Author Topic: RR: 2007 Bryan Chapman 600  (Read 2245 times)

RR: 2007 Bryan Chapman 600
« on: 31 March, 2008, 08:46:35 am »

This is by far the toughest thing I've ever tackled both mentally and physically.  Tactics were a little shabby, but got away with it...

I set off from Chepstow and some how found my way sat on the back of the lead group.  I knew one of the guys in this group from my club and was sure I wouldn't be with them for long, but as the legs were good I went for it and stayed the course until halfway up the black mountain climb.  Got dropped at this point, but had a good descent and got to the honey caff at about opening time.

From here I let the lead group go and rode with Rob from Swansea Whs for a while.  We worked together until just after Newbridge on Wye, where I took a brief stop to put on wet weather gear and never made it back to Rob.  I rode solo more or less all of the way from there to Tre'r Ddol, slugging through Rhayader, Llangurig and up and over the climb of Eisteddfa Gurig.  The climb from Ponterwyd was nasty and even the run down to Capel Bangor from Bwlch Nant Yr Arian was uncharacteristically slow due to the strength of wind.  I rolled into Tre'r Ddol at about 12:30 and spent a good hour or so in the control as my good lady had cycled out from Aber to join me for a spot of lunch.

I had been expecting a nice tailwind up the side of the Dyfi towards Mach, but no such luck.  Made reasonable progress through Mach, Corris, Upper Corris and down into the valley at the base of Cadair Idris.  I was expecting the first climb to the Cross Foxes to be nasty and it didn't disappoint.  Nonetheless, I was soon on the A470 rolling down to Dolgellau and trying not to think about the need to reverse this later in the ride.

A few km West of Dolgellau, I found the turning to Kings YHA and one of the steepest climbs of the whole ride.  The little valley leading up to the YHA was beautiful complete with stream and mini waterfalls.  I was fairly quickly through the control and departed at 16:30 for the trek north.

There was a little up and down to Fairbourne, then over the wobbly bridge to Barmouth.  From there, the run up the coast was pretty sound.  I stopped to add layers and eat on the side of the road at around 250km and then pressed on through Harlech to Penrhyndeudraeth.  A sort but sharp climb followed, and my mis-behaving front mech caused some problems, but I was soon over and coasting across the Madog flood plain.  Getting to Beddgelert was fairly easy and I seemed to be making good time.

Climbing up to and over Llanberis pass was tough but steady and I wasn't feeling too bad as I rolled into Llanberis.  The route to Bangor had more climbing than I'd expected, but it soon gave way and I rolled into the Menai control at 21:00.

After a fairly quick control, I got set up for the night stage and headed back.  I sat on the tail of a bunch for a while, but eventually slipped off as it was too fast to be comfortable.  The route criss-crossed the Welsh Highland Railway along the valley to Beddgelert and after a bit of up and down, I passed back through Beddgelert at 23:00.  I passed a couple of riders going the other way at this point and wondered how I'd be coping if I had an extra 4 hours to cover...

The run back to Penrhyndeudraeth was fairly easy and the climb wasn't too bad, shortly giving way to the A470.  I know the road well, so was expecting a long slog to Trawsfynydd.  Nonetheless, it seemed like the never ending climb and I just had to dig deep and grind.  The run down to Dolgellau was smooth and I got back to the YHA at 1:30.  I bunked with a group than arrived shortly afterwards and we laid down (I won't say slept - my body ached too much to let me) until 5:30.  Was sorry to hear of the calamity of bed shortages for the latecomers and in hindsight surprise we didn't get booted out earlier...  After a spot of breakfast, I left the YHA at 6:00.

The second climb to (and indeed beyond) Cross Foxes was as bad as expected, but I made it up and was rewarded with a screaming descent.  I made steady progress along the A470 as the road criss-crossed the Cambrian Coast railway and made it to Aberhafesp just after 9.  After 2nd breakfast I set out again.  I was beginning to feel full-on exhausted at this stage, and the climb out of Newtown was tackled slowly.  Knighton came and went and I soon crossed into England.  I took a feed stop at 500km and then pressed on to Weobley getting there just after 14:00.  A big group rolled in behind me and after lulling in the sun for a while we set off together for the last 80km.

Myself and Andy from Devon CTC were hanging off the back of this group a little and after 40km we let them go at the foot of the big climb before Monmouth.  We completed the last 40km together making steady progress to Monmouth and on down the Wye valley.  The Tintern climb was tough, but we pressed on.  Finally rolled into Bulwark at 18:20, so a shade over 36 hours.

Too tired to admit to enjoying it yet, but first 600 for me, first SR and last PBP qualifier.  Main regret at the moment is not booking leave from work today as almost too stiff to walk...

Many thanks to Mark Rigby and team for all of their efforts!

'Accumulating kilometres in the roughest road conditions'...

Re: RR: 2007 Bryan Chapman 600
« Reply #1 on: 01 April, 2008, 07:59:58 am »
Just about the only post I wish to rescue from my past.

A weekend of 3 200's for me, two good and one particularly horrendous!

2004 route for me. Hung with a fairly fast group from the start, containing amongst others BobajobRob, Stuart Archard, Martin M and a few Cardiff Byways guys. We stuck together all the way to the first control, where Rob, Martin, Stuart & I had some breakfast. Must have left a bit before Daf (sorry to here about the fall - I worry about the day something like that happens to me, probably in the middle of nowhere...see Manotea story later on!). Rode with Stuart for a while, and stopped for some more supplies in Rhyader. Started the climb into the headwind and a guy called Charles (I think - sorry if that's wrong!) caught me up whilst I was faffing so we agreed to a bit of 2 up into the headwind. Found Stuart sitting on a wall a few miles along so we formed a group of 3 which went well for the first few miles, but we gradually lost Charles off the back. My legs were feeling good so I pressed on slightly ahead of Stuart. At this point I was doing 11-12kph and catching the guy(s) in front! I admit to a bit of perverse pleasure after cresting the top of the climb - I was enjoying myself - but I think the breeze took it's toll for later. Dissapointing Paris-Roubaix light-bracket-test road surface on the descent towards Aberystwyth, then crusied up to the cafe to watch someone get my full breakfast so I had a mump at the waitress and a chat to Manotea and Charlotte for 45 mins.

