Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Welsh Ride Thing - Day 1

This came around a lot quicker than expected so it was lucky for me that Ali had been working hard at plotting our route. I would love to take some credit but the fact that the route worked out so well was due to her careful planning and research, my mumbles of "yes that looks fine" when she showed me the map didn't help. So friday evening I did some last minute shopping and we both packed - well I got my stuff ready to pack and finished in the morning, I was that organised!

Saturday morning we headed down, stopping off to meet some lads off singletrackworld for some pub food, not knowing if this would be our last hot meal for three days. Off to forest freeride for the start. Only we chose (or TomTom chose for us) an interesting route there which meant we were first to leave the pub but last to arrive at the start. Still, it meant less time to panic for me as it was a case of unloading the bikes and bags and then straight to the start to pick up our checkpoints sheet.

Heading off up the road, we realised that we hadn't got the classic "before" picture, but as you can see Ali was smiling at this point. As we hit our first bit of off-road we passed a group of lads discussing their route, so far we had not had one argument about navigation so were feeling good. Along an amazing singletrack descent that unfortunately had a drop to the left, Ali's favourite. To a technical rocky drop to a bridge, I started riding and scared myself but I had no option other than to continue as I couldn't get off at that point. At the bridge we were looking at the way back up, obviously a carry which I remembered from transwales, Ali suddenly remembered that this might be the checkpoint. Good job she did as I can guess who would be scrambling back down to get the answer to the question!

At this point Ali's amazing route planning came into its own, turns out there were two choices. One a nice long slog through a bog. The other on clear tracks that was a little longer but that was not actually on the landranger map of the area.

After going through a forest I recognised the track, another transwales favourite that had lots of huge puddles (well they were a little big to be called puddles more like ponds). Ali was charging through them making me feel like a wimp. Until she came unstuck:

She decided to go for a swim after hitting a boulder, I have never seen someone jump up so quickly and rescue their bike. Sensibly she didn't want to test how effective her dry bags were when submerged on the first day of a three day ride!

With no more swimming we made our way to the next checkpoint, this was a river-crossing they had to put a rope across in transwales 2008. The water was a lot lower but we still opted for the footbridge, since this was the checkpoint.

The day had been wet and windy but once in a while the sun tried to come through. But now the weather really started to roll in. Passing through Ponterwyd we decided to stop at the pub for a hot drink and some food. Two jacket potatoes and chilli later we were ready to head out. I popped to the toilets to fill my camelbak up and hear a scream. Ali has found a tadpole from her earlier swim. All the staff gathered round and one of them rescued the tadpole and put it into a watering can.

Fortunately the weather was clearing a bit which made getting back out there a little easier. We set off for the next checkpoint, knowing this was at a bothy. On the first climb after leaving the road we passed a house, the old lady waved at us and we waved back thinking nothing of it, the next thing she is outside offering us cups of tea and water refills if we needed it. A lovely show of kindness. Up a climb and into the forest we arrived at the bothy around 8ish and there were a lot of other riders making it their home for the night. Much to the suprise of the others we decided to push on through the weather to try and get to the next checkpoint, we could always bivvy in the forest if it got dark.

Another fantastic bit of route planning by Ali meant we mainly followed a fireroad that had been used for a rally car event last year, this wasn't on any of our maps and was hard to make out on google earth. Apart from one really hard push up we were able to ride up to the windmills at Cefn Croes Windfarm.

This was very eerie as you couldn't see them till you were right next to them where they loomed out of the mist. I was very glad not to be on my own up there. Once we entered the forest it was a case of one lovely bridleway descent and a couple of fireroads to the next checkpoint, another bothy. On arriving Ali exclaimed "this isn't a bothy its a house", to be fair there was a car and van parked outside. We were met by an odd bloke asking if we were looking for a bed for the night and explaining he ran the place. Fortunately we spotted some other riders and decided to stay, we were contemplating just finding a spot in the forest. There were only five riders in total here and we had a room upstairs, downstairs there was a nice fire to dry our clothes and another room with bunks, here the odd man and his friends seemed to be having a party. From the number of empty beer cans this appears to be a regular occurence and I don't think they wanted us there. Off to bed only to be kept awake by the party animals downstairs.

All in all a fab start to the weekend despite the weather. But we were considering having to change our plans as due to the weather we were a little behind in the distance covered.

31.22 miles ridden, 1429m climbed

Day 2 coming soon....


  1. a really good read trio! can't wait for the next installment. well done ali on the route planning and tadpole 're-distribution'. and well done you, the week after a 24!

  2. Sounds like a really FUN day to me! I can't wait to read on day 2! :-)

  3. That is a fantastic photo of the house in the rain - very atmospheric!

  4. love the pictures and the tadpole swimming session.

    wish i was there on your adventure

  5. Excellent! Looking forward to the next installment.

  6. Sounds absolutely super.

    Nearly fell off my seat with laughter when I heard about the tadpole. ;-)