5 Tips for Tackling the Dragon Ride from Hill Climber Legend Simon Warren

Simon Warren, prolific cyclist and author of ‘Ride Britain’, gives a new meaning to the phrase “love thy enemies”. The hill climbing legend has returned three times to slay the beast at the Dragon Ride, and completed the Devil in 2022. Few riders have as much experience climbing hills than Simon; now, he shares his 5 Top Tips for the event, so that you can enjoy this stunning sportive on June 23rd.

Tip 1: Know your enemy

Before you arrive at Margam Park on Sunday 23rd June, make sure to have done one key task: your homework. Take a good look at the route you have chosen to ride. If the task at hand is giving you nightmares, then break it down into sections to make it psychologically more manageable. Also, take a detailed look at the big climbs and where they sit so you know what is coming and when; if possible try and find some similar terrain close to where you live to get a feel of what it’s like to ride uphill for a LONG time!

Tip 2: Make sure your bike is in good condition

You don’t want a mechanical on the big day, so give your baby a thorough look over at least a week before the event, so you have time to replace anything if needed. Pay special attention to the tyres, the brake blocks and any cables – then tighten everything up and give it a good clean. The night before the ride attach your number, lube the chain, pump up the tyres and, if you’re running electric gears, then don’t forget to CHARGE YOUR BATTERY!

 Last point here: make your clothing choices the day before and lay them out ready so you can stay calm in the morning and focus on fuelling up and getting to the start on time.

Tip 3: Don’t carry too much food

Everything you carry in your pockets or on your bike weighs you down, and ultimately slows you down (especially on those steep hills). Take a look at how far it is to the first feed stop on the map, and carry enough food and water to get your there. Additionally -and this is important – carry some light emergency supplies in case you run low at any point. These you can keep in reserve, just in case. When you know you’re going to make it to the finish line, you can eat them to give you that final boost. Also, never forget the golden rule. ‘Eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty.’

Tip 4: Be prepared

Make sure you have a spare tube (if you are still using inner tubes) a chain tool, pump, some money, emergency food and of course a jacket. The weather can change in an instant in the Welsh hills – so even though it might be sunny at the start, an hour later it could be very cold and wet. A lightweight jacket will save you from an awful lot of discomfort, so roll one up tight and neat and put it in a pocket where hopefully it will stay.

Tip 5: Enjoy yourself

Of course, you’re here to have fun and you WILL enjoy the day, but there is a good chance you might be questioning your life choices at times, especially if the weather is bad or you are really suffering on one of the climbs. If you do experience a low point, then first just look at the epic scenery – nature has a soothing and uplifting effect on us mentally. If that fails, then talk to your fellow riders – they’ll probably be relieved for the company and distraction too! The beauty of riding a large event with thousands of people is that you are all sharing the experience and a few words with those around you can really help to motivate you and them.