2017 Rowe & King Dragon Ride Training Weekend Report
4th May 2017
The weekend of 22-23 April 2017 saw the first ever training weekend specifically designed to prepare riders for Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales by Le Tour de France, with a mixture of rides and seminars led by Rowe & King coaches. Matt Rowe, founder and coach at Rowe & King, was in charge of proceedings and has written this round-up of the weekend:
With the long term weather forecast suggesting we were in for a sunny weekend – I couldn’t believe our luck. However our luck came in as we were blessed with glorious sunshine all weekend across South Wales for the very first Rowe & King Dragon Ride Training Weekend!
Rowe & King ride leaders Matt Rowe, Courtney Rowe, Steve Fry and Tank were on hand to guide the training weekend.
25 riders arrived at the Afan Visitor Centre at 1pm on Saturday 22nd before a briefing by the Rowe & King Team, and were split into two groups: a ‘fast group’ and a ‘steady group’. Both groups covered a hilly 80km, taking in both the Bwlch and Rhigos Mountains at the start of the ride, followed by ‘Cimla’ at the end – all of which are on the 2017 Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales route.
With 127km planned for the steady group and a daunting 140km with two ascents of the Rhigos planned for the fast group on the Sunday, some were justifiably cautious of extending themselves too much on Day 1! With 80km in the legs it was back to the hotel for a discussion about cycling, sportives and training led by Rowe & King, before dinner, a few lemonades and bed.
Sunday morning. The big day. Gavyn, Rowe & King’s mechanic, joined the group for Day 2, offering some well-appreciated support out on the road with food, water, photography, banter and moral support.
Courtney and Steve headed out leading the steady group, with Matt and Tank leading the fast group. With 800m of climbing in the first hour and a half, the fatigue started setting in early – perfect training for Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales itself on Sunday 11 June! Just after the halfway point, the group stopped for a coffee, cake and pie for some, to refuel before completing the final 60km.
Following the route for the Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales ‘Gran Fondo’ 153km option, the real sting in the legs was the Devil’s Elbow coming just after the café stop. Topping out at 24% gradient, and over 2km in length, it’s an absolute killer for anyone trying to climb it. However, the views at the top and the descent which follows are well worth it.
The final 40km were ridden at pace, where everyone stretched their legs in the final run in to home which rounded off a fantastic weekend of riding the roads of South Wales, taking in all but 10km of the Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales Gran Fondo route!
What better way to prepare for the Dragon Ride than to tackle it in advance?
To find out more about Dragon Ride L’Etape Wales by Le Tour de France, click here to visit the L’Etape UK website.