WHEN: +iCalFri 30th August 2019 21:00 - 08:50 Sun 1st September 2019
WHERE:Felix Road Adventure Playground Felix Road Easton, BS5 0JW
Head to the Welsh coast & Llangrannog; home of the Bica the Giant’s tooth! Fast valleys, remote Welsh mountains, old mining towns; it’s all there! Descend the Devil’s Staircase and climb his Elbow #wills_hills galore!
Head to the Welsh coast & Llangrannog; home of the Bica the Giant’s tooth! Fast valleys, remote Welsh mountains, old mining towns; it’s all there! Descend the Devil’s Staircase and climb his Elbow #wills_hills galore!
Legend has it the Giant Bica lost his tooth on Llangrannog beach whilst eating berries from the cliff. The solitary rock is known as Carreg Bica, or Giant’s Tooth.
With a late start cruise to Sennybridge along the Usk Valley through the night before into the hills at Trecastle. Then the Towy Valley passing through Carmarthen. Now let the hills begin proper like as you head to Fishguard, a former GWR port with their steam ships serving Ireland. Then skim along the coast to Llangrannog; view the village and the Giant’s Tooth from beside St. Carannog’s statue as you decend to the coast. Inland again to Tregaron and the infamous mountain road with its iconic phone & letterbox. Descending the Devil’s Staircase can be just as daunting as climbing it! Then across Sennybridge Ranges via Mynydd Bwlch-y-Groes stopping in Sennybridge this time. Buckle up for The Devil’s Elbow then you are into The Valleys; these can catch you out! Hop across them for the final leg home through Caerleon.
Dinner included before setting off. Two 24hr establishments on way out. Red Lion @ Sennybridge will be serving food late. Two 24hr establishments between there and finish. No sleep provisions en route. ‘Postal finish’ at my house.
Wind down on the Sunday with fellow ACB organiser Jon Banks’ wonderful Chalfield Challenge 100. Me and Red will be there!
Cloth badge for all finishers of the GWR AAA SR series completed this AUK season.
Like or loath* it? Let others know.*Whilst I like to think I can affect the weather alas that is beyond my control...
What others think.
This is a journey. For me, my first 500km ride, it made quite an impression.
You’ll likely be riding through 2 nights. You’ll ride nearly every steep hill in south wales. Expect the weather to be nuts. Believe the elevation profile.
I was lucky to meet a couple of riders at different moments where it wasn’t going so well in my head. Their kindness and wisdom in the face of the absurdity, genuinely helped me get round. Hat tip to Dad as well, for the hour and a half in a cafe in Fishguard chatting while I tried to get dry after that rain.
Headwinds though Llandeussant, midnight ponies in the road above Merthyr, boy racers in the valleys, the kids doing night shift in Macdonalds, singing into the night, the sea!. We’ll be back for more.
Organisation perfectly minimal. 10/10 would ride again. Thanks Will!
An absolute classic
I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed an audax so much (and there’s been some stiff competition). Every detail of the Giant’s Tooth 500 was perfectly thought out. The vegan curry at the start was delicious (thank you!), and I appreciated that we went through the busiest parts of South Wales in the dead of night, so had the roads (even the dual carriageways) to ourselves. By the time the sun came up we were riding through beautiful scenery, which we enjoyed for the rest of the ride. I was delighted by the number of 20% (and even 25%) hills Will had managed to squeeze into the route – it seemed absurd at times, that someone could expect us to mange yet another near-vertical gradient, after so many others, and so many hundreds of kilometres, but somehow we made it over all of them, and were glad we had. I loved revisiting some of my favourite roads (especially the one between Tregaron and Abergwesyn), and discovering new ones. And very much enjoyed the camaraderie in the 24-hour Macdonald’s controls. (Worryingly, the food there tasted better and better as the ride wore on.)
The Giants Tooth NOT the dwarfs gums
A local legend and epic scenery make for a fantastic ride.
It is a tough one make no mistake but well worth having a go. The ride starts in Bristol at night and you head out over the Severn Bridge in dark, once you get beyond Chepstow you start passing through small deserted villages shut up for the night, riding through the night is amazing.
