FrequentLy Asked Questions
Around 10 days before the event we will send everyone a copy of the Rider Manual that provides detailed information on all aspects of the event. In the meantime we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions.
Is the Blaenau 600 a race?
The short answer is no, and the longer answer is that it’s completely up to you.
The Blaenau 600 and 480 are challenge rides, not races. There are no prizes or podiums – just the satisfaction of taking on and completing a big adventure.
The beauty of these events is that the challenge is personal, and it can take whatever form you like. Whether you want to ride the route as fast as you can, or take a steadier approach, we love to see everyone creating their own adventure along the way.
Regardless of speed, there are sure to be some fantastic stories to be shared at the finish line.
Can I ride as a pair or in a group?
Of course! We are happy for you to ride the event solo, or as part of a pair or small group.
You don’t have to make this decision before you enter, but please let us know by the day of the event.
Where can I stay in the start/finish town?
Ludlow is a tourist town that is used to accommodating a large number of visitors. The local tourist site has links to place to stay (https://www.ludlow.org.uk/) but if you plan to camp we can recommend North Farm (very close to the town) or Monstay Farm, which is a lovely woodland campsite around 2 miles away. The Ludlow Mascal Centre is popular with a lot of riders looking for simple bike-friendly accommodation in the town centre – it’s 500m from Epic Cycleworks, which is our start/finish venue.
If I cancel my entry will I get a refund?
If you wish to cancel your entry to the Blaenau 600 and withdraw from the event we are not able to offer any refunds; however entrants can transfer their entry to another person via email to the organisers. Entrants can also withdraw and request that their entry is carried forward to the following year. Entries can only be carried forward once. No refunds will be issued under any circumstances. If the event is cancelled for any reason, including extreme weather or pandemic restrictions, entries will be carried forward to the following year.
What kit or supplies should I carry?
In addition to the mandatory kit list detailed in our Rules page, plus adequate food and drinks, we strongly recommend carrying the following:
TWO GPS computers (GPS failures were the number one reason for people not completing the ride in 2022)
Powerbank, cables and plugs
Spare inner tubes (even if running tubeless)
Tubeless tyre plugs AND Puncture repair kit
Spare chain or chain links
Zip ties / electric tape
Water purifying tabs
Emergency contact information
Emergency foil blanket
Mobile phone and charger – note that Wales doesn’t have the best coverage. Vodafone and EE are arguably the best for signal
Warmer clothing than you might think, including gloves and cap/buff
If I am unable to finish will I be picked up by the organisers?
For the Blaenau 600, no. This event is self supported. If you are unable to continue then please let us know, but you are responsible for returning to the finish/home. The Blaenau 600 is run entirely by unpaid volunteers and it is possible that someone may be free and to collect you, but this is VERY unlikely and will merely be a happy chance! For the Rally, yes. We will provide a contact number for our recovery vehicle. Please note that because riders tend to spread out widely there may be a wait until we can get to you!
Can I use my own tracker?
No. All riders must use the tracker issued by the event.
What time does the event start and how do I ‘sign on’ and collect my tracker?
The Blaenau 600 will start at 8:30am from Epic Cycles on Saturday 8th June 2024. The Rally will start at 9:30am on the same day. If you set out late that’s not a problem at all – but your official ride time will start at 9am.
You will be able to sign on at Epic Cycles from 9am until 6pm on Friday 7th June. We will then re-open sign-on at 7:30am on Saturday. At sign-on you will be issued with your tracker and goody bag.
Is there a time cut off at the finish?
There isn’t a formal ‘time limit’ and you can take as long as you need, however there is a finishers party to aim for on the evening of Tuesday 11th. We really loved this aspect of the 2022 and 2023 editions, with everyone sharing their stories over a pizza (or two). We will also have some beers and soft drinks for you.
This gives riders 4 days, and 150km to cover each day to make it back for pizza.
How do I return my event tracker?
Trackers can be returned on completion of your ride at Epic Cycles, at the pizza party, or via the post (we will provide a return address).
How can my friends and family follow my progress?
