Macmillan Afan Monster


I had been looking forward to this event all year. Training had gone well and a new bike all helped the excitement at the (staggered) start line.

Start Loop

Length: 6.4 km (Total 6.4km)
Duration: 23 minutes, 45 seconds (Total 23 minutes, 45 seconds)
Vertical up: 180 m
Vertical down: 173 m
Average Speed: 16.2 km/h

I set off at 7:59 with a group of 5 or 6 riders. The organisers put us straight on a gentle fireroad climb, the signature trail of the ride. Slightly demoralised to find that we’ve just done a loop for starters and that we are back at the starting point, but putting a climb in at the beginning helped break up the field.

The Wall

Length: 6.9 km
Duration: 24 minutes, 41 seconds
Vertical up: 197 m
Vertical down: 308 m
Average Speed: 16.8 km/h

Spirits are quickly lifted as we hit the top of The Wall downhill. Thoroughly enjoy the decent on Zig Zag etc. Once at the bottom it is a short drag up the fireroad before another new section of downhill which takes us to the road. The flow is spoilt slightly by the anti-fungus bike spray and I’m a bit worried about what the jet wash does to the bearings! I get caught by a couple of fast guys but manage to keep them insight.


Length: 9.3 km
Duration: 45 minutes, 27 seconds
Vertical up: 395 m
Vertical down: 274 m
Average Speed: 12.3 km

The first hike-a-bike section up the rocky muddy climb to the moor. It was clear there had been a lot of rain and I was glad this section didn’t go on too long. Nice decent down through woods on the other side. This section finishes with a flat section of road/path/fireroad to get back to the trial centres. Just about keep the 2 fast guys in sight but it is clear they are going faster than me. First of the very well organised feeding stations. I don’t stop.

Skyline Singletrack

Length: 21.7 km
Duration: 1 hour, 40 minutes, 8 seconds
Vertical up: 773 m
Vertical down: 553 m
Average Speed: 13.0 km/h

This section starts with a big fireroad climb. I lose sight of the quick guys. Making use of large section of Skyline singletrack this section passes quite quickly. As we get higher it feels a bit nippy in places, very glad the weather is as good as it is. Have a nice chat with a chap on hardtail.

Skyline Downhill

Length: 4.0 km
Duration: 16 minutes, 46 seconds
Vertical up: 52 m
Vertical down: 293 m
Average Speed: 14.3 km/h

I really miss Skyline, the temptation when visiting Afan is to stick to the Whites/Wall combo, but doing this downhill reminds me what a blooming good trail it is. Pass one guy fixing his puncture, he’s had 3 already. The downhill is made even better by the fact at the bottom there is the half way point feed station. I do stop this time, fill up with water and take a bit of a breather. Speaking to a guy who started first he reckons he’s only been passed by 4 other people (including 3 puncture man who doesn’t stop), so at this stage I’m 5th on the road.

Climb To White’s

Length: 12.0 km
Duration: 59 minutes, 27 seconds
Vertical up: 455 m
Vertical down: 190 m
Average Speed: 12.1 km/h

I leave the feed station in good spirits, there is a nice spin along a asphalt track, sun is shining and I continue to nibble on a flapjack.  I just catch another rider at the beginning of the climb. What a climb it is. I stick stubbornly to the back wheel of the guy in front, he is making a good pace and I can’t get any closer without risking blowing up. Then just as we hit the bottom of the Whites black run he has had enough and pulls over. I make it all the way to the top but this climb has taken its toll on me.

The 20km Extra Loop

Length: 20.0 km
Duration: 1 hour, 27 minutes, 23 seconds
Vertical up: 701 m
Vertical down: 702 m
Average Speed: 13.7 km/h

Another feed station and decision time. This is where the 100km and 80km options split and I take the right hand turn. I hope the organisers have thought to reward those doing the extra 20km and with the rocky descents and fast switch-backs they don’t disappoint. The only problem is the good stuff comes first and after the entertainment comes the killer 700m climb back out to the feed station.

The Home Straight

Length: 14.2 km
Duration: 51 minutes, 17 seconds
Vertical up: 234 m
Vertical down: 488 m
Average Speed: 16.6 km/h

In my head at least the ride is done and it is now just short 15km sprint home. At the start of the ride fireroad was unwelcome now with my legs burning I find myself wishing for a surface I can spin along easily. It is not to be because in between the road sections the organisers mix in nasty rutty muddy downhill sections which take all of my concentration to keep on the bike. The real low point is at 5km to go I can see the campsite where we started, the only problem being it is on the other side of a steep sided valley. So one more set of downs and the final fireroad climb to the start. I am very happy to be done and even manage to get out of the saddle for the photo at the finish.

The Full Route

Length: 95.2 km (59.2 miles)
Duration: 6 hours, 48 minutes, 53 seconds
Vertical up: 2265 m
Vertical down: 2267 m
Average Speed: 14.0 km/h (8.7 mph)

I also raised £120 for Macmillan Cancer Support


Final results (100km):

  1. Rider 146 – 6 hours 8 minutes (Huw) Probably the hardest 100km I’ve done.
  2. Rider 59 – 6 hours 29 minutes (Scottish Dave) Huw and I had a great time.
  3. Rider 183 – 6 hours 29 minutes (MaD) I thought the course was brutal but brilliant (Singlespeed!)
  4. Rider 117 – 6 hours 49 minutes (gothandy) That’s me!

In the forums:

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7 Responses to Macmillan Afan Monster

  1. Steve Bray says:

    Hi Andrew, good blog mate, well done. Hope you had as good a day as me. I was talking to the guy sat by the red car on his own towards the end of the killer loop on the way back to the third feeding station and he informed me that only 20 people had gone past him doing the 100k trail. Must admit, made me feel kinda good. Can i ask if you get any info on times etc can you let me know. Kind regards, Steve

    • gothandy says:

      I’m keeping an eye on the facebook page and the rush cycles forum. Colin@rush should post them on one of those. It sounded like organsing the event was harder than riding it if that is possible!

  2. Edwin Davies says:

    Brilliant,good write up. thought you would still be in bed!

  3. Peter Smith says:

    Many congratulations, it sounded tough, looked tough and probably was tough, but you’r looking more like a “chip off the old block” each time I see your photos.
    Keep going, it really is good for you.

  4. Tim Crawshaw says:

    Well done Andy, that’s fantastic. I did the 75km; I was planning the 100km but after the first feed station (had a power bar) I experienced some awful indigestion/heart burn. It nearly ruined me on that next climb and took away some of the pleasure to be had on Skyline. I couldn’t shake it. I spent at least half hour or so at the 2nd feed station, had some ibuprofen and carried on. Felt much better on the next climb and all the way to the last station but decided not to head down the hill for the 100km option as my chest was still a bit tight. That was the right decision as after about 5km it all came back and I struggled a bit for the last 10km. It’s a shame as the rest of my body felt fine. Disappointing but not the end of the world. I enjoyed it anyway.
    Nice blog, I’ll bookmark it.
    Ride on!

    • gothandy says:

      Tim, I saw the power bars and they looked good, but went with the flapjack! Sounds like a lucky move. I’ll be adding indigestion tablets to my camelback just in case. The last 10km was hard work with or without stomach cramps.

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