Day Trip up the 'Big Hill'
Signal Ti on Snowdon
The forecast was stellar for Wednesday, but being that it was midweek I couldn’t find anyone to play with. Not to be put off, I made two rounds of sandwiches, packed a jacket and some extra tools and headed up Snowdon. I can see the Big Hill from my bedroom window (lucky me) and when I woke up, true to forecast, I could see the summit.
A good start.
There it is!
It wasn’t a day for hanging around (it was October after all) so I hoofed it to the summit via the Llanberis Path, the most straightforward to pedal and easiest from the house. Slow and steady wins the race and I just kept going to the top. There’s a bit of hike-a-bike up the steps and past Clogwyn Station but the rest is rideable until you reach the summit steps. This is my fifth trip up Snowdon this year and I’ve been after the QOM for the Llanberis climb all summer. I’m not a huge fan of how riders can behave when they are chasing “Strava segments” on descents but I love a good climb and I love a good competition... this one had been brewing for a while.
The Signal Ti is the perfect Snowdon bike: big wheels, big gears and even bigger smiles. It gets me up (and down) whatever I ask of it. I let the bike down before it lets me down. I’ve always been a hardtail rider but this thing is something else. I’ve left 650b behind in favour of these wagon wheels and the 12 speed drivetrain makes me feel like I’m on an e-bike.
After a quick touch of the summit Cairn (pretty busy up here with train passengers) I headed down the Rhyd Ddu Path which I hadn’t ridden before. No Strava records here! It’s nadgy, techy, loose and committing. A big mountain setting is never the place to push yourself or take risks, especially when riding solo. You have to ride well within yourself and make sure you are never “at the edge”.
It’s always a good idea to have a warm layer, a first aid kit and a bit of extra food in case you come a cropper. I always carry a Sol emergency bag on rides as a minimum, even when I’m not working. It weighs 100g and is tiny but could be the difference between a bad day and a very bad day.It’s pretty selfish to just assume someone else will sort you out if you need a bandage or a magic link and being self sufficient is part of the adventure of being in the mountains.
The Rhyd Ddu is relentless, it’s like Cadair Idris’ ugly big brother but without the flow. It’s hard to get into a rhythm between the loose rocks, the wheel stoppers and the deep, mech-ripping ruts. The physicality doesn’t end as you reach the bottom either, there’s a paved climb before the smooth quarry track that spits you out by the train station, feeling like you’ve been in a fight but with a slight chufty swagger that comes from riding your bike down something big.
Chomping down sandwiches at Rhyd Ddu bus stop and a little sleep in the sun set me up nicely for a spin along the road and the smooth switchback climb back up the Snowdon Ranger Path to reach Maesgwm and the Telegraph Valley descent all the way back to my door.
I was 28 seconds off the QOM for the Llanberis path climb to the top… better get me a pacer!