Author Topic: Cambrian Series 8A Permanent  (Read 1500 times)

Cambrian Series 8A Permanent
« on: August 20, 2014, 05:46:46 pm »
Having ridden the C10A a couple of years ago, I’d been thinking of the C8A brevet card lurking in the drawer that needed to be used. The weekend 16-17 August presented an opportunity, unfortunately potential ride partners were unavailable (washing their hair perhaps?) and there were no takers on YACF, so it was to be a solo ride. As far as I know only Toby (otp) has ridden the C8A and he had kindly provided his tracklog with actual 835 km and Garmin recorded 15,900m climbing on which I planned my route. I also based myself at the Dol Llys campsite on outskirts of Llanidloes that Toby used.
 
The route is a figure of “8” with 2 x 400ish km loops centred on Llanidloes. My plan was to ride the northern loop, rest at Llanidloes and decide during the southern loop whether to try and ride straight through or break the ride and use the 60 hours available. So I set off just after 4 am on the rollercoaster road to Staylittle heading to Dinas-Mawddwy for my first ascent of Bwlch-y-Groes the hard way. With fresh legs and a 30 x 27 gear it was manageable and I stopped at the top in early morning light to admire the view. Onwards and downwards to Bala. Then the route headed SE to Montgomery which was new territory for me after passing Lake Vyrnwy. A lovely section and a little help from the westerly wind that was picking up.  After turning around it is NW to Corwen (206 km) via the Berwin Hills for more new territory and, less welcome, the feel of a headwind that became a familiar feature during the ride. A series of Ferraris passed in the opposite direction enjoying the open road – vrrrrm.  Remote countryside and lanes on the way to village of Llansannan where the PO and pub were closed so a letter was posted to Colin B in order to control. Heading towards the A470 as it follows the valley towards Betws-y-Coed the direct route goes up and over on a hardcore twisting lane before joining the A5 and continuing to Capel Curig. Over Pen-y-Pas heading LLanberis and arriving at Pete’s Eats at 17:30 (288 km) for my first proper sitdown meal of the day. A large plate of spaghetti bol and 2 mugs of tea help restore the energy levels. Up to this point I’d been pressing on with quick shop controls and no mechanicals or faffing to delay me. Setting off on the return up Pen-y-pas I was looking for some help from the wind at last and it delivered for a while, but I needed to pedal downhill to Beddgelert, before picking up some assistance each time the route headed slightly east on the run back to Machynlleth where I arrived just before 10 pm. There remained the not so minor matter of the hors categorie last leg from Mach’ to Llanidloes. I have a vivid memory of climbing in the dark with wind howling late on Sat evening and saw a set of lights appear high above me, first thought was that it was a plane, but I then realised it was a car coming over the mountain road! Arriving at Llanidloes at 23:45 (415 km) I quickly visited the cashpoint and headed off to the campsite for food/shower/rest.
 
I decided to set off at 7 am the next day and see how things developed rather than having a firm destination. A bit damp on the way to Devil’s Bridge but drying on the run up the Elan Valley to Rhayader. Made a change not to head via the reservoirs but climb out the valley and enjoy the descent into town. I remembered the spinning required whilst riding this section of the Elenith on fixed. Main roads now for some easy cycling to Builth Wells where there was a big show on but traffic was ok and I’d made good progress arriving at 10:30 (502 km). Next up was a long westerly leg to Aberaeron on the coast via Devil’s staircase and Tregaron, yup the wind was still there and it was hard work all the way. I really could have done with a riding partner to share the effort. Or perhaps found a farmer taking the scenic route to the seaside on an old tractor! As it was I arrived in Tregaron and found a solitary audaxer in the square. It was Caerau (otp) feeling a bit out of sorts on the Tregaron Dragon (hope you got back to base ok Mr C). We chatted whilst I downed a tin of spaghetti and pint of milk and stowed another tin in my seatpack for use latter. Great views of the coast opened up as I approached Aberaeron, I looks a nice seaside town judging from my first brief visit.  The next 105 km via Llandeilo towards Aberdare was a real rollercoaster requiring much granny ring action… I reached Glynneath around 8 pm after 90 km (665 km) and decided to try and find somewhere to stay for the night. I was directed to the Lamb & Flag pub which had a nice room available, would let me keep my bike in the room and prepare a packed lunch for the following day. A quick trip to the Indian takeaway up the road and a pint to go in my room and I was sorted for the night.
 
Starting at 4 am the next morning after eating the packed “lunch” for the anticipated 170 km to finish with 12 hours to complete gave a good safety margin. It was damp becoming wet on the way to Aberdare and involved some big climbs to get out of the Valleys. Then a lovely long run down to Brecon and Hay-on-Wye to arrive 07:44 (742 km) for a tasty pasty and coffee. Hay to Knighton was as lumpy as ever but the sun was breaking through by then. I really enjoyed the ride up the valley to Newtown but caught the A road to Llanidloes at a busy time – I used this as motivation to push on to the finish. Great to have finished feeling tired but otherwise in decent shape around midday for completion in 56 hours (835 km). It would no doubt have been a bit different if I’d ridden through the night!
 
