Yet Another Cycling Forum

General Category => Audax => Topic started by: Philip Whiteman on May 13, 2011, 11:22:32 am

Title: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Philip Whiteman on May 13, 2011, 11:22:32 am
I was surprised no one had started a thread up on this epic audax.

Anyone doing it this year?

Anyone ridden it in the past and able to relay experiences?
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Jasmine on May 13, 2011, 11:27:00 am
I shall probably be there.  As will Andy.  Hopefully tandem.

It's a nice scenic route.  As per all U.N. Dulates routes, it's a shade hilly.

It's going the opposite way round Anglesey to previously (coast bit used to be first).  Most of the hills are in the first 2 sections.  Anglesey is well known to be flat and the A5 is gentle (ish).

The info control is near Prince William's house.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: chris n on May 13, 2011, 11:29:44 am
Anyone doing it this year?

I am. :thumbsup:

Anyone ridden it in the past and able to relay experiences?

It's great.  Fast to Vyrnwy, slow to Llanberis.  Bryan Chapman route from Nantgwynant to Menai, then a lap(-ish) of Anglesey (anti-clockwise this year, it seems).  From Bangor to Chirk is all on the A5 which is bloody lovely - shallow gradients, easy to navigate, fairly fast.  Sleep stop at about 360km if you need it.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Philip Whiteman on May 13, 2011, 11:32:45 am
What time(s) would you generally expect to finish this route?   I guess that the outbound section will make it a long day (plus the usual cafe stops for taking onboard energy for the long haul home).
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Hot Flatus on May 13, 2011, 11:35:54 am
I'm entered. Not ridden event but know the route as far as Anglesey. Very nice.

Don't know the A5.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: chris n on May 13, 2011, 11:36:46 am
Took me 2 1/2 hours longer than the Brevet Cymru in 2009.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: vorsprung on May 13, 2011, 11:41:48 am
I was surprised no one had started a thread up on this epic audax.

Anyone doing it this year?

Anyone ridden it in the past and able to relay experiences?

I am doing it this year.  Did it before in 2009.  In 2009 the weather was good and this meant that the first bit of the route had many fabulous views.  It visits "Petes Eats" in Llanberis, which is good. The A5 back from Holyhead is also marvellous, an excellent fast night road

If the weather is bad then the first bit when it crosses the big hills would be pretty nasty in places

I'm not a fan of 400km length rides* but this one is too good to miss.  Despite the travel up from Devon this went straight on my "must do" list for 2011

*the other obvious exception is my own "Avalon Sunrise" 400km ;D
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: αdαmsκι on May 13, 2011, 11:48:00 am
After hearing how fab this ride is from Chris N I felt I should give it a go.  The plan's to camp outside the village hall on Friday & Saturday night. Bwlch-y-Groes will be new to me, too, and I'm really looking forward to that climb.  I rode a bit of the A5 at the end of last year's Clwydian 200 and it was brilliant.

As for timings, I've no idea, but if I end cycling along with Mr. Pharghangitalivati & his 5 10 lb lump hammer it'll be a long day ;).
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Hot Flatus on May 13, 2011, 12:09:27 pm
For me as well, but in a different way  :demon:
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: MattH on May 13, 2011, 12:15:32 pm
I'm in as well. I've done this twice before; it was my first ever 400 in 2008, and I also rode it in 2009. It is hilly in the mid-section but a lovely ride.
The A5 bit is easy riding, gentle gradients up and down (so you'll climb for ages, then freewheel for ages). It's also very quiet at night, so ideal for sociable riding; you don't often have to single out, and the climbs are easy enough that you can chat as you go.

Fingers crossed for the weather though - it was baking hot in 2008, about right in 2009, but apparently 2007 was very, very wet. I can see it being tough in bad weather.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Jasmine on May 13, 2011, 12:19:04 pm
I rode a bit of the A5 at the end of last year's Clwydian 200 and it was brilliant.

