Dragon Training Weekend 2018 : Round-up

The weather in South Wales can be ‘changeable’ – however the scenery and roads always guarantee a memorable ride, even when you are seeing double at the end of a long day in the saddle!

The second Rowe & King Dragon Ride Training Weekend was held on 7th and 8th April, in South Wales around the Neath Area, which saw Rowe & King Coaches and Ride Leaders; Matt Rowe, Courtney Rowe, Steve Fry and ‘Tank’, navigate 17 riders around 220km of Dragon Ride route, climbing over 3000m across the two days! With a wide range of abilities – this meant anywhere from 8 to 13 hours riding across both days, ensuring that the training weekend really does cater for all abilities.

Day 1

17 riders headed out from Ynysgerwn Cricket Club, Neath at 12:00 for an 83km ride, taking in Glyn Neath Bank, Penderyn Moor and the infamous, Devil’s Elbow after 55km in, which tops out at 24% gradient, and at ove  r 2km in length, it’s an absolute killer for anyone trying to climb it. Down the other side, the long and steady descent offers a great chance to recover, refuel, rehydrate and take in the rural landscape, with very little other than a few sheep to share the views with.
Our ‘steady group’ set off first, with the ‘quicker group’, taking in an extra coffee at the days start, which meant all 21 riders grouped together for a team photo 30km in, at the end of Penderyn Moor

With 83km in the legs it was back to the hotel for a discussion about cycling, sportive events and training led by Rowe & King, before dinner, a few lemonades and bed.

Day 2

Sunday morning. The big day. Gafyn, Rowe & King’s mechanic and soigneur (supplier of food) for the day, joined the group for Day 2, offering some well-appreciated support out on the road with food, water, photography, banter and moral support.

Again, we split in to two groups and we headed up Glyn Neath Bank again (a key part of the Dragon Ride Route), and coming in early – it’s certainly not the climb to expend too much energy on!

CLIMBING TIP: A higher cadence the most efficient way of cycling. The higher our cadence, the more aerobically we cycle – reducing the demand of our fast twitch muscle fibers, which ultimately reduces the amount of force our muscles are required to produce. We can produce less force, but produce it quicker (by pedalling faster), which will result in the same power output and climbing speed. On climbs, a great target cadence is 75-80rpm. On the flat, slightly higher cadence is considered optimal (85-90rpm). Courtney Rowe, Rowe & King Head Coach.
After Gyln Neath, the climbs come thick and fast all day then, with Crai Reservoir (offering some beautiful views), the Black Mountains, which climb constantly for 9km, however the real sting in the tail is the final 3km, which kicks up to average around 6%.

Varteg Hill and the final, final climb of the Dragon Ride being Cimla – a 1.8km climb which ‘only’ averages 3.8%, but this includes leg sapping sections of 12%, which after a weekend total of over 200km makes the legs squeal!

If you are riding the Dragon Ride, any other Sportive or even if you just fancy a weekend of bike riding in South Wales, with some tips and advice – Rowe & King’s Dragon Ride Training Weekend promises to offer an unforgettable experience. Visit the Rowe & King website for more information.


Check out what some of the other riders had to say:

“I really appreciated the two rides. They introduced me to the terrain which I’d never ridden before, and got me into some much needed hill climbing – more required! Thanks for the coaching too, especially as a slower rider on the hills. The group dinner was a really good idea to get a bit of bonding going plus a chance to hear some riding and nutrition advice.”

“I wanted to reach out to say what a fantastic weekend it was. Matt Rowe and the team made us all feel so welcome and gave us interesting, insightful tips to improve. The two routes were stunning and the group dynamic made both days all the more enjoyable. I would wholeheartedly recommend the weekend to anyone considering the Dragon Ride, but also to anyone keen to improve their cycling and meet like-minded cyclists.”