As dawn breaks you’ll be nearing the coast at Fishguard, for me what followed was 4 hours of torrential rain and gail force winds, “character building”, when the sun eventually came out the scenery was amazing.
The view out over Llangrannog (Giants tooth bay) is stunning. You turn inland and ride up over the Devils Staircase, this is where the real hills begin. If you thought it had been hilly before you’re in for a shock. They get bigger and steep from then on in.
Sun sets somewhere around the devils Elbow, after Sennybridge (make sure you have good lights!), the hills keep coming but eventually they relent, you head back over the Severn and into Bristol as a finisher, bowed but not broken by the Giants Tooth!
Well done that’s a great achievement.
The Goat’s Goof aka The Giant’s Tooth
The Giants Tooth
Everyone knows the legend surrounding the ‘Giant’s Tooth’, right? What, no? Ok, below is the legend in full, as cited on some site on the Internet:
Bica was a Giant who lived in a cave in Llangrannog with his slave who’s name was Lochtyn. The Villagers were having a fete and Bica wanted to look smart for the occasion so he ordered Lochtyn to clean his shoes the night before and prepare his breakfast for the morning. Lochtyn did so and once he had achieved a good shine, left the shoes in the opening of the cave for Bica to put on the following morning along with the fish he had caught for his breakfast.
Dawn broke and seagulls appeared on the shore and around the entrance of Bica’s cave. News spread fast amongst the gulls of a free meal of fish at the caves entrance and squabbles broke out with feathers flying and talons ripping. This kafuffle woke Bica and at the same time the gulls flew off. Bica got dressed ready for breakfast and his day out amongst the villagers, so he went out to put on his shoes but saw that they were covered in scratches and his breakfast was gone. He summoned Lochtyn thinking that he had not done his job and was so angry that he ordered Lochtyn to live a life of solitary on an island North of the cave. (that island now bares the name of Ynys Lochtyn, translated into English means Lochtyn’s Island) Bica was not going to let this happening spoil his day so he headed up the hill to the village fete.
By now he was feeling very hungry and on a nearby hill he spotted berries growing, so he bent over to take a bite but as he did so he bit into the hard rock that they were growing from. With this he let out a loud yell of pain and rushed back to the beach to rinse his mouth in the rivers water. As he stumbled around in pain suddenly out dropped his tooth onto the beach. (Carreg Bica is known today as The Giants Tooth) Bica never did make it to the fete that day and never saw Lochtyn again.
Some crazy Audax Event Organiser, named Will, decided to base this legend around a cycling event he named, wait for it … The Giant’s Tooth. This event was 500k+ and had around 8,000m of climbing. Will is well known for ‘Will’s Hills’. Hmm.
What follows is my re-telling of the legend. Basically, my story of cycling Will’s event. I’ve named this story ‘The Goats Goof’.
The event started at Felix Road Adventure Playground where around 40 cyclists all met up. I didn’t know any of the cyclists at the start of this event. It was easy to spot Will though – he was ensuring we were all fed and watered. Will’s curried rice was delicious. After being suitably fuelled up, we all left together at 9 o’clock, heading into the dark night.
Groups formed almost straight away and cycled faster than I was really comfortable with, however, was pleased with the tow when I could tag on the end. The group I was part of consisted of 6 cyclists in all but myself and another girl kept dropping off the back and then catching up. This catch up, get dropped scenario repeated itself over and over. When me or the ‘other girl’ were dropped, we didn’t cycle together as we were dropped at different times – it was like we were playing cat and mouse with the group. When in the group, cycling was fast and it allowed me to chat with all the group members. I was asking people where they were from and most in this group were from London. It was interesting knowing if people had made plans or had strategies for this event. The ‘other girl’ commented that she could go without sleep for 36 hours and I kinda stole that fact and used it as a mantra for myself. I had taken a bivvy with me because I feared I might not finish the event and thought perhaps it was a bit ambitious for me. This stage took us over the Severn Bridge and past Llanath Court (psychiatric Hospital) that I had visited before on occasions with work related business. After 62k we had reached the first control, a McDonalds in Llanfoist.
