Just Riding, Video

Welsh Ride Thing 2015


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Modern day bikepacking in the UK – as version of traditional touring for people who prefer their riding off road – had to begin somewhere. Just maybe that “somewhere” was a small farm in Mid Wales, which hosted the first Welsh Ride Thing seven years ago.

Not concerned with scoring points, beating the clock or riding an obscene amount of miles,  the “WRT” draws in both hardened and aspiring bikepackers alike to a field in Wales before sending them off into the wilderness for three days in search of “points of interest”. Getting stuck in a bog, falling in a stream, maybe having a pub meal, sleeping in a bothy or perhaps under a hedge are all optional activities along the way. Life could not be more simple.

Here’s a video of how a wet and windy weekend in Wales unfolded for Beth and I on this years Welsh Ride Thing

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Bikes

Going Custom


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In 2013 I got my first proper look at custom hand made bikes. The Bespoked Hand-built Bike Show in Bristol was packed with dozens of unique creations all tailored to the needs and desires of their owners, and each reflecting an immense depth of skill, passion and outright devotion from their creator. Expensive? Yes. Desirable? Very much so. To be in possession of something that is one of a kind, made for you, your specification in terms of geometry but injected with a creative flair that sets it apart from everything else was very compelling.

At that 2013 show, one bike caught my eye – a road bike with a paint finish that paid homage to the Lotus JPS Formula 1 car – a car that I could remember from my childhood. It was a very cool bike and I wanted one. But one exactly the same would not be right. That uniqueness would be lost. I needed to find something else like it, but not like it. And so the seed was sown.  (more…)

Bikepacking, Fat Bikes, Video

66 Degrees North


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Two days after the Rovaniemi 150 Arctic Winter Race, I headed back out into the wilderness with two fellow racers: Antti Sintonen & Evan Simula. Legs still tired from the race, we headed north-west out of Rovaniemi on some of the lesser-travelled snow mobile tracks, our ultimate aim to get to a laa-vu (traditional wooden Finnish shelter) beside the frozen lake at Sinettäjärvi.

It was a fantastic ride in an amazing environment, made all the more enjoyable with the company of Antti & Evan – cheers guys!

Music by The Gloaming – “The Old Bush”

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Bikepacking, Fat Bikes, Poems

In Celebration of Fords


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It was but the first month of the year
As I gathered together my bikepacking gear.
Wales in January; it would probably be raining,
But no matter, for this was really for training.
In preparation for Finland I go,
To a land bleak and white and covered in snow.

The Bear Bones Ford Fiesta is that which beckoned;
No finer celebration of fords could be reckoned.
Out from the start, my route headed west,
Riding into the wind was really a test.
Onto Glyndwr’s Way, where new trails await;
Progress would be easier if the wind would abate.

P1010480

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Just Riding, Statistics

Bye-bye 2014


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Last Monday saw my last ride of the year, and it was a cracking one with which to finish the year. It was minus 7 degrees Celsius as I left the house at 5:30am. The temperature didn’t really get above freezing until closer to 11:00am, by which time I was high up on the Black Mountains, east of Brecon. The ridge tops were majestically covered in a dusting of snow, and though the ground was frozen, the going was far from easy. The 100km loop took over 10 hours to ride, but left me satisfied that I’d rounded off the year in suitable style.  (more…)

Bikepacking, Fat Bikes, Trails

The Black Mountain


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There are dozens of excellent tracks all over the Beacons & eastwards to the Black Mountains (note: plural). It’s an area I know like the back of my hand – I can ride over 100 miles of trails without even needing to check the map. However, if you head westwards just a little way there is one area where I had never ridden: The Black Mountain. Back in August, I decided I needed to put that right. And I definitely needed to take a map. (more…)

Bikepacking, Races

Bear Bones 200 – 2014


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Ingredients:

  • Pick a few points on a map, a variable distance apart, say 20-40km.
  • Highlight any good rideable off road trails you know between these points. You’ll need about three fifths of these.
  • Highlight any of the unrideable trails you know between these points. Don’t use any more than one fifth of these, or your route will have a slightly sour taste.
  • At this stage, you may notice that not all your trails join up. Link as many of these sections as you can with bits of road, yellow ones if you have them, or any that have those small black arrows on.
  • You might still have a few loose ends, but don’t worry, these can be linked up using arbitrary rights of way over the top of bleak mountain tops. Again, don’t over do these, as it will affect the bitterness afterwards.
  • Once prepared, keep your route in a dark place for a couple of months to mature and don’t tell anyone where it is.

While your route is maturing, you will need to source approximately 70 mountain bike riders (bikepacking variety) who will ride your route. They don’t need to know where it goes at this stage, they just need to think they want to do it. (more…)