Dragon Ride, L’etape Wales

by Chris Virgo. Sunday 5th June

It was Sunday morning and I knew that it was going to be an early start as i was driving all the way to Port Talbot, South Wales for the 230km Dragon Ride part of the Wales L’etape. Had an early night or so I thought but was so anxious about missing my alarm clock I was awake most of the time and so got up at two o’clock. Headed out the door at half past two in the morning and had a nice clear run down to Wales. When I parked up at the event I had an hours sleep to refresh myself and get ready for the day ahead. The start area was very different to other audax’s I have previously done.

At 7:30 I started the event with glorious sunshine and already warm which meant it was going to be a scorcher of a day. (I definitely regretted not taking any suncream and can safely say that I am now suffering -ouch!) I had set up the garmin with the route , as I did not know what to expect from this big event but it was not needed as the whole route was sign posted making it a more of an enjoyable ride. The cyclists taking part were a great bunch of people and every cyclist showed respect for others by riding two abreast and at a gentle pace, but I went ahead as i wanted to complete the ride in a good time.

As we approached the first 50km feed station I was not sure what to expect but it was well stocked with SIS gels as many as you wanted, bananas, everything that a cyclist could wish for!
All the way through the ride the scenery was amazing! Scenery like no other simply stunning! Lots of hill and mountain climbs which I managed to conqueror the black mountain, devils elbow and Rhigos.

I had an issue with my cleats which did not help at times along the route. With 40km to go until the finish I sufffered with cramp. Initially nothing seemed to work so just went through the pain then it started to ease off as I took on board some gels and water. I was determined to finish this ride!
With about 10km to go I came across a friendly local who told me that there was 1 more hill climb to tackle then it would be flat for the rest of the way. True to his word it was which was such a relief to my tiered and achy legs! Near to the finish of the ride I managed to step it up a gear and overtake another rider which boosted my confidence to finish the ride in 9.5 hours.
I was very grateful at the end for all the sponsors to be at the finish line handing out lots of freebies containing many items which was needed to aid my recovery. The alcohol free ice cold beer went down exceptionally well!

Thank you to everyone that sponsored me. All money went to Macmillan Cancer Support.