I pulled up in a layby alongside Llyn Gwynant and realised i was in trouble. Not like, “if i fall off now, i’m dead” sort of trouble, but rather serious trouble nonetheless. I’ve done the lap of Snowdon on my bike before, but today it felt harder as i stopped briefly in Beddgelert and realised my legs weren’t supposed to ache this much right now. Not long out of Gelert, i’d noticed i’d lost my wedgebag, meaning if i got a puncture or anything went wrong i was stuffed, and as i sat next to the lake watching the sun set high in the mountains, but still not as far as i needed to go, i simply thought, “Shit”.
All the tough sections from my last excursion round this mountain hadn’t felt as bad as before, but in a strange twist of fate the easy bits were forcing me to really put some effort in. I’d managed to forget my water bottle too, although this probably turned out in my favour, as i stopped in Llanrug and bought two bottles of Lucozade to last me through my ride. Since then, up until Beddgelert, i hadn’t stopped, but it had taken it’s toll. Going from Waunfawr down through Rhyd Ddu had turned out to be strangly like hard work and now, some time later i prepared to start the long and agonising walk up the road to the Pen Y Gwyrd. If i could make it there, i’d be okay.
But i was rapidly running out of daylight. It’s something like 17 miles from Gelert to Llanberis, and feeling boxed out of my mind after two, i was starting to come up with contingency plans in my head: who’s got a car? Who can i call? What am i going to do if i’m out of signal? I pounded on, the blood surging through my legs with a dull ache so relentless, i nearly stopped again, but looked at the sky and persevered. Music blaring through my ears, i tried to match my cadence to the tracks, blessing Fleetwood Mac along the way. I knew i’d have to walk sections up from the campsite in Gwynant so i stopped for a fag just to let my legs recover as much as possible.
After a heavy mix of walking/riding up the steep mountain pass, looking in the distance at the sun setting over Pen Y Pass and worrying more and more about the dwindling amounts of daylight, i let out the occasional scream of pain, and maybe a shout at a sheep in the road again. Eventually i walked past the Pen Y Gwyrd, and my last chance of salvation before the last section home. I persevered, jumping back in the saddle again to ride the last bit past past the Youth Hostel. Finally i crested over the hill, and to my dismay, i was set to ride down the pass in the dark.
I got beeped by a couple of cars, and shouted at by one passing motorist for having no lights but he just got abuse as now, even coasting downhill hurt. On the final uphill the dull aching turned into a pain that was sharp and constant, and it wasn’t subsiding any more. This wasn’t like ending up riding the back roads of Birmingham late at night, there are no lights in the pass, and just as i was enjoying being able to see the road again, i was distracted by a phone call, “Where are you??”
i made my excuses, turned my face into a fierce grimace for reasons that are beyond me, and peddled on, feeling more and more exhausted with every turn. By the time i got home, i had to ask Rich to fetch my Chinese takeaway dinner, and Lucy to make me a glass of squash: i have never been in so much pain after being in the saddle. Thanks again guys, i was so tired it hurt to move. The great irony is that i decided to go out on the bike as i’d been pushing it a bit hard on the rock lately, and so tonight will be a rest night, god knows i need it!
(PS Sorry there’s no photos, and for the length of today’s blog, i’ll try and put some old ones in to make it a bit prettier…)