Countdown to TransWales

The seven day point-to-point TransWales will kick off on August 15 and run through August 22. The race combines marathon linking stages with fast and furious rally-style special stages around the wilds of Wales.

Born as a way to create an epic mountain bike bike point-to-point event in Wales - where, as in England, archaic right of way laws prohibit bike racing on public bridlepaths - the TransWales takes its cues from the TransAlps and TransRockies point-to-point races that cross the Alps and the Canadian Rockies.

There are, however, several significant differences: rather than being a race from the gun for seven days flat, the TransWales mixes seven daily non-competitive marathon linking stages together with a selection of special stages on the cream of Wales' purpose-built trails for singletrack speed shakes: Cwmrhaedr, Brechfa Forest, the Cli-Machx trail, and Nant y Arian.

Special Stages

In the special stages, racer tackle rally-style time trials in pairs and in relay during the day or at night, but unlike previous TransWales events, 2009 will see these special stages blended into the marathon linking stages themselves.

This means that riders will begin their day on the linking stage, which will be routed through one of the key trail centre venues where they will tackle the time trial before continuing on the linking stage to the day's end. All the linking stages are non-competitive marathon rides that do not affect the overall classification. It's in the special stages themselves that all the hard and fast competitive action goes on, being as they are held on forestry commission or private land and are not subject to bridleway restrictions.

In 2006, the inaugural TransUK event was run as the TransWales. After up-rooting to Scotland for the 2007 TransScotland, the event returned home to Wales in 2008 for what was reportedly the wettest week on record - which made the already tough proposition even harder.

That didn't deter racer and mountain bike innovator Keith Bontrager from saying, "There was more good singletrack in this than in any other Trans race by far - maybe a factor of 10 or more. If you are fond of singletrack, as I am, that is a big deal."

Or put another way, racer Les Taylor of Team Bugpowderdust summed up his previous experience, "It was the hardest, sh**tiest, wettest, longest, most scenic, best damn sodding riding I've done in my life."

The race, starting and finishing in Builth Wells, will cover 500km (312 miles) and clibm 14,500m (47,560 feet). Racers may compete in pairs or solo.

Day 1: Builth Wells - Llanidloes

Distance: 65km
Ascent: 1666m
Descent: 1634m

Day 2: Llanidloes - Machynlleth

Distance: 79km
Ascent: 2523m
Descent: 2668m

Day 3: Machynlleth - Cwmystwyth

Distance: 78km
Ascent: 2268m
Descent: 2025m

Day 4: Cwmystwyth - Cilycwm

Distance: 69km
Ascent: 2012m
Descent: 2156m

Day 5: Cilycwm - Llansawel

Distance: 68km
Ascent: 2183m
Descent: 2153m

Day 6: Llansawel - Llanwrtyd Wells

Distance: 63km
Ascent: 1734m
Descent: 1679m

Day 7: Llanwrtyd Wells - Builth Wells

Distance: 68km
Ascent: 1976m
Descent: 2044m

All distances, ascents and descents are approximate.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.