so early in the ride!!  The cake at the bottom was so very welcome, though! thumbs up

I made a feeble attempt at the first ramp and got halfway before my legs gave out.  I rode half the second ramp as well.  And walked the rest with SimonP and Feline.  One of the riders had a cunning plan and I bumped into him as he exited the Forestry trails at the top of the Staircase having gone up through the forest at half the incline of the staircase thumbs up  The rest of the climbs over to Tregaron were easy … no, wait, that's a dream I had: they were bloody hard and I am ashamed to say that I walked nearly all of them facepalm

When I got to Tregaron with little time in hand I thought I would DNF as I would get slower towards the end. But thanks to SimonP's words of experience in that the worst was over (although everything's relative) I got back on the bike with a renewed sense of determination, again leaving at control-close. 

On the next section, thanks to tubbycyclist for not encouraging me to ride the 1-in-6 up to Hafod (that would've killed me), so we walked it together.  The headwind through the Ystwyth and Elan valleys was unpleasant, but at least this should be on our backs for most of the way home after Rhayader (although it didn't work out quite like that in the end).  And to Blade for his words of encouragement all the way up the Elan valley.  We made the control at Rhayader with a bunch of time in hand – enough to consider stopping.

On leaving the control, I must've been lanterne rouge, because I left two minutes after closing and there were no other riders in the vicinity, yikes shocked  I had been told the tradition of Salvatore being last-man, and that if you're behind Salvatore then you're going to be out of time by the end, so I asked everyone I passed "are you Salvatore?" to which the response was "no, are you?"!! I don't believe he really exists, he's just a rumour to scare riders into speeding upgrin  I caught and passed quite a few other riders on the run out of Knighton, which was a complete surprise because I was absolutely caned at this point and every hill was a kick in the teeth (arse, actually) so I have no idea how that happened.  I rode in to Wheelwrights with a couple of others, but it was dark and raining so conversation was limited to "next left" rather than trading niceties – I will probably remember who when I have had enough sleep.

No longer lanterne rouge and with a bit of time in hand, I decided to eat while I could and was impressed with the organised methodology that meant I was served almost before I'd sat down!  Nice work and rather tasty too!  I left WW with others still eating with over half an hour in hand and span onto the back of the group who left before me (tubbycyclist et al, Revellinho also perhaps?  I recall mention of toads and ECE). And then we climbed to Shrewsbury (we all thought Shrewsbury was down from there, but apparently gravity doesn't work the same way in the Welsh Borders).  Every climb was another uurrggh, clank down through the gears, spin for as long as legs would allow, then stand up and grind for as long as legs would allow, rinse and repeat.  The final five miles seemed to drag, and I almost brought another cyclist down with a wobble as I was fighting to stay awake – sorry! – but I dropped to low-cadence, low-heart rate just to bring me home, as we had time to walk back if we'd had a mechanical at this point.

Back at the hall, it was time for some very welcome, tasty food, some of everything (different plates, although that would've been negotiable) to the accompaniment of gentle snoring in the background.  We were a bit worried that some of the other riders might've left it a bit late leaving WW, but they all rolled in within the limit AFAIK.

And that, as they say, was that:  my first Elenydd, my second 300, my first proper-hilly anything.  I think I might stick to a few flat-land rides to work out the pain, starting next weekend, avoiding any major hills.

Thanks to John and the team for a well-organised and (once the pain-memory recedes) enjoyable grand day out thumbs up  Re: Yr Elenydd – 13th April

« Reply #171 on: April 15, 2013, 11:43:13 PM »

Quote  Modify  Remove  Quote from: Henry on April 15, 2013, 11:21:29 PM  Wilkyboy, never again will I diss a Brompton, salute you sir…


Some pictures before bedtime:

Arriving at Shobden with one of the heroic fixie riders:

Being dropped while taking photos as we cross Offa's Dyke:

The ribbon of road disappearing up the spectacular Irfon Valley towards the Devil:

Feline and SimonP doing the honourable thing up the staircase (that juggernaut looked mighty heavy to be pushing!):

Iddu on Cenglau (?) after his Larrington Manoeuvre on the Staircase:

SimonP and Feline riding up Cenglau:

I took more, but most are blurry or misdirected or both.

Nick Wilkinson

Read more posts by this author.