I spent little time at the control wishing to push on at my slower pace and wait for others to chase or tag along with should they cycle pass. This was a good plan as the group I was cycling with earlier caught me up and I cycled with them once again at their crazy pace. The ‘other girl’ was in this group again too and just like earlier we kept getting dropped and then catching up again. The cat and mouse phenomena repeated itself. We encountered a little rain during this 100k+ stage but nothing too major. My knees were starting to niggle a little too but surprisingly no saddle sore. The next control was in Pensarn and was another McDonalds.
Some of the group, notably a couple from London, took a sleep at this control and I believe they both scratched. Like before, I ate relatively quickly and set off soon after finishing my food. It felt great to brush my teeth at this control (the little things really help). I cycled most of this stage alone and felt pretty good in myself as I knew I was relatively near the front so to speak. My spirits felt high and I felt comfortable. Then the rain started to fall and heavy it became. I still felt relatively great and was enjoying this experience. So pleased that I felt ‘on form’ despite cycling little over recent months. It was great to see the night turn into day, though I was a little disappointed that I didn’t see a sunrise. The rain got heavier and heavier and I didn’t much care as it was a ‘warm wet’. A certain descent came and I zoomed down at great speed, maybe 50-60 kph and then crash, bang, wallop! I came off my bike at the bottom of this hill as I was trying to turn a corner. Ouch! I must have slid about 30 feet on my side – the bike went in the opposite direction. I picked myself up almost straight away and was worried the bike would be written off. Thankfully my bike was ok, just the brake levers took some damage and both left and right were bent inwards. I bent the levers back and right worked just fine, left was just a little more resistant when pressing the lever. I was not so ok and had cut my hand and blood was pouring from my elbow, hip, backside, knee and foot (all on the right side) but nothing broken. Sadly my gore-tex jacket was ripped to shreds (bye bye lobster jacket). My Rapha jersey was ripped too (thank goodness they have a free repair service) along with my arm warmer and tights. My right shoe also suffered and the ratchet system went awol (was weird cycling with one tight shoe and one loose shoe). My Carradice bag also suffered and a hole now sits on the one pocket. My helmet also got bashed and had some damage and the light (newly purchased) was broken into bits all over the road (was able to put it back together but the batteries could not be found). Wowser, what a menace fall! Reality check – I was ok, bike was ok. Picked myself and continued on my way cycling just a tad slower. Not long after this fall, the ‘other girl’ from earlier had caught me. It was nice to chat just for a while and take my focus off this fall. I spotted an open bakery with cycles parked outside and decided to use this as my control in Fishguard. Had now cycled 225k and was at the furthest point out.
Not so bad after a clean up
Folk in the bakery appeared quite alarmed when I walked in. I got chatting to the couple of cyclists in there and the one fellow was keen to take my pic as he liked ‘gory stuff’. Some customers in the shop helped me find the bathroom and I was able to clean up a little. Was nice to chill out here for a spell and eat a delicious full English breakfast. The ‘other girl’ rocked up here too and joined our small group for breakfast. Some conversation suggested I quit here and get a train back to Bristol. I figured I was half way (which I really wasn’t, just felt like it because I was at the furthest point out) and expressed how awesome I would feel if I were just to complete this event. My stubbornness would not let me quit.
I left the control on my own and cycled along the coast which was just so beautiful. The sea was all kind of different coloured blues and God’s creation just amazed me more and more. The roads were like a roller coaster and would constantly go up and down. After so long, a chap called Lee had caught me up and we chatted for a while. It’s always nice hearing the stories of others who had cycled the same events as I, and Lee had cycled PBP and the Transatlantic Way. I lost Lee and sped onto the next (un-official) control, ‘Steve’s House’.
