Into the beautiful unknown of Trans-Snowdonia

In a bid to ascertain the limits of a gravel bike, Steve Shrubsall heads to North Wales to tackle Cycling UK’s recently opened, 125-mile Trans-Snowdonia route

The Trans-Snowdonia Route
(Image credit: Future)

The best bike rides, for me, are the ones that you aren’t quite certain of finishing. Your fate is unknown. Getting to the end, if it ever comes, will require a liberal quota of physical and psychological distress. You will sweat, you will toil, you will swear, you might even scream. Finally, after rage, rage raging against the dying of the (day)light, the finishing line miraculously hoves into view. Cue an unrivalled sense of accomplishment, the satisfaction of a job tremendously well done. Well, that’s the best-case scenario anyway – and it’s what I was hoping for when, in mid-April, I set the controls for North Wales.

Cycling UK’s latest off-road challenge, the Traws Eryri (pronounced trouse eh-ruh- ree) – or Trans- Snowdonia, in English – was my first ‘I might not actually complete this’ ride of the year. Firstly, it takes place on unforgiving Snowdonian terrain; secondly, it’s 125 miles long with 4,000 metres of vertical gain; and thirdly (and perhaps most crucially) I’d be tackling what is essentially billed as a mountain bike ride on a gravel bike. Why? Well, quite.

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Steve has been writing (mainly fitness features) for Cycling Weekly for 11 years. His current riding inclination is to go long on gravel bikes... which melds nicely with a love of carbs