Conway to Ogwen Cottage – MTB
Castle to the Sky
After the 3rd cup of coffee and squashed banana it’s back to the bikes and we head off on what was the original MTB stage to Ogwen, via Zip World.
From Conway its back lanes and byways again, some tricky navigation and then up a steep climb onto the old Roman Road and over the tops almost back the way we had come earlier in the day. The sun got out for a while and the views and long sweeping tracks made to distract us from the effort and the lateness of the day. As we dropped back down to the road for the last few miles into Bethesda, the wind picked up and the temperature began to drop noticeably.
I’m no big fan of fairground rides of any sort, they just make me feel sick, and so I was a little apprehensive about a mile long zipwire travelling at 100mph! I think Steve was more than just apprehensive, but there was no way out, we were just going to have to get on with it.
We had more than enough time to contemplate our fate too as this was the special stage where we were due to serve our stop time penalty we’d acquired during the prologue. However we were welcoming of the time to sit and relax a bit and fuel up from the café at the centre, the bike from Conway had been incessant. Chips and coffee a simple diet of calories and as many as we can fit in. I’m still finding it hard to eat, my appetite still muted despite the knowledge that I must eat.
The walk up to the top station (normally paying customers get driven up in a covered waggon but James [Thurlow] hadn’t wanted the extra cost, or so the rumour went) was quite a trek, 40 mins or so up the steep quarry grade. This too allowed us to consider what was to come as we could see the wires and prone contestants “flying” over the steep void as we zig-zagged upwards in the evening light. At least it was dry but I’m beginning to notice a nagging soreness on the base of my left foot.
The its our turn, we’re suited up as soon as we get to the dispatch station, a steel grilled platform poking out of a wooden hut, hanging out over the huge drop, the green lake at the bottom of the old workings now just a dot far below.
The Zip crew seemed quietly confident and efficient, helping to dispel our apprehensions, at least one of them with an Antipodean twang in his voice. (Why are these guys so often from “Down-Under”, does New Zealand have a Bungee Operator’s University?)
And then, we’re gone, the flight is as they said it would be, quite long and there’s a period of a few seconds when you appear to stop mid-way, above the lake, and looking down it’s quite a view. Then with a sudden rush you’re there at the end and just in time remembering to flap your arms as you come in to land.
As we sit back at the café now closed, waiting out the remaining time of our penalty-stop and discuss the zip we’re all agreed, even Steve, that in the end the experience was not at all bad, quite enjoyable indeed. It’s getting dark and cold as we prepare to set off on the second half of the stage proper and bike to Ogwen, lights, attached to bikes and helmets, cutting through the gloom.
I don’t remember much of this section, tracks and byways and narrow lanes all looking much the same in the dark. It just seemed to go on forever. Promises of hot food at Ogwen Transition keeps the motivation to pedal at sufficient levels to make forward progress but the Sleep Monsters are coming out to play.