On video: Gore Sportive recce
It's a stunning route with some tasty climbs...
Sometimes work's pretty dull, padlocked to a computer trying to fix whatever's currently broken on our esteemed organ, road.cc. Other days it's the best job in the world. Tuesday was one of those days, when my sole responsibility was to go and ride a lovely steel Salsa Pistola along some of the most beautiful roads in the country. Oh, and talk a bit into a camera about how great that is.
The ride in question is the Gore Bikewear Road Sportive that's setting off from Llanwrtyd Wells on Saturday 4 July. My guides for the day were John Lloyd and James Williams, who had just come back from Mountain Mayhem (good news!) having just won their category (bad news!). It turns out that no amount of weekend churning round a muddy 9-mile loop is enough to turn two riders who've competed at national level into average Joes, so I was made to suffer a bit on the climbs, and they rode me off the back on the vallley road into Llandovery for a bit of fun. The good news, though, is that I was treated to some of the most magnificent scenery Wales has to offer, and as you can imagine that's up against some pretty stiff competition.
The ride loops out of Llanwrtyd Wells and up the valley from Abergwesyn to the Devil's Staircase, a short but fantastically steep 25% grind up the valley head. Over the top and down the other side it's not long before you hit the second climb which is almost as steep and a lot longer. It's worth the pain though, as the descent (and another short climb) takes you into the Twyi Valley which, on a sunny day in June, is one of the most beautiful places I've ever ridden a bike, anywhere, ever.
From there it's the valley road to Llandovery, at which point we realised that all the filming and ice cream eating meant we weren't going to be able to do all 90 miles in time. So we hid in the van for the 20 miles to Upper Chapel and then rode the finish over the Eppynt military range, another of my favourite spots, not least because the descent is fast enough to be genuinely scary.
All in all it's a cracking route, and a stern test. Even the 50-miler takes in the two big climbs at the start and goes back to Llanwrtyd over the Sugar Loaf, so it's no picnic. And If you've got the legs for it you can camp over and try your hand at the Merida Marathon the next day...