Steve was a friend of Will’s and had very kindly offered to provide us cyclists with a cup of tea. The top of his drive had a park tools ‘thing’ with an AUK sign written on it and info leading us to his house. Steve’s house was huge, it was a farm house but looked like a mansion to me. Some cyclists were leaving Steve’s as I was entering and commented ‘you’re in for a treat here’. The cyclists were not wrong! Steve’s wife (?) made me a lovely bacon bap, his kids (?) brought me a cup of tea and Steve made sure I took away some delicious cake when I left too. Steve was kind enough to remove the bottles from my bike and fill them up again for me. Nice one Steve, real generosity. Steve’s bathroom was the size of my house. Lee rocked up not long after me and shortly after him, the ‘other girl’ rocked up too. Steve was interested in knowing who every cyclist was when they entered his house and would text Will letting him know we had arrived and were safe. When the ‘other girl’ entered, she introduced herself as Emily. (Light bulb moment!). I asked her surname and of course it was ‘Chappell’, wow, I had been following her blog for years and it only just clicked who she was (a member of the ‘Adventure Syndicate’, a cycle courier who ‘took on the world’).
Left Steve’s house and had cycled about 242k at this point. The route followed the coast and I was awarded with many spectacular views. At 260k I stopped in Gwbert to answer a question at an ‘information’ control. Emily Chappell whizzed past me here and I never saw her again on this ride. The voices in my head were telling me how cool it was to reach the half-way point before her (not because I am competitive in the slightest) and provided me with a hope that I would finish this event.
Cycled much of the next stretch on my own again and was really enjoying this experience. I’m not really a fan of hills, yet was enjoying these climbs. I think the high-light of this event came when I was able to spot the Giants Tooth. So beautiful.
The Goats Goof
Stopped at local pub here in Llangrannog and feasted on an overly expensive fish-finger sarnie. Wow, I had cycled 280k by now and was starting to feel a little tired. I write little notes on adventures such as this to help remind me of happenings – I must have been tired, I was not able to decipher my own writing.
My head space re-calls little of the section between LLangrannog and Tregaron. I do remember big hills and was surprised to not see any signs stating beware of the Tragaron mountain toads. At the Tregaron checkpoint, I had cycled 325k. A local shop was used for the control and I ate a most lovely tuna baguette. Being so tired, I figured I would just close my eyes for 10 minutes whilst camped out on a bench. I didn’t actually sleep but awoke to a female voice asking if they could park their bike next to mine as they closed their eyes for a spell on an adjacent bench.
This voice belonged to Anisa. After a short break on the benches we left the control together and like earlier sections with Emily, we kinda cycled in a cat and mouse fashion. At some point, Lee from earlier joined us both and we then cycled as 3 ‘mouse-keteers’ all the way to the very finish. I got to know a whole bunch about Anisa and Lee and consider them both ‘cycling greats’. Anisa had cycled huge events like the Trans Continental Race (and I think was 2nd female to finish). Lee was runner-up Audax points champion last season and hopes to win this season. I could not believe I was cycling such an X rated event alongside all these cycling greats. Emily, Anisa and Lee were all great individuals and very humble too. It was great hearing their stories, sharing their wisdom and laughing and singing with them at times too. Lee, Anisa and I cycled until the day turned into night and we passed through MOD ranges before reaching a pub in Senny Bridge at the 384k mark.
As a group of three we cycled hours together and would sing songs, talk much nonsense and share stories to keep us all going. At times we would push our bikes up the seriously big hills and at other times we would speed down ring-twitching descents. We went up and over the Devil’s stair case and up and over his elbow. Up and down, repeat, repeat. At 422k we found another McDonalds and Lee was keen to close his eyes for a spell and I believe he actually dropped off. I closed my eyes too, but only for a few mins. Some drunken lardy guy banged the window, hurled abuse at us and told us to leave. We didn’t feel threatened but felt that was our cue to leave all the same. In fact, I’m not sure if this was the McDonalds at Pontypool at the 456k mark? Either way, we stopped at both McDonalds. I was definitely whacked mentally and physically by now regardless.
The last section was tough and I essentially tagged along, gritting my teeth at times to keep up. Anisa and Lee were great company and helped while away the hours. It was interesting seeing the dark turn into day and this time around we saw a sunrise! It felt great to cross over the Severn bridge in daylight and assured the finish was nearing. Leaving Wales and being back in England felt good – nearly home. Back into Bristol, located St Marks Road and used the ATM for our final control proof. Woo Hoo! We had completed the Giants Tooth!
Anisa, Doo and Lee
What an awesome event. I truly loved it. 516k and over 8,000m of climbing. Great company – big thanks guys. My first ever 500k event completed. Pleased as punch!
