Monday, January 28, 2008


A few weeks ago I decided that I needed a challenge and I sat down to consider some possibilities. Fairly quickly I came up with the idea of cycling somewhere, the question was where?
I also had the idea of climbing a mountain and began to look at the possibility of combining both a cycling and climbing trip.

Shortly afterwards Snowdon seemed like a great choice! I would cycle there, climb the mountain and cycle home, all I needed was some camping equipment.
I've since bought a tent, sleeping bag, a new bike and some other new camping gear to prepare for the trip which should take five days to complete. The great thing is the stuff will be used for future trips and challenges so although it was expensive, I know it will be worthwhile in the long run.

The total distance to cycle is around 300 miles (or 483km) and considering I have not cycled in a few years this seems like quite a worthy challenge.

Yesterday I cycled to a large public park in North Leicestershire known as Bradgate Park, both to test my new bike and its speedometer and to do some training for the Snowdon trip. My aim was to cycle there, hike up to the highest point in the park, where a folly called 'Old John' can be found, then cycle home. It was a nice ride and really hilly, which made some sections very difficult and tiring, especially on the way home but I was determined not to give up or walk even a metre of the uphill segments. I kept thinking "If you think this is hard, the Snowdon trip is going to be much harder!"

I left Hinckley at around 11:30 and I felt great to be flying along in the sun with the wind in my face. Using my map and a compass I negotiated my way through a range of small towns and villages and along some nice country roads along the way. The uphill sections were tough and the downhill sections were a lot of fun and often a welcome relief.

The total distance cycled was 36.88 miles (59.35km) and combined with the steep hike in the middle, I was really tired and hungry when I got back in to Hinckley around 17:00. Despite taking 5.5 hours I was quite pleased with this when I took in to account the amount of uphill sections that I came across and the hour or so spent at Bradgate Park.
My total cycling time was 3:36.09 hours and apparently I did an average of 10.24 miles per hour with a top speed of 29.4mph, which is useful to know for my Snowdon trip. The road that takes me 90% of the way to Snowdon never exceeds a 5% gradient so hopefully I can push that average up to around 12-14mph.

^Part of the approach up the hill towards Old John in Bradgate Park, which can be seen in the distance.

^Old John up close. From here you can see most of Leicestershire

I expected to feel sore and weak today but my legs feel just a little sensitive, other than that I feel fine.

When I begin the trip to Snowdon I will have to cover 75 miles (about 120km) per day on my bike, two days in a row, climb Snowdon (1085m above sea level) then cycle 75 miles per day home to make the whole trip in five days. My aim is to leave on the 9th February and return on the 13th.

Here are some of the views I will hopefully see on the 11th of February...

^The summit of Snowdon.

^Another view of the summit.



Ben Nuttall said...

Nice one. Good to set yourself a challenge like that.

I climbed Snowdon last year (see this post).

Going again in a few weeks, going to climb the easier-yet-more-exciting one, Tryfan, this time.

Some great scenery and photographic opportunities up there, aren't there! I felt that it was a bit touristy though, like all the families going up, the train that goes to the summit and the café.


Unknown said...

I'm sure you can get a better average speed than that Chris, I normally average about 12 mph on my big wheeled unicycle.

75 miles a day on a bike is easily possible although at this time of year lack of light does come into play. 100 miles a day has been done by a number of unicyclists.

Biggest piece of advice I can give you though is make sure you wear cycling shorts, the proper sort that you wear instead of underwear, they will prevent chaffing and make the whole trip a lot more pleasant.

The other thing is to have fun, I'm sure you will do it with ease.


Chris 'Blane' Rowat said...

Just watched your video and checked out the photos Ben, looks like you had loads of fun! It is a bit 'touristy' as you said but hopefully not as bad at this time of year. When exactly are you going again?

Ahh thanks for that message Pete, seems to have really eased my mind on some of the minor issues I had floating around my head. Good advice on the shorts, I'm sure it would be a huge difference and every advantage helps on trips like these. Hope you're well and looking after yourself pal.


Anonymous said...

If your underwear has flat seams you won't have problems cycling.
I cycle camp and have given up on padded shorts because they are difficult to dry after washing.

Which route are you using?

I slipped on Tryfan in February 20 years ago. As I went past my mate he caught my rucksack and held me. It didn't seem easier than Snowden then said...

Wicked nice pics, ayuh!

Ben Nuttall said...

Well I didn't think it'd be touristy but this was February last year! And the train wasn't running due to snow and the café was closed for long-term refurbishments.

I'm going for the weekend of 29th Feb - 2 March.


Anonymous said...

Nice to hear you're doing this Blane! :)
if i had stayed in leicester i would certainly have wished to accompany you!

Last Easter me and a group of friends planned to complete a 200 mile ride over 3 days for charity, as it happens at the end of the first day it was clear only I and one other would have made the full journey so we had to shorten it :( which was a shame.
Have you considered getting sponsored for your trip for a charity?

A couple of tips for you, get saddle bags for your bike, don't try doing it with a rucksack. As much as i have faith in your strength and know you'd be able to manage a rucksack, saddle bags would make things much easier.
Be practised with repairing punctures, i've had one 150 mile trip, getting no punctures on any of 4 bikes. Then on another trip of only 30 miles i alone had 5 punctures. Can never be sure.

Other than that, all the best for the trip!

Anonymous said...

i hope, u'll be happy to this fight with yourself... good travel :P

TraceurZeno said...

Great Challenge Blane.

Take some extra proper warm clothing, and an emergency bar of chocolate, as you just never know bro.

The real fun begins when you have to peddle uphill and then ped even harder down hill because the wind is against you. ;)

I will be doing something similair with Ben lommond and a spare car tyre, in the near future.

I look forward in hearing from this challenge of yours and maybe a pic or two if you take them buddy.

All the best and take care!


Anonymous said...

sounds like a great fun challenge..

just out of interest {as my geography skills arent very good}, how do you find out the gradient of areas?

Yves said...

hahahahahahaha what a coincidence...
Strange enough i had a dream yesterday night of being on a snowy mountain for skying with my girlfriend (i've only been skying 1 and that was a school trip; additionally where i live is pretty flat terrain) and then seeing a mountain large around 600km away (great eyesight ey =P) anyway and i decided i was going to depart tomorrow (in my dream)but never got to it since i woke up.
But from a generall point of view adventures and the like have been bugging me even more since i'm reading the things Thomas is doing. Anyway i wish you lots of fun!!


Freedom said...

Wow! Congratulations Blane, I wish you luck on your challenge, but just remember it's going to be challenging of course so go ahead and relax a little when your able, enjoy your challenge, your little "escape" <--(lol couldn't help myself)
I can't wait to hear about it when you get back, I think I'll tell everyone at

Good luck!


Thomas said...

Hey man, Have you finished your cycling trip ? If yes i hope all went well and that you've brought back many photos and stories about it !

See you !

Igor Scheihing said...

Hi! I am a chilean traceur and i really like ur parkour, i think that u r one of the most impresive traceurs of the world, i really like ur flow, ur strength and ur pontency. An the way u praactise is really awesome. , that is my personal blog, there i put some pics from my practise if u visit and u leave me an impression about my skills or whatever ill appreaciate :)
Of course if u want to came to chile we dont have any problem :) u can saty in my house.

greets from chile and keep ur parkour, that is one of the best, for sure.

Traceur Agua.

Anonymous said...

I feel I might introduce my self here.
My name is Kate, I'm a newbie here, someone told me that i might find some good information here so...
basically that's why I'm here, and for any good advice i might get also... hope to have good time here