Did the next leg on my own and felt really strong on the climb, catching Peter Turnbull near the top for a chat before he dropped me. Came up the lane to the youth hostel at 5.05pm, in time to see Tuggo, Treborb and their group leaving. Spent a while moving some pasta about a plate, chatting and sorting out clobber I didn't want to carry for the next 170k and left at 6pm with Martin, Stuart A again and Peter Loakes (I want one of those retro AUK wool jerseys!).

Crossed the bridge to Barmouth and snuck past the unmanned toll booth, then Stuart & Peter dropped myself and Martin. I was beginning to suffer a little from the fairly fast (for me) first 200. Still, quite a reasonable pace up the coast and over anohther bridge to penrhyndeudreath, where I commited the cardinal sin by not having anything to eat when we stopped at the spar.  I held it together until the start of the Llanberis climb, but was off the back straight away and grovelled my way to the top with a couple of stops for a tin of red bull (bad idea) and lighting up. Martin (bless him) was wasting his sleeping time by waiting for me at the top which we crested at after 9 ish, in time to see the descent by last light rather than LED light. I was dropped again, and had a horrendous leg to Bangor, rolling in at 11pm, 15 mins after Martin. I sat trying to force down a sandwich with my soup, and amusing others by trying to pick slippery tinned peaches out of rice pudding (which I can't stand).  Told Martin to go as I wouldn't keep up with him anyway, and he left with Jack & a couple of others, whilst I signed on to Team Spooner and had 10 mins kip. Pocketed 4 bananas and left with John feeling mentally and physically not-up-to-the-job, and left at midnight. The next 80k was a nightmarish slog for me, which on my own would've been completely unbarable, but with John was lifted with some stroies & jokes, as well as John breaking his bike at every opportunity to give me a rest! After one particular chain-spokes interface we climbed up to the railway in penrhyndeudreath again before I realised John had taken his saddlebag off at the bottom of the climb & not picked it back up, so off he went to look for it whilst I dropped down to the crossroads to find Manotea talking to the police, and promptly showed us his cracked frame/rear dropout. I hung around for 5 mins waiting for John and trying to ignore a drunk going on about his (imaginary?) cycling crash whilst Manotea rang for a taxi to get him back to Dolgellau. Bad luck Paul.

John arrived perused the broken frame and on we went. We were both sleepy so 10 mins further kip was taken in a particularly 5 star example of a bus shelter - another first for me, is there a AUK pin badge I can buy for this?  I left John (can't remember why) after this - he basically never caught me up - and was convinced I was going to pack at the YH, right up until a few k's before when I found some energy from somewhere and managed to power up the YH lane to arrive at 5.25am - 5 1/2 hours for 80km!

Funny how quick things change around - a shower (lovely), clean clobber, 5 mins attempt at dorm sleep (not a chance - too many caffeine pills) and a double breakfast and off I went at 6.45am feeling pensive but ok. Even my sore arse had given way in the light of some clean shorts - note to self, the padding in my biblongs is no good for long events! Passed Tony H on the climb out of Dolgellau and !surprise! felt really strong. 5 mins chat about the ride so far with Vorsprung and a sandwich with Stuart A again and we rolled into Aberhafesp (which I was calling Aberha-Slartibart-fast at this point) at 10.30 for another bacon roll and I had 10 mins more kip. Peter M cheered me up no end by telling me that if I was leaving here at just before 11am I would be back at Bulwark by 8pm no doubt, so not to worry.

Left on my own (a theme for the day) but was having a great time - singing loudly to LCD soundsystem's 'Daft Punk is playing at my house' which came on my mp3 player whilst going through Newtown. Drew some looks, but who cared really?! Stuart had warned me about a sharp bit at the top of the Newtown climb, but I was now a cycling machine and tonked up the lot of it. Did everybody else see the giant apple waving at me, or was that the sleep-deprivation?!  Chatted to John's mate, former audax superstar Ray Haswell on the way down to Knighton, and had more sandwiches etc once there. Amused to spot Peter Loakes snoozing in the long grass in a field.  Did most of the route through the lanes on my own until Knight caught up with me for a few miles of chat & taught me what a dovecot was.

More packet sandwiches at Weobley (starting to get really bored of them by now) then did the rest of the way to Monmouth on my own again, still feeling strong. I did pull up for a breather in the shade near the top of that hill before Monmouth, and then somehow ended up on a slight out & back detour along the dual carriageway before finding the A466 to Chepstow.

I was dawdling so Martin caught up with me before Tintern and we wasted a few minutes taking some photos and generally patting each other on the back before tackling the last climb, and still feeling good! Where were these legs on the Llanberis climb when I needed them, eh?! Dropped into Bulwark for a 7.45 ish finish, very satifsying. Chatted with all, bought a load of badges then got back on the bike and went to the pub in town (at the bottom of a big hill) with Martin & Peter Turnbull for a celebratory pint. Got some egg on toast and an hour or two's kip in the hall before heading home at 11.30pm.

My knees hurt, my arse isn't too bad, and I can go back to some nice 200 & 300 day rides. Looking forward to it.

I feel a bit like I have achieved an SR wuss-grade - sunny this ride and the Brevet 400 the other week!