The A5 is variable.  The route now doesn't get to the A5 until Llanfairpwll on the return.  Bangor to Capel Curig is about 15 miles of mostly uphill in the Ogwen valley which will take a good hour to 90 minutes depending on your general speed and tiredness levels.  The plus side is that 90% of the time there's a tailwind up the valley.  It starts to top out about 5 miles short of Capel Curig.  Once there, it's downhill to Betws, and then sort of rolling (easyish) to Cerrigydrudion and on to Corwen (you'll know that from the Clwydian).
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: scottlington on May 13, 2011, 01:11:43 pm
Definately my favourite 400.  Also one of my favourite rides of any distance or location. Thoroughly recommended!  :thumbsup:

Unfortunatley, cannot do it this year as my old man has rather inconsiderately organised his birthday celebrations for that weekend...   ::-) ;D
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: JohnHamilton on May 13, 2011, 01:58:47 pm
As already mentioned, there's quite a variety of terrain on this ride.

The first 50k is flat and fast, then there's a gradual climb up to the first control at Lake Vyrnwy. A good idea to feed up here as things get a little bit hilly from here. There's 2,500m of climbing in the next 100k. The scenery more than makes up for the effort though.

Most people end up getting to Llanberis rather later than they'd expected, but don't panic; you've done the hard bit and you can make up time on the rest. And you'll have worked up an appetite to do justice to the portion sizes in Pete's Eats.

Anglesey is not entirely flat, and is exposed so any wind can make it hard work. You're going the opposite way round this year which means you get to Holyhead slightly earlier and there's an increased chance you'll make it whilst the cafe at the supermarket is still open.

I've always found the A5 across Anglesey quite a boring road, straight, wide and through a series on nondescript villages. Which is one reason why you take the long route round the coast back to Menai. Another advantage of doing this section in this direction is the view of the bridge on the run into Menai.

A good target for most is to get to the control at Bangor Services before dark. We're a bit earlier this year though. The A5 is a great road for a night stage. The surface is good, you can't get lost and it's deserted. Telford engineered the road with a maximum gradient of 1:20, so it's all easy riding (Bangor Service to Betws y Coed is 25k in less than an hour even including the climb of Nant Ffrancon).

I'll be at Glyndyfrdwy at 345k to dish out soup, beans on toast and cakes to keep you going to the finish. There'll be camp beds and blankets as well if you're in need of a sleep.

It has been ridden in just under 17hours, but a more typical time is 24hrs. The weather makes a big difference though, as the outward leg and Anglesey is quite exposed. In 2007 it rained and was very windy (in Wales anyway, we had sun and ice creams in Shrewsbury). The first rider back was 21hours.

Note for vorsprung: remember shorts! I did note whilst doing the recce that Coed y Brenin does now have a (small) selection of lycra (non baggy) shorts.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: chris n on May 13, 2011, 04:17:41 pm
you'll have worked up an appetite to do justice to the portion sizes in Pete's Eats.

(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3256/3625972923_5098088919.jpg?v=0)
Chip butty and a pint of tea, Pete's Eats

:thumbsup:
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Greenbank on May 13, 2011, 04:21:38 pm
I got an odd look at Pete's Eats ordering both a chip butty and a beans on toast, but I managed to finish them both.

*burp*
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: MattH on May 13, 2011, 05:49:03 pm
But could you get on your bike and finish the ride?   :)
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: vorsprung on May 16, 2011, 04:30:40 pm
The seaweed worriers at the Met Office are talking about another "glorious" weekend so I am hoping the special Achilles feeling I picked up during the BCM will wear out before the kick off

I have loaded the gpx file into google maps (it needs a bit of munging) and you can see it at http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=206815044098537351057.0004a365f9450b5cc9968&z=9



Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: jimc101 on May 17, 2011, 03:33:00 pm
Signed up for this, this morning, hopefully will be more successful that my attempt at the old 240 last weekend, with ended after 100km with a snapped rear mech
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: simonp on May 17, 2011, 06:03:58 pm
I have a strong feeling I'm out. I'm having my arm assessed by a physio tomorrow but given that the level of pain hasn't really subsided since the weekend I will not be riding at all let alone a hilly 400k on fixed. Bah.

