The Dave Lloyd Mega Challenge, Britain's toughest sportive, is set to get even harder in 2009.
Held on the hilly but beautifully scenic roads around Ruthin, North Wales, this year's inaugural Mega Challenge on the last weekend in June took in 5000m of climbing over 140 miles. Those who finished agreed it was a very tough but rewarding day on the bike, with the hills, rain, wind and rough roads combining to test everyone's mettle.
But ex-pro Dave Lloyd, who used to train in this area to prepare for races like Liege-Bastogne-Liege, told BikeRadar that he has set the bar even higher for the second edition. It's five miles longer and will include nearly all the climbs in this year's route, as well as a few extras for a total of around 6000m of climbing, or nearly 20,000 feet in old money.
The main change is an extension of the route from Lake Bala down to Dolgellau, heading up to Dinas Mawddwy before tackling the Bwlch y Groes from the hard side (1.5miles at an average of 13%). The descent to Lake Vyrnwy that was used this year follows, then it's back to Ruthin.
The second route modification is the removal of the 10 mile starting loop, which included the leg-snapping Bwlch pen Barrass. Instead, riders will head up the slightly easier climb of The Shelf before doing the second half of Horseshoe Pass, as per this year. But be warned, the Bwlch pen Barrass hasn't gone from the Dave Lloyd Mega Challenge: it will serve as the finishing climb instead. The organisers are billing it as an Alpe d'Huez style finish and are aiming to have a large crowd and brass band at the top to inspire the riders.
For those who aren't up to the full 145 miles, there will be shorter options as was the case this year.
The organisers have yet to announce when entries will open for the 2009 event, although they have set a field limit of 1000 riders (341 finished this year). It's anticipated that the end of June date will be kept for the staging of the event. Keep an eye on www.davelloydmegachallenge.com for updates, and check out issue 214 of Cycling Plus for a report of this year's event.