Sarn Helen Sportive

Sarn Helen Sportive

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The concept of this new and exciting sportif, was born from an idea on a training ride by four intrepid local riders.  Not very often do you stop on a ride and all say WOW and take out your camera phone and take pictures of this stunning natural scenery.

It all started after planning a challenging training ride, with good steep climbs and fast descents  We set off from Llandovery for a loop around Llyn Brianne dam, a few miles into the ride we lost our route map and local knowledge kicked in. 

After a brief stop to admire the awesome dam filled with pure Welsh water, we swept along the sides of flooded valleys, the graveyard of submerged abandoned villages.  Leaving the thrilling switchbacks, we headed through the forest, which one of the riders akin to riding through the pine forests of the Austrian Tyrol.  Heading on, we rode towards the dreaded Devils staircase a 1 in 4, 25%  of pure grind.  

We all struggled on the climb, but the fast sweep down into the valley and along the valley floor, well made up for the tough climb. After miles of glorious countryside we finished our ride and the consensus was what a stunning ride, tough, challenging and most beautiful.  As one rider said we will have to get other riders up here, so the idea for a Sportif was born.

Another training route we often use is the Ystradfellte loop, which includes the famous devils elbow descent.  The concept was to bring the two devils together.  From our regular training base at the Sports Academy in Llandarcy, with its excellent facilities of showers, toilets , parking and hot food, which we feel is essential for an enjoyable experience of a Sportif.

We start in Llandarcy, with a quick run up the Neath valley, with wild and open moorland.  Then through the valley alongside the Sarn Helen Roman road, along which 2000 years ago the Romans tried to subdue the wild Welsh.   Then a very steep drop off the devil’s elbow, a quick run along towards Sennybridge, we head towards our feed station just after the aptly named Halfway caravan site, where you can have
comfort stop if you wish, with 1st class facilities.

The tougher riders on the 115 miles ride, expereince the Llyn Brianne loop  and devils staircase then back to Llandovery, sweeping down to the Black mountains with its long climbs and very fast descents, heading back towards Neath with a fast run in and back to the Llandarcy Academy .

As Sportif riders, we feel passionately that the route, scenery, and facilities of this ride, will make any riders experience of this inaugural Sarn Helen Sportif,  a totally enjoyable one and wanting more of the same.

David Miles