Heather Hobbs The Dragon Ride, June ’18 Race review.

Sunday 10th June was our Wedding Anniversary, and you know what anniversaries are like, you have to compromise and do what your other half wants to do. Well Gordon wanted to do the Dragon ride. Not together, obviously. Nothing so romantic, just both doing the same ride.
Fortunately it was another glorious day, wall to wall sunshine and temperatures in the twenties, even at 7am.
The event was superbly organised, as you would expect from Human Race, but you pay for it! The start was at Margram Park, just outside Port Talbot. A beautiful country house in stunning countryside. The first, and last 5 miles of the route is along the coast road, passed Port Talbot. Not the most scenic spot in the world but the roads are quiet and the tarmac is good so it passes quickly (in about 14 minutes to be precise) and that’s the last I see of Gordon for the next 8h as the road turns immediately uphill, uphill for the next 15 miles. On the plus side the scenery was glorious! I befriended a couple of lovely chaps from Yorkshire on the first climb, pleasingly they didn’t drop me until right near the top.
There were three routes on offer; the short (100K), the medium (155K) or the long Grand Fondo (230K). At the start I was 90% decided to do the medium route. Whilst my cycling is going well at the moment, it’s only the start of the season and 95 miles round the Brecon Beacons is not to be sniffed at. I wanted to finish strong and not run the risk of limping home a wreck or worse still, finishing the day in the broom wagon.
So I did the medium route and, on the whole, I think it was the right decision. There were 6 climbs on my route each between 5 and 15 miles long. You just don’t get hills like that round here. Only the ‘Devils Elbow’ is really steep. 17% in places and I knew about every single one of them. But it was mercifully short (only 2K) & the ‘Devil’ from the Tour de France was at the top cheering everyone on. Quite an expected. Most of the climbs were between 6 & 7%, just very, very long.
The descents were glorious! Long, fast and sweeping. And the views were to die for. OK so the weather helped, in traditional Welsh rain I’m not sure it would have been quite as spectacular. The medium and long routes split after 70 miles and the pack thinned out dramatically. I hooked up with a couple of chaps from Lancashire and we worked together for the next 20 miles. They dropped me on the hills and I caught them on the descents but between us we picked off dozens of other cyclists, some of them jumping on for a bit but none of them doing any work on the front.
The last 5 miles back along the coast road, whilst not quite as pretty, was flat and fast, and I was still feeling strong! My two mates did their turns to start with but for the last couple of miles it was just me. Only as we pulled back into the park did I realise I had a string of about a dozen blokes on my wheel.
I finished in 6h 2 mins. Fastest lady (on the medium route) and 53/1400 overall.
Would I recommend this ride, it’s not cheap but I definitely would. Could I have done the longer one? I think so I’ll just have to come back another time and find out 😊

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