Pic: Jon Brooke
Total distance: 71km
The penultimate day of the Gore Bike Wear TransWales proved the weather pundits wrong; billed as being wetter than a duck’s feet on Ullswater the rain that had lightly drizzled the campsite over night never delivered the full-blown monsoon deluge we were promised. By lunch time the powers that be up above were definitely smiling on the riders as sunshine and blue skies dominated for the remainder of the day.
The riders left Llansawel rugby club at 9am and had a spin along the black top before climbing into Caeo Forest on their way to conquer the moorland fell of Mynydd Mallaeh at 448m. The going was tough and soggy, “like riding on a sponge” said one rider afterwards, and contributed to stringing the riders out significantly. However, the scenic rewards were massive as the wilderness of mid-Wales was laid out clean and crisp for the riders like an Imax landscape with shafting light beaming down from above.
Coming off the top riders picked up speed and clicked through the gears as gravity assisted their descent. The open and grassy trail meant riders could really let off the brakes and carve some lines like a racing lawnmower on speed. With grins tattooed onto faces, the course then dived into the woods and onto the 3km snaking singletrack descent of Cwm y Rhaiadr that formed part of the NiteRider night time special stage on Wednesday night.
Pic: Jon Brooke
From here the course headed up once more to summit out in Irfon Forest at 468m before entering the ‘duck pond’; so called as it rolls through rocky troughs of standing water amidst single and double track the undulates slightly, with enough depth of water and hidden obstacles to tip even the wary rider into the muddy waters. After a quick fire road descent the trail dived off camber into a root infested singletrack and up a steep chute of a climb before the final swan song into Llanwrtyd Wells and a very well earned pint at the Neuadd Arms.
With the results of yesterday’s final special stage at Brechfa announced this evening, that – as we reported yesterday – made use of part of Brechfa’s green route. Characterised by fast and pumpy singletrack that became more difficult the faster you rode it, it climbed from the off up fire road before dropping back on itself along undulating singletrack and a sequence of bermed turns, before another fireroad stretch flowed into more singletrack. It continued in the same vein for 10km with short sharp climbs blended with ever increasing singletrack descents. It was a tough proposition with headwinds and sporadic driving rains to contend with.
Pic: Jon Brooke
In the Schwalbe Tyres Male Solo category Jonathan Pugh (Clee Cycles KCNC High 5) took the win once more in 18minis 17secs, however Josh Ibbett (IronHorse-Extreme) who’d consistently been Pugh’s nearest rival dropped off the podium for the first time to allow Jon Bowie (TriSmart) to take second in the special stage in 18mins 48secs, followed by James Sanford (Bike RLC).
The final overall Gore Bike Wear TransWales results will be announced and presented at journey’s end at Builth Wells tomorrow, some 62km and 2000m away. With the weather report looking decidedly rosy with blue skies and sunshine, the Gore Bike Wear TransWales should be finishing on a real and genuine high, and we’ll be rounding things up in style. Stay tuned.