Go the distance | 100 miles - Wild Wales
Well, it’s Spring, it’s looking not totally terrible weather, so now is the time to dust off the bike, oil that chain, pump those tyres and roll off down the starting ramp of 2016 to the next challenge. You may well ridden through winter, testing yourself and reminding your rear what the saddle felt like mile after mile but chances are you’ve steered well clear of cycling a century (or more) of miles on your bike.
And where would we be without inspiration? It’s a point of note that we intend to make you excited about what the cycling year holds. It’s fact that the promise of a long distance ride in balmy July makes you instantly feel healthier, fitter and generally happier. If it’s not fact, then it should be.
Yes, there are many distance rides, yes many have stunning scenery but some triumph more than others, some are striking, some breathtaking (in more ways than one) they are the rides you tell your mates about, the rides you’ll tell your kids about!
We'll be publishing our list of five such stunners over the coming weeks. No claim is made that these are the best five in the UK except that they might just be, in our opinion! In no particular order:
Holyhead to Cardiff (Lôn Las Cymru Trail)
Who doesn’t like starting a ride on an island?! You’ll find yourself facing Ireland and the bracing Irish Sea to commence this epic long distance ride through unforgiving Welsh hills and mountains. Mark the start with a splash in the sea, turn 180° and then cycle the 250 miles all the way to Cardiff. That’s right, two hundred and fifty miles all the way to Cardiff. You’ll have legs like Greipel after this one.
Along the way you’ll encounter some serious climbing. There are some horrors in there folks, get off Anglesey and you’ll be met with the brute of Snowdonia, taking on several cat 3 and cat 4 climbs, dependent on the route you take, this and this could be part of several draining days in the saddle. Then you'll begin rolling through glorious countryside and wood hills. Tiny villages without GPS signal BUT with added tea rooms await.
Suggestion is to take 5-6 days and take in the scenery as you ride through some of the most untouched areas of the UK, but if the weather is crap get your head down and you can get it done in 3 - good luck with that.
As you roll into Cardiff (or Chepstow if you bottle going through the beacons) and finish like a pro rider in the tour, with nobody paying you any attention whatsoever and simply shaking their heads at grown men wearing sunglasses in overcast weather, you’ll feel that biggest sense of satisfaction at having ridden the length of a whole country, not many folks can say that!
Now on these sort of rides where you go point A to point B you'll not be taking much with you one expects, you’ll certainly not have the much in the way of bike protection - doubtful that you’ll have dragged a bike box up Snowdon - but you still need to protect your cycle and make sure all those others you’re riding with don’t scratch it. This is where the bike blanket comes in, it’s easy to carry with you and can be quickly applied to the bike at the end of day as it sits amongst its bedfellows. Popping it in your panniers or day bag beforehand is all it takes. It also comes in handy if you’ve decided to get the train to the start - public transport can be a nightmare for knocking and scratching.