Scaling the Dragon: A Guide to the Memorable Climbs of the Dragon Ride

No matter which route you choose for the Dragon Ride, you’re in for an unforgettable experience with each climb adding its own unique chapter to your cycling story. From the fiery spikes of the “Devil’s Staircase” to the long, steady ascents like the Bwlch and Rhigos, every hill offers a blend of physical and mental challenge. Remember, keep fuelled and hydrated and that there’s no shame in pausing for a breather or even dismounting for a bit — just be sure to keep the path clear for your fellow riders.

Here are the climbs that have left a lasting impression on me:

Sardis Hill

Don’t be fooled by this 1km introductory climb; it’s a tricky opener with a steep start, a brief respite, and another challenging push. Conserve your energy—the Dragon ride is a marathon. Use the flatter sections to catch your breath and prepare for the next surge. Let the eager beavers rush ahead; your steady pace will pay off as the day unfolds.

Glynneath

Stretching 3.2km with a deceptive bend that seems to promise an end, Glynneath is a true test of endurance. Maintain a steady pace and resist the urge to sprint to phantom finishes. It’s about rhythmic pedalling and mental stamina here, lasting around 20 challenging minutes.

Black Mountain

Over 5.3km, climb at a controlled pace. The scenery morphs dramatically as you rise, culminating in a breath-taking 360-degree panorama from the summit. Allow around 30 minutes to fully savour this ascent and the stunning views that reward your efforts.

Devils Staircase

Prepare for the ride’s steepest segment, a gruelling 1.3km climb with gradients hitting 25%. The approach is stunning, but the climb is brutal. Use your lowest gears and consider tactical zig-zags to manage the steepest parts. This ten-minute ascent will test your grit, but reaching the top feels monumental.

The Rhigos

More about endurance than steepness, the 5.6km Rhigos requires consistent rhythm. Break it into segments, alternating your position to rest different muscles. The view at the summit makes the enduring climb worthwhile, especially as you gear up for the exhilarating descent.

The Bwlch

Famous among local cyclists the Bwlch’s 4.4km climb demands steady, rhythmic pedalling. This climb is as rewarding as it is challenging, especially the ice-cream van at the summit—a perfect treat before coasting downhill.

 

Each of these climbs offers a chance to create lasting memories amid some of the most beautiful landscapes. Tackle them with respect and determination and you’ll find real joy amongst the effort!  Good luck and enjoy!