So in summary I used most of the 60 hrs available over 3 days of 415 km, 250 km and 170 km. I had mixed Welsh weather with that b***** wind. And a most excellent adventure awheel! I also have the satisfaction of completing the Cambrian 6A, 8A and 10A over a three year period.  Someone mentioned a C12A but it was just a wind up (I think).
 

marcusjb

  • Full of bon courage.
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Re: Cambrian Series 8A Permanent
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2014, 07:39:36 am »
Top stuff!  That is a great sounding ride. That is also rather over distance!

What was your final ascent figure?

I have my eye on a couple of the longer Cambrian series at some point. 
Right! What's next?

Ooooh. That sounds like a daft idea.  I am in!

Re: Cambrian Series 8A Permanent
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2014, 09:52:58 am »
Overdistance - that is often the case with free route perms. The route I used (essentially Toby's) generally takes a direct line rather than a main road (=longer with easier gradient, and often less climb) where an option exists. I can only think of one instance on A470/A44 after LLanidloes where it takes the longer main road option. It would be interesting to know what CET considers to be the minimum possible distance?   

My GPS doesn't record ascent. Toby recorded 15,900m whilst official figure is 13,500m.

The 8A combines the 4F and 4G routes. Either of these would be a great long ride in their own right. My favorite section was the Bala, Vyrnwy, Montgomery, Berwin Hills, Corwen on the 4G.

Re: Cambrian Series 8A Permanent
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2014, 05:26:30 pm »
Brilliant stuff swiss hat!

Chapeau!
Does not play well with others

fungus

  • SO @ T
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Re: Cambrian Series 8A Permanent
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2014, 10:33:54 pm »
Chapeau indeed  :thumbsup:
SR 2010/11/12/13/14/15
RRTY. PBP. LeJoG 1400. LEL.




Re: Cambrian Series 8A Permanent
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2014, 10:43:13 am »
Impressed  :thumbsup:

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

  • Miles eaten don't satisfy hunger
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Re: Cambrian Series 8A Permanent
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2014, 11:43:10 am »
Overdistance - that is often the case with free route perms. The route I used (essentially Toby's) generally takes a direct line rather than a main road (=longer with easier gradient, and often less climb) where an option exists. I can only think of one instance on A470/A44 after LLanidloes where it takes the longer main road option. It would be interesting to know what CET considers to be the minimum possible distance?   

My GPS doesn't record ascent. Toby recorded 15,900m whilst official figure is 13,500m.

The 8A combines the 4F and 4G routes. Either of these would be a great long ride in their own right. My favorite section was the Bala, Vyrnwy, Montgomery, Berwin Hills, Corwen on the 4G.

The shortest distance via Google Maps set to walking and then checked for obvious bridlepath sections was 817km.  I forget which of the 4F and 4G was 407km and 410km - but having decided on a figure of 8 route it seemed to make sense to offer the two halves as 400km rides.  As the rides have to be at least 400km and that is quite hard to get absolutely spot on with the limited permutation of roads and controls towns (I might have to visit Llansannan and look at some potential info controls if it has now become pub and PO-less).  It does seem that there can be a 1 - 2% understatement using the Google Maps distance in Wales - but at the time of setting up the route that was the official way of proving the distance.  I would validate a time of 76hr 20minutes to recognise the route is over-distance.

The official figures for ascent are based on contour counts.  I count them twice, either way round, and then again if there is any deficiency.  GPS devices always read 10% - 20% higher - even when routes are clearly only up or down (for example Zigzags Strava logs on our Alpine trip).  So I warn people that if they are used to using a GPS altitude count then the Cambrian series rides will appear harder than the published figure.

Very impressed by the amount of sleep you were able to get.  When I've contemplated this ride I've anticipated a 4am to 2am first leg, and then ride through the second night to finish.

There are less entrants for the northern and western Cambrian perms but you make a good observation that these take you into some fantastic and little visited territory.  The 4D which took me out to Fishguard and the Mynydd Presceli was the reason I took these rides over when Peter Coulson stopped organising.
Eddington Numbers 125 (imperial), 172 (metric) 523 (furlongs)  112 (nautical miles)

caerau

  • SR x 3 - PBP fail but 1090 km - hey - not too bad
Re: Cambrian Series 8A Permanent
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2014, 08:46:58 am »
Good to meet you in Tregaron Swiss Hat, I'm glad someone completed that day  :facepalm:

Have has two weeks off the bike since and got married in the intervening time  ;D

I was glad of the company at the time - had a good laugh with the staff at the hotel there as the same people rescued me when I had a terminal blowout on peacocks and kites in June - had to get a taxi back what with it being Sunday and all. Expensive game packing  :-\
It's a reverse Elvis thing.