Standard Route description
The route kicks off with a flat run out of the picturesque village of Aberdyfi. As you hit the coast road next to the golf course the road rolls a little towards the neighbouring village of Tywyn. Passing down next to the railway line, the route takes you over the first river crossing over the brand new Bailey Bridge at the mouth of the Dysynni. Out onto the back roads through Rhoslefain and onto the magnificent stone-walled coastal road towards Fairbourne. Rolling at best, there are no real climbs and as the road builds above Fairbourne you can see the town of Barmouth across the Mawddach estuary and the railway bridge that will take you across. The turn off to the bridge is a sharp left-hander off the main road and you will reach the first feed station at 28km into the ride just short of the railway bridge. There is a toilet stop here if you need.
Over the bridge which is mid-Wales's equivalent of the Roubaix cobbles, take in the awesome scenery and up and right out of Barmouth along the north side of the estuary. A few miles down the road and the route hooks right across the third river crossing at Penmaenpool and the old, privately owned wooden bridge.
Back towards to the village of Arthog along the scenic Mawwdach trail, this is the Welsh equivalent of the Strade Bianchi, and then left up into the hills.
This is the first proper climb on the route, short and intense. The scenery is amazing on the way up this climb although the chances are you will be doing your best not to get off the bike and will not have time to look over your shoulder. If you were to you will see the railway bridge you crossed a few miles earlier laid out over the estuary behind you in the breath-taking view that has featured on a good deal of the pre-ride publicity. There are a couple of fierce hairpins of 20 degrees plus up this section of the route and there are sure to be some walkers, so if you manage to stay on the bike the whole way to the top you have done well. For a good club rider it is only 10-15 minutes long but the gradient will put a sting in the legs.
The reward for the climb is a stunning view over the Cregennan Lakes at the top and a feed station if you need it. A few hundred yards more climbing after the stop and the descent is long and fast all the way down to the town of Dolgellau. A good chance to recover some energy and eat if you did not stop at the top.
A short navigation challenge round the one-way system in Dollgellau and then it is off to another climb. This one is longer but steadier and allows the climbers to get into a rhythm and tap away up the constant 9-10 degree climb.
A mile or so of downhill freewheeling takes you to Cross Foxes pub on a junction of four roads. Make sure you follow the signs carefully here as the route splits and whilst the standard route heads for home, the long route is just getting warmed up.
The dead straight run from Cross Foxes offers a great view of the majestic Cadair Idris on the right which is the second highest peak in Wales after Snowdon. The road climbs a short way to the top of the Cadair Pass at 286m and smooth fast descent down the pass towards the Talyllyn valley laid out below. This section of road has often been used in TV clips for the area as helicopters film the view coming across the pass.
Once the road hits the flat, it is a gently weaving run along the floor of this steep-sided U-shaped glacial valley, through the villages of Abergynolwyn, Bryncrug and Tywyn on the run back into Aberdyfi.