Craig’s 200km Audax

Another weekend and another DIY audax, this one was only planned a few days ago. It was a ride I did in 2020, on that occasion I started in Abergavenny with the idea of riding the Epynt as I had never done it before, I added the Gospel pass as I’d not climbed that from the south either. A route was created and ridden in pouring rain.

Fast forward to this year and an extension was added to the route for it to qualify as a 200km audax and the start/finish location was moved down the Usk valley to Magor. The Efengyl and Epynt audax was born and ridden in glorious sunshine.

It was in my eyes anyway a huge success, a lot tougher than it looked on paper but I can look back and say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Knowing I had the hardest climb in the second half I soft tapped the pedals all the way up to Builth Wells, stopped at Morrisons in Abergavenny on the way up for a latte and sausage roll then slowly made my way up Gospel pass, so slow in fact I was passed by 2 walkers 3 times lol! They didn’t beat me to the top though. It was my 4th time up Gospel and the first time I actually got to see the view from the top, normally I’m in the clouds and there’s a gale blowing across the top.

Stopped in Hay for coffee and cake at Cafe Chameleon. Another interesting observation, every time I visit Hay on my bike it’s festival week.

Gospel and Hay done it was time for another easy spin along cycle route 8 up the Wye valley to Builth Wells, the lure of ice cream in the afternoon heat was to strong so a short pit stop was made at Erwood Station. At Builth Wells it was time to refuel before the real climbing began, ham and cheese toasties and apple Danish in Greggs just outside town did the trick.

It was at this point I thought it a good idea to check the Sennybridge ranges were open as the last thing I wanted as my reward for climbingthe Epynt was getting shot, (note to self) it’s probably a good idea to do this before you set the date for the audax.

The next section getting to the bottom of the Epynt was a rollercoaster, a potholed one at that and coupled with that I was now feeling nervous about what was to come, throw in a few loose sheep in the road. Once I got there it was a sharp left turn and the grind to the top began.

I relaxed by now which was a great help and it was very much a slow grind in bottom gear from the off, the start of the climb before the corner isn’t to bad it’s once your round that bend and you can see the whole climb rear up in front of you the hard work comes in.

I did far better than the first time, I didn’t stop until I got to the top cattle grid. I walked across to be safe but also stopped to check the MOD website again.

Although there was no red disc displayed at the bottom the guys at Sennybridge like to keep you on your toes by leaving the red flags flying!

I rode across the ranges with an earpiece in one ear that I use for navigation, while the other ear was alert to the sound of gunfire just in case. Eyes scanning the open landscape for any moving that wasn’t a sheep. To say I was relieved to stop at another Morrisons garage in Brecon is an understatement. It wasn’t exactly busy up there at 7pm on a Sunday evening, in fact aside from 2 local farmers I was the only one there.

Now the climbing was done I just had the long ride down the Usk valley left, my final stop was going to be back in Abergavenny but I stopped in Crickhowell instead, I needed to keep going as much as I could as it was getting late. Much of the route was relatively easy following the cycle route with a nice flat start along the Brecon canal. After Usk it got a bit more lumpy with the steep climb up to Celtic Manor as well and by then a lot colder too.

It was very cold and dark by the time I got back to Magor and my legs were in shreds after the effort I put in to climb the Epynt

Check out my ride on Strava: