On yer bike! Cycling, tech & travel

We’re quite fond of our bikes here at Netskills, those of us who have them. But it’s not often we get a chance to use them for work (if you ignore the regular commuting).

The Enhancing Fieldwork Learning showcase, which has run for the last three years, is an event for sharing practice relating to technology in the field for geographers, geologists, biologists and others. Naturally, these weekends take place out in the country and this year we were heading for Betws-y-Coed in Snowdonia. More about the event in future posts but here’s my report from last year.

Countryside around Betws-y-Coed

Countryside around Betws-y-Coed

It’s a very pretty town with access by rail, but sadly not on a Sunday when the event finished.

So when I was planning my travel I though “what the hell, why not do a portion of it by bike?” Llandudno Junction’s the nearest station and that’s a doable 17 miles away.

As we’re Netskills, technology is never far away. With a bit of research on Google Maps (now with directions for cycling) it was obvious that there was a simple route up the Afon Conwy along a quietish B road. Checking out some of the local rides logged on Ride with GPS showed that, apart from a 250ft bump coming out of Conwy, it was fairly flat so nothing to be scared of!

I’d never taken a bike on the train before and working out how to get spaces booked was bewildering, until a nice lady at the The Trainline sorted it all out for me.

On reflection it might not have been the best weekend to choose to try this given that THIS was being forecast for the Sunday:

Careful out there! It's stormy

Careful out there! It’s stormy

Nevertheless, waterproofs packed and bullet bitten off I went early on Friday morning. Despite being weighed down with panniers full of outdoor gear, I made good time between Llandudno Junction and Betws-y-Coed, around 1hr 16 mins. More to the point, I enjoyed myself.

Fully laden bike

Full-laden and waiting for the train. Gartner Hype Cycle not shown

I used Strava to log the route there and back again. Strava’s a neat tool for social sharing of rides but I have to question the accuracy of logging my maximum speed on the return leg at 41.8mph! You’d have to be Chris Froome to manage that.

Return journey logged on Strava

Return journey logged on Strava (click for details)

Here’s a 3D view of the route using VeloViewer. Click the image for an interactive version (Firefox, Chrome or Safari recommended).


3D elevation on Veloviewer.com

3D elevation on Veloviewer.com

Surprisingly, the hardest part of the journey was the trains; reasonably civilised on the way down but an absolute scrum coming back on the Sunday. I don’t think I’ve ever been as unpopular as I was on the 17:42 from Manchester Piccadilly to Newcastle!

Llandudno Junction Station

Llandudno Junction Station

Overall, I’m very pleased to be able to say I did it, but I’m unlikely to make a habit of it. Most of our events take place in big urban areas which are a lot less pleasant for cycling round than Snowdonia was.

Even in the rain.

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