Event Review

REVIEW: Welsh Coast 2 Coast Extreme 24 Hour Challenge

by Emma Osenton

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REVIEW: Welsh Coast 2 Coast Extreme 24 Hour Challenge

Essentials

Date: July 12th 2014 
Distance: 190 and 205 miles 
Cost: £250 or raise £400 for Welsh Air Ambulance 
Participants: 50 
Start: Morrisons carpark, Caernarfon 
Finish: Laugharne
Feedstops: Two sit down meals plus roaming food - brilliantly well-stocked. 
Timed: Yes, manually
Signs: Red and Green with black text arrows 
Roads: Mainly quiet b-roads through challenging terrain, occasionally busy but only when unavoidable 
Extras: Jersey
Entry Includes: Cycle-Tec support, High5 nutrition, showers and changing facilities at the finish 

For anyone who knows me you'll know I prefer a ride with a bit more of a challenge involved, so when the Welsh Coast to Coast was up for review I jumped at it. 205 miles down the hilly spine of Wales in aid of the Welsh Air Ambulance. Sounds lovely. These things are always more fun with company so Huw Thomas came along with me. 

WC2Ce

Now I must add that I was a little concerned by a lack of information prior to the event, it's always a bit different as a reviewer as you're often not on the same mail out as a participant. Both Huw and I are quite used to being fairly well self-supported for long rides so tried not to let it worry us too much. We'd packed our pockets well so headed off to the start. We need not have worried as when we arrived all was well under control. We collected numbers for ourselves, our bikes and our bags. There we're three main support vehicles, two vans with mechanical support and one minibus with a 12 bike trailer. An additional two cars were relaying up and down too. 

The idea of all this being that the ride would be covered by a vehicle up front and a sweeper at the back. The relay cars would enable you to get to your bag at any point (allowing for a short delay as it's retrieved). Should you need to be swept up, then your bike will end up with the minibus and trailer. All the vehicles were loaded up with enough gels, bars, water and Welsh cakes for us to not only ride to the bottom of Wales, but all the way back up again too!  

WC2Ca

WC2Cb

The organiser had also put on some limited transport back up to the start; however, this involved waiting until the last rider who had booked on to the minibus had arrived at the finish. Knowing we were likely to tap out a reasonable pace I opted for heading back to Huw's house after. 

Anyway, back to the ride, after a quick briefing - basically don't ride like a twit and be careful - we were off. If you've not ridden in Wales you're missing a treat, it's stunning, totally another country, it smells different, it looks different and the tarmac is loads better! I think they get some kind of grant for road upkeep, anyway, it's a really nice treat. The route is quite hilly, the first thing you meet is Llanberis Pass, the sun was shining, the mountains magnificent. Huw shot to the top, dancing away on the pedals. I did have a little 'oh s***!' moment wondering if he was going to zoom all the way at that speed but I think he was just having fun. The support vehicles were merrily peep-peeping away as they passed, shouting out to see who needed what. 

Whizzing down the other side towards Betws-y-Coed, Snowdonia National Park was resplendent in all its glory. The rotating follow cars were covering many of the junctions whilst the group were still fairly close together. As the climbing went on the group began to split up, Strava calls the next climb, "Not for the Feint Hearted" - one of the steeper climbs of the day. Still we were making good time and soon arrived at the sit down buffet. Yes, that's right, the maddest feed stop you've seen. We pulled into the Brigand Arms, Mallwyd, thinking to stop for just water and the toilet. I said to Huw "I'd best just go and take a picture even if we're not stopping." Well, that was it. We walked in to steamed salmon fillets, lemon chicken, couscous, pasta, salads, potatoes, fresh tea and coffee, 5 kinds of juices. Be rude not to have a quick bite eh! 

WC2Cc

WC2Cd

Full bellies wondering how quickly we'd hit the next climb and we were off again. It wasn't so bad, though we were tanking away down the A470, which if you don't know is one of the bigger roads from North to South Wales. It wasn't too busy though, we took it in turns, well, Huw probably did more turns than me. I did have a few 'can we keep this up for another 100 miles?' moments, but then thought, 'Ah well, only one way to find out', and on we rode. 


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Official Review

1. Feed Stops (correct foodstuffs and energy drinks, the right many, well spaced) 10 out of 10
2. Timing (correct and easy to use) 9 out of 10
3. Signage (Clear, concise, maps, profiles, route card) 5 out of 10
4. Facilities (HQ, Parking, Toilets) 9 out of 10
5. Support (Sag Wagon, Outriders) 10 out of 10
6. Friendliness / Professionalism (Sign-in, marshals, support) 8 out of 10
7. Website - ease of use (Online and postal entry, clear concise) 7 out of 10
8. The Course (Area of outstanding beauty/scenic, quiet roads, cleverly designed?) 10 out of 10
9. Would you recommend it. (Would you ride again?) 10 out of 10
Overall Rating 86.7%