Like a mini Welsh Ride Thing … Only colder!
It's not always easy to find the motivation to drag yourself off the settee and onto your bike, finding that motivation in January can be near impossible. There 'n back marked the start of many peoples bikepacking year and I'm sure provided the catalyst to shake off the excesses of the festive season and get riding. The weather for the 3 weeks prior to the start could best be described as grim, so it was quite a surprise when the forecast predicted a 36 hour 'weather window' starting on the Saturday morning … it was even more surprising when it materialised!
photo © Gairy
Riders arriving at the start were treated to tea and toast and near perfect conditions to partake in the usual pre-ride faff. By mid-day the stream of loaded bikes leaving the start had all but dried up, 49 had left and were now spreading out through the hills, valleys and mountains, their destinations were diverse and their routes even more so. The area covered by the supplied grid references was close to 300 square kilometres, that's a pretty big area with potentially 1000's of kilometres of tracks, roads and trails. The riders had been given 3 weeks to devise a route that would take them on a journey to the spiritual home of Welsh bikepacking trips … the Spar! They could choose to visit as many or as few as they liked from list but they had to visit at least 1. As an added incentive, pictures of Gnorm the Gnome had been placed on the notice boards of 6 shops, if you could find one and return it to the finish, you won a set of Monkii products that had been kindly donated by CycleMiles.
photo © Will
The almost Spring like weather slowly turned to Winter as the sun started to set. The big clear skies of the day would now make it a cold night for the unprepared or ill equipped. By 8.00pm gears were frozen, water bottles solid and conditions under tyre had become interesting … I'm sure the public houses of mid-Wales did a roaring trade from those searching sanctuary before they took to their beds under the star studded sky.
photo © Faddy Victor
Sunday morning saw the sun eventually appear but it wasn't warm enough to thaw out frozen shoes, jackets or anything else left outside the cosy confines of a sleeping bag. The wind had also made its presence felt during the night, so a cold start to the days ride was on the cards for many. As the hours of Sunday ticked by more and more riders returned to the finish, some with big smiles, some with 1000 yard stares but all with stories to tell. Hot drinks were poured down throats and vast quantities of cake consumed in an effort to stoke the internal fires and defrost the digits.
For many the weekend had been the spark to ignite their cycling year, a perfect reason to get out when a reason is most required … see you next year.