Santa Hats at Llyn Padarn Time Trial

With the 2017 Welsh Cyclocross Series done and dusted I was able to head up to North Wales to join in with the Llyn Padarn Kayak Time Trial Series on Sunday instead.

I’d already missed races 1,2 & 3 of this series but it’s a fairly informal affair that anyone can join in with as and when they please. The drive through Wales was a very wet one. It was absolutely pouring with rain but somehow Snowdonia was still looking spectacular. I took a fairly scenic route, heading along smaller roads from Penrhyndeudreath towards Beddgelert following the River Glaslyn as torrents of water tumbled down from the mountains around me. The white of the cascades standing out against the background browns and oranges like ribbons draped across the landscape. I drove through the grey of Beddgelert which was still asleep and shrouded in mist and murk and  on past the choppy waters of Llyn Dinas and Llyn Gwynant. From here a towering wall of white loomed in front of me as the snow-covered peaks of the Glyders could be seen ahead. Their impenetrable heights seeming to hang over me from within the mist.

I turned left onto Pen y Pass and made my way down into Llanberis where it was still lashing down with rain. The waters of Llyn Padarn looked fairly calm, but Dan had just got off the water and said it was quite choppy on the far side.

Rain and Santa Hats

Soon everyone rolled into the car park and started getting ready in the pouring rain.



It was good to see some faces that I hadn’t seen since paddling here last year and there were lots of new faces too. Despite the weather everyone was in high spirits. It was the Christmas race so santa hats and mince pies were obligatory. At least, they were to me and a few other people.

Santa Hats

Santa Hats

We headed across to the far end of Llyn Padarn ready for the start. We were a little late starting but with 19 of us racing and James staying at the end to do the timings there was a good crowd of us on the water.

Llyn Padarn Time Trial

We are set off at intervals based on our seasons best, or in my case PB’s from last year. Last year I managed to do two of these races. I was using an old surf life-saving spec ski that was heavy, along with flat-bladed paddles and hadn’t really paddled much before-hand. My first race last year had taken over 35 minutes but I smashed this in my second race with a PB of 29:48. I was pleased to get under the 30 minute mark on that occasion but it had been hard to do so especially in the rough conditions.

This year I had been paddling a fair bit, I was in my ‘new’ Surf Ski with wing bladed paddles and the conditions were looking much calmer. Surely I could beat my PB?

The slower people started off first and then others followed in little groups at set intervals so as to hopefully have us all finishing at a similar time. Conditions were mainly calm, the air was cool and it was still raining.

Llyn Padarn

Llyn Padarn

I was off 7 minutes after the first paddler and on my own. It was nice to have people in front of me to chase down and overtake and I was soon doing just that. My shoulder and wrist were sore from a mountain bike crash the previous day but once I got going that was forgotten. I was soon into a decent rhythm and going well.

The rain was still coming down but that goes unnoticed once in the heat of a race. Unnoticed that is except for the fact that it was soaking into my santa hat and santa beard which started pulling the hat down over my eyes with the ever increasing weight! I had to stop twice to readjust the hat as it finally came down over my eyes!

Paddling Santa

Paddling Santa

John Willacy who had started 2 minutes behind me overtook me as we rounded the little island at the turning point. I kept paddling hard to keep him in my sights but he gradually pulled away as we headed back to the start/finish line. I continued to catch people ahead of me on the return leg as the handicap system had us all bunch up towards the end. I kept paddling hard and crossed the line with a finish time of 36:54. With the 7 minute handicap that put my time for the 5km TT at 29:54 – 6 seconds slower than last year!

It had felt faster than that so I was a little disappointed not to have made any improvements but there are more races in the series in the New Year. One consolation was the Strava data. Once it had uploaded it had recorded my time over the course at 29:48 whereas my PB according to Strava was 29:49. It’s not the official time but it earned me a PB trophy on Strava and it did equal my official PB too.

I didn’t take any photos or video footage, so here’s a quick slideshow from photos that others took, along with a Strava Fly By showing the route the Time Trial takes and me chasing down David and Lorenzo.

Mince Pies, Hot Chocs and Prize Draws

Once everyone had finished we paddled back to the car park, got changed and then congregated at Snowdonia Watersports for mince pies and hot chocolates. Official times were calculated, stories exchanged and then there was a prize draw for some goodies. Here are the provisional results. 2 seconds seems to have been added to my time in translation, but it makes no difference to the overall placings or to my PB so it doesn’t matter.



The rain had eased a little as I left for home, but the crack on my windscreen was getting ever larger.

Cracked Windscreen

Cracked Windscreen

I made it home without it breaking completely though and was greeted with the smell of a freshly made stew. The perfect dinner after a paddle in North Wales.

1 Response

  1. Mum says:

    Oh well blame it on Santa’s hat, sounds like you enjoyed it though so that’s the main thing xx

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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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