Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Burway

With a week booked off work I thought it was high time to make inroads into sorting out the North Wales climbs. On the way up to Wrexham, which was to be my base for a couple of days, it made sense to tackle the Burway. Because of the location of the climb it seemed more sensible to tackle it on the way to North Wales although doing so would mean trying to ride up a very difficult climb after about 4 hours of being sat in the car. This approach has never worked out too successfully for me in the past but I couldn't think of when I would next be passing Church Stretton so just had to go for it.

The views from the top were superb. Just a shame they would soon disappear in low cloud and rain

The climb up The Burway starts in the heart of Church Stretton and doesn’t muck about with the road ramping up straight away. The drive up to the top revealed some amazing views from the very exposed section of road and although there was a bit of a stiff breeze the sun was out and it was relatively pleasant weather. That was due to change however and the wind was blowing in a series of nasty showers.

The only warm up I got was on the descent (which was great fun and very fast) and so I started the climb on pretty cold legs. Reaching the first really steep part of the climb as I crossed the cattle grid near the bottom I struggled to get on top of the gear I was pushing. Just as I found some semblance of rhythm and started to get my breathing under control the weather took a very rapid and dramatic turn for the worst. First rain started falling, then the wind picked up and then, just to add insult to injury, it started to hail. The exposed nature of the road meant that there was no hiding place from the awful weather conditions and I had to plough on into a bitingly cold head wind. I did pause briefly on the climb and considered finding somewhere to shelter from the rain and hail but there was nowhere to hide so within a very short space of time I was soaked through and freezing cold. I’m sure I’ve felt more miserable on a bike but right now I’m struggling to remember just when that was.

As ever the Blogger software is playing up so you will need to click on the link below or use the video bar to the right to see the ride footage:


What should have been a difficult but relatively short bike ride became a truly nasty experience. I had parked my car at the top of the climb and reaching that became my sole focus. All hopes of making a decent fist at climbing the Burway were forgotten as I just tried to survive and keep the pedals turning. I was barely able to get above walking pace for a lot of the climb as the cold and the wind sapped all of my energy.

As I reached the easier upper section of the climb the rain and hail started to fade out but the wind still stayed strong so despite being in bright sunshine as I reached the top I wasn’t able to warm up until I was back in the car with the heater on full blast.

Just moments before taking this picture that distant bank of cloud had been making my life a misery

All in all riding The Burway proved to be what some may term a ‘character building’ experience. Thankfully I would be a bit luckier with the weather over the following couple of days but my time in North Wales didn’t entirely to plan. More on that later.

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