Glorious Gravel North Wales Gravel X Sportive

The Glorious Gravel team have put together a great North Wales Gravel X Sportive, and one that I will be riding for the first time this year.

As the name suggests, this is a dedicated Gravel Sportive in North Wales, and one of a series of sportives that the Glorious Gravel team have put together, both in the UK and across the globe. You can get more info on their other gravel sportives on their website.

The 2024 North Wales Gravel X Sportive sets off from Ruthin on 6th April 2024 and heads for the hills from the first turn of the pedal but more on this shortly. There are two options to choose from, the Long Route, which is 80 km (50 mile) with 1,500m (4,650 ft) elevation or the Medium Route, 53 km (33 mile) and 1,150m (3,800 ft) elevation.

The hardest climb has an average gradient of 6.5% over 6.2 mile, peaking at 17.9% gradient. The bad news being that this is also at the start of the route. The steepest descent is 15.0% and comes at the end of the route, so enjoy the freewheeling home.

For those that have cycled in North Wales, whether on a road bike, off-road on a mountain bike or actually on unpaved paths using a dedicated gravel bike, will know how spectacular the scenery and terrain is in this part of the UK. The Gravel X route follows both paved and unpaved paths through forests, along quiet country roads and gravel paths, taking in the stunning unspoilt views of the North Wales hills, mountains and reservoirs.

The ride is well organised and supported throughout the route with mechanical support vans, feed stations and even a beer at the finish line.

The Long Route measures 49.4 miles with 19.6m paved and 29.8m unpaved so about a 40:60 split. The Medium Route is shorter and has around 75% of its route off-road.

There are 8 climbs on the route but other than the first ascent, nothing too taxing, except maybe the 18% gradient part of the first climb, and the continuous 10km climb.

Gravel X North Wales Climbs, Gradients & Elevations

Length Ascent Gradient
6.2 mile 1,415 ft 6.5%
0.8 mile 271 ft 6.1%
0.7 mile 210 ft 6.6%
1.1 mile 205 ft 4.2%
3.4 mile 703 ft 5.3%
0.8 mile 187 ft 5.1%
0.6 mile 136 ft 4.7%
1.1 mile 253 ft 7.6%

North Wales Gravel X Long Route

North Wales Gravel X Medium Route

Where is the Gravel X Route in North Wales?

The North Wales Gravel X route starts in Ruthin, and travels south for a few kilometers before heading west towards Llanfwrog and then onto Y Bontuchel and around Tyddyn-Roger. At this point you start an ascent of around 800ft over a 2 mile stretch, taking on an 18% gradient at it’s most challenging part.

What a way to start a sportive but one that’s pretty typical in North Wales. Legs should be warmed up by this point and the good news is that that’s the steepest part of the day and the only real challenge. The remaining terrain is undulating for about 40km and then the final 10km is mainly a descent, a great way to end the sportive. Check out the RidewithGPS route map with elevation below for a more detailed map.

This is a rural route and so place names are limited to small villages but if you are familiar with this part of North Wales, you’ll be passing Cefn Du, Boncyn Nadroedd, Marial Gwyn and Bryn y Gors-goch, then cycling around and across Alwen Reservoir before heading back towards Bryn Maen and circling Brenig Reservoir.

At this point you’ll have completed around two-thirds of the route, and with the exception of outstanding views, an uneventful 15 mile ride back towards Ruthin.

What Happens on the Day of the Sportive?

The Gravel X sportive starts around 7:30am on the day of the event with the Ruthin village opening to allow riders to collect their ride number. Shortly afterwards, there will be a ride briefing, covering important on-the-day route and safety information.

Riders can start at their own time and pace from 8am to 9am – remember, this is a sportive and not a race. The village closes around 5:30pm so plenty of time for you to complete the route at your own pace.

What Cycling Equipment Will I Need?

Glorious Gravel allow gravel bikes and mountain bikes but not road bikes so you’ll need to ensure you have the right bike to enter this sportive. Both types of bike are suitable but a gravel bike is probably the best option. Whichever bike option you choose, just ensure you have wide tyres, especially if it’s wet. Electric bikes are allowed but electric motorbikes are not permitted.

Other than your bike, you need to ensure you are self sufficient and so pack spare inner tubes, CO2 cannisters or a good pump. I also recommend a fully charges mobile phone for emergencies, although you are at the mercy of the phone signal Gods in North Wales.

When it comes to cycling clothing, be mindful that you are in North Wales, so the weather is changeable. An extra layer is always adviseable, whatever the time of year.

Water, energy drinks, energy gels, food etc are also a sensible choice.

North Wales Gravel X Route Map

North Wales Gravel X – Long Route Map & Elevation

North Wales Gravel X – Medium Route Map & Elevation

Are there feed stations?

Yes, this is a well organised sportive and there are two opportunities to refuel with a selection of tea & coffee, cake, fruit, energy bars and gels provided at the first feed stop. This selection of food and drink are also provided at the second feed station, alongside sandwiches and crisps. Vegan and glutton-free options will also be available.

Both feed stations are available at the same location, the Llyn Brenig Visitor Centre, so you pass it once on your way out, around the 14 mile mark, and again on the way back, around the 32 mile mark. While more experienced cyclists may feel the first feed station is too early, take a moment to consider those just starting on their sportive adventures and perhaps participating in the Medium Route rather than the Long Route.

Glorious Gravel North Wales Gravel X Video