The Blaenau 600 will be tracked on the Follow My Challenge website.
Where can I access supplies?
Any publicly available source, such as shops, cafes, public water taps etc. No private or stashed supplies are allowed. We have no issue with asking random strangers for water from their garden tap for example – but not friends, family or dot-watchers as they aren’t chance/random encounters.
For 2024 we will provide a list of key re-supply points in the rider manual and in a POI GPX file – this won’t be a full list of all re-supply points, but will give riders a ‘starter set’! It will also include a few places that aren’t obvious from maps etc, such as open taps.
Will there be event signage, marshals and direction arrows on the route?
No. None at all. You will need to follow the route using the GPX files sent to all riders 7-10 days before the event.
What personal insurance do I need to have?
In addition to the organiser’s event insurance, which is covered by your entry fee ,you will need 3rd party public liability insurance. This can be the free insurance that comes with membership of some cycling bodies, such as British Cycling, or commercial insurance cover from the likes of Cycleplan or Yellow jersey insurance. The cost of cover can be from as low as £10 for a full year if using Cycleplan.
What types of accommodation can I use during the ride?
Entirely up to you as long as the accommodation you use is publicly available – so no staying with friends or family! Other than that you are free to choose your type sleeping arrangements tent, bivvy, pub or hotel. Whatever you prefer. And feel free to book in advance.
Can I leave a bag at the start/finish venue?
Yes. There is ample storage at Epic Cycles. But please note that we will only be able to guarantee access to your bags during normal shop opening times. We will endeavour to have someone in place to greet you at the end of your ride, even if outside opening times, but cannot guarantee it.
Do I need to choose my route (600 or 480) in advance?
No. You can opt for either route at any point. We will know which one you have chosen from where your tracker goes after the route split point. We still ask that you let us know if you opt for the 480 via Whatsapp or text (the 600 is the default option), just in case your tracker is having transmission issues (unlikely).
The route shows several checkpoints – are they staffed?
No. The checkpoints are simply locations where we ask riders to post a timestamped Instagram shot, so that followers can see how you’re going.
What type of bike is best suited to this event?
The route is rideable on a gravel bike, and the majority of riders completed the event in both 2022 and 2023 on board one, however the terrain is incredibly rough for long stretches and you need to be able to fit a capable 40mm+ tyre (we would recommend 45mm or above if possible).
Alternatively, a Cross Country MTB would be a great choice. Slower rolling on the road and smoother gravel, but certainly the more comfortable option overall! Although there will be some hike-a-bike no matter which rig you ride, a MTB will allow you to keep pedalling over a lot more of the terrain.
The route is not suitable for road bikes.
Is there a limit on entries?
We will be capping the number of riders at 50 for the 2024 edition .
It’s really important to us that the event remains very welcoming and friendly, and the atmosphere amongst riders is an integral part of that. By keeping numbers relatively low, everyone has a chance to get to know each other and share in the experience together.
What is included in the entry fee?
One awesome route file, rider manual, tracker rental, live tracking (aka dot watching), personalised rider cap, coffee wagon at the start, finishers pizza party, event insurance (riders must also have their own personal 3rd party liability insurance), goody bag including event tee.
The Blaenau 600 is the Cross Cartel’s only event with an entry fee, as it is also the only one with significant expenses to cover. It is still a not for profit event, organised by unpaid volunteers.
We have worked hard to keep the entry fee at just £99, while ensuring that we provide a high quality and enjoyable experience. In the unlikely event that we are left with any surplus revenue it will go to a local charity.
Are the routes on public roads, tracks and trails?
Yes, all parts of the routes are open to other members of the public. So it’s important that that you ride safely and considerately at all times, and obey the Highway Code and Countryside Code.
Does the event follow a fixed route?
Yes. We have three routes, all of which are fixed and published (see Routes page for previous routes).
The routes for the 2024 event itself will be 90% unchanged, but will feature a couple of new and improved sections.
The final route, with any last minute changes due to local circumstances, will be sent to all riders approximately 7-10 days before the event, along with the rider manual.