Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Plan

While I take it easy today - only a couple of hours on the bike - I'm busy planning for my recce tomorrow. To be fair I know the Brecon Beacons route pretty well but looking at satellite imagery I reckon there are a few improvements I can make. A tweak here, a tweak there and who knows? - yes, I'll probably get lost and lose an hour...

First up on my list is the infamous 'corner cut'. I've never tried it anti-clockwise and, come to think of it, I've not tried it the other way for a couple of years either but it's worth a couple of minutes if you get it right. I don't think there are any other improvements to be made along the top ridge past Cribyn, Pen-y-Fan and along until you drop down to the reservoir and the forest track.

Looking at my route last year over the first 10k - this year to be the last 10k - I was quite a long way off optimal. On this section, up from the road, I'm going to see if nipping in close to the tree line for 2/3rds of the ascent before cutting up to the trig might not be a significant improvement. If the terrain looks too rough then I'll go for keeping it close to the fence line until I sight the top.

Then - and this is major controversial - I might try dropping down to the forest path. The path is like a motorway and on tired legs could provide significantly easier running. The downside will be significant loss of altitude which will need to be re-gained before the ascent to Tor-y-Foel. Will the easier running on the path be offset by the extra climb it will entail? I will need to see the lie of the and in flesh before I know which way I'll play it. If I decide not to try that route I will be making sure I pick a good line across the top. Last year I contoured way too much and added far to much extra distance. If I don't try the forest path drop then I will try to make sure I go over the top in a fairly direct line to minimise distance increase.

Once back onto the main track the route to Tor-y-Foel is standard fair and with nothing more to be gained it's follow the leader down to the finish. The only slight gamble is to take a look at the old path which has, over the last few years, almost entirely closed over with brambled, wild plant growth - might need the machette for that option...

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