The Giants Tooth, 516k, 8.25 AAA points
Will, the organiser, lived just around the corner so we posted our brevet cards through his door. I tapped his door too and cool as boots, he answered. We were able to tell him how awesome this inaugural event was. Will’s hills. Will’s hills….
Anisa, Lee and I finished this event in just over 35 hours (time limit was 35:50 I think; I’m led to believe that less than half who started, finished?). A very tough event, with an interesting distance especially as it started at night and the ensuing sleep deprivation that followed. A truly x rated event, no designated sleep stops, fierce head wind and heavy downpour on the way out plus a spill. Oh, and Will’s hills. Oh, and Will’s hills..
You are attending this event.
STATUS: Specific details are Pending - all specifics are usually updated the 5th day before the event.
- Please flick through the following tabs fully and make any preparations before the event.
- Route files & links will be found under the 'Route' tab.
- The event/route specific information will be finalised usually the 5th day before the event and you will get an email reminder 3 days prior from firstname.lastname@example.org - add it to your address book to save any disappointment.
- Should you be unable to attend the event I have enabled cancellation from 'My Bookings'. This will aid me in keeping controls informed as to how many to expect and also reduce wastage when printing the brevet cards. Remember there is no option to refund or transfer if you are unable to attend.
- You will receive your brevet card at the start. Should you start the ride and be unable to finish my phone number is within; please drop me a text with your full name to let me know you won't be finishing so volunteers and myself aren't waiting around longer than necessary at controls and the finish.
- Any queries please use GWRaudax@pedalution.co.uk subject 500gt Query so I can filter them easily.
- Until the route is finalised the interactive map above will give you an idea of where you are going.
- It is advisable to study the route notes prior to the event for further details; especially if you are just using a GPX breadcrumb trail to navigate. These are also the 'cuesheet' within the RWGPS route; zoom the map to your desired level, click on a cue and it will focus the map at that cue.
- Every effort is made to identify road closures before the event and provide alternatives where necessary; however I can not account for any emergency closures that are required.
- A variety of surfaces may be encountered, some may be as smooth as a baby's bum, others potholed nightmares, or somewhere in between; if any unmetalled sections are used this will be noted in the Event Info above and now visible as 'unpaved' within RWGPS.
- I do my utmost to select low traffic routes but there may be times busier sections are required.
- Mudguards aren't mandatory but if you can fit them why wouldn't you?
- I would always recommend a set of lights as you never know what could happen.
- Similarly consider carrying 2 space blankets; they cost nothing, are tiny, and can keep you and an other warm should the unfortunate happen.
Files and links further down, please read through the following first.
EXTRA DETAILS:Usually updated the 5th day before the event - you can join the RWGPS Event in the meantime. The latter 3 'Route File' links below will only work once updated.
CSV route notes - these can be edited in any spreadsheet software.
PDF route notes - a version with maps is available in linked RWGPS route (no account necessary to use the official PDF - use 'More v') or the event.
RWGPS Event - at least a free account needed but you will get full premium features, including offline maps & voice nav for the app, regardless of your subscription level. To sync to your device (Wahoo, Garmin Edge) you need to join this first.
RWGPS Route - no account needed but you will lack a few advanced features such as early turn warnings.
See the RWGPS App for my tips to use your phone for navigation and maximising battery life.
- Can't copy the RWGPS route to your account? I have disabled this so should any changes be necessary there is the one correct version.
- I do not provide technical services for your device having never used anything other than the RWGPS app.
- Can't add it to Garmin Connect? It isn't an activity. Transfer it to your Garmin via USB.
- Can't send to your device? Join the RWGPS event.
EXTRA DETAILS:Usually updated the 5th day before the event.
Please arrive at least 10 minutes before the depart time to collect your brevet card.
Felix Road Adventure Playground - opens new tab for map. Felix Road, Easton, City of Bristol, BS5 0JW
- Bike - Easily located off the Bristol & Bath Railway Path NCN4.
- Car - Use Easton Road B4465 into All Hallows Rd for suggested local parking.
- Train - Bristol Temple Meads side entrance links to the Bristol to Bath Railway Path NCN4.