I might borrow a friend's 'bent to get me commuting again.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: JohnHamilton on May 17, 2011, 07:33:10 pm
There's a few spaces left still if anyone hasn't had enough of Snowdonia after last weekend (at least I can guarantee you'll see it in daylight on this)
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Hot Flatus on May 18, 2011, 10:29:56 am
Head says yes, body says no.  Might not be there on Saturday. PM me if you would like my travelodge room (contributions welcome as it was £36)
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Greenbank on May 18, 2011, 10:47:51 am
PM me if you would like my travelodge room (contributions welcome as it was £36)

Shhh! The Thought Police1 will be in to tell you that this isn't allowed!

1. Last Active May 10th. Hurrah!
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: swiss hat on May 18, 2011, 12:28:44 pm
I'm looking forward to this ride now after a few days recovery post BCM. Will be on gears this weekend though (all 30 of them perhaps!).

One memory from 2 years ago was how stunning the scenery was along the road to Trawsfynydd which I'd never seen in daylight before.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Philip Whiteman on May 18, 2011, 05:19:24 pm
Head says yes, stomach says no.  :sick:

DNS again   :'(
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: simonp on May 18, 2011, 05:25:40 pm
I'm out. Radial wrist extensors need some TLC.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: JohnHamilton on May 18, 2011, 06:47:44 pm
And then there were 32. Slightly disappointing, smallest field so far. Guess everyone's got their fill of Wales last weekend.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Andydauddwr on May 18, 2011, 07:22:50 pm
If anybody else needs accom, drop me a PM.  I have a spare bed in a twin room here:
Tayleur Arms (http://www.tayleurarms.co.uk)  [5 miles away from start]

Cost was £40 room only, so looking for 50/50...

Andy

Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: chris n on May 19, 2011, 09:39:45 am
The seaweed worriers at the Met Office are talking about another "glorious" weekend

In parts - mostly other parts of the UK.  Currently looking like it'll be overcast, dry and breezy for most of Saturday with rain spreading east and the wind switching to a tailwind as we head back to Shrewsbury overnight.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: vorsprung on May 19, 2011, 09:47:42 am
Here's my current guess at the weather, using various sources (cross post with chrisn who is slightly more optimistic)

We will leave Upton Magma in the dry and head towards Lake Lake Vyrnwy.  It might rain a bit on the way but we'll see sun too.  There will be a noticeable cross wind from the south.

Once we climb up into the hills the rain will be heavier and the wind stronger.  It does not look like it will rain solidly for the entire crossing of the mountains to Llanberis.  It does look like there will be sunny bits too!  The wind will pick up a little bit.  Once we get to Anglsea the current predictions seem to say there will be some rain arriving from the south but we may miss the worst of it as we'll have left again by teatime

Once we get on the A5 in the dark it does look like it will rain a bit more but the wind will move round somewhat and has a definite westerly component.  The ideal wind direction for a tailwind is something like NW and the wind will probably be SW veering to W later but hey!

So overall not quite as good as 2009 but not madness to be riding in.   We might even get the odd nice view!

There is still plenty of time for the details to change....
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Jasmine on May 19, 2011, 12:26:30 pm
Here is my prediction based on living in Wales for 10 years and not looking at the forecast at all:

Set off in sunny and light wind conditions from Upton Magna and get burnt on the way to Vyrnwy.  Enter Wales via Powys where it remains sunny but windy.  Enter Gwynedd to find hurricane force winds and torrential rain in the mountainous areas.  Cross the Menai Bridge into glorious sunshine and ride to Holyhead.  Turn in Holyhead to find a 40 mph headwind all the way back to the bridge, upon which it will start raining (Gwynedd!).  The rain will drop to a drizzle as you pass the Conwy County sign on the A5 and you'll be surprised to find everyone in Upton Magna telling you that they've had no rain at all all day.

That, or it will be really nice al day.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: MattH on May 19, 2011, 01:12:12 pm
Sounds about right. And not forgetting the horizontal rain through Bangor.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Nuncio on May 19, 2011, 01:27:30 pm
2008 Irish Mail - Continuous rain for the 200km from Lake Vyrynwy to Bangor. It had been warm and sunny leaving Upton Magna, and we were
surprised to find everyone in Upton Magna telling [us] that they'[d] had no rain at all all day.

