Sooooooooo Etape Cymru which translates as Stage Wales I know this cos I have a very clever friend from Leeds who since Le Tour ( the tour ) visited Yorkshire has now become a fully fledged European who speaks fluent French and measures everything in km’s …….. Apparently all the signs in yorkshire are now in km and am sure it won’t be long before he has bought himself a left hand drive Citroen or some other suitably ugly french automobile !!!
Anyway after the longest journey from the heaven that is Devon I arrived in Wrexham to meet Big Dog H and Le Pilko and it was getting late so being athletes and more importantly men Curry and Beer was the plan !!!
Now wrexham , where to start on Wrexham hmmmmm if your from this area i would just jump to the ps at the end and let bygones be bygones !!!
Wrexham is quite possibly the oddest place I have ever had the privilege to entertain myself in . It’s hard to put my finger on why this is but it appears you really don’t have to dress up in any particular manner to enter the pubs and clubs of Wrexham . I didn’t realise you could still buy shell suits !!! Also it seems everyone knows everyone from young to old . Luckily 3 Middle aged athletes can fit in just fine until one of them decides to urinate on a pub terrace area . For security reasons I won’t name the urinator but we knew it was time to leave when the doormen arrived 🙂 . Weird how the freaks of Wrexham accept shell suits etc but as soon as an outsider decides to relieve himself outside of a toilet enviroment it all kicks off ???
Ps we sneaked back in later so up yours !!!
Pps saw the most enthusiastic dj ever playing to about 15 people , he really believed he was playing opening night at Manumission bless his cotton socks .
Crazy nights in Wrexham and I kid you not we got quite drunk and felt it on the Saturday when we finally dragged our weary arses to sign on Saturday afternoon . Now sign on is always a constant let down for me as I always expect some razzmatazz but it never happens unless you fancy a massage for a fiver !!!
Lunch was a square pie which was good and a high point in our whistlestop tour then into town for some coffee time . Where the discussions about what to do Saturday night happened and it was decided dinner and just one or two pints . And that is what we did . Yeah you were expecting me to say and “we got absolutely lashed and got back to our hotel at 3 in the morning ” nope remember which town we are in the options were limited and we take our cycling very serious .
So event day or Le grand depart as Le Pilko calls it now . After a hasty breakfast yoghurt and pancake ( crepe ) we were off on our way to the racecourse for another totally unorganised start which had been delayed due to route troubles . But hey at least we started together this year . One aim this year to beat last years time by an hour …… No worries we can smash this !!!
So having done the Etape last year we knew what to expect but Jesus it’s no easier the climbs keep coming and coming , how did we forget how hard this ride is ??? The first real biggie is Horseshoe pass which to be honest does drag on at first but it’s by no means the harder climb on the route . As per the deal I always let Big Dog and Le Pilko go on ahead on the climbs to recce it for me , it’s a privilege only I get as team captain and it’s jolly good of them to ride off into the distance on every climb to check it’s safe for me 🙂
I think we were all actually feeling better this year compared to last years event but then about 2/3 into the ride i had a problem ………. A Friday night curry problem and things were getting very desperate , very desperate indeed . Stomach cramps and the need to release whilst wearing bib shorts on a 85 miles bike ride is a recipe for disaster . Another recipe for disaster is following me into a porta-loo that I have been sat on for 20 mins with the squits .
This year again the Etape was closed roads although rumoured this could be ending next year if anyone has not entered a closed road sportive it really is something else .its quite possibly the most amazin feeling to go flying down some of the descents in Wales not having to worry about traffic . It’s stunning stuff it really is . Try it I say !!
One of the toughest climbs on this ride is called Minera I believe . You come along some flat then hit a 90 degree bend and it’s straight up with no chance to take any momentum up . It’s a real toughie and drags out on to a moorland which albeit isn’t steep it goes on into distance for miles . There is then a stupidly dangerous descent which crosses a ford before you wind your way along a valley for a good for miles . This is the ideal unless you have stomach cramps and are now looking for a suitable place to dump a load at the side of the road . A suitable spot was found and for the first time in a many a year I had to do what no human should have to do more than once . I used fern leaves to wipe my bum 😳.
It felt better now so up the final climb which is on the side of a valley with stunning views ton the final feed stop ….. 20 mins in the portaloo and off again to the finish which was a fairly fast ish undulating route, across the cobbled bridge and along the finish straight to hear the announcer call out our names ……. What a buzz , we had done it .
Ugh forgot we gotta ride back to the hotel still …… Stupid idea !!!!!!
Huge thanks to big dog h and Le Pilko who am sure could have easily knocked an hour and a half off there times from last year if it wasnt for Friday’s curry messing me up . Thanks for waiting chaps and thanks for the hand sanitiser !!!
Not a lot of riding At the mo as am currently going through a loss my mojo period for various reasons but will be back riding soon hopefully 👍
Ps knocked 6 mins off last years time
Pps Wrexham is weird
Pps how I never pooped myself during that ride i will never know 🙂