One ride to rule them all. One ride to find them. One ride to bring them all, and in the green hills bind them. An epic quest across Wales’ ancient land of myths and legends. The dragon awaits…
As the final part of my Transcontinental Race kit test, I decided at the last minute to take up a cancellation on Mille Cymru, billed as the toughest UK cycling event. The event started at 11am on the Friday, this meant I would miss out supporting PJ racing against Bradley Wiggins, Alex Dowset and David Millar at the National TT Championships the evening before. Sat next to my bike on the way to Shrewsbury to the start of the audax to ride around Wales, I was proud to be wearing my Bristol South Cycling Club kit whilst watching videos like these:
It was a great start to what was to be a roller-coaster weekend!
A short 5 mile jaunt through the traffic and country roads of Shrewsbury to Upton Magna village hall, where I was presented with my Brevet and a drop bag for later controls, I passed on this opportunity. My bike was packed complete with sleeping bag, mattress, bivi and wet weather gear, the full TCR load. I figure this is the only way to train for the big one next month, besides, if I wanted to sleep I’d be able to anywhere.
I had 20 minutes or so before the start, so had a quick coffee, faffed around, put on overshoes and waterproof as the weather had turned and then was off in the second group at 11:05. I slowly moved up the through various groups, chatting to a few riders I recognised from previous audax’s, I prefer to ride solo and soon found myself out on my own until the “AUK Van of Delights” control at Knighton.
I had my brevet stamped and wondered what was so delightful about the van. A few people were wandering around with food, but I couldn’t see anything next to the hot drinks provided in the gateway to a graveyard so assumed they had brought their own…. that was until I noticed the croud of people hudled around the back of the van. I found tonnes of various cakes and rolls.
Somewhere just North of Hay-on-Wye a bird bigger than a pigeon, smaller than an emu (I’m no twitcher) hovered above me, swooping down inches from the road to grab a rodent of sorts just a few yards in front of me, one of cyclings little pleasures 🙂 I climbed Gospel Pass with another guy, we talked, making the climb that much easier.
I’ve been up the top from the South side numerous times, it was a nice change to do it in reverse, the first checkpoint was found at the bottom of the descent at LLanthony Treats where the rain had just started to come down hard. I ate some sandwiches and cake before heading off towards Tintern via Monmouth. The rain had continued for a little while, enough to wash off the oil from my freshly cleaned chain, the sound was terrible, I had forgot to pack my oil bottle in with my tools, ho hum.
Fridays segment of the ride was to be a short 270km, Tintern marking 165km. The control was held at Kingstone Brewery, a great choice, they had a special quick menu for the event, lasagne, pasta or something else, I plumped for the lasagne along with a Kingstone Gold Fine Ale. Four German guys were sat on the table next to me, just finishing their second pints, they were already setting a blistering pace, more about them later…
The next 100km seemed to drag on, uneventful, I arrived at the control, had some soup and sausage casserole, then hit the sack for 4 hours sleep interrupted by a a squeaky door and a load of snoring.
Saturday was billed as being a tough day, I hadn’t really payed much attention to the route sheet. I knew we were off around the Pembrokeshire coast.