All the best to Mr U.N.D. and the riders. It's not for me this year.  I'll be starting 1km from my house at Pontardawe and cycling to Poppit Sands and back with: considerably fewer than the 32 projected for this ride, 100 fewer kms distance, and fewer cms of rainfall.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Maverick on May 20, 2011, 08:34:45 am
Bugger I have to DNS! I have a cold/chest infection, been trying to fight it off all week, but given how I feel this morning, not riding is the only sensible option. Good luck and have a good ride to those taking part.
I'll be back for another round with the Welsh hills on the Offa's Dyke in a couple of weeks.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: MattH on May 20, 2011, 12:11:45 pm
Sorry to hear that  :(
At least you've already ridden most of the pretty bits in BCM and Mille Cymru.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Maverick on May 20, 2011, 12:13:54 pm
Sorry to hear that  :(
At least you've already ridden most of the pretty bits in BCM and Mille Cymru.

Cheers Matt. You have a good one :thumbsup:
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: αdαmsκι on May 20, 2011, 04:16:21 pm
Time to waterproof up; throw away the suncream; and pack the overshoes. Oh well, it was sunny for the Brevet Cymru. 
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Von Broad on May 20, 2011, 04:34:51 pm
Time to waterproof up; throw away the suncream; and pack the overshoes. Oh well, it was sunny for the Brevet Cymru. 

Yep.

One reason I come to the IM, together with unfinished business from 2007, is to cross Pen-y-pass in daylight. Of the two times I've been over there on the BCM, it's been dark. So that's nice.

But..[looking at forecast] it also gives me a first class opportunity to get thoroughly
and utterly drenched for the remainder of the 400km! Not so nice.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Manotea on May 20, 2011, 05:08:40 pm
Hey VB, you taking your BCM "farmer's special" bike?
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Von Broad on May 20, 2011, 05:51:01 pm
Hey VB, you taking your BCM "farmer's special" bike?

No, I'll probably keep that exculsively for going to the pub crop-sowing now, best not push my luck.

I've swapped everything over to one of the last remaining frames now - this 1980s Raleigh.  (http://homepage.ntlworld.com/vindaloo77/welds/531.jpg) Feels a wee bit harsher than the other one, and even harsher than my 501 Falcon, that I still have, and might even revert back to.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: JohnHamilton on May 21, 2011, 07:12:43 am
27 starters. Nice sunny morning here in Shropshire. Don't think it's going to last though, looking wet tonight.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: BlackSheep on May 21, 2011, 08:27:40 am
27 starters. Nice sunny morning here in Shropshire. Don't think it's going to last though, looking wet tonight.

Hi John. Hope all goes well on today's ride - for riders, you & Linda.

So you've also garenteed the weather to be there as they cross Pen-y-Pass - good man.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Hot Flatus on May 21, 2011, 08:32:13 am
I'm having a much needed lie in, rather than breakfasting in Lake Vrnwy. All the best to everyone. At least the daylight part of the ride will be superb
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Joolz on May 21, 2011, 08:41:34 am
Hello All,

Have a great ride, this is one of the best 400 km on the Calendar (sorry Mark).  Have a chip butty and a pint of tea for me at Pete's eats.  Wish I could be there but after a BCM last weekend and a 180 km commute this week I also need a lye in.  Off to Waitrose to get soon good food and cyder.  Then clean the Hewitt for the Beast for the East.

All of you enjoy and have a great ride,

Julian
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: simonp on May 21, 2011, 09:54:02 am
BoL to the riders. Sorry I can't be there but the weekend off will do me good.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Jasmine on May 21, 2011, 05:14:06 pm
Not the nicest of days for it today.  I think it's been raining in Southern Gwynedd all day.  It's just started to rain here in Bangor. They'll have had a tailwind to Holyhead, but I feel sorry for them when they turn round there - the coast road on Anglesey is evil for wind exposure in that direction.  Some soggy riders have been spotted in the Penmynydd/Llangefni area, so there's definitely been some rain.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: JohnHamilton on May 21, 2011, 05:59:33 pm
Word from llanberis is "lashing it down". Wind is pretty strong even here in Shropshire. So it must be terrible on Anglesey.

adamski has bailed for the train at Bangor so down to 26.

