Author Topic: From the archives  (Read 4143 times)


  • The p*** artist formerly known as 'Windy'
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From the archives
« on: 01 April, 2017, 09:45:26 am »
Old photos of YACF-ers anyone? I'll start with this of me and Jaded at Arnol Blackhouse in 2006

bad hair day by ian, on Flickr


  • Sylph
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: From the archives
« Reply #1 on: 01 April, 2017, 02:24:59 pm »
A good thread!

The following is from September 2006.
If they didn't know it already, the splendid ACF folk on this ride now know that any ride in which Wowbagger takes part must become infinitely prolonged. We covered just over 50 miles in something like 9 hours including stops, which implies a leisurely pace: there was not much leisurely about this ride!

Mrs Wow and I began by visiting the riverside and understood, if we didn't before, why the Wye is regarded as amongst the most beautiful of rivers

after which we made our way to Clive Powell's Bike Shop, which is a bit like Aladdin's cave with an alcohol licence. The ride began in the most civilised of ways: with introductions, a cup of tea, a chat and photographs

and almost an hour after the originally scheduled time, we were on our way.

Initially the going was quite easy as we started on the road leading west out of Rhayader and then took the Sustrans route around the Elan Valley reservoirs.
These were built in order to provide Birmingham with water directly using gravity feed.

There was a great photo stop

in which Jaded followed Emilia's example of demonstrating a good head for heights.

This is no time for a clipless moment!

Once away from the fairly easy gravel paths around the reservoirs, the road began to get a little steeper and as we approached the Mountain Road from Cwmystwyth to Rhayader, we met our first chevron and Jan and I were obliged to dismount, as were one or two other riders. Our tandem was built in the days when a second chain ring was considered a luxury and a bottom gear of a little over 30 35 inches, and more particularly two unfit riders, forced a fair bit of walking in countryside with which we were pretty familiar from previous holidays.

We had a fair few sightings of my favourite British bird, the Red Kite

As we slowed down on the ascent, Emilia caught us and remarked on our speed and how she couldn't keep up on the descent - a compliment indeed from the one rider who must have spent several hours at the top of hills waiting for us to catch up.

The descent to Pont-rhyd-y-groes was decidedly hairy, but perhaps the least hirsute of all of us was unfazed: Jaded overtook us like a man possessed, clocking almost 42 mph in the process. I'm not sure that he was aware of the "Give Way" sign at the bottom of the hill!

After lunch, which consisted of roast beef sandwiches and some rather good cake, courtesy of Bards, some of us tried to follow the Sustrans route through the Hafod estate, but typical lack of consistent signing brought us back onto the main road a little earlier than the Great God of Sustainable Transport had intended. He moves in mysterious ways his wonders to perform.

There was a good deal of walking now, as the Mountain Road has a good reason to be so named. When we reached Blaen-y-cwm, we took a left turn along a track or road whose status seems to have changed in the past 35 or so years of map making. Current OS maps have part of it yellow, older ones it is entirely white, and the Bartholomew series marks it clearly. However, much of it is simply not rideable due to a combination of gradient and debris.

On reaching the top, some 530m above sea level, we were treated to a magnificent view

which I for one prefer to the dismal pine forest which is the other great manifestation of man's influence on the hills.

There followed an absolutely hair-raising descent in which the drag brake on the tandem worked magnificently. At one point, we rounded a corner to find Folkdevil picking himself up after a potentially catastrophic high-speed tumble: tackling a 1 in 6 hairpin on a fixie when the brakes are not at their best could have left him careering over the crash barrier another 10 yards further on. Fortunately neither he nor his steed was damaged but it was a salutary lesson and we walked for a while until the hill returned to more manageable proportions.

After Llangurig, we knew we needed to press on as the sun was sinking fast and not everyone had lights. The local farmer had very kindly left some lovely thorny rubbish all over the road and at least two people suffered punctures. I was concerned about the tandem as our tyres were probably at least 20 year old and quite narrow, but luck steered us through and eventually I turned on the bottle dynamo which provided a pretty good light through some gloomy wooded stretches.

