Tom Mansfield takes on the Primal 'Two Ton Tour'
On the weekend of Saturday 13th/14th July I took on the challenge of riding the Two Ton Tour, dubbed by Ed and Keith (the organisers) as a proper cycling weekend involving 2 days back to back of 160km each day of minimum of 2500m of climbing on each day; it was set to be a good challenge. I chose to ride this following a heavy racing crash and feeling very despondent to racing and the racing scene in general. This event presented the perfect opportunity to challenge myself in a different way to racing and start to enjoy being back riding my bike again!
We started from Ludlow brewery in Shropshire with riders set to head off between 9am and 10am. I arrived for about 8:30am to collect my rider numbers for the event. One for the over night bag which the event staff were to transport to the overnight accommodation at Aberystwyth university (all included in the entry fee to the event) including a dinner on the Saturday night and breakfast on the Sunday morning, an absolute bargain!! And one for the bike which has all the emergency contacts on the back. Most riders tried to get away as early as possible knowing it was going to be a tough day ahead with plenty of tough climbs to come. I set off much closer to the 10am mark after a chat with all the event staff and organisers who I know personally through riding with one of my local clubs. About 9:45am I set off heading west towards Wales. There was no easing into this event as we rode out of Ludlow and straight up a long climb before hitting some flatter lanes and flying through the first 35km and into Wales. It was from this point in I knew it was going to get tough with a little flat road in the next 130km. With 3 sign in points along the way it was easy not to think of it as such a long day but 3 shorter stages, normally I wouldn’t be fazed by rides like this but having had 6 weeks off the bike following a crash racing I wasn’t sure how the legs were going to go. After winding through some beautiful welsh countryside, I quickly arrived at sign in point 1; a quick stop and chat and away I went again into and through the Elan valley through mid-wales and some more beautiful country side to distract me from the what seemed to be continually uphill roads I soon found myself catching up with riders that had set off before me and with a hello was past on the climbs and away. Knowing the worst of the days climbs was still to come it was a short stop at sign in point 2 with a bag of Haribo and off I went trying not to think of the main challenge of the day the 25% climb of the 'Devils Staircase', I can happily confirm it has earned that name, riding towards it was like riding towards a brick wall quickly putting me in the easiest gears on the bike a 39/28 and still I was searching for more gears as I ground my way up the climb for 1.5km. After this it was fairly plain sailing through to Aber on some undulating roads with a few extra kickers thrown in to spice things up, just when you think your there but then a short final climb up to the university the final challenge of the day no more than 1km long at a little over 10% a sting in the tale of a great day of riding and finished for the day 5hrs 35min of riding solo and a quick lie on the grass before heading off to find a shower. At 6pm it was time find some food, before an early(ish) night ahead of day 2 back to Ludlow.
Today was set to be a slightly different ride as I found myself setting off with a group of riders from Bristol RC in which we were all well matched for fitness this made day 2 slightly easier and also added a different element having some conversation along the way about all things bike and riding. Day 2 was set to take us a bit further north than day 1 and again included plenty of climbing they were however to be longer and not as steep today which I liked the sound of. An earlier start saw us set off at 8:20am on the Sunday to head back to Ludlow, after a short ride out of Aberystwyth we were soon in the back lanes and on to the first climb of the day a climb that we were able to quickly compare to the likes of an alpine climb a long gradual climb up through the tree line and out onto the exposed roads up to the top of the valley before a right hand turn saw a short descent onto one of the most spectacular roads I have ridden on around the Nant-y-Moch reservoir in glorious sunshine we were soon eating into the KM’s and ticking them off with ease. My legs felt much better than I was expecting after the efforts from the day before which was great. We were quickly 2 hours in and arriving at sign in point 1 for the day unfortunately we missed the sign for the stop point which led to a coming together of riders and bikes and a few of the guys hit the deck, whilst this led to a bit of a longer stop than planned luckily all riders and bikes were ok and after some medical attention to one of the guys we were soon back on our way albeit a tiny bit slower nursing some war wounds knowing we still had a long way to go and plenty of climbs and descents to enjoy along the way. We made great time to sign on 2 passing several other groups on the road also completing the event a very quick stop at sign on 2 to top up water and off we went in search of the promised bottle of beer at the end of the day! After some whittling down of the group we were in only 4 of us remained into the last climb of the ride which is where my legs couldn’t hold the power to keep up with my compatriots of the day and with 50km to go I had to concede to ensuring I retained enough energy to finish the event and let the remaining 3 from the group go with no more than 800m to the top of the climb (if I’d have known it was that close to the top I’d have dug in and got over the top). I rode the rest of the day pretty much on my own and just set a nice tempo for myself for the remaining 50km fueled on Haribo. Arriving back at Ludlow brewery after 5hrs 25 min of riding we where greeted by Ed to receive a beer and talk to other riders about our experiences and rides over the two days each and everyone with there own stories from the event and their training to get there. For me a slightly quicker ride on day 2 in turn due to riding with the group allowing a lower power throughout the day as well.
For me the Two Ton Tour gave me the perfect opportunity to remember why I started cycling in the first place before all the racing and competing, simply an opportunity to enjoy riding my bike! It was great to see so many different people of ages both female and male of all different sizes on their bikes and simply enjoying a superbly organised event.
I can’t thank Joe (owner of CES Sport) enough for his support and I opted for a set of RC38 wheels to ride throughout the event, the wheels were absolutely solid throughout the whole weekend and I couldn’t fault them at all. Great under braking and very responsive. The wheels climbed really well (especially when being thrown around to crawl up the steepest of climbs climbs) and cruised along on the flats and up the longer more gradual climbs. I choose the RC38 as they aren’t too deep as it wasn’t a race. I wanted a more versatile set up and the shallower section of these wheels provided absolutely that. By far the 2nd best choice of the weekend the first being entering in the first place. My first non-race event in a long time and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a new challenge! A massive thank you to Ed, Keith and all the event team and riders for making it a great weekend of riding. Fully sign posted route and GPX files sent out in advanced so near on impossible to get lost!
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