I’ve always enjoyed riding in North Wales, places like Stwlan Dam and most of Snowdonia. Unfortunately this weekend I didn’t get to cover many miles but did get to have a solid go at some favourite climbs, including the Great Orme. This would be my first time in a couple of years.
The Great Orme
I love cycling round the Great Orme. I’ve been round a couple of times, often near the end of long rides that finish in Llandudno Junction. This weekend was the first chance I’d had in awhile to really post a good time as the car was parked at the top. The time to beat was 9 minutes and 32 seconds. The climb itself is 2.1 miles at an average of 3% with a max of 12% near the top.
Starting at the bottom you get to go past the pier before negotiating the toll booth. The road is free for bikes to go on but cars have to pay £3, subsequently you get to squeeze past the cars to try and begin. The first stretch is a quarter mile slog up to the first headland at 5%. It’s quite steady so a case of picking a gear and spinning up the climb. Looking behind you at this point there’s a great view of the pier and the coast round to Rhyl.
These soon disappear as you go around the headland and you get a brief respite from the climbing. A small downhill section allows the legs to recover and build up speed before the next steep part. Avoiding the parked cars, some bravery is needed to go flat out on a pretty awful surface. Going round the corners the bike bounces and drifts a little bit but more speed sorts it out. It’s important to keep the speed up here to help you up the next short steep part as easily as possible.
The next half a mile is perfect for heavier powerful riders. The gradient doesn’t get much higher than 2 or 3% and some short descents help to keep the speed up. A very short rise takes you to the give way junction, generally nothing will be coming from the other way but it’s worth a quick check to be sure. A short drag takes you to the final headland, where the old lighthouse (that looks like a castle) sticks out on the cliff edge.
This is the final stretch, one that will hurt the legs and expose any poor pacing up until this point. Half a mile at an average of 7.2% punishes people like me trying to get 90kg up there but is the real make or break on the climb. The old lighthouse disappears from view but after passing the yellow grit bin it reappears shortly afterwards. Once you can see the cafe building at the top, you know you’re on the very last bit of the climb. At this point my legs were burning and the heart rate was close to maxing out. A final sprint past the gate to the cafe’s car park and the climb is over. Grab yourself some of the excellent cake from the cafe – just remember it’s cash only!