Just about to head for Glyndyfrdwy. With extra towels ;D
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: red marley on May 21, 2011, 06:11:29 pm
Oh dear. If adamski's packed, then it must be pretty tough going. Good luck the rest of the riders. I think we may be getting some epic war stories on their return.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: simonp on May 21, 2011, 06:14:33 pm
*suddenly glad to be injured*

This ride seems to attract Weather.  Of course it was lovely when I rode.  :smug:
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: teethgrinder on May 21, 2011, 06:42:08 pm
It p'd down when I rode this event, but it was still a great ride, except for the "Raspberry Jam" incident, the evidence of which was indicated on my till reciept at Bangor. Much to U.N. Dulates amusement!
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Jasmine on May 21, 2011, 07:08:05 pm
Just seen Andy in Bangor.  He's going ok, but apparently the wind is serious on the coastal section of the island.

Horizontal rain here now...
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Philip Whiteman on May 21, 2011, 07:58:20 pm
My admiration to those who manage to stick this one out and my sympathies to those with the sanity to find shelter elsewhere and a nice warm train home.  Some how my own illness makes the DNS less frustrating..
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Paulapops on May 21, 2011, 09:16:04 pm
Everybody came into Pete's Eats absolutely drenched this afternoon. The weather in this part of Snowdonia has been appaling all day and doesn't seem to be getting any better. Well done all for getting back out into it...
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: JohnHamilton on May 21, 2011, 09:29:18 pm
rain is steady but not heavy in glyndyfrdwy. no one arrived yet
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: vorsprung on May 22, 2011, 10:01:08 am
It was wet.  My cyo stopped working before dark.  Achilles from last weekend flared up again.  Got lost in the last 10k.  A bit of a classic :)
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: αdαmsκι on May 22, 2011, 01:20:54 pm
If adamski's packed, then it must be pretty tough going.

It was horrible going over Pen y Pass, but by the time Chris N and I were in Bangor it was dry and the sun was appear. However, the issue for me was head-related rather than anything to do with the weather, or my physical state. Too much work, stress and a lack of sleep.

I did get to explore new parts of Wales, such as Bwlch y Groes and avoided the worst of the weather :thumbsup:.

Thanks for Mark EDIT: John :facepalm: sorry :-[ and others for running the event.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: MattH on May 22, 2011, 01:29:28 pm
The weather definitely made that quite tough. Gusting, swirling winds and rain on the descent into Llanberis; I had to stop to check there wasn't something wrong with the bike!
Pete's Eats saw me change into the full Goretex gimp outfit, which was very welcome over the next few miles. I did get chance half way across Anglesey to strip it all off and get my other clothes dried a bit in the wind. The rain came down again as we left Holyhead, into raging headwinds.

The climb up to Llyn Ogwen was tough; again hard headwinds, sometimes pushing you almost to a standstill, with hard driving rain exfoliating any exposed skin then fast random gusts pushing the bike across the road. Once the corner was turned alongside the lake this turned into a strong tailwind, though headwinds and rain returned later.

For the first time I was through Betwys-y-Coed in daylight, and at Glyndyfrdwy before midnight. I lingered there for a while with ChrisN and Andy Cox. One rider came in, stripped off most of his clothes and ended up huddled in blankets by the radiator.

I eventually left about 12:30, just after PaulD vorsprung turned up. Got to the finish about 3:45 - something like 4 hours taken off my PB  :thumbsup:

Many thanks to all the U.N.Dulates and all the helpers, another good ride.

And, after Blacksheeps frankly half-hearted efforts on the BCM, U.N.Dulates showed how to deliver the true Welsh weather experience  :)
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Andydauddwr on May 22, 2011, 03:57:45 pm
That was hard.  After the destruction of tandem and stoker on the BCM, I had a week to sort out a viable steed for this one.  I eventually decided to defile the carbon fibre with dyno hub, edelux, Brooks, Carradice and race blades.  A busy week meant that I had just a couple of miles of shakedown ride, so arrived at the start with everything largely untested.

The run out to Vyrynwy was a bit fast for comfort, but I tucked into the bunch and made the most of the tow.  A quick bite and I cast off alone on the road around the reservoir, which was lovely as ever.  Rode around MattH on the climb, but my lack of gear range meant I had to attack the Bwlch Climb and press ahead.  This was relatively easy and most notable issue was a nearly with a dropped tree on the decent. 

