Feel free to just scroll through the pictures :)
The day had finally arrived - the Bear Bones BIke Packing There 'n' Back ride was here. I'd loaded up the car the night before so, after a quick bowl of porridge I was off. It was a cracking morning with the promise of a proper bit of winter sunshine.
|Loaded up & ready to go...|
I arrived just after 9am, signed in and was presented with my Bear Bones Bikepacking bum bag and hand warmer (better than a handbag and bum warmer I suppose?) - and a plate of toast and a mug of tea! Perfect start... After a bit of a natter with some of the other riders I unloaded the car, checked I had everything (at least twice) and headed off.
|First climb of the day - Llanbrynmair in the distance|
|Back on the right track.|
|Last look back North before dropping off the first hill|
|Couldn't ask for better weather.|
|Garmin Edge 800 - Clever GPS, stupid operator.|
|Abandoned farm at Bugeilyn - GO NORTH WEST!!!!|
|The Hengwm valley|
Was it worth it? No! The 'track' was even boggier than the bog I'd left on the other bank... Eventually I met the proper track at the confluence of the Hengwm and the Hyddgen. Rock & stone laid down in a long line - how exciting :)
|Highland cattle at Nant y Moch|
|Nant y Moch looking East|
|Syfydrin trail - nearly in Aberystwyth :)|
|I was very happy (and trying hard not to think about the night to come)|
I eventually prised myself away from that glorious sanctuary (never thought I'd call it that!) and headed through Aberystwyth (via a couple more Spars) to the Ystwyth Trail - a traffic free cycling route. It was dark and cold now but I wanted to keep cycling until I was ready for bed - not much else to do after all! From 9pm I started looking for somewhere suitable to set up camp, finally spotting the perfect site around 9:30. Conifer forest, dry bracken floor, en suite facilities - what more could you ask?
|Home, sweet home?|
All in all I had a good night's sleep. I did wake up a few times with a cold face but the sleeping bag / bivvy bag worked really well. At 2:30 a car did pull into a nearby car park - lots of door slamming and shouting before they drove off at speed! I didn't check for bodies in the morning...
|It was a cold one...|
In the end I kept that 'treat' until the last possible minute, packing up everything else first. I managed a hot drink - just - before the gas stove decided it was too cold and stopped working. Meths next time.
|The Ystwyth near Pont-rhyd-y-groes|
|Teifi Pools looking West|
*Note: Stay on the track here and go down to Claerwen for a rideable route to Rhayader! Hindsight - again!
|Looking towards the Tywi Forest|
Lesson #2 - Always pack enough food for your planned journey - and then pack the same again!
Eventually I made the road at the top of Craig Goch Reservoir - and another huge hill to climb before rolling down into Rhayader. I'd always planned on taking the 'Golf Links' descent but I'll have to save that for another day. A quick stop into the Spar for a can of coke and two Cadbury's Creme Eggs (I'd been fantasising about this for the last few hours) and my next stop was a cafe. I parked myself against a radiator, downed 3 mugs of sugary tea and awaited my burger and chips, shivering uncontrollably and getting some funny looks from the other customers.
You'll be pleased to know that my wittering drivel is almost over. I had planned to ride up through Hafren Forest but it was dark, I was cold, it was raining and I just wanted to get back to my car (heated seats, dry clothes) Consequently I just rode up the A470 to Llangurig, across to Llanidloes and then up the B4518 to Llanbrynmair. I briefly stopped at a garage in Llanidloes to refuel on coke and chocolate and chatted to the guy behind the counter:
Evil shopkeeper*: "Where are you headed?"
Evil shopkeeper: "Really? There's some wicked hills on that road. They use it on the Tour of Britain you know"
*He was probably really nice
They were wicked hills but they were between me and my car so I plodded on. I walked up a couple, rode a few and eventually the streetlights of Llanbrynmair came into view....
Stu and Dee were still there and a hot cup of tea and a huge slice of homemade cake were soon consumed - perfect.
Here's the Strava link: http://www.strava.com/activities/105951568
It is only 24 hours after the event finished and I'm already looking forward to the next event - in May this time!