Thousands of cyclists conquer valleys and mountains to slay dragon
8th June 2015
The 12th annual Wiggle Dragon Ride, known as the UK’s most prestigious cycle sportive, was held at Margam Country Park in Port Talbot Riders came from all over the globe to take on this mammoth cycling challenge, where they rode up to 188 miles over mountainous terrain. This hugely respected sportive has grown in both size and reputation since its debut in 2004, becoming known as the must-do cycle event in Wales. It also raises a large amount of money for the charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support.
Over 5,000 cyclists arrived early Sunday morning to pleasant riding conditions, with the wind thankfully weaker after a blustery few days that preceded. Four route options differing in length were on offer from the 43km Corto to the leg busting 302km Dragon Devil route. Waves of brave riders set out from the beautiful Margam Park and onto the route which had been expertly designed by organisers Human Race Events with the assistance of Wiggle Dragon Ride founder Lou Lusardi. Following shortly after the general waves a special Women Only Cycletta group set out, as part of the nationwide Macmillan Cycletta series designed to get women of all ages and abilities cycling.
Each of the Medio Fondo, Gran Fondo and Devil routes saw riders weave through the stunning Brecon Beacons, with the latter reaching North pastAbergwesyn. During the ride they took on several iconic climbs including the infamous Devil’s Elbow and Black Mountain. To keep riders going throughout this colossal task five separate feed stations had been set up, packed with Zipvit Sport products and other treats. “I’m in complete awe of these people” said Sam Carter who was managing one of the feed stations on the day. “It’s great to see so many smiles whilst they are obviously pushing their bodies to the limit”. After a few hours riders started to cross the finish and retire to the event village. The first back were those taking on the shorter Cortoand Cycletta routes, with the Medio Fondo following shorter after. Many took the opportunity to relax and enjoy a refreshing Vita Coco which was issued to each rider along with their specially commissioned medal shortly after crossing the line.
Due to the gargantuan task being undertaken by the Gran Fondo and Dragon Devil riders it was going to be a while until their friends and family waiting were going to see them again. After over seven tough hours on the saddle the first Gran Fondo riders began returning from their mission, exhausted but not beaten. Soon the finish chute was busy with ecstatic riders hugging, high fiving and punching the air with smiles from ear to ear. After another couple of hours the brave souls who had completed all 302km of the Dragon Devil route were joining them to cheers and applause from the assembled crowd. By the time the final riders were returning the sun was down and over 14 hours had passed. Each of them were rightly treated like a champion for completing a truly heroic task, something they were not going to forget in a very long time. Few other rides can match the feeling of euphoria of finishing, and the bragging rights that comes with it.
The feat of completing the epic Wiggle Dragon Ride was even more impressive for a selection of riders who had also taken on the new Dragon Tour. Introduced this year after the huge success of the title ride, the tour asked riders to cover 100 km a day on Friday and Saturday. It was hosted at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea, before heading out to South Wales, up a number of tough climbs with spectacular views. On Saturday evening a selection of tour riders, Wiggle Dragon Ride veterans and Macmillan fundraisers attended a special dinner with Stephen Roche. Stephen, a Triple Crown winner in 1987 shared some stories and tales from his esteemed cycling career, as well as answering questions set by guests. “TheWiggle Dragon Ride has become a world renowned event so I thought it was about time I came to see what all the fuss is about” said Stephen. “I really enjoyed meeting everybody, having a chat and reminiscing about my pro days”.
Many of the 5,000 plus participants were riding to help raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support, the official charity partner of the Wiggle Dragon Ride. Their Team Macmillan riders have been raising lots of money to help people affected by cancer and in the lead up to the event Kevin Styles had raised the most individually, with over £3,000 going straight to Macmillan. Cecilia Owen from Macmillan Cancer Support adds,”We are really pleased that hundreds of riders chose to support Macmillan through taking part in this event, their fundraising will help us to continue to ensure that no one has to face cancer alone.”
As the twelfth Wiggle Dragon Ride came to a close, many were hailing it as the most successful yet. Organisers Human Race Events will now turn their attentions to another high profile cycle ride in September, L’Etape London by Tour de France. The Wiggle Dragon Ride is already confirmed to return in2016, and those tempted to attempt it can register their interest at wiggledragonride.com