The Merlin Ride 2010.
Mr Dewi Bowen (Bowen gas) leads the peleton into Ffairfach on his Colnago, was he still there at the end!
Here we have a photo that Graham Hodges from Barry, rider number 159, sent in from his reckie of the Merlin (104mile) route, to quote Graham 'Yes we did the full 104 Merlin .Took over 10 hours but didnt rush and had some leisurely food /rest stops. Great route dont recall any really bad road surfaces .Cheers Graham' There you go, come on get out there! Is Graham the first to ride the Merlin? Let us know.
All routes will be sign posted with specific graphics for each ride. We will give you 100 and 50 meter warnings of route split and then a further sign to indicate that you are now on the specific route of your choice. The route will also display the highway code cycle warning triangle with a small Merlin logo in the top left hand corner. All signs are high visibility and we really hope you do not get lost. We will be displaying 10 mile to go signs for the longer rides. Please note that the Merlin Ride will split from the Cothi Ride as you climb the hill out of Llansawel. Last year I know of at least one person who continued on the Merlin Ride route when they intended to ride the Cothi. This year I will be placing a repeater sign at the splits to show distance remaining. At Llansawel Cothi riders have about 18 miles to go where as the Merlin Riders still have 50 miles left.
Sample signs will be on display at the start to ensure you are all familiar with the markings.
New for 2010 is a 23 mile ride (Towy) specifically intended for those who want to take part but do not not have 57 miles in their legs! The ride starts and finishes at the same location and all riders enjoy the excitement of the mass start. Also new this year is a 104 mile Merlin Ride, not for the faint hearted, this is a very demanding route.
Druid (57 miles) and Cothi (70miles) will use the same routes as last year.
To view routes follow below link and click on the pin for Llanarthne and you will see the Druid and Cothi routes displayed. http://visit.carmarthenshire.gov.uk/maps/cycling-map.html
Towy & Merlin routes are attached as PDF file/links. Please note Towy ride is 23 miles, the ride finishes with the last climb shown at 22 mile point, however you still have about 1 mile of flat slightly down hill into the rear of the gardens (see profile at end of Druid). The profile shown here shows a descent from 22mile point, this is because I did a U turn after completing the last climb. If you scroll down after looking at the profile will you be able to examine all of the data you need to see in terms of climb gain etc. Please also note that only the first way point is of interest. This will be the first feed station and the point where Towy riders split from main field. This means that the profile is of interest to all entrants up to this point.
Druid Ride completed 11 April, 57miles with three feed stations. Feeding stations are shown as waypoints.
Cothi Ride, 70 miles, feed stations shown as way points, last way point is also split with the longer 104 mile Merlin Ride. Two graph lines, one showing height gain the other showing rate of inclination (how steep the gradiant).
The Merlin, 104 route is now very demanding with a total of 7,399 feet of ascent. From Llanybyther to Llandysul (A.475) point 60 to 70mile there are several short steep climbs (17%) you are also rewarded with some very fast descents. After you have a recovery stage alongside the river Tyfi into Newvastle Emlyn and the last feed station. There is then a long climb of 952 feet out onto the mountain before a long descent into Conwyl Elfed and return beside the river Gwili to Carmarthen. It will take all your determination to stick with this route and not put your bike in the broom wagon.
Below is PDF for Merlin Ride, please read this as a continuation from the Cothi Ride at Waypoint 5 (Llansawel Feed Station) 52 miles, with a further 53miles to go and only one Feed Station at Newcastle Emlyn, a distance of 28 miles from Llansawel.
All four rides start at The National Botaic Garden of Wales with a mass start on the B4310 to Porthyrhyd.
Riders then follow the unclassified road to Ffoelgastell and at Gorslas Square join the A476 through to Carmel. This section is 6 miles long and has two significant hills, taking you from 138 feet at Porthyrhyd to 734 feet at Carmel.
Continue on A476 towards Ffairfach. Towy Riders split from the main field turning left onto the B4300. A feed station will be available near the lodge to Gelli Aur, riders then return to the Gardens via Nantgaredig and B4310.
The main field turn right at Fairfach Square onto the A483 to Ammanford.
Leave Ammanford on the A474 with first feed station at Pontamman (20 miles).
From here you start climbing up through the Amman Valley, turning left at Gwaun Cae Gurwen onto the A 4069 through Brynamman and onto the Black Mountain. Ascent from 117 feet at feed station to 1,681 feet at 29 mile point and summit of Black Mountain = 1,564 feet gain over 19 miles.
Now enjoy similar ratio descent to Llangadog and second feed station at 38 miles. This is the second split of the routes with Druid riders following the unclassified road through Bethlehem to Ffairfach Square where they follow the B4300 through Llanarthne to Nantgaredig where they then turn left onto the B4310 and climb the last 300 feet over a distance of 1.5 miles to return to the Garden via the rear entrance.
Cothi and Merlin Riders continue into Llangadog and out onto the A40 turning right to Llanwrda where they turn left onto the A482 following signs for Lampeter. This is a climb of 622 feet in 6 miles.
At Cruig y Bar riders will take the B4302 heading for Talley, but turning right for Llansawel within 2 miles. Third feed station and public toilets at Llansawel, Cothi riders will split from the Merlin Ride on leaving Llansawel.
Cothi riders will follow the Cothi valley on the B4310 through Abergorlech and Brechfa. They have 17miles to return to National Botanic Gardens with a climb out of Brechfa of 600feet over 2 miles and the last 300 feet climb over 1.5 miles from Nantgaredig to Gardens. The Cothi Ride is a fantastic challenge and overall one of the most enjoyable rides around, mostly rural, with little traffic and some hard climbs and fast descents.
From Llansawel Merlin riders stay on the B4377 climbing up through Rhydcymarau, a climb of 602 feet over 6 miles, before fast descent to Llanybyther.
Riders cross straight over A485 and through Llanybyther mart to feed station at Jaguar Garage junction of B4338 and B4337. From here they join the A 475 with its steep short climbs before emerging out onto the A486 at Horeb.
First climb at 62 mile point: 457 feet over 1 mile.
Second climb at 66 mile point: 234 feet over 1 mile.
Third climb at 68 mile point: 298 feet over 2 miles.
I know that these short steep climbs will take their toll, however once completed there is a long recovery ride before the climb out of Newcastle Emlyn.
At Horeb turn left onto A486 for Llandysul. Riders will use the new by-pass to travel down to Pontwelly and use the A486 to link with the A484 to travel through Henllan to New Castle Emlyn. Now they turn left and commence the last big climb of the day on the B4333:
At 80 mile point start an ascent of 952 feet over 4 miles to the last feed station at the picnic spot/lay-by near wind farms (84 miles). From here riders enjoy the crest of the mountain with views of Carmarthenshire laid out before them then the serious descent into Conwyl Elfed, caution into village, descent of 855 feet over 5 miles.
From Conwyl Elfed enjoy the gentle descent alongside the river Gwili to Carmarthen before joining the A40 to Nantgaredig and return via B4310 to Nantgaredig and Base.
Full route profile will be published in near future. Significant climbs summary:
Mile point Ascent Length
1 mile 596 feet 6 miles
20 miles 1,564 feet 10 miles
40 miles 622 feet 6 miles
57 miles 602 feet 6 miles
59 miles 608 feet 2 miles
50 miles 602 feet 6 miles
62 miles 457 feet 1 mile
66 miles 234 feet 1 mile
68 miles 298 feet 2 miles
80 miles 952 feet 4 miles