High Above Hay sportive, Ride The Highest Road in Wales


Posted Tuesday 4th March 2014 –


The notoriously tough Black Mountains host the High Above Hay Sportive in April, featuring a controversial descent from Gospel Pass – the highest paved road in Wales. The British Cycling-registered event boasts long and short routes of 100 and 60 miles and is part of Hay Bike Fest – a long weekend of pedal-powered fun. Sounds simple enough – so why the controversy?

The highest road accolade is often attributed to the Bwlch Y Groes pass near Dinas Mawddwy in Gwynedd. Respected broadsheet the Guardian gave Bwlch Y Groes the honour in a ‘Ten Toughest Cycle Climbs’ round-up.

More recently, Welsh daily newspaper the Western Mail blundered by naming Bwlch y Groes as the highest road in a bucket list of ‘100 things to do in Wales before you die’.

Luke Skinner, one of the organisers behind Hay Bike Fest and co-owner of Drover Cycles said: ‘We’ve done the maths and studied the maps: Bwlch Y Groes is indeed a steep and horribly pumpy climb, topping out at 545 metres.

‘However Gospel Pass stands taller by a whopping 6 metres, reaching its highest point at 551 metres above sea level. ‘So – the upshot is, take part in High Above Hay and you can confidently claim to have ridden the highest road in Wales!’

Hay Bike Fest is in its second year and has a packed programme of events across all cycling disciplines. The High Above Hay sportive starts from Hay Town Centre at 8am on Sunday 27th April.

Besides the sportive, tarmac fans can enter the Hay Hurtle – a 13km time trial and there are also guided leisure and mountain bike rides, alongside skills sessions for kids, bike maintenance classes and a festival hub in the grounds of Hay Castle.

Said Luke: ‘The country roads, moorland and mountain bridleways around Hay provide a rich variety of riding. ‘We’ve been working hard over the last year to build on the success of the first event and we’re sure we’ve done the sport proud.’

The festival hub will provide a space to meet fellow riders, browse the stalls and talk bikes with exhibitors – or to simply recover and refuel at one of the food stalls or bar.

It will also host the Timbuktu Turbo Challenge, where sponsored cyclists on four static bikes will aim to clock up between them a staggering 6078km – the distance between Hay and its Malian twin town.

Luke said: ‘We still need volunteers to take a turn in the Timbuktu Turbo saddles – there are 60 hours of pedalling time available. You could sign up for an hour-long stint or commit yourself to a nightshift – it’s up to you!’

Hay Bike Fest runs from Friday April 25 to Sunday April 27th.

Visit http://haycycling.org/rides/road/high-above-hay to enter High Above Hay.

The full bike fest programme and booking for all rides is available at www.haycycling.org.