That’s British: with Russ

This month I wanted to talk about something I’m doing. It’s not a well-known event, it’s not world-famous. Its name is mentioned in cycling circles. It’s a challenge in the heart of Wales, it’s know as the Dragonride. It’s one of the toughest events I’ve ever done, in a beautiful and unforgiving environment, that is steeped in history, beauty and legend.

The Brecon Beacons are somewhat legendary and mythical in the UK. They hold an aura, mainly because the SAS selection takes place there. It can be a cold, wet, vast and unforgiving environment. On a bike, it’s akin to heaven for me. Unsurprisingly it’s a place of myths and wonder. There are many myths and legends in this area, but here is my favourite:

The Lady of the Lake at Llyn Cwm Llywch Lake.

 Legend has it there is an island on the lake, accessible only on May day that is the entrance to the land of the fairies and hold the key to the kingdom. Once a year the fairy queen would allow visitors to her island. It was said the Queen would tell you lay ahead for the year to come. The proviso was that no one would take anything from the island, and for a day would partake in drink, dance and fun. The deal lasted hundreds of years, until of course, one day….

A newcomer had planned to steal a fairy apple, to create a magical orchard of his own. As the sun waned, he hid an apple. Thinking his luck was in, he set foot on the human realm once again. Where he was met by the Fairy Queen, who asked the man to empty his pockets, and on doing so, he realized the apple was rotten and filled with Maggots. As he fell to his knees, the Queen wasn’t done and shattered his mind, driving him mad. The Queen banished her visitors, the door shut and has never reopened. Without the Queen’s predictions, crops fell into ruin and the villages starved.

This is why I take my own food on the 140 Miles and 10,000 feet plus of climbing, I have enough things to drive me mad without the Fairies against me! However, the food stations have a infamous rosemary roasted potatoes, which remain the best food I’ve had at a feed station!

I cannot wait for the ride this year, I learnt a lot last time and having missed out with the pandemic last year, I hope to take in the views atop the Black Mountain, Survive the Devil’s elbow and then up the Bwlch and Rhigos. The names are magical enough to me, the roads quiet and stunning. It hurts but of course, you can’t help but be in love with the views and the legends of the area. It’s all a though that has gotten me through the lockdown, that I might make this event, and it feels closer than ever.  I just need to be patient, keep on and hope the day isn’t shut like it was to the fairy kingdom all those years ago.

Phrase of the blog:

huff snuff’ (16th century): one who shares their opinion far and wide but is quick to take offence if anyone disagrees.

Silly English Laws:

King Henry VIII imposed a beard tax that every man must pay to wear facial hair.