Dyfi Winter Warm Up – 27th January
After an evening in the Winnstay Pizzeria eating Pizza toped with leeks we had a disturbed night’s sleep. Not from wind… well not the fart variety anyway…. The rain beat against the window, the wind howled around the bunkhouse and lightening lit up the room as we cowered in our beds…. In reality I slept through most of it, 18 hard miles, several pints of Welsh bitter and belly full of pizza saw to that. I woke only once, with the sensation of needing a pee…. now!
Sunday dawned bright, with blue skies and occasional clouds. The plan was to ride up to Corris Craft Centre about 5 miles up the Dulas Valley on the A487, and use that was a warm up for the event. We left the bumkhouse just over an hour before the event start… plenty of time!
As we headed out of Mach, there was a Road closed sign by the station… sure enough, under the bridge was a flood, but we braved it and rode through…. then “Look at that!” The road about 100 yards further on was flooded too, it looked like it went right the way to the bridge.
Ah… We have a problem. Do we chance trying to ride through it? We’d no idea if the road dips at any point…. and it looks pretty fast flowing…. and I really don’t fancy getting my feet soaked through this early in the day. Or it’s a 16 mile detour, now 16 miles on undulating Welsh roads in an hour would probably be doable on a road bike…. but on a Fat Bike, not a hope! Ride back to the bunkhouse, bikes in van, drive the detour…. that’s a option!
Just at that point a white van pulled up, and a head leant out and said hello Steve! It was a bloke he knows from Shrewsbury way, who was on his way to the event! We squeezed the bikes, and Rob into the back and headed off.
The extent of the flooding was amazing considering the day before the river had been highish, but nothing too bad. But looking at the mountains around all the snow had gone. The overnight rain had melted the lot!
We arrived at the Corris Craft centre and signed on, the 11am start was delayed to 11:15 to allow some who had been stopped from crossing the Dyfi at the same place as us, to make their way through the lanes.
Soon it was 11:15 and we were off, a short road section behind a quad bike, a left turn and we were at the bottom of the a fireroad and the first almighty climb, 850ft in just under 2.5 miles. I’d started quite a way towards the front, way too far forward for my speed, so as I climbed quite a few people overtook me. I’d ridden this before, so knew what a slog it was. I tried not to think about the amount of people going past, as it’s an easy way to mentally kill yourself.
Soon I was well over halfway, and now I was overtaking people who’d flown past me earlier and were now really suffering . It’s always nice towards the end of a climb to pass people, it gives you something to aim for, and takes your mind off the fact your legs are screaming at you. Pass them, then it’s look ahead and find the next soft target.
After one muddy descent I was on the course proper. 3 laps of that to do. The lap really only consists of 2 fire road climbs and 2 stunning descents. The climbs are mainly fireroad, and the two main descents have totally different characteristics.
The first, “Nant Canol” is loose slate, that with the snow melt, had turned into a stream. I don’t know what it was like on a normal mountain bike, but on the Fat Bike I was getting covered in so much spray I looked like I’d been in a shower when I got to the bottom! Throughout the 3 laps this one didn’t change much.
The second “Dicko’s” starts off a bit slatey, but very quickly becomes a bit of a mub bath, and as the race went on the mub bath got deeper!
For the first two laps I felt fine, but halfway through the 3rd my legs really did start to feel it. My lap times were roughly 01:07, 00:59, 01:07 – The first lap is physically longer by 1.5 miles anyway as you have to ride from Corris, the second lap (6 miles) was great, sub 1 hour I’m pleased with that, and the third…. well I was suffering by then.
Overall time of approx 3:13… not bad considering I was on a heavy old bike.
A six mile road ride down the main road to Mach, through the floods which had now gone down a bit, back to the bunkhouse and a welcome shower (Thanks to Teg, the owner, knowing us now and not insisting we be out by midday)