The climb from Llanuwchllyn to Trawsfynydd was next.  I managed to strip down to Short sleeve for this bit and made steady progress with the wind gusting all around.  At the A470, it was time to head south for a couple of miles and to begin to feel the might of the southerly.  A quick cake and a coffee and I was soon heading north again, mental ticking off 2 of the 4 big climbs of the day. 

I skipped the laney bit through Maentwrog and followed the main road down to the valley floor and the turning for Rhyd.  The climb past Tanybwlch station was fairly sedate with the tailwind and I was soon down the other side.  Round about the 130km Mark, the first rain of the day started.  I foolishly followed the proper route to avoid Beddgelert and ended up with a lot of avoidable climbing and some hairy descents on loose gravel where I was lucky not to puncture the skinny 20mm tyres.  I was soon back to the familiar terrain of Nant Gwynant and heading up towards Pen y Pass.  I had a useful tail wind up the Gwynant, but some serious gusts were in play when turning towards the pass.  This coupled with some high quality driving made for an interesting climb.  The descent was nasty with horizontal rain cutting into my face and a slow car in front plus brake fade making me concentrate hard to stay upright between gusts.

Pete's was a welcome respite and gave time to reflect that the 4 big climbs were done.  I was soon back out there again on the familiar road down to Felinheli and then the climb to Parc Menai past the Faenor estate.  Then it was time for some off-piste.  Pont Brittania and a surprisingly quiet A55 were the order of the day and I made good time to Holyhead with gusting side winds for company.  I managed to blag a stamp in Morrisons and then came what was always going to be the nasty bit.  Heading east, it was clear that the wind had rather more Southerly than Westerly components.  This was confirmed when the route swang South into what must have been a F7-8 gale down to Rhosneigr.  Riding first gear on the flat is never good for morale and the mind inevitably wondered to how nice it would be to pack and warm up.  After a long slog, Rhosneigr gave way to Aberffraw and the info control.  From there on things were a little better and I wasn't sorry to not be staring at any more surfer-filled beaches. 

Before long it was off-piste again and I cut across via Bethel to pick up the A55 just after Llangefni.  The wind was a bit more problematic this way, but the smooth surface still allowed me to pick up speed.  I was soon skirting Menai Bridge and heading across the Telford Bridge.  From there it was time for a quick diversion to Bangor Uni to see Jasmine, pick up some supplies and nick her rainlegs.  Bangor to Bangor services took a long time and hopes that the wind would abate after Mon seemed dashed.  Not sure how, but I left Bangor services colder than I'd arrived and with a nice bout of acid indigestion that would be with me to the end.

The climb through Bethel and Cwm Ogwen was into a raging headwind with some of the strongest gusts yet.  Luckily, Chris N caught me up and I was able to wheel suck to the lake at the top.  We passed MattH on the climb.  I lost Chris at the top, but was surprised to see no wind.  A fast run to Betws followed and I was soon climbing again.  It took for ever to get to the top of the Conwy and Ceregydrudion was an eternity beyond that.  From there it was mainly down through Mairde and Rhug to Corwen where there were more familiar landmarks and lower altitude riding. 

I got to Glandyfrydwy at 23:30 and was a little too comfortable there with the warm and dry plus hot drinks a plenty.  I contemplated a bit of kip as my back hurt, but ultimately talked myself into pushing on for the final 60km, leaving a little after 1:00.

The run back is a bit of a blur, but I did stay true to the route and avoided the A5.  There were a few pockets of revellers around, which I managed to blast past before they saw me.  Some of the lanes were super skoggy, but the 20mms survived.  About half way back the rain stopped and there were even a few stars and the moon peaking through at the end.  I made it into the arrivee at about 3:30 and was in the early light of dawn by the time I was ready to get some kip.

Miraculously the bike worked very well given how little time I'd had to set up.  So with a couple of improvements that's my PBP rig.  Speaking of which after 1000 mainly wet and wild km in an 8 day period, I'm hopefully all qualified and bound for Paris, paperwork allowing.

