After a clear night sky scattered with stars like dust the massed throng of Gore Bike Wear TransWales riders prepared for their second day in the saddle. And what a day: wall to wall sunshine and blue skies, dry trails, crystal views over the patchwork landscape of mid-Wales and some epic riding.
It might not have seen a change in the overall standings due to no special stage but today nonetheless delivered great riding and stunning scenery in spades.
Although the lack of H2O dropping from above was merely the icing on the cake today was about completing the linking stage within the 6hr cut off time period. Parcelled with this was the need for riders to pace themselves to keep legs as fresh as possible in preparation for the competition that recommences tomorrow in earnest with the 7km downhill special stage at the awesome Climachx trail near Machynlleth. But before that there was the small matter of 61km and 2140m of climbing to focus on.
Leaving Knighton behind, the riders freed their legs up a gradual Tarmac climb that warmed up weary limbs before the gradient kicked hard to summit Bailey Hill. Continuing onwards, the stage struck out into the hills proper as it took the riders to the trails upon Glyndwr’s Way and into true big country: with sweeping panoramic coupled with blooming purple heather flanking the trail like a carpet of sentries the moorland top stretches were simply stunning.
For one rider – Paul ‘Latch’ Latchem – today, however, was not a good day. One of only about six riders who have ridden every single TransWales and TransScotland event, Latch’s day came to a premature end halfway along Glyndwr’s Way as both his seat tube and top tube catastrophically failed on a climb. Although not his day it was luck that the frame hadn’t failed on any one of the high speed descents that would’ve lead to something much worse than simply a lift to the stage’s end in one of the support vehicles.
After the scenery of the moor tops came a high speed and open descent down Moelfre Hill and into Moelfre itself. From here a smattering of short, sharp climbs and descents took the riders away from the moors and into the trees once again. The toll? More climbing. But the ascent gave way to the pay off of a tight yet fast rutted singletrack descent that began rocky, became sinuous and flanked with sumptuous views over towards Llandiloes itself, before steepening and becoming more enclosed and with a choice of only two ruts to put their wheels in. The outcome? A chaotic blend of Russian Roulette and pinball. Some, like the Schwalbe Women’s Solo leader Rickie Cotter (WXC Racing) took it by the scruff of the neck and came screeching to the bottom buzzing and smiling with rotors pinging. Others, however, took a flyer over the bars and were gifted a tacoed wheel for their troubles. Yet all made it down in one piece and pedalled what remained of the day’s stage to the finish, a warm shower, a sports massage, and – for most – a cold beer at Llandiloes Rugby Club’s bar.
Tomorrow sees the Gore Bike Wear TransWales, powered by Mercedes-Benz Vito Sport really get into its stride with the second special stage a 7km downhill time trial at the Climachx trail near Machynlleth. Together with the special stage tomorrow is the first truly big day of this year’s TransWales as it sees the riders pedal 82km and 2430m of climbing of genuinely challenging terrain through