The seven-day Gore Bike Wear TransWales point-to-point mountain bike race begins this weekend and runs through 487km (302.6miles) and up 14,795m (48,540 feet) of climbing in and around the wilds of Wales in Great Britain.
Born as a way to create an epic event in Wales - where, as in England, archaic right of way laws prohibit bike racing on public bridlepaths - the TransWales mixes seven non-competitive marathon stages together with a selection of special competitive stages on the cream of Wales' purpose-built trails for singletrack speed shakes: Cwmrhaedr, the Cli-Machx trail, and Nant y Arian.
The peloton will descend on the Penmaenau Farm in Builth Wells, Wales on Saturday in preparation for the big off early on Sunday. The first stage will take the riders 58km and 1810m of climbing and descending to Knighton, including the first special stage of the event. Riders will be competing for the overall honours in mixed or same sex pairs, or soloists in their respective categories.
As in 2009, for this year's TransWales, all the special stages will have the racers tackling rally-style time trials in pairs and in relay during the day or at night in the form of a night time special stage; these special stages are blended into the linking stages themselves - either at the beginning, during, or at the end.
As one rider wrote after last year's event, "The combination of relaxed linking stages and the eyeballs out special stages combine to provide an unforgettable experience."
But unlike last year the organisers, Mike Wilkens and John Lloyd - the pairing responsible for Britain's Chain Reaction Cycles MTB Marathon Series - have fine-tuned the format still further. The TransWales is all about finding the single best overall rider in each category so for 2010 there will be specific hill climb, downhill and general trail riding special stages to truly find the strongest all-round rider to be crowned champions.
For the first time ever there is also the option for riders to enter the mini TransWales: three and four day options for time-crunched riders looking to experience the wilds of Wales in the saddle but without dedicating an entire week to the task.
Last year's solo men's and women's races were won by Jonathan Pugh and Marika Covre (Ideal - Vivibike).
Day 1: Builth Wells - Knighton, 58km (includes special stage 1, a 1.2km climbing stage)
Day 2: Knighton - Llanidloes, 68km
Day 3: Llanidloes - Machynlleth, 82km (includes special stage 2, a 7km descent)
Day 4: Machynlleth - Cwymystwyth, 71km (includes special stage 3, an 8.5km loop)
Day 5: Cwymystwyth - Cilycwm, 73km (includes special stage 4, a 6km night-time loop)
Day 6: Cilycwm - Brecon, 75km
Day 7: Brecon - Builth Wells, 52km (inclues special stage 5, a 2km loop)
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage of the TransWales.