The Red Kite Events Devil’s MTB was an off road event with a choice of 30, 60 and 80km routes. There was a road sportive and a cross country run happening on the same day.
The recently thawed snow made the ground heavy going in places but on the plus side the week of sun had dried other areas to summer levels. I’ve ridden this area quite a bit over the years so I knew a lot of it and the route was a greatest hits package. There was also some new riding in the Cynant valley.
It took me 7.5 hours to complete the route and as I signed back in I thought “that’s got to be at least 2000m of ascent”. After I drew the route the stats came in as 2300m of ascent. That’s pretty much double what is considered a challenging day ride for reasonably fit riders. That explains the back ache.
I was feeling really good on the first half of the ride; the sun was shining, it was vaguely warm and the route took in some familiar and some new parts. After the food stop at the Crychan forest and being cheerily told that I was at the 40km mark then the effort required to complete the challenge became apparent. Setting off into the Crychan for another greatest hits package I found riders pushing their bikes up hills and after passing the 60/80km split I didn’t really see another soul for several hours. I recognised some of the route from the 2012 Devil’s Challenge.
Taking in a long track climb I started to focus on how much my back hurt and began wondering just how much more hill could be left in Wales. I also wondered just who the handful of riders were whose tracks I was following. I’m pretty tough and can cope with epic rides, but I was in pain and this lot were ahead of me. I had stopped for a few photos and video and done a bit of a motorbike enduro route (red and orange arrow mix up). Maybe that would account for 20 minutes or so.
Those who know me might have occasionally heard me mention yoga in passing. I don’t make a big thing of it, but yoga has clear benefits for fitness and strength and I’d really been noticing it recently. By two thirds round this ride any benefits of yoga were out of my mind and felt truly like my pre-yoga self (check out mountain bike yoga breaks).
Not only was the climbing relentless but I felt short changed and resentful of Red Kite Events and Wales for not giving me back all of the altitude that I’d worked so hard on gaining. That’s the only way I can explain it -they were accumulating from each rider and hoping that we wouldn’t notice.
After passing the food stop for the second time I was told that it was only 10km left to go. I prefer to think of that as 6 miles. A short cut into some fields looked good but it turned out that the field had an energy absorbing grass surface combined with a steep climb. The gears on my bike were knackered by this stage too – muddy dust and worn jockey wheels meant that the chain clicked and clacked when in the bottom few gears. I was beyond caring and just grateful that the chain wasn’t actually jumping gear. I might have shouted out something like “How much more f**king hill is left in Wales?” at about this time.
A quick descent down the Roman road was followed by one last painful climb and I knew that it was all down from this point. Which was a relief.
When I made it back to Llanwrtyd Wells at around 6pm I found out that lot of the 60km riders did the 30km route and a lot of the 80km riders did the 60km route. With that in the bag I called round to the Neudd Arms and had a long lie down.
See another write up on the Red Kite Events blog.