The inaugural 600 #wills_hills fest! Journeying up through England and back through Wales. It’ll test your legs and your mental fortitude but the scenery will pay dividends. Do you accept the devilishly elegant challenge?
WHEN: +iCalSat 7th May 2022 04:00 - 22:34 Sun 8th May 2022
WHERE:Gary Harris Cycles Common Mead Ln Hambrook [nr Frenchay], BS16 1QQ
An elegant route full of devilishly difficult hills! First up you have The Cotswolds around Stroud to contend with. Then relax up the Severn Valley until to The Malverns, Herefordshire’s hills, Long Mynd and beyond. Cross the Severn once more and edge Berwyn to the Old Horseshoe Pass. North to the Clywdians and descend Bwlch Penbarras. Over the hills and through Clocaenog Forest. Then into Snowdonia to Llan Ffestiniog where the community run pub Y Pengwern will be open late providing food for you (included). More mountain roads as you climb Bwlch y Groes the ‘easy’ way before descending the hard to cruise down the Dovey Valley and around the coast. Up into the hills once again to Devil‘s Bridge stopping at the station of the Vale of Rheidol Railway; with locamotives made at Swindon’s GWR works it was the last state operated steam railway only becoming a charity when privatisation occured. Over to the Elegant Valley and descend to the Wye; for a bit. Glorious hills to Hay-on-Wye, more hills, and views of Raglan Castle, to Chepstow before back across the bridge to the Arrivee.
This is an X-rated event, you will need to carry your own sleeping kit and make use of an #audaxhotel.
Late night food at Y Pengwern, Llan Ffestiniog included. Choose from a jacket potato with beans (and cheese) or tuna mayo; or 7″ pizza with cheese or pepperoni. Refillable tea, coffee or squash.
Two Hoots Cafe @ Vale of Rheidol Railway, Devil’s Bridge will be opening early from 06:00. It assumes you’ve caught some shut eye between here and Llan Ffestiniog.
Control times are adjusted assuming a minimum of 15kph to Llanfestiniog dropping to 14.3kph for the rest and the finish time. Maximum speeds start at 25kph then assume you get some overnight sleep somewhere between 320 & 440km; dropping to 17kph and finishing on 20kph. If you decide to go straight through you will still need to collect proof of passage. If you get back early, grab some sleep and come back to the finish when it opens.
This will be ideal preparation for Bristol Glasgow Bristol 1600; in a way harder as there is no time allowance for the rate of climb like an LRM event.
how hard is it?
See my review below.
Type & Validation
- The route is advisory - you just have to visit the controls and gain proof of passage within time limits where specified; there may be parts that you'd like to take a different route and that is entirely up to you; the time limits for the controls don't change!
- Validation: Not Instant - cards need to be returned to AUK to be validated; I will post them on to you if you select brevet card return postage.
What others think.
Seriously difficult, but well worth the pain
This is a brutally difficult ride, as the 10,000m of ascent suggests, with long steep climbs (and descents), sometimes on poor road surfaces. But, wow, the suffering is worth it – a stunningly good route, with amazing scenery and fabulous views. Easily both the best route, and the hardest ride, of any 600 I’ve done. Although advertised as X-rated, Will had arranged early-opening cafe’s, and a late-opening half-way night control at the Y Pengwern hotel which had a dedicated Audax function room and bedrooms – although I rode through to the Toad Hall bunkhouse at 400k for a few hours sleep. Will had even arranged glorious May weather – warm and sunny, and mild through the night. Poor weather would make this even harder!
2018 Test ride.
I have ridden this in just under 40hrs (I was aiming for a BRM time) with 5hrs30 ‘sleep’ in an open bus shelter; disturbed by a lovely Welshman wanting me to look at the stars, have a chat and inspect my bike at 3am.
The views are stunning. The hills relentless once they get going and gratuitous; just as much a test to mental fortitude as physical fitness. Beautiful in it’s remoteness and avoiding the main roads after an early morning dash through Gloucester.
I’m not the fastest up hills but I can do them over and over. I found the hardest part between Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant and the top of the Old Horseshoe Pass (a slight jiggle has been made missing the first of this set of hills). There are a few other notable climbs for steepness such as the Burway up to the top of Long Mynd and a short section of Llanbedr Hill. This is not an exhaustive list. Also there are less steep but long climbs that you can achieve a good pace up. Being a BR event enables the minimum speed to be lower and the total distance to count to complete it in time. Do you accept this devilishly elegant challenge?