The 14th April started bright and dry with only a light wind which meant it was going to be a good day for riding up steep hills. Sadly despite having a map, the little black book of pain and a sat nav it still seemed to take ages to find the start of the climb up The Shelf. Even now as I type this I’m not sure I found the right road; it was only after driving up and down a series of identical looking lanes that I noticed a few cyclists using the same bit of road that I thought would be the right one. Only then was I fairly sure I was in the right place. To be honest The Shelf is a bit of a back lane bimble followed by a fairly gradual climb round the edge of a valley and it was the sheer number of little lanes that had me confused.
Reassured by the sight of other cyclists, and in a darkening mood as I had seemingly wasted a decent part of the morning, I made my way to what I thought was the start and started my ride back to the top. It was difficult finding somewhere to park and I ended up leaving the car on a rough bit of land just before the gradient starts to kick up a bit.
The first part of the ride is a bit of a meander through the back lanes just South of Ruthin and reminded me a lot of my training routes in North Devon. I did notice however that there was a fair bit of traffic using the lanes and had to stop a couple of times to let people past. On one of the early uphill stretches I decided to let a very patient farmer with a trailer full of livestock past and, in a seemingly innocent manoeuvre managed to injure myself. As I repositioned myself to get going again I had my right foot clipped into the pedal and was balancing myself with my left foot. Somehow I managed to over extend my left leg as I pushed off and felt a twinge of pain through my left calf muscle. I didn’t think much of it at the time but that calf muscle was to see me heading home the following day a bit earlier than intended.
Any way, after a bit of a wander along the back lanes I finally reached the part of the climb which I guess is where the climb gets it’s ‘Shelf’ name from; a section of road that curves gently around the edge of a hill with some lovely views to the right down the valley. Well, I say the views were lovely but I was more fascinated by the sheer number of grit bits I was seeing by the road side. Seriously, somebody in the local council had obviously blown the budget on them during the winter months. There are no prizes on offer but see if you can spot all of the bright yellow little blighters in the video. I lost count after a while.
The final slope was steep but not tremendously difficult and I can’t help but think that there must be some more interesting climbs in the area. The Shelf isn’t a ride that blew me away and after all of the hassle I had finding the damn thing I was glad to see the back of it.
After winching myself to the top of ‘Grit Bin Alley’ it was time to freewheel back to the car and move onto the climb at Penbarra. I wanted to get a move on as the weather was meant to be taking a turn for the worst later in the day and I also wanted to ride the Moel Arthur climb before finishing for the day. Stay tuned for details on how I got on.