Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole ValleyMuddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

Cycling News, Reviews, Chat and Ride reports

Snowdon: The Way Up

Posted by Jez | April 18, 2011 | 7 comments so far

We’re a little island with not much in the way of mountains. Strange then we apparently go around ‘mountain’ biking in Surrey. Our neighbours across the channel must sneer down their cols at us.

We have so few of these big pointy things that going up them has a certain attraction as a ‘must do’ ride in many a biker’s tick list. One of the most well known routes in the UK is Snowdon.

Llanberis path on Snowden

A plan was hatched by Andy when he realised the voluntary high season bike ban would be starting soon, so if we wanted to ride it this side of summer we had better get going. Two moles set off to Wales in search of a little adventure.

Snowdon, literally ‘Snow Hill’, is a little over 1,000m and number 4 in the UK’s list of big pointy things. It’s also one of the wettest places in the UK so April was always going to be a risk. On a bike the natural way up is the Llanberis path, which follows the mountain railway that snakes its way to the top. It’s ‘mostly’ rideable. However, even a small amount of ‘not rideable’ over a ‘very big hill’ equals ‘a lot of pushing’.

The start takes no prisoners with a brutally steep road section as you leave the town. It’s a casual warning of things to come. The first trail section wasn’t too bad and we span away in a low gear. Every now and again a steep rocky section might catch you out and force a dismount but it was soon back in the saddle again to carry on turning the pedals.

The mountain top slowly began to loom in front, its summit shrouded in cloud. We were certainly not in Surrey any more…

Further up things get a lot more difficult. As we approached the penultimate station the track turns sharply upwards forcing a major bike carry. I found the only comfortable way was to have the bike on my back resting atop my camelbak. Andy also adopted this approach. No mean feat with a 170mm travel bike but thanks to the advancement of suspension technology the extra travel wasn’t much of a weight penalty for him over my 140mm set up. He certainly made use of all that travel later.

Andy carries his bike on Snowdon

Pedalling was short lived before it was carry time again. This was the nature of the rest of the way up. Alternating sections of spin and carry. As you approach the summit it gets a lot busier too. We were met with astonishment by many kids ‘cor, how did they get a bike up here?’ or ‘those guys are crazy!’. It was starting to feel a little crazy by now as lugging the bikes on shoulders was proving hard work.

With more than a little relief we reached the summit station. Unfortunately the weather had closed in at the top and we weren’t rewarded with panoramic views after all our hard work. We refuelled and still took the obligatory summit photo.

Andy on the summit of Snowdon

It was a lot colder at the top too and the cloud hung wetly on your clothes so extra layers were donned. Thankfully it wasn’t raining though, which for the time of year was a struck of luck. Overall, it took about 2 and a half hours of grind from bottom to top.

The next instalment will cover the way down…

Jez

About the author

I've been riding around in circles for quite some time now but only regularly in last few years since meeting the moles. Wannabe endurance racer but too lazy to train. And compete. I'll just stick to the circles. I can do circles.

There are 7 comments on ‘Snowdon: The Way Up’

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  1. Suren says:

    Was Dandy just happy to see you in that last pic 😉

    Sounds like a fun ride.

  2. Dandy says:

    I’m not known as ‘Big Dandy’ for nothing, Suren …. in fact,I’m not known as ‘Big Dandy’ at all 🙁

  3. stevend says:

    Although I wonder whether when you chaps spec’d up your bikes you chose lightweight gear to make carrying easier, I still think D’Andy is just looking for more exotic locations to get piccies of his new steed in preference to his unkempt back lawn, LOL.

    Magnificent effort gentlemen to be able to sit on your bikes on top of Snowdon, I look forward to reading about the adventures of your return journey.

  4. Kevs says:

    Awesome achievement men, if not slightly Bonkers! 🙂

    Can’t understand why D’Andy was still wearing his pyjanas though, was it not a Tad draughty up on top of Snowdon for PJ’s?

  5. Jem says:

    Having walked the trail you assended, I know how lumpy it is.
    Jez, in suspence for part 2 ” The Moles Welsh Desent”

    At least if your brakes fail Dandy, your Plus fours will flap in the breeze and bring you to a halt. I hope they are not made of pure wool, you may have attracked some Welsh rams with your wooly Mole Musk.

  6. Matt says:

    It does sound like a great adventure. I fancied going myself but couldn’t get away, what with Easter holidays and lots of other things on besides.

    I like the idea of carrying a bike up a mountain in order just to ride down again, back in the distant past (1998 I think!) I remember doing the same with my Muirwoods up above the village of Thollon sur Memises on Lake Geneva with Mark and Dave.

    Route maps, GPS, chairlifts and any kind of savvy were sadly lacking from our skills bag with the result that we had a tortuous yomp up a mountain only to be confronted with a very steep and narrow baby-head boulder-strewn path on the way down.

    I lacked the legendary bike handling finesse I have today (!) as well as any kind of effective suspension, brakes or tyres, so it was a ‘challenge’ to get back in one piece. I’m not even sure Camelbaks were invented at that point…

    Good times…

  7. Andy661 says:

    Dandy, times must be hard in the modelling world right now.
    Poor lamb can’t even afford the same pattern on each leg!

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