Reviving the Devil Ride

After the success of the Autumn Epic sportive it seemed natural to take a look at bringing back it's brother event - the Devil Ride.  This sportive has a more chequered history running from 2008 to 2012 with radical route changes during that time.  I decided to have a look at the original:

So yesterday I spent the day driving around this route.  Or rather I spent to whole morning trying to find a viable way out of Builth Wells...

The problem is that all the roads heading west out of Builth are hilly almost immediately outside the town.  I'm always keen to give people a good warm up before the first challenge:

The original route went south but this just meant you were climbing at 16% straightaway.  No doubt roughy-toughy cyclists wouldn't complain but its not a sensible way to start a 100mile day out in Wales.  You can just hear cold leg muscles pinging into injury 5 minutes into the event.

Going clockwise around the other options (see above) - there's a very quiet and semi-scenic back road going south-west but it's too narrow and too distressed a road surface to send sportive riders down - they'll still be in large mixed groups after this early.

The main road is better-ish - still climbs but much gentler - and even on Monday morning it was pretty quiet traffic-wise.  Hopefully early on a Sunday it would be empty?  It's not a scenic route and isn't the best introduction to what's in store.

There's another back road way - past the Builth golf club - which looked promising for a while and then went upwards unacceptably steeply just a few km out.

So by lunchtime I was still in Builth and getting depressed.  The Autumn Epic route is one I regard as a masterly example of skilled route making (made way back in 2005).  It features a long warm-up ride before the first challenge of the day.  How come the Devil was so inappropriate?

It was only when I got home that evening that I found a completely new option - going east out of Builth.  This puts the riders on what looked like a very quiet back road and more importantly pan-flat for the first 10km.  That would do nicely to warm participants up and spread them out a bit with faster people getting a chance to overtake. 

There would be a slightly tricky crossing of a busy main road - but not impossible and if we started early probably pretty empty.  And then a good climb - gaining 300m in one go - so a much more defined start to the challenges of the event:

This will have to be checked out and ridden before finalising...

After a quick sandwich at a petrol station I headed off the check out the rest of the route - I'll write about this another time but you can catch a taste of it on the Rideventures Flickr account

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