This was an afternoon road ride in the Cambrian mountains. This was my second outing on the road bike following the Shropshire devil sportive. I sketched the route out on bikehike before hand and expected the 60km to take three hours maximum. When I did the ride I added an extra loop near the top of the reservoir which took the total distance up to 75km. I made good progress on the flat sections but there were seven sections of arrowed hills and total height gain of 1200m (Garmin), 1500m (Strava) or 1600m (Bikehike). However it’s calculated it was quite enough thanks.
Llyn Brianne is a large reservoir in the middle of the mountains. I’ve done a lot of MTB rides in the area, most recently the bothy recce ride. A few years ago the MBSwindon MIOWEOW (middle of Wales, end of the week) trip including the famous Doethie Valley ride. The original Real Ale Wobble used to loop out to the reservoir too; see my Ale Wobble greatest hits route and also the Red Kite frozen devil, Devil’s MTB.
The route started out quite simply with a gradual climb up the Irfon valley until the famous Devil’s Staircase climb. The other side of the hill gave me a top speed of 65km/h (40.3mph). This was definitely one of the best moments of the ride, going fast enough to make crashing a very bad option, just pointing the bike and going with the flow.
The next climb regained a similar height but went on for longer. I was cycling into a head wind as well. On the plus side the sun was shining and I had a great views of mountains. On the other side I finally got what I wanted; a trailing wind and a slight descent which gave a peak speed of 55km/h. I finally managed to find a comfortable position using the drop bars too.
I found that the road around the Llyn Brianne reservoir goes up as well as down and it was hard to make good progress. This was followed by a long descent past the dam and into Rhandirmyn. From here on the road seemed to climb for a long time.
I knew that I had a bit of a climb up and over to Cynghordy but that went by pretty smoothly. I was definitely tiring and knew that the road back up to Tirabad was a big climb. At least that was satisfying and I was motivated by the promise of the final descent back to Llanwrtyd. What I hadn’t prepared for was the hidden climbs on the road past Tirabad. It was a major relief to finally descend back to town at the end.
My average speed ended up just below 20km/h (12.4mph) which sounds quite slow. After four hours of pedalling I felt pretty jaded. I’m hoping that rides like this are actually tough and my average speed would come out a lot higher on a flatter ride. I suppose almost 3000KCal is a lot of energy.
For comparison I covered 71km and 2,200m of ascent in 7.5 hours on the Red Kite Devils MTB challenge 2013.