Neither the hardest nor the easiest day on the bike during the Wales360, Day One will give riders a good idea of what they’ve signed up for as they take on some incredibly varied terrain.
Terrain 64% off-road, 26% on small, unclassified roads or green lanes
Estimated ride time Eight hours
Lowest point Sea level
Highest point 490m
Total ascent 2,200m
Climbing away from Aberystwyth and the Irish Sea, riders will quickly reach the trails and open hills of Nant-yr-Arian which offer stunning high-level wilderness riding. With trails heading out into the epic scenery of the Cambrian Mountains, this is a fantastic area for those who like their riding rugged.
Eleven kilometres in you will descend the fast twisty ‘Mark of Zorro’ and then tackle ‘The Leg Burner’ to regain 200 metres of lost elevation. Having got your breath back you’ll skirt Nant-y-Moch Reservoir, cut through a forest, take on a river crossing and tackle some technical (short, steep, rocky) climbs en route to threading Llyn Dwfn and Llyn Conach. There is a mixture of forest trail, gravel and rocks, a short loose descent down ‘The Chute’, and some open rough grassland in your way as you approach 40 kilometres and the quick drop down into Machynlleth.
Don’t eat a big lunch in Machynlleth as a brutish kilometre long tarmac climb out of the Dovey Valley awaits. This gets you up onto rolling forest roads on route to Abergynolwyn. After a short descent you will continue to climb, albeit more gently, to almost 500 metres on mostly gravel roads before losing all that elevation over the course of nine kilometres. Beyond Abergyolwyn, the riding from Llanegryn north east towards the Mawddach Estuary and then on towards Dolgellau changes in character with around 10 kilometres on rocky undulating bridleway and then an eight-kilometre, pan flat run into Dolgellau. With Cader Idris to the east and the Irish Sea to the west, the views are amazing.
There is a noteworthy sting in the tail of Day One. Prior to starting the final run to Dolgellau, you will need to negotiate a precipitous stretch of bridleway between Cregennan and the A493. Here you’ll lose 150 metres of elevation in less than a kilometre while negotiating some very tight turns and scree. Know your own limits: if you’re going to dismount it’s best to do so voluntarily while stationery!