The Snowdon Charity Bike Race over the horseshoe including Crib Goch. Memories.

Snowdon Bike Race over the horseshoe including Crib Goch. Memories and history.

The Snowdon Horseshoe.

When I arrived in North Wales in 1978/79 as full time Mountain Rescue Deputy Team Leader of the Valley Team the Annual Snowdon Charity Bike Race was in full flow. It was an incredible event to raise money for local charities. The course was the classic round the Snowdon Horseshoe starting at Pen Y Pass onto Crib Goch and completing the horseshoe over Snowdon and Lliwedd and back to Pen Y Pass.. Each team in my era had 3 members and the bike had to be cycled at the end of the race at Pyn y Pass. Usually one team memeber carried the bike frame and the others the wheel on back packs.

Tom MacDonald Dave Booth, Pete Kay some did it in fancy dress.

For those who have never climbed The Snowdon Horseshoe Length: 11km   Height gain: 910m   Highest point: 1085m   Approx time: 5 – 6 hours  

The Snowdon Horseshoe is one of, if not the best ridge walk in Wales. Although there is not so much height gain as in some of the routes described, the terrain is highly interesting. The route should not be attempted by anyone with a fear of heights, since includes the knife-edge arête of Crib Goch, and for the same reason it should be avoided in high winds, and also in winter unless you are properly equipped and experienced. There is also a walk down a steep scree slope on the South East side of Snowdon.

The Classic picture of Dave Booth on Grib Goch ridge with the Bike frame on his back.

This is what I wrote in I think 1980 – “The Annual Snowdon Bike Race was won again by the RAF Valley team – Alaister Haveron, Dave Booth and Stan Owen beat the record by 19 minutes and the time of 1 hour 56 minutes for Crib Goch, Snowdon and Lliwedd and back to Pen Y Pass raising over £500 for charity was another great event.” Not a bad time I wonder what the record was later on? Anyone help.

I was amazed at the interest in the race which had been running for many years. Most of the RAF Teams took part and the American PJ. A few of the local civilian Mountain Rescue teams and our RAF helicopter crew from 22 Sqn entered and it was so competitive. The times of the winning team was impressive to carry a bike across a steep ridge.

The Start some took took it less seious.

I remember training a young team member who was a good runner by Chris Summerfield by taking him over the ridge twice a week running I was fit the and my Dog “Teallach” was even faster. It was to get him to know the route and move fast on the terrain I did a bit of running in these days. Our team leader Alaister Haveron was so committed to winning the race for the Valley team it was very competitive. These were great day out and raised a lot of money for local charity’s. We would also have a big party after it with all the teams involved.

Bike Race Nige Hughes and Eric Joyce note the frame and wheel carried separately

I am looking for memories photos of these incredible days. The race was stopped even though it was run early in the day for various reasons. Long before Health and Safety looking back were we all mad or were these the “Golden Years.”

1980 ? At the end putting the bike together to cycle in. Pete Kay and Arnie Palmer in action.

More info _ Ian Carltiledge – took part in the first Snowdon bike race. That is when these photos were taken, back in 1959. I recognise some of the participants in these photos. Bottom left – left to right – Johnnie Lees, Bob Pearson, Hovis Brown, K C Gordon and, I think, Ollie Harris. Bottom middle – JRL, Hovis and Bob Pearson and bottom right, riding the bike down from Crib Goch – Dick Newby! Correction! On checking with my old mate Vic Bray, the first Valley MRT bike race around the Snowdon horseshoe took place in 1958, not 1959 as I stated! There were two teams. The photos posted were of team A! Vic and I were in team B! I can’t remember who won!

1959 Bottom left – left to right – Johnnie Lees, Bob Pearson, Hovis Brown, K C Gordon and, I think, Ollie Harris On the ridge. RAF MR Service

Historical :Back in the early 70’s the ex RAF MRT Valley members held a Snowdon Bike race each year. Teams of 3 with a ‘bike’. The bike had to be ‘rideable’ at the start at Pen y Pass, at the summit of Snowdon and again at the finish at Pen y Pass. The route was the Horseshoe. We used to go round all the businesses in the area collecting money which was presented at the end to the accident unit at the old C&A Hospital in Bangor as we supplied them with many patients while we were on the Valley team. Teams would get the most minimalistic bike that could be ridden. They were dismantled for the carry round but one year a team of ex troops wore tween jackets, flat caps, nailed boots and got a RAF bike which they took round complete. Sterling chaps. Thanks to Don Willians for this information.

Johnie Lees in action what a man.

Any information would be great to get hold off and photos its well worth saving these incredible stories. Can you help?

The Bike complete ! Early days.

Most years as Alaister was running I helped with the safety cover on Crib Goch but I did it one year and we did well. I cut my hand in a fall on Crib Goch but what an event done in 2 hours I would be lucky to get round in 5 hours nowadays. These were fun days and so good to look back on.

A skinny Heavy with cut hand after the race.

Thanks for all the help with this piece any photos would be gratefully appreciated and any tales of the event.

Comments welcome.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Charity, Friends, Hill running and huge days!, History, Mountain rescue, Mountaineering, People, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to The Snowdon Charity Bike Race over the horseshoe including Crib Goch. Memories.

  1. Al Read (Oggi 203) says:

    A great day out, I remember “volunteering” in Cobdens back bar to do the bike race the following morning as part of an Oggi team (must have been around 1986). It was a spectacular day with RAF MRTs and the 67 ARRS PJs all going for it, the people we passed on Grib Coch thought we were all mad. I seem to remember the rules were there to be used to gain what ever advantage you could!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Doug Jones says:

    Doug Jones (oggi) I did it a couple of times in the late 70s early 80s with variously Peanuts, John Evans and Neil Adam. We did it in “nappies” one year with a kiddies bike.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John Murray says:

    John Murray ex Ogwen Valley MRT, ran the race twice in mid 70’s and marshalled on some others. Our crew of 3 came second to ( hate to mention it, RAF VALLEY).. they did 2 hrs 35 mins, we were second place at 2 hrs 50 mins (1975 I think). I have a few grainy pics of 1974 race when I marshalled on Crib Goch, one is of Haz Oldham.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. John Lindsay says:

    John Lindsay ex Ogwen Valley MRT, I remember competing a few times. One year myself and Neil Adam (RIP) in kilts with Jerry Gallienne, who didn’t have a kilt, so was wrapped in a check blanket! The “bikes” became very marginal, one year we had made one from 2 Manpack Frames and a cut up bike frame, kiddy bike wheels and I have forgotten what the saddle was. Being the smallest I was the only one who could ride it. Another year the USAF 47th ARRS turned up with a child’s plastic trike with a letter from their CO stating it was a present from a Buddhist monk and it would cause a diplomatic dispute if not accepted for the race. Good fun days!


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