JOGLE Training – 100 miles of Wet & Windy Welshness

With my JOGLE attempt approaching quicker than it should be and time running out, I’ve been trying to get a longer ride in each week just to start preparing my body for so much time in the saddle.

Finding the time for such rides isn’t easy though and so far I’ve only managed 4 such rides. The first was quite a while back at the end of Aprilwhen Jay and Mike who will also be joining me for the JOGLE ride came to stay. Over the weekend we did two days of back to back rides, the first being 74 miles long and the second 55 miles. The first was an assault on Bwlch y Groes, the second a trip to Cwtch Cafe. The distances of these rides were nowhere near the distances we’ll be doing in JOGLE, but it was a start.

With one month to go until we start JOGLE I then managed to fit in a long ride at the end of June. This ride was only 68 miles, but it did involve a fair bit of climbing and the weather was a attrocious at some points, with roads flooding in torrential downpours, thunder storms and almost zero visibility. I was out there on my own training through the worst weather Wales could throw at me. I started to struggle a little after about 50 miles which didn’t bode well for the first day of JOGLE which is 120 miles, but I guess I still had a month to go.

I managed to get out on Friday for another long ride too and this time finally started hitting the sorts of distances we’ll be doing day in day out on JOGLE. It was forecast to rain later and I was up early as usual, so after doing a couple of hours of work I decided to set off early whilst it was still dry. I was out on my bike by 7am and heading north to Machynlleth with the wind behind me. I had planned for a 75 mile route which was upping the distance for me so I was taking it easy and felt as though I’d barely done anything by the time I rolled into Mach.

I then headed out, into the wind towards Aberdovey. I was still trundling along at an easy pace. By 8:30am I was in Aberdovey. My average speed was pretty low and I may have only been 1 mile from home as the crow flies but I’d covered 24 miles and still felt pretty fresh. My route then took me north along the coast to Tywyn. It was now beginning to rain a little and by the time I reached Bryncrug it was raining properly. As I headed back towards the coast it was hammering down and I was drenched through. The scenery along here can be stunning, but there was no time to look at it today and I could barely see anything through the driving rain anyway. It was just a case of keeping my head down, turning those pedals and avoiding the wet slippery drain covers as spray flew into my face and the rain dropped down inside my coats.

My route then headed inland along the southern side of the Mawddach estuary towards Dolgeallau. I reached Dolgellau just before 10am, a little early for a coffee and cake stop but I had covered close to 50 miles and had been going for over 2.5 hours so stopped at Y Sospan, my favourite cafe. I had a fruit scone with jam and a lovely hot mug of latte whilst trying to dry off a little. It didn’t work though as it wasn’t that warm in the cafe and all my clothes were still dripping wet.

I wasted time by having a chat to a number of people in the cafe though as quite a few of them were saying things along the lines of ‘you aren’t really going to cycle in this weather are you?’. I didn’t really have much choice did I, I had no other means of getting home! I did contemplate a second coffee and a chocolate brownie but couldn’t really afford it, so I put on a second waterproof coat so that I had a n extra layer of waterproofing and continued on my way.

I was still feeling quite good as I rode through the mist, murk and incessant rain up over the Tal y Llyn pass and back down the other side. I was now riding into a headwind but it wasn’t as bad as I had thought it might be. I’d covered getting on for 60 miles and still felt good so started thinking about extending it a little further than I had planned. Just before heading back into Machynlleth I therefore too a detour out around the Llanwrin loop which added 12 miles to my planned route. That would have taken my ride up to 87 miles, quite close to the magic 100 mile mark, so I was hatching plans to increase it further.

I sent Anna a text to let her know that I would be a little later home than expected and decided to add a circuit of the Borth Loop on. One loop wasn’t quite enough though so I went around again to finish my ride with over 105 miles under my belt. It’s still 15 miles off the distance of the first day of JOGLE, and I didn’t do it again the next day, but at least I know I can ride those sorts of distances if needed. I’m also hoping that the fact that I rode it solo, it was pouring with rain and fairly windy means that some days on our JOGLE challenge will be easier. The weather is always a factor in such things, but riding with others should make things easier and of course it isn’t a race so we can keep the pace low. I won’t have much time for many more long training rides though, and for me part of the challenge won’t just be the actual distances we are covering, but more the time it takes to do so. I think I;d be happier just getting on with it and getting the mile done so that I can rest up ready for the next day rather than spending 10-12 hours covering the distance each day. I’ll have to stick with the other riders though so there could be some very long days in prospect.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.

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