Popular Welsh cyclosportives The Iron Mountain and Tour of the Black Mountains are joining forces for 2011. Normally held at different times in summer, they'll come together on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 July, respectively, as part of the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling – making it the biggest event of its kind in Wales.
As well as the two sportives, there'll also be a criterium through the centre of Abergavenny on 8 July – part of the Elite Men's Circuit Race Series – which will give spectators the opportunity to see professional road racers in action.
The Iron Mountain sportive has been part of the festival for six years and includes bronze (25 miles), silver (50) and gold (100) routes. A family ride along the gentle roads of North Monmouthshire makes up the bronze route, while the more challenging silver route sees riders ascend to Tintern. The gold route takes in the Iron Mountain itself – a three-mile pull up the 1,500ft Tumble Mountain – and the rugged countryside around southern Powys.
The Tour of the Black Mountains also has three routes – 63, 101 and 120 miles long – and takes in some of the best climbs in the Brecon Beacons, including Gospel Pass, Llangynidr and the Tumble. Both rides start and finish in Abergavenny’s Bailey Park and will be serviced by marshals and stewards, with refreshment points every 30 miles.
Mechanical support, transponder timing and sweep vehicles are also included in the entry fee, which is £5/£15/£25 for Iron Mountain and £15/£21/£25 for the Tour of the Black Mountains.
Organiser Bill Owen told BikeRadar: "It just made a lot of sense to move the Tour of the Black Mountains forward to coincide with the festival. People with families will get a weekend where they can pick and choose which routes they do – they could ride with their children on the Saturday on a more relaxed route, and then take on the Black Mountains on the Sunday."
Surveying the routes during their first training ride of the year last month were members of the Pendragon Sports/Le Col/Colnago team, including Welsh international Yanto Barker. He believes the event will be both a great family day out and a real test for more experienced riders. "It’s a superb place around here, not only for riding but also for the breathtaking scenery,” said Barker. "It's one of my top three places to ride in the UK."
However, Barker said that, to get the most out of the longer rides, people should do a bit of preparation beforehand. "If you don't do that training, you'll probably not enjoy it and suffer all manner of aches and pains," he said. "But if you put in six to 10 hours of training a week, you'll go around and enjoy it. You can then enjoy the scenery and the camaraderie of the event with your friends. I'd thoroughly recommend doing the training to get the best out of your day."
For more information on entering either ride, visit www.abergavennyfestivalofcycling.co.uk.