On the 31st of October, over a thousand men and women will pit their strength, stamina and will-power against The Exmoor Beast, a cycling challenge now in its fourth year and one which has become nationally famous as one of the most grueling but rewarding sportive events on the calendar.
Riders attempting to tame The Beast have a choice of either 100 kilometer or 100 mile routes which wind through some magnificent coastal countryside. Both include many tricky stages and features, ranging from steep climbs, paths buffeted by wind through to areas of slippery leaves, making The Beast as much a test of determination and character as of fitness and muscle power. And that’s before you’ve added the greatest unknown quantity of all – what will the British weather add to the mix this year?
Last year’s event was a huge success, despite some atrocious weather, with rain and high winds making some stages very hard work. As one exhausted but exhilarated rider was overheard to say: “This was a day when God said, ‘No, you can’t,’ and 1,000 cyclists said, ‘Oh yes we can!’ “.
“As one who has experienced well over half a century of cycling challenges, I have to say that the memories of riding the Exmoor Beast will stay with me forever,” said Ron Keegan of the Mid-Devon Cycling Club. “Although I didn’t get to ride the first one, due to being in hospital, my cycling buddies left me in no doubt that I had missed a truly fantastic sportive. Now I’ve got two under my belt, I can confirm ‘The Beast’ is right up there with the very best. Whatever the conditions – warm and sunny first time, cold and dry the next, wet and windy last year – the course is the glittering star and only the brave will tame it. For the opening major climb of any sportive, Dunkery Beacon has to be one of the toughest. Throw in a couple of tricky cattle grids, some slippery submerged cobbles and several long false flats and this is where ‘The Beast’ first starts to bite. What follows is one of most stunning cycling routes anywhere. The pay-off – and a chance to shake off ‘The Beast’ – is the long and thrilling technical descent off the Brendon Hills which lead to the final fast run-in to the finish. Last year was the most demanding few hours I have ever spent on a bike but I’m already relishing the thought of notching up another feline beating performance at the end of October.”
Another unique aspect to The Beast is that the course starts and ends at Butlins at Minehead. With a large parking area and on-site accommodation, Butlins is an ideal location for riders family and friends to enjoy the excitement of the start and the exhilaration of the finish.
The Exmoor Beast Challenge has been organised by MIG Events, a company established by ex-Royal Marine Marcus Di-Vincenzo . The MIG team is made up of former Royal Marine Physical Training Instructors and over 60 specialist staff will be employed, covering route safety and catering with medics and mechanics on hand, ensuring that the event is planned and organized to the very highest professional standards.
Spaces are limited, so those wanting to participate are being advised to get in gear and apply as soon as possible via the website at www.exmoorbeast.org