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Tour of Britain - Day 5 - South Wales Free Route

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Brecon Beacons. Photo by Dave Barter.


Brecon Beacons & the Black Mountains

A tussle with the Tumble

Grade: Serious
Distance: 128.6km/79.9miles
Ascent: 2,558m/8,512ft

Stage 5 could be the most scenic of this year's ToB, passing as it does through the heart of mid Wales and through the Brecon Beacons to finish in Caerphilly. We had a choice again as to which ride to feature from Great British Bike Rides, and the Brecon Beacons ride just pipped the Elan Valley ride to it. We're also giving the full route away today, so click the link just below to download a PDF of Dave's route, or read on for more info:


Brecon Beacons overview mapThe Tumble is an emotive climb. There’s a long heritage of road races that have come over this hill and an equally long list of riders who have made the pilgrimage to tick its 400 metres of ascent.

Sitting just within the Brecon Beacons National Park, it’s close to its equally stirring cousin Mynydd Llangynidr and the two are best ridden together in a single ride, as they are perfect constructions for any cyclist who wishes to put him (or her) self in the shoes of the classic mountain racers.

It’s a sneaky one, the Tumble, starting off in the trees and hiding the horrors that lie on its upper slopes. The early hairpins are surmounted easily enough to convince you that you can ride it clean, but, just as you leave the trees, a steep ramp hits hard and does everything it can to persuade you to dismount and enjoy the view instead.

Mynydd Llangynidr is more honest in its intentions as you know what you’ve let yourself in for right from the start. However, that doesn’t mean you’re going to have an easy time on its slopes, especially as after nearly three miles of sustained climbing it kicks nastily at the final corner. The key to success is a measured effort, with a little saved in the tank for the steepness at the end.

The Brecon Beacons are dangerously close to the Black Mountains, who tempt the adventurous wheeler with their array of small roads. So what better than a loop that ticks off the two Brecon classics and then explores the foothills of the Black Mountains?

A trip out to Monmouth adds some contrast to the ride as you leave the high mountain scenery and veer close to the English border. Spend a little time contemplating the return leg here – it is about to reveal a closely guarded secret!

The final few miles of the ride take you up a sublime gated road sandwiched between Mynydd Llangorse and Mynydd Troedd. You’ll feel like

Alice in Wonderland as you disappear into a hidden world devoid of cars, hemmed in by hedges and menacing mountain slopes.

The route’s a toughie, I’m afraid. Remember that this is Wales, where it’s difficult to ride anywhere without encountering gradients. You’ll think that all of your climbing is done as you leave the summit of the Tumble, while the truth is that you’ve not really even started – the return leg from Monmouth oscillates like an AC current.

The region is a fantastic base for a cycling holiday with a myriad of lanes to explore, some classic off road trails for the mountain bikers and a feast of walking for the rest days. A cycling festival is held annually at Abergavenny, usually in the middle of July. This includes a sportive that takes in the Tumble as one of its signature climbs.

Brecon Beacons stats page

For full route information, and details of all 40 of Dave's routes, check out Great British Bike Ridesand save 20% at checkout with offer code TOUR2013

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