Saturday, 13 April 2013

Devil's Challenge - Llanwrtyd Wells 7th April 2013

Over 510 riders turned out in Llanwrtyd Wells to take part in the Devil’s Challenge I on Sunday 7th April. The weather was good – cold in the wind but dry and reasonably sunny. For Mid-Wales, any weather that is not rain is good!

The Devil’s Challenge was made up of three events: the road sportive, the MTB challenge and, for those less keen on cycling, a choice of either a 10km or a half marathon run.

The road cyclists were first off, leaving Llanwrtyd in groups of 8-10 from 8am onwards. Riders had either a 30, 50 or 80 mile ride ahead of them, and what the rides may have lacked in distance they most certainly made up for in hills, with the 80 mile route taking in a massive 3570m of climbing overall. The routes wound through some of the most stunning scenery Mid-Wales has to offer, including Abergwesyn Common, and took in climbs such as Cwm Owen (Tour of Britain). For those doing the 50 and 80 mile rides, the notorious Devil’s Staircase waited for them near the end of the route, a last tough push before the final miles back into Llanwrtyd.

At 10.30am, the MTB riders set off in an impressive mass start, with hundreds of riders flowing through town before heading off into the hills and mountains around Llanwrtyd to experience some of the best technical and most exciting mountain biking Wales has to offer. As with the sportive, riders had three routes to choose from – 30, 60 or 80km of tracks that took in the Cambrian Mountains, as well as trails throughout the Crychan and Irfon Forests.

With tough riding, it was not surprising when about half an hour into the MTB event, the organiser Neil received a call over the radio alerting us to the fact that someone had stacked it on a hill and had potentially broken his jaw! All Red Kite Events are covered by Strata Medical, and one of their crews was quickly on the scene to assess the damage.

The feed stations were kept busy as a mixture of road and MTB bikers flowed in to take a break, have a snack and refuel. Peter James, owner of the Drovers Rest, supplied welcoming homemade cakes and biscuits for the feed stations situated along the routes. The cakes proved very popular amongst riders on Sunday, with several even stuffing them up their lycra shorts to eat later! Also popular were the energy tablets supplied by Nuun and the 20kg of jelly babies that were available at the stations as a quick pick-me-up.
Steve Cornish, from Cyclist No1 Magazine, commented: “It was a cracking route for the marathon today, as were the homemade cakes at the feed stations!”

The feed stations were manned by volunteers. The volunteers make the events run by Red Kite Events, and without their help and enthusiasm, the events would not be nearly as good as they are, so a huge thanks goes to everyone who helped out on the day and made the day as good as it was.

Speaking after the event, a representative from Swindon Mountain Bike Club said: “I am still feeling wrecked after the 80km option at the Devil’s MTB,” and another rider, Jim Tipp, added: “The Devil’s MTB Challenge was tough as a bottle full of tuff stuff. Awesome descents!”

Others were equally impressed, and the sportive riders were full of praise for a great days cycling, with one rider stating: “I enjoyed my first ever sportive. I take my hat off to those who rode all of the Devil’s Staircase”. Another said: “It was a stunning Devil’s Challenge sportive today – a great few hours in gorgeous countryside”.

I personally drove the 80 mile road route to ensure there were no riders left out on the course, and can safely say it was some of the most beautiful Welsh countryside I have ever seen. Although I live in Mid-Wales, and have done so for nearly 15 years, even I hadn’t travelled along some of the tiny roads the sportive riders went down, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, exploring the stunning scenery right on my doorstep. I found the last 80 mile riders eventually, taking in the Devil’s Staircase climb, and stopped to chat to the last rider, who said she had had a fantastic day out and had thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

Overall, it is clear to see that the day had been a huge success and the event could not have gone better. Everyone we spoke to had had a great day and everyone was commenting on the trails and routes, remarking how beautiful the scenery was and seeming genuinely pleased to have done their rides.

And now it’s not long until the next event offered by Red Kite Events. It will take place on the 11th May (less than a month away!) and is a road sportive event only. The event will start in Leominster, before turning west into Mid-Wales for some brilliant and challenging climbs. There will be 38, 70 or 105 mile options for riders. For more information about this event, or any of the others offered by Red Kite Events, please visit We hope to see you all there to take part in what is bound to be another spectacularly good day of cycling!

Red Kite Events is run by a group of road and mountain bikers, who aim to bring the very best in events and trips away. They run cycling events throughout the year around Mid Wales and the English Borders, and promise great routes, well organised events, a friendly atmosphere and excellent food supplied by their business partner, the Drovers Rest. 

1 comment:

  1. Great write up and great event. More photos on the MBSwindon website. We'll be back for more.