Alpe d'Bwlch Triple Challenge Sportive
New sportive coming in 2019 - the triple ascent of the infamous Welsh Valleys Bwlch climb
...more information coming soon...
Due north of Bridgend, sitting high above the Rhondda Valley stands the Bwlch, and just like the infamous Mont Ventoux there are three distinctly different routes to its summit.
The word ‘bwlch’ (approximately pronounced ‘b-oo-lch’) is Welsh for ‘gap’, or pass, and you’ll see this appendage on many notorious roads such as the Bwlch-y-Groes, but this hill, this is simply named ‘the’ Bwlch.
Well known to locals, the climb has attracted national fame more recently due to its inclusion in the Dragon Ride sportive. Over the years, as the route has evolved, it has taken competitors up and down all three of its challenging ascents on its way to and from the wilds of the Brecon Beacons.
The three bases of the Bwlch lie in Ogmore Vale to the South, Pontrhydyfen to the West and Treorchy to the North.
Like Ventoux, each side of the Bwlch has its own characteristics, from the sheltered, tree-lined slopes of the South to the long steady gradients of the Western flank, and the shorter route from the North.
One thing they all have in common, though, are the splendid hairpin bends that punctuate each ascent to give you that mountain-climbing feeling as you sweep round them, rising rapidly above the road below. On the southern side, the first of these fantastic corners lies trapped in a gully in the shadow of the tall peaks around it and the road rises on a stiff gradient to reveal fantastic views down the valley.
Rounding the next left-hand turn, you arrive at the junction of the three climbs. Turn left, pass through the small canyon of rocks with its ‘Welcome to the Valleys’ sign and continue over exposed ground to continue climbing.
Heading into the wind now push for the first summit, then begin to hurtle down the other side. With a ride that is basically composed of three ups and three downs you use the descents to stretch the legs a little, to refresh yourself, have a bite to eat, so that when you reach the base you can turn round and hit the climbing hard right away.
Once you reach Pontrhydyfen you’ll have been heading downhill for just over 16km, which means you’ve got to turn round and climb back up the very same 16km. The lower slopes are gentle and a bit congested, but once through Abergwynfi it’s just you, the road and the rolling hills.
Climbing ever higher, the road hugs the side of the mountain, rolling round its contours up to the next giant hairpin bend. Rounding this, you climb a little steeper and looking left, the most wonderful view down the valley is revealed. Next, bending right, you soon arrive at the summit for the second time — two down, one to go.
Back at the junction continue by turning left and plummeting down yet more hairpins into Treorchy. There are few better places in Britain to hone your climbing style and descending techniques than through these multiple tight corners.
In order to maximise elevation the route descends into the heart of Treorchy before turning round to climb back to the 3-way junction on the top of the Bwlch. It may not be quite as tough as the southern flank but the scenery is majestic. As you rise you catch sight of the road high above making its way up the mountainside, a daunting view for tired legs but an exhilarating one for fresh ones - which will yours be!
|Event Date||16-06-2019 9:00 am|
|Event End Date||16-06-2019 3:00 pm|
|Registration Start Date||25-02-2019 6:00 pm|
|Cut off date||15-06-2019 6:00 pm|