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Preview: Gran Fondo Conwy sportive

17 Feb 2017

An early spring sportive on the stunning north Wales coast, with sea views, rolling roads and testing hills

Where is it?

Conwy sits on the northern coast of Wales, in between numerous coastal towns that were famous as summer holiday destinations back in the day.

It’s just a stone’s throw from Llandudno, Colwyn Bay and Rhyl – not your usual first thought as an area for a cycling event, more buckets and spades, but the area has a lot to offer those preferring two wheels.

The ride starts and finishes in the shadow of the amazing Conwy Castle, built in the 13th century and one of the best preserved castles of its age, with World Heritage site status.

With the historic town and history at hand, and some of the best beaches in the UK close by, non-cycling members of the family will be well catered for while you toil on your choice of the three routes on offer.

With the area geared up for tourism, making a weekend of it is easy.

What can I expect?

There are three routes to choose from, with the Bach (meaning little) at 42 miles, the Canol (middle) at 70 miles and the Mawr (you guessed it – large) at 102 miles.

All three routes leave the castle grounds and head alongside the quay, keeping the water in view as you head to the first climb of the day – and to make things interesting, it’s a timed competition, too.

It hits at only 10 kilometres in so you should be just about warmed up as the dramatic coastline keeps your mind occupied as you go, attacking the Great Orme, or on this particular day, ‘Storm the Orme’.

If you are feeling particularly competitive there are prizes on offer for the fastest times in various categories, but don’t forget there are a few more miles to go yet and on the medium and long routes, a fair few more climbs, too.

How much more climbing is there exactly?

Once you have enjoyed the sweeping and scenic descent of the Great Orme, you enter the seaside town of Llandudno and pick up the national cycle route along the seafront.

It is two things – very picturesque and pan flat.

Don’t let this fool you, though, as after a pleasant few miles you leave the cycle route, the short ride cutting off at Colwyn Bay while the longer rides take in a few more miles before crossing a main road and heading inland.

The change in view will give you hints as to what’s to come as the wide open views of the horizon change to the much greener and certainly much higher, hillier landscape.

As you make your way around the routes, the number and severity of the climbs do vary with the distances.

Don’t write off the shorter Bach as an easy option as even this one heads for higher ground after the Great Orme.

The medium ride adds almost twice as much climbing again, while the long Mawr contains around 3,000m of climbing and presents a sturdy early spring challenge especially if you haven’t ridden much over winter.

If you have the legs for it and the sense not to try to smash the ride out inside five hours, the Mawr would be a great way to start the season. 

What else is there?

Event organiser Always Aim High has a great reputation for involving all the family and this event is no exception with an event village and entertainment to keep those not riding occupied, along with the castle, town and beaches already mentioned.

For the riders, there are the usual expected additions of chip timing, professional photography, rather good feed stations and on-route emergency assistance.

Within the event village are food and drink stalls, a massage tent and free bike checks.

Once you finish your ride you will be presented with a uniquely Welsh take on the sportive gong– a bespoke slate memento. 

How do I get there?

Conwy is just off the main north Wales expressway, the A55 and is around 2 hours’ drive from Birmingham, and 1 1⁄2 hours from Manchester or 3 1⁄4 hours by train from London.

There are huge numbers of places to stay to suit all budgets within Conwy itself and along the coast nearby.

Gran Fondo Conwy sportive: event details

When: 23rd April 2017
Where: Conwy, North Wales
Distance: 42, 70 or 102 miles 
Entry: £35.99, £37.99, £39.99 (concessions for juniors and BC-affiliated club members)
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