Many thanks to John, Linda and team.  Well done to all finishers and comiserations to those who didn't.  This ride beat me in 2008 in very different conditions (hot), but can now be ticked off of the todo list...

Andy
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Von Broad on May 22, 2011, 05:18:07 pm
I was a late entry and knew what the forecast was likely to be.
But for some reason I felt compelled to go back and attend to unfinished business from 2007 [where I had to pack due to rim failure].
It was also a week after the Bryan Chapman and cyclists like me [who don't actually cycle very much!] need to respect recovery for at least 2 weeks.
So, all being said - there can be no complaints, I put myself in the situation.

But.

That was. By far. In my limited Audax experience. The most difficult ride I have ever, ever done. God, it was hard.

And yet, all those who did this with a view of going to Paris gained an edge over those who didn't do it. Don't let that scare you though :-)

I'm sure the more experienced riders have tales of 'you should have been there for this that and the other', but for me, with rides ridden so far, I will never forget the Irish Mail of 2011.

Many thanks John, Linda and all helpers.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: StephenR on May 22, 2011, 08:09:25 pm
What a ride! Took it easy out to Lake Vrnymy and had coffee sat out in the sun. Passed a couple of riders up to Bwlch Y Groes and just missed the tree on the descent. On the Second Mountain road it got quiet windy and this was the start of the day's fun and games. Teamed up with two other riders (Andrew and Dave) halfway through the third section, and we stayed together to the finish.

Nightmare going over Penn y Pass and Pete's Eats was full of wet Cyclist and walkers. Rain eased off for the first part of Anglesey but sarted again in Llanngefni and rained to Holyhead. The customers in the Tesco Garage were quite shocked by how far we had cycled and where we going back to. Even the local Police were full of praise and advised us to stay off the A55. Some awful headwinds back to Bangor but it was at least dry for this section.

Started to rain again as we left the Little Chef, and it rain all the way to Glyndyfrdwy. At times we were almost blown to standstill and then we were flying along at 45kph. Some welcome food and warmth in the hall at Glyndyfrdwy, and it had stopped raining by the time we left for Upton Magna.

All in all a very different ride from 2009 when it was sunny,warm and only a light wind. Took me about 4 hours longer that 2009 when I finished at just after 0100.

Thanks to Andrew and Dave for the company and to Jonh,Linda and his team for another well run event. 
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Jasmine on May 23, 2011, 09:19:03 am
Even the local Police were full of praise and advised us to stay off the A55.

 >:(

Hopefully due to the roadworks rather than because the road is 'dangerous'?
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: swiss hat on May 23, 2011, 09:19:24 am
Certainly was a wet and windy one. The sections from Holyhead to info control and leaving Bangor on A5 were some of the wildest conditions I've experienced in 10 years of AUKing. Progress was really slow and difficult in places, it's at times like these that riding in a group really helps, thanks John and Ray (ride partners par excellence again!). I'm surprised that more riders didn't try and stay together on the return stages from Holyhead. 

It was great to reach the Glyndyfrdwy control, dry out a little and have a 1st then 2nd helping of the pasta to re-fuel. Super organisation as usual. John H even had a pile of towels ready for incoming riders. We made good progress on the final stage continuing along A5 despite having our only delay of the ride, a front wheel p***ture for me. Apparently it had been dry all day in Shrewsbury but that changed as we approached with the heaviest deluge of the ride over the last few miles.

A ride I'll take satisfaction from by "getting on with it" in difficult conditions rather than enjoyable cycling as experienced in 2009. Next up BftE. Hope that this year's theme of strong headwinds as experienced on Severn Across, BCM and IM doesn't continue.   
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: jimc101 on May 23, 2011, 09:57:50 am
Very wet & windy but supprisingly enjoyable ride with.  Great organisation from John, very tempted with the Offa's Dyke ride in 2 weeks time

Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: JohnHamilton on May 23, 2011, 10:16:12 am
It's been a few years since my last wet event (2008 Heart of Wales iirc) so I was overdue a taste of proper Welsh weather. I've paid the debt and then some after last weekend I reckon. The dragon certainly showed some teeth. 2007 was wetter, but the wind was the overwhelming theme this time round.

