Velothon Wales Sportive
The eagerly awaited and much published Velothon Wales Sportive turned out to be a really spectacular event. A number of members and partners luckily signed up to ride the quickly sold out 50 and 140km events. Closed roads were promised by the organiser’s and 100% closed roads we were given with thousands of spectator’s cheering from the roadside as we passed through the villages and towns on route.
Leading up to the event the Press and TV voiced criticism of the event due to the disruption it was going to cause, but as we pedalled around the route enthusiastic applause and encouragement was all we heard from the public as we passed by.
Starting in Cardiff 15,000 cyclists were quite a sight around the centre, marshals quickly organised everyone and released at designated times. Group after group smoothly rode past the castle and down St Mary’s street and through the start area cheered on by Wales rugby Player Colin Charvis, also a very keen cyclist and was starting in a later group. A gentle tailwind was a welcome start to the event as riders had a first taste of the closed roads, negotiating roundabouts in opposite directions, ignoring red lights and having the freedom of using the full width of the road. Moving in the direction of Newport average speed were high as chain gangs amongst the riders developed. From Newport the 50 and 140k events split with the longer event going on a loop around Magor and then it was back and up and around the Celtic Manor, this was where the Tacks on the roads incident occurred delaying a number of riders with punctures and most carried their bikes over the affected area. Usk was the next town on route with the first feed zone with Welsh Cakes and Bananas on the menu, then on to Abergavenny and the feared Tumble climb. An average gradient of 10% slowed many with some deciding to walk for sections of the long tough climb. ACME support with Chairman Jeff and Chris were a welcome sight on the summit with further refreshments and photos to record the special day. Miles of decent followed through the valleys and onto Caerphilly Mountain for the final test. Regularly used in the Tour of Britain the climb brought many to a slow crawl up the steep ascent with a 20% gradient in places. The fast twisty decent off Caerphilly mountain is always a thrill, then passing through Roath and on to the finish on the King Edwards Avenue amongst the civic building in Cardiff.
Paul Harries, Jason Dodd, Mark Nicholls, Dean Cummings, Hywel Morgan, Kevin Millard & Kerry Lewis completed the 140k route and covering the long undulating event in a riding times ranging from 4.30 – 5.00hrs. We were all of the same opinion the event was amazing and we all had a taste of being a Professional Rider for the day having the full freedom of the roads and cheered along for the full 140 kilometres. We recently heard this event is in place for the next three year and we would all recommend entering for a great days riding experience.
In the 50k event Craig’s partner Michelle took up the challenge to complete the tough undulating course. Craig’s report Continues:-
When the Velothon was first announced, Michelle jumped at the chance and entered straight away. The idea of cycling round her local roads while closed to traffic really appealed to her. As the route hadn’t been announced, we both assumed that the race would bypass Caerphilly town centre and the mountain. We were in for a surprise!
As the race drew closer, there was a bit of apprehension at the thought of tackling Caerphilly Mountain so a few practice hill climbs were in order. The road from Tongwynlais to the top of Caerphilly Mountain was ridden 3 or 4 times in the weeks leading up to the race, each time quicker than the last. The entire route was ridden on the weekend before the race, completed in just under 3 hours.
Come race day, Michelle’s enthusiasm wasn’t dampened by a 4:45am start to the day! She even managed to make a friend in the starting pen before starting off at 7am.
The target she had in mind was 3 hours, so a finishing time of 2:28 was the icing on the cake. Michelle is now looking forward to the 2016 race, her only problem is the decision whether to go the 50k again or jump in at the deep end and go for the 140! She had the time of her life (her own words!)………… Well Done Michelle.