There were 23 riders out for the annual Gower Grimpeur starting from Mumbles pier. We were joined by no less than 9 new riders or returnees on one of the hardest rides of the year seemingly having skipped the fact that this ride was not for the faint hearted:
4x riders from the recent Barcelona challenge (the “LB’s”)
3x Returning riders Adam and Andrew Hilton and AN other.
A welcome return to Ian Horsfall but no Trevor, who is suspected of trying to save his legs for Tuesday!!
We set off at 9am from the pier and up past the apple and towards Langland the second real climb of the day. The group broke apart from the very start and we waited at the top of Langland for the group to reform (story of the day). Down into Caswell and up the other side (fixing the Sec’s broken tube valve on the way) before turning right then left and down into Shepards. Up the other side where we regrouped again before heading down into Oxwich. We all dropped down into Oxwich and headed up Slade road where a few got too excited and missed the turn. Right turn and across to the first effort up Penrice (south). A long wait at the top for stragglers resulted in our first casualty of the day; the group turning left as the first weary LB rider decided enough was enough.
Through little reynoldston and towards Cefn Bryn for the first time. After descending we turned right onto the mid gower road. The group split again as we headed towards Fairwood and when we dropped into Killay we lost another couple of riders.
The rest of us turned left and towards Dunvant and three crosses, regrouping again at the right turn past Gower golf club and down into Gowerton. Left and onto the North Gower road for a short distance before the Wern, where Gruff decided it would be a good idea to try and carry half a tree up the climb in his gears!!
After another regroup at the top, a group of riders inc Simon H, Dave G and a few other guests decided to call it a day, heading back towards Fairwood. One of the LB’s jammed his chain at the top and after fixing it, we passed through the lanes and down towards Penclawdd. We temporarily lost Paul E here and missed the turn up the Blue Anchor and Llanmorlais (bugger!!), although it allowed us to catch up on what was already proving to be a long day.
We skipped the Marsh road and headed straight down the N.Gower road and through Cheriton where Ian W got excited at the sheep with pink coats on. Louis had a mechanical here with his crank arm and we didn’t see him again. A number of others also skipped Cheriton and headed straight to Llangennith, where we all regrouped over baguettes and coke at extortionate prices!!
By the time we were leaving the café it was nearly 2pm, so with nobody clear of the exact route and a few considering how late it was getting, we decided on an alteration. We headed straight back along North Gower road and through a traffic jam caused by stupid fat man in 4×4 with caravan and another stupid 4×4 with horse box. The queue of 40+ cars either side of them did not look too amused as we cruised past (ho ho). Up the hill after the Fairy Hill turn and on to the petrol station before a right turn across to Cefn Bryn. We lost the last two LB’s here, not to be seen again.
As usual the murderous headwind up Cefn Bryn put a number of riders to the sword, secretary included. As we waited to regroup by the King Arthur, another rider (Alan Claytons riding buddy) fell victim to the Grimpeur with cramp. Andy M also had to leave here, although to be fair not due to running out of steam. Alan decided to help his friend home as we retraced our steps across to Penrice (North), where Ian W also threw in the towel and headed straight off home.
By this point numbers had dropped from over 20 to 8 brave souls, who headed down Penrice and up the other side. Whilst Gruff wanted to turn left and into Oxwich that was too easy, so we continued right and up the way we had come before dropping down into Oxwich. Up the evil castle hill climb, where Gruff had a mechanical / walk of shame (only kidding) sorting out his rear wheel. Right and down into Shepards where after a short break we headed up the 26% Llunnon climb. Nobody was too fussed about doing the loop so we headed back down and towards Sandy Lane.
Up the shocking surface which seriously hurt the legs and we again regrouped at the top. Into Kittle and through the up and down Portway climb. Right at Murton and past Paul E’s house as we headed back through Caswell and up what some thought was the final climb of the day (no such luck !!). Caswell is a horror.
As we had skipped a few climbs Jonny W decided that we should drop back into Langland and up the other side before heading down into Mumbles. For some reason, nobody seemed to know that Western Lane was waiting for us and by this point there were some flagging legs. Anyway we made it up to the apple where the 8 tired bodies who had hung on to complete the amended route had a celebratory photo by the apple.
Total route from apple to apple was approx. 80 miles with 2,300m of climbing. Chapeau to the finishers – well done to all others. We can’t call it a true Gower Grimpeur as we missed out some classics, but still a tough challenge nonetheless.
4: Phil G, Paul E, Lee P, Jonny W
3: Ian W, Ian Horsfall, Jeremy, Andy M, Simon H,
2: Alan Clayton, Phil Rees, Louis M, Dave G
Guests: Gruff PJ, 9 others.
I may have missed someone off, if so and you are due points please let Capt’n Mark know.
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