Sunday 24th May 2015
Distance: 70 Miles
Climbing: 6,521 ft
KOM Challenge: Devil's Bridge Arch
Food Stops: 2
The Mynach starts in Llanbadarn in the Blaendolau Sports Fields, and heads west towards the picturesque Aberystwyth seafront, known as the Biarritz of the North, before making its way to the foot of Penglais hill; this is the first and perhaps hardest of all the sportive climbs with a constant incline of nearly 7% for a mile! However, there are distractions to take away the pain as it passes the iconic National library of Wales and Aberystwyth University along with the imposing Pantycelyn building which was home to Prince Charles during his studies. As you reach the student footbridge spanning the road the end is in sight as the road levels off and takes you towards Clarach. Once the summit has been crested the road sweeps down through woods, care should be taken as halfway down the hill is a tight hairpin that can catch riders out.
The route then takes the riders along the coast on an undulating road to the top of Borth hill, which affords stunning views of Cardigan Bay with the sandy beach stretching to Ynys Las and on a clear day Cader Idris, Snowdonia and the Llyn peninsular visible in the distance. The road descends into Borth and gives the riders their first chance of some level pedalling. The route turns East as the road approaches the Ynyslas sand dunes and heads toward the village of Treddol and then Southward through Taliesin, birthplace of the famous Welsh Bard, to the village of Talybont. Spectators wishing to see the riders enroute could enjoy a roadside seat and pint outside the Black lion pub at the foot of the next major climb up to Nant y Moch reservoir.
The climb up to Nant y Moch is perhaps the closest thing Wales gets to an Alpine pass, including flower rich pastures with contented livestock and home to an abundance of Red Kites. This is a long but steady climb, 5 miles at a shade over 4.6% gaining 1253ft of altitude. The road takes the riders up into truly wild West Wales, the Cambrian Mountains. This is an area with open moorland hills, forests, lakes and streams abounding. Once the summit is reached the road winds its way along some lovely smooth tarmaced roads alongside Nant y Moch reservoir with the 2467ft Plynlimon mountain, the source of five rivers including the Wye and Severn, dominating to the East. Here in 1401 Owain Glyndwr united Wales and opposed King Henry the Fourth's despotic oppression of the people. At this place, Owain and his followers, hopelessly outnumbered, engaged and defeated a formidable English army of over 10,000 men. Once across the impressive dam wall the riders ascend the short climb up towards Plynlimon, don't worry it doesn't continue to the top, before heading South along a fast smooth road towards the village of Ponterwyd. Care should be taken at the end of this road as it descends past Dinas Reservoir into Ponterwyd as the road has a couple of sharp corners before the riders cross onto the A44 road.
The route then takes the riders from Ponterwyd past Parsons Bridge to the historic village of Devils bridge. Upon entering the village the riders cross over one of the most iconic bridges in Wales, the World famous tourist attraction Devils Bridge. The bridge which spans the river Mynach, the name of this route, is now three bridges built one on top each other, with the original bridge built almost a thousand years ago. According to Welsh legend the bridge and village name derives from the fact that the original bridge was too difficult for humans to build and thus the Devil built it in return for the soul of the first person across it, hopefully you will not to have to make this pact to finish the route! Once across the bridge, the route climbs again! This time South East up toward another historic landmark, ‘The Arch’, which was built to celebrate the nearby Hafod estate.
From the Arch the road descends past the wooded and landscaped estate of Hafod, it was developed in the early 19th century and is considered one of the most important Picturesque Landscapes in Europe. The road climbs slightly here before descending along some steep sections toward the village of Pont Rhyd y Groes, where the riders cross the River Ystwyth, from where Aberystwyth gains its name, before reaching the second feed stop and the splitting of the Mynach and Cawr routes.
From Pont Rhyd y Groes the route heads West alongside the river Ystwyth valley floor affording the riders only their second flat section! This section of road forms a rare flat part of Aberystwyth CC’s tough summer races; The Tour of the Mining valleys and the Angela Davies Memorial. The riders continue onto another bridge across the Ystwyth heading North West through the village of Abermagwr before turning East to tackle the routes final climb. The climb here is again steady, 3.2 miles at 4.9% climbing 848ft, with the road ramping up just past the Farmers Arms pub in Llanfihangel y Creuddyn. This climb takes the riders from the valley floor back up onto the open hills, a sharp left turn at the top taking the riders onto the A4120 road from Devils Bridge, back inland towards Ponterwyd and the welcome downhill section to the finish. The first three miles out of Ponterwyd on the A44 are a gradual slog, but the final nine miles are a nice gentle descent followed by the flat roads of the valley floor as you head into the outskirts of town.
This final section takes a left at both mini roundabouts in the village of Llanbadarn, over the level crossings (watch out for trains!) and then a left hand turn off the main road into the University ground of Blaendolau, under the inflatable Continental Tyres arch for a well earned goody bag, plate of pasta or bowl of Cawl in our marquee.
Shower and toilet facilities are also provided.