Another trip to Wales on the bike, seems to be becoming a bit of a habit. This time it was for the 400km Brevet Cymru from Chepstow. It says 2.25AAA, but there’s actually about 5000m of climb on this ride, just not all of it’s steep enough to qualify for AAA points (see the AAA Pages for the maths).
It started off with another night in a Travelodge Family room with a couple of bikes thrown in. Then an early morning drive over the Severn bridge to get to the Bulwark community hall in time for tea before the 6am depart. We had a quick brief from the org about various bits of road debris from the heavy rain over the preceeding week.
Everyone was off in a large group that gradually spaced out a bit on a few gentlish climbs as we followed the England/Wales border. All was going well till on an uphill I heard that depressing ‘pshhhhh’ sound that indicates the p&£$(£e fairy had paid me a visit. Hopped off the bike to find a sizable chunk of rear tyre missing and a casing showing through. As this tyre was new on the Rutland 100 I was bit suprised to have seen if go through so quickly. But then I worked out a loose mudguard (missing stay nuts) had probably bounced onto the tyre and a loose reflector rivet had ripped through the tyre, so I forgave Giant’s QA process and got on with swapping. Thankfully since the Rutland ride I’ve been carrying a spare tyre just in case. 20 minutes later I’d removed the remains of the mudguard and strapped it to the carradice (thankfully it was a nm event :)) and fitted the new tyre and was on my way. Only to stop 800 metres later when my tired brain twigged as the tyre deflated again that if I’d ripped through the casing and the tube had deflated, then I really should change the tube as well. So I did it all over again, and gave myself a blister on my hand for my troubles with my mini pump.
Benign till Hay-on-Wye, but then the hills arrived in earnest. Nothing too steep, but long long steady climbs. Finding a good pace was essential, and just plugging away at it. And mastering the skill of undoing your top on the way up, no handing it over the top of the climb while doing it up ready for the zoom downhill. The downhill stretch of the A483 on the way to Llandovery gets a special mention for a superb surface, great corners and magnificent secenery.
De-ja-vu on the way out of Bulith Wells as we followed some of the same roads as Yr Elenydd a couple of weeks earlier, though we went straight on at Beulah as we were to reach Tregaron via a different route this time. The first stop as Llandovery seemed to be marred by some slow service at the cafe, but they did seem swamped with Audaxers and bikers at the time.
Opted to skip the pub at Tregaron and made do with sandwiches on the bench in the square. The section from Tregaron to New Quay held the steepest sections of the day at 16% which were a strain after 250km. Remembered the warning about the climb out of New Quay so restricted myself to Apple pie at the Mariners.
And boy was that climb a biggy, from the harbour to 312 meters, then a lumpy mostly downhill return to Llandovery for a 2nd stop at the West End cafe for a decent refuel.
Night kit went on as we left Llandovery for a nice easily navigated stint along the A40, with a seemingly never ending climb up through the woods. Eventually the penultimate control at Bwlch hove into view. Inside we were treated to soup, apple pie and custard (in seperate portions), and also the sight of lots of people staring vacantly at the walls.
Shortly after leaving this oasis my bloody Edge 800 decided it had had enough of doing it’s job and died with a glowing white screen. The only way to revive it being to do a full system restore. Which has the side effect of wiping *ALL* user data from the unit. Nice f*cking idea Garmin. Luckily my companion had a working GPS so I didn’t have to dig out a routesheet. Glided past the end of night clubbers in Abergavenny. And then faced the last final 200m climb up before dropping into Chepstow. Sat around dazed at Arrivee for a bit before grabbing a couple of hours sleep and then heading back to Nottingham.
Certainly my hardest day out on the bike so far for 2012. Even with the weather Yr Elenydd didn’t seem like so much work. This could have been down to not getting much decent sleep in the week leading up to it though.
Am very annoyed about the GPS crash as I’ve no stats to see how I did on faffing versus riding. But 21:30ish seems like a pretty good time to me, as the last 400 I did took 19:30 and had nowhere near as much climbing as Brevet Cymru
Here’s an elevation chart from the Org’s GPX, there’s some big spikes in there:
And here’s an overview of the route: