The Wiggle Dragon Ride is one of the biggest and most popular sportives on the UK calendar, and for next year – the ride is on 10 June, 2012 – the start location had been moved three junctions west down the M4, to Margam Park outside Port Talbot. That means a new route, and it looks pretty tough...
"The move further west to Margam has allowed us to look at some climbs that the Dragon hasn’t used before and the re-introduction of an old favourite we’ve not used since 2007", organiser Lou Lusardi told us. That old favourite is the Devil's Elbow, or Bryn Melyn, above Heol Senni in the heart of the Brecon Beacons.
The new route also takes in the windswept and remote climb over Foel Fawr at the western edge of Black Mountain (75km), and a climb through Glasfynydd Forest (110km), both of which top out at over 475m. All of this is in addition to the signature climbs of the Rhigos and the Bwlch, which for 2012 are very much a sting in the tail, at 165km and 180km in respectively. Next year's course also runs clockwise for the most part, meaning you'll be going up the two big climbs the way you usually come down.
All this climbing means that although the Gran Fondo route is only 7km longer than last year, it manages to pack an extra 700m of climbing, bringing the total to a handlebar-chewing 3,350m. The Medio Fondo route cuts out Black Mountain and Heol Senni and heads straight for the big climbs; it's 125km with 1,875m of climbing, again a bit longer and much more climby than last year. The Corto route is shortened to 37km but you'll still have to contend with 430m of climbing, almost as much as last year's 47km route.
An improvement over last year? We think so. The two extra climbs should take plenty out of everyone's legs, and the fact that the Rhigos and Bwlch are right at the end – and climbed from arguably the harder side, although there's not much in it – should make it a tough test. There's some pretty narrow roads along the way, more so than in previous years; the descent from Bryn Melyn into Glyn Neath should be interesting, as should the climb to Trecastle.
If you’re attending the Cycle Show at the NEC this weekend, the Dragon ride chaps will be on stand E22 if you want to see the route close up. In the meantime there's a GPX below which should be accurate, with the possible exception of the route through some of the towns en-route.
More info on the Dragon Ride is available at www.wiggledragonride.com
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.