Eleven down, one to go. My quest to become a Randonneur round the Year is now on the home straight, although after yesterday's stunning ride I'm going to have to come up with something pretty special to create a finale.
The Elan and Ystwyth 200km starts and finishes in Gladestry, a village over the Welsh border from the Herefordshire market town of Kington. It then heads off to the north, before turning west to Rhayader, then out past the dams and lakes of the Elan valley. From there it heads across the "roof" of mid-Wales, on a windswept (it was yesterday) and very isolated mountain road, through Devil's Bridge and onto Aberystwyth.
Then it loops south through Pont-Rhyd-Groes and back across the mountain road to Rhayader. Just when you think you are nearly home, the final 40km section takes you though Hundred House and a landscape that is both beautiful and brutal in equal measure. A couple of very steep "walls" just about finished me off before I summoned the energy to roll down the final hill back to the Arrivee.
The only flat thing yesterday was the puncture I got in Capel Bangor. My route on Strava is accurate but the climbing isn't, as my Garmin couldn't cope with the weather to accurately measure gradient and elevation on the way back. The 3.75 AAA points give you an idea (that's 3750 metres for anyone unfamiliar with Audax).
Weather was pretty blustery, a few hours of rain over by the seaside, but fortunately the wind was with us on the way home. Ross Jeal did a sterling job of organisation and route planning, and the chilli at the end was most welcome. I also take my hat off to those riding Ross's second 200 of the weekend today. The Tregaron Dragon has even more climbing, hopefully they will have a good day!
I can't describe every detail of the day, I've got to go back to bed I'm that tired. So here are some pictures.
See you in September!