We had repeated problems with our chain, which removed itself from the cogs, both front and back, at different times during the ride, and occasionally refused to change down to the smaller front ring. On one of these, we lost our balance rather and my trusty stoker rolled gracefully into the ditch, the only real casualties being her pride and her mobile phone, the latter of which needed replacing anyway.

We finally rolled into Rhayader nearly 9 hours after we had left it.

It only remains for me to thank certain key people involved in the ride. Firstly, Mark and Bards, whose route-planning was excellent; secondly, the entire company for waiting for us so patiently and with such warm, encouraging remarks; and finally my lovely wife & stoker, who a mere 6 months ago would not have considered any sort of ride within her capabilities, let alone 50 of perhaps the most gruelling miles to be found anywhere. It was her longest ride by far and shows what a great sport she is. It wouldn't have been half as much fun on a solo machine!
Bach without a doubt.


  • Sylph
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: From the archives
« Reply #2 on: 01 April, 2017, 02:48:14 pm »
Are we allowed t put text in here? I have ust found my account of my first ever FNRttC:

I have to confess that after the Southend CM earlier in the evening, in which I was quite cold for a while, I had doubts about going on the Night Ride. However, it was one of those situations in which I just know I would have kicked myself afterwards so I readied myself and, with my lovely wife cheerfully telling me "You know you're mad, don't you?", I headed for the late night BP shop and then the train.

I had mentioned somewhere on this thread that the forecast was good, but a damp ride seemed to be in prospect as between Liverpool Street and Hyde Park Corner the rain fell. However, I had started so I was going to bloody well finish even if it killed me...

One by one other riders began to turn up and eventually we were ready. Someone had a "clipless moment" before we had even begun, but then we were off. The rain had stopped and the moon, now a couple of days past full, was trying to put in an appearance.

It has been at least 20 years since I rode from London to Brighton, and after a while I began to remember some of the landmarks, even in the dark. Clapham Common, Balham ("Gateway to the South"), Mitcham, Morden and then a rather solemn moment for me which I kept to myself: Coulsden was the home of Jessie Gilbert who played chess against my daughter quite frequently when they were young, and who died so tragically a week or two ago.

Then we were out in the country, the ill-mannered motorists were nearly all in bed, and we were riding along at a fair old rate. Almost before we knew it we were clamouring at Tourist Tony's door and that excellent fellow let us in to get at the superb spread he had put in front of us. Pasta, pizza, cake, fruit, a cup of tea.. Grin

That was almost my undoing. After leaving Tony I definitely felt the load was heavier as my digestive system and my legs argued with one another about whose turn it was for the oxygen. Most of the ride I was near the back, but when two of our number chose to return via Gatwick, that definitely made me the back marker. As we approached Turner's Hill, I remembered that it was not called "Hill" for nothing, and it was quite a struggle to make the top.

At most other stops I had tried to set off as soon after Simon as I could so at least I was in the group for as long as possible before some gradient or other pulled me back. This time I didn't manage it and everyone was away. I did my best but it was not enough and the group was soon out of sight. I felt sure that I was still going the right way, but the longer I went without seeing another cyclist the more the doubts began to grow. There was no point in going back and I knew that Simon, who had been whizzing back and forth so much in shepherding his flock that he must have ridden at least 15 miles further than the rest of us, would not let me escape, so I kept my pace down below my normal turgid rate so that if I had gone astray I would soon be found again.

Of course, these were all demons brought on by fatigue and a wild imagination just before dawn, and before I knew it there was a reassuring red light in the distance again and someone was trying to mend a spoke amid the usual helpful gaggle of onlookers, no doubt much to the delight of the residents of five o'clock Lindfield.

From now on I sort of knew the way. The name Slugwash Lane appeared out of nowhere in the depths of my memory and within minutes we were there. Simon, who by now had left the guiding of the main group to 661-Pete, a Haywards Heath man, warned me of a vicious right-hander and straight away I remembered a small child hurtling out of a trailer in one of the 1980s rides, his flight being broken by mercifully soft leaf mould and vegetation. There was the bend, tighter than I had remembered it, and I had to brake fairly quickly to keep control.

From here, the Beacon came into view. It's an impressive hill, and is quite forbidding to an Essex Man like myself. There was what turned out to be a traditional gathering near some spectacularly derelict greenhouses, where a generous soul had joined the ride for a few minutes just to give us some fresh coffee. How welcome that was!

There was a fair bit of conversation and banter, but there was an underlying sense of foreboding as everyone was aware of the presence of The Hill, the defining moment of the ride. Then suddenly, without warning, a rider set off at speed and as soon as he did so, others followed. Within seconds, there was hardly anyone left so there was nothing for it but to go.

Initially the gradient is quite gentle. You can tell you are climbing but there is still a gear, or maybe two, to spare. Then, after the crossroads, the real work begins. I had decided in advance that my days of conquering this hill ended some time in the 1980s but I would keep going at a very gently pace, pretty much as slowly as I could without actually toppling off, until the inevitable happened and my legs just wouldn't respond any more.

The first bend arrived, and I was still going. "Keep going to the next bend" said a voice, so the legs kept churning. Suddenly it became a good deal steeper. "Dance on the pedals!" urged the voice (was it Phil Liggett's?) so I stood up in the saddle for a few seconds and reached a more forgiving piece of road. Another bend in the road, at a point at which it looked as though a huge bite had been taken from the hill but greenery was doing its best to fill it in again. Once again the legs responded to the challenge.

I was going incredibly slowly, no more than walking pace, but suddenly I saw sunshine ahead. Ditchling Beacon has a couple of false summits but I knew that once you are clear of the trees you have almost made it. I also realised that everything was so much easier than Turner's Hill had been an hour or two earlier. But I didn't allow myself to think about the overall goal, just the immediate task. I've lost plenty of games of chess due to over-confidence, thinking it was "in the bag" and relaxing. I wasn't going to allow the prize of climbing The Beacon to escape my grasp, so I just kept the legs turning at the same pedestrian manner when the rest of the riders came into view. "Forget them, you silly bugger!" shouted the voice, so I did, even when a few of my riding companions rushed out, paparazzi style, to record for posterity the fact that Santa Claus was about to don the polka-dot jersey.

The Man with the Coffee appeared again and handed me a most welcome cup. Once I had finished it, it was time for a few photos of that very special place, and then the descent into Brighton. This was fairly uneventful, apart of course for the speed, but again Simon and a couple of others kept me company until the remainder of the ride came into view on the promenade. A couple of brave souls went into the sea, and Mega10 and I joined them. It was not too cold, at least, not compared to my Scottish experience of a couple of weeks previously, but even so, I had a train to catch so a quick change of clothes and a couple of us headed off to the station.

This was a brilliant ride. It was a considerable challenge, and I think tested me pretty much to my limits. I am most grateful to Simon, for showing such forebearance but doing a terrific job as Ride Leader, and also the two or three others who made sure that I, the slowest rider in the group, had company all the way in. And of course Tourist Tony. What kind of saint opens up his house at 3 o'clock in the morning to a couple of dozen people, some of whom he has never met before, so that he can ply them with really tasty and welcome fare?
Bach without a doubt.


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  • Mrs Pingu's domestique
    • the Igloo
Re: From the archives
« Reply #3 on: 01 April, 2017, 04:12:51 pm »
Bealach na Ba summit 2005.

Bealach na Ba by The Pingus, on Flickr


  • The Codfather
  • Formerly known as Jaded
Re: From the archives
« Reply #4 on: 01 April, 2017, 06:49:33 pm »
Ha, I remember those first two well!
If you don't like your democracy, vote against it.

Re: From the archives
« Reply #5 on: 08 August, 2018, 04:07:42 pm »
Here's one from 2006, thrown up by Mr Google

This was a ride to Cambridge in 2006 with a few of Miss Ham's contemporaries, Wooly who conveniently wears one of his own t-shirts in case he forgets who he is, and (names escape me)