Food & Drink: Food & Drinks available. Included - Hot drinks at start & finish. Dal and rice or similar for evening meal. Unless specified otherwise above.
Accommodation: City centre hotels & YHA
As above. - opens new tab for map & a few details.
Usually updated the 5th day before the event.
Types of control:
- CONTROL - a place or venue where you obtain PoP which can be done in several ways. You will be able to get food and/or drink, also WC will be available.
- Manned - a volunteer or venue member of staff will stamp your card providing PoP. All controls are thus unless specified as...
- Free - you must obtain PoP from that place that has a time and date, usually a receipt from a cafe, shop or ATM.
- INFO - a question found in your brevet card that is relevent to the location needs to be answered and recorded.
- CHECKPOINT - similar to a control but there may not be any facilities present.
- SECRET - now that would be telling wouldn't it!
This is what 'audax' is all about. Travelling between controls to collect proof of passage (PoP) to prove you have cycled the distance. The above controls are found in your brevet card, the route notes, as POIs with the route, and waypoints with the GPX. Your brevet card it to be filled out as you progress around the route. PoP is obtained in several ways. It is highly recommended you carry a pen or pencil to fill your brevet card as you go; if it is a long event numbering any receipts to correspond with the control number will save you time later, then keeping them in order is next level!
USING YOUR PHONE & RWGPS APP:
I use the RWGPS app on my phone to navigate audax events by using spoken cues, I also use it to route check and proof my route notes. This IMHO is the best of all worlds. I don't need to look at a screen (but I can check if I want), I get clear directions when needed (you may need to get used to my shorthand which gets spoken as such), I get a warning if I'm off route, the battery lasts a lot longer than constantly using the screen; especially nowadays as phone batteries are getting bigger plus many are able to rapid charge in a short amount of time. All you need is a good case and mount for inclement weather.
- Install the app.
- Join the event.
- Go to the route.
- Send to device.
- Open app and confirm download.
- In settings (exact location varies depending on iOS or Android) to optomise for best battery use:
- Logging - adjust interval: every 10s is best for the battery, logs your ride but won't get you any KOMs; every 1s uses 10x more battery power to write data but may get you a KOM if you pedal quick.
- Navigation - Spoken alerts ON | Off-course alerts ON | others at your discretion.
- Handlebar mode ENABLED - this will keep RWGPS above any screen lock so you can recall it if needed by pressing power button or similar.
- Handlebar mode - Screen OFF for cues | Proximity Wake OFF (otherwise changes in light will turn the screen on) | Keep screen on NEVER.
- Offline mode ENABLED - when you start riding.
- Better still use flight/aeroplane mode whilst riding.
- You can adjust the text-speech settings via your phone settings; the type of voice, playback speed etc.
Most of the battery drain on a phone is from the screen. By using voice commands you eliminate this but can still view the map if needs be. The second biggest drain whilst cycling is the phone itself searching for a signal as you move between cell towers; putting the phone into flight/aeroplane mode whilst moving solves this problem; you can easily turn data back on to #tag that #CAKE at the next stop!
Make sure battery optimisation is turned off otherwise Android will recognise RWGPS as an excessive battery drain and can limit its functionality. This will be particularily evident if you stop for a bit without GPS signal then continue; the app will appear to be functioning correctly but Android will limit it and data can be lost from the stop point until the app is restarted. There may be a similar feature in iOS.
- Settings >Apps.
- Find RWGPS and expand Advanced >Battery.
- If it says optomised then select and wait for all apps to load.
- Make sure the apps displayed are 'All apps', find RWGPS and select.
- Select 'Don't optimise'. Exit settings.
You have agreed to and declared that at the time of the ride...
- You have no symptoms relating to COVID-19.
- That you are not self-isolating.
- That you are not required to quarantine during the period of the event.
- That no local or other regulations prohibit you from attending this event.
- You agree that if you develop any such symptoms before the event you will not attend.
- You agree that if I develop any such symptoms immediately after the event I shall inform the organiser.
Please follow any wishes of private establishments en route. I highly recommend carrying a mask/buff/scarf etc for the simple act of covering your face if needed when indoors. Any specifics requested by controls will be noted in the control tab.
Audax UK's current policy can be found here.