That said, given the conditions there was some good riding going on. Everyone finished in good time, and the general spread of times wasn't really any slower than in 2009. Well done to everyone who finished.

Final stats: 39 entries (slightly disappointing after lots of early entries a big tail off in the last 6 weeks), 27 starters & 22 finishers. The smallest field for any edition so far, and running a 400 is a lot of work (harder than the 600 I reckon). One of the options I'm looking at for next year is a 300 taking the best bits of this, missing out the boring flat bits on Anglesey and returning via Llyn Celyn, Bala and the Milltir Cerrig.

PS. There's still plenty of time to enter the Offa's Dyke / Clawdd Offa.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Jasmine on May 23, 2011, 10:30:40 am
Well done to everyone who started and especially to those who finished.  There was some proper Welsh weather this weekend.  Anyone who rode this event can say they've experienced some proper Welsh rain and wind.  :thumbsup:

For anyone who has ever thought of moving to Wales because they've enjoyed riding here/ looking at the scenery - it's like this for about 4 months in the winter and random periods all year round. 
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Manotea on May 23, 2011, 11:16:59 am
It was wet.  My cyo stopped working before dark.  Achilles from last weekend flared up again.  Got lost in the last 10k.  A bit of a classic :)

Another wet cyo victim? Have  you responded to my poll in The Knowledge? Hope you had a backup!
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: vorsprung on May 23, 2011, 11:26:28 am
Writeup and photos on the blog (http://audaxing.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/irish-mail-400km-ride/)

I must admit I'm rather relieved to have got round OK and so get the final Brevet for the SR series
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: chris n on May 23, 2011, 12:41:40 pm
I had a pretty good time, considering the conditions.  Went off a bit quick but was trying to get to Llanberis for lunch rather than afternoon tea.  Brilliant lanes between Maentwrog and Llyn Pennant - definitely my favourite section, though the descent to Llanuwchllyn comes close.  Horrible going over the Llanberis Pass but nice to drip dry into the lentil soup at Pete's Eats.  I think the sun came out between Llanberis and Menai for about 15 seconds too, which was nice.

A bit of a lonely ride across Anglesey (after Adamski ditched me for a warm bed) and a slog into the wind back to Menai then up to Llyn Ogwen.  Superb tailwind assisted descent through a dry Capel Curig into Betws y Coed - 30mph on the flat!  The rain finally blew over as I approached Shrewsbury at about 2am and the last few miles were a whole two seasons away from Snowdonia.

9/15ths of PBP qualification done now. :thumbsup:
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: Climberruss on May 24, 2011, 11:01:22 pm
I packed at the top of Llanberis Pass and spent the night in the Youth Hostel. The climb up to there in the wind and rain was horrendous and at the top I went and checked the meteo at the cafe. This suggested that worse was to come and, quite frankly I couldn't be bothered to spend another 12 hours soaked to the skin and frozen.
A good nights sleep at the hostel was spoilt by the fire alarm going off at 06:15. Breakfast was late as a result so finally left there at 09:00. The first part of the ride back was very fast with the tail wind but then the wind seemed to come from all directions and progress became less easy. Finally got back to the car at 13:30. Might have packed but still got 175 good quality miles in (already completed a 400km the previous week so no pressure).
Another 400km this weekend (Llanfair) and then its 600 time. Hopefully with better weather.

Thanks to John and Linda for organising another great event. Sorry I didn't finish!
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: tonyh on May 25, 2011, 08:52:21 am
Writeup and photos on the blog (http://audaxing.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/irish-mail-400km-ride/)

Thanks for another quality report, complete with interesting pictures. Quality ride, that.

Quote: "...too tired to be pleased as I rolled into the finish..."
An all-too-familiar feeling. Encouraging to see it described.
Title: Re: The Irish Mail. 21st May.
Post by: vorsprung on May 25, 2011, 10:42:09 am
I packed at the top of Llanberis Pass and spent the night in the Youth Hostel. The climb up to there in the wind and rain was horrendous and at the top I went and checked the meteo at the cafe. This suggested that worse was to come and...

You were right, there was worst to come in terms of weather.  When I went into the YHA to get a stamp it was very cosy, great place to take a rest