Poynton – Holyhead – Poynton
It was a challenging experience. I had been looking forward to going the extra distance following a good 300 a few weeks back. I was feeling physically ok but it did come after 12 straight days of work – last weekend being full on at Coniston with 30+kids and reduced sleep. Very early doors I decided that in the heat Iwas definitely not going to keep pace with the vast majority who shot off like s*** of a chrome plated shovel. This proved to be a wise decision as by halfway we had overtaken and or caught a good few. The first 70 K were quite kind and on the whole flat, through Delamere and then along the Chester Greenway and progress was plenty fast enough around 23-24kph. The control and was just over the Dee. Water, cake and bananas were provided, which prompted us to push on , ignoring the first cafe. Again despite the extra distance this was a wise decision as there were some pretty short but steep climbs up and over the Halkyn mountains. I think the heat added significantly to their cruelty. The cafe at St Asaph was a little gem, ideal cyclist stop. Friendly service, good prices and free ice cubes in a bottle top up. The next leg seemed to drag a bit and did include the Synchnant Pass beyond Conway. That was a beast as the heat seemed to be bouncing back off the tarmac. After a grunt we met a fellow rider hunched over his bars at the top. Later on before Holyhead we met him again and he was not going well. He did however eventually leave us, never to be caught. The rolling landscape avoiding the main A55 seemed to be energy sapping although roads were quiet and but the hot weather was relentless. It is pleasing to report that we only came across one daft motorist on the way out. I cannot recall drinking so much ever. At least 8 bottles of water, a couple of coffees and 4 or 5 cokes on the way out. The organiser kindly met us at Holyhead and gave us a brew and some grub. Here my group of 3 became one of 7as we were caught by those who had stopped for 2 cafes as opposed to our one. I had spotted Valley chippy on the way out so suggested a feed before return. There were plenty of takers and despite the fact they were shutting when I arrived they said they would do chips and pies provided we ate outside – deal done and good they were. Here the earlier struggler went past and was never seen again. I assume he went through his bad patch and completed ahead of us.
Our band set off will lit and covered in reflective attire. The cooler temperatures causing a step up in speed. Looking back I think this was where I might have overcooked it. It was great to have plenty of company and do some time on the front but maybe it was a bit quick for the legs. The Menai bridge looked great all lit up then back through Bangor to the A55. We maintained a brisk tempo but finding a place for a breather, food and drink wasn’t so easy. Garages were reluctant to do hot drinks. Conway castle looked great lit up. Eventually we found a McDonalds where they let us in and we had a laugh explaining to several drunken customers what we were up to. Funny how the conversation eventually goes to “You have cycled where?” and “What no bed?” “You must be mad!” Then the inner satisfaction that my kicks are healthy, relatively cheap and I know I won’t feel as bad as them in the morning.
Daylight brought us over the Dee on to the Queensferry bridge which I have always admired from a distance and the realisation that I had been pushing a bit too hard through the night. From here on the elastic began to stretch. Yes there was the thought that it was do-able but it was going to be a bugger. Fortunately there were no big hills but every incline slowly but surely took its toll. Here the great cameraderie of the group was of assistance. They were tolerant of my yo-yoing and waited or eased until we were back together. Their patience was probably tested but was appreciated. Interestingly my inner thoughts came to “You are only doing this for the sake proving it can be done , rather than the pleasure.” I think there is a hint of truth in that and there is going to be a 600 where I have little doubt the same thoughts will occur. But right now I have the pleasure in having laid another nail in the Welsh bastards coffin and there needs to at least one more . It was a ride that took me through some dark places, plenty of suffering and all for £5, but the light of so many good people and the satisfaction of completing the physical challenge far outweigh and more than compensate for that idiot 2 years ago.