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…)
This post continues from my previous entry for the Lakeland 200.
I woke up at 9:35 AM. For only two hours sleep, I didn’t feel too bad. I finished the rest of my olives and got dressed into some normal clothes. Rummaging around the van, I found some more food and began the process of replacing the thousands of calories consumed over the last 27 hours of riding.
The other objective for the weekend was to ride The Shindig, a social bikepacking event organised by by Bryan Dawson for Shand Cycles. The grand depart was from Milngavie (pronounced mull-guy), north of Glasgow at 2:00 PM. There was a strong likelihood I wasn’t going to make it in time, but I wasn’t coming this far north and giving up on it entirely. (more…)
I stopped at the bottom of a rooty and rocky trail threading its way up through some woodland. It was too steep to ride. I prepared to dismount for yet another push, but my mind challenged me before my body could repeat the now familiar ritual of the next bit of hike-a-bike. Just how far, from this exact point, would it be to ride the road back to Keswick?
I was near Elterwater, west of Ambleside part way into the Lakeland 200 ITT route. The sun shone, but everything was dark. I’d been riding since 3:33am and it was now 3:00pm. I was just past half way and I’d had enough. I’d lost count of the number of climbs I’d pushed. Over 60 miles of Lakeland trails lay behind me, mostly hewn from large lumps of rock that provided no respite. I still had to do a distance equal to what I had already covered, and over more difficult terrain. Sunset was 4 hours away. (more…)
Having covered the equipment and technical side of things in my previous post, We’ll now explore what I decided to shoot and how I pieced it together.
My knowledge of good proportions of the route gave me a good mental picture of different sections I wanted to film. Devil’s Staircase (ascent and descent), Abhainn Rath and Corrieyarrick Pass were all on my list. Of course, I didn’t know whether I’d be solo or with someone at these points, so I made use of any opportunity to film another rider when I saw them to maintain a sense this was a race. I found myself solo on Day 1 more than I expected – partly owing to a torn sidewall on the Devil’s Staircase descent – and after the quick start and the sense that the tyre repair had cost me time early in the race, my mind was battling with the concept that I should be racing while my filming head was saying, ease up, there’s a good scene to shoot there. In a couple of places I passed up the opportunity to film off the bike because I could see other riders back down the trail behind me and didn’t want to get caught. In the end I had quite a good selection of various bits of the route from Day 1, but the challenge of editing into a reasonably concise sequence and keeping with the flow of the music meant a lot wasn’t used.
The bothy sequence at the start of Day 2 came out much better than I expected. As soon as I woke, (more…)
I should probably get out more. I don’t mean out on the bike (though at times, even that can be a bit irregular). I mean out of Wales. I’m sure there are many many really good places to ride, but this is where I live, and for much of the time where I ride. A very large back yard that has kept me entertained for over two decades. I can nearly traverse the whole country east to west (and back) or from north to south without reference to a map.
This little video is about a trip I did a few weeks ago with some guys I know off the Bear Bones Bikepacking forum. Neil was at the winter bivvy with me and Gian was at the Highland Trail last year. Andy was the only one I’d not met previously. The plan was to ride from the tip of Great Orme south to the end of Worm’s Head on the Gower. It was an adaptation of a trip I did a couple of years ago, which I’ve been quietly improving to create a “definitive” Welsh Coast to Coast with some of Wales’ best riding trails.
The weather wasn’t quite what we’d hoped for, and in the end the slower pace and the prevailing conditions prevented us from reaching our goal. The journey though – and its all about the journey – was still a good one made in great company. Thanks guys!
Hope you enjoy the film.
Winter can be such a fantastic time of year to get out on the bike for an overnight trip, with cool clear air revealing some fantastic views. This video is about a trip I took recently to a place I’ve always wanted to visit, since seeing a photo a couple of years ago: Pont Scethin.
Pont Scethin is a bridge, built some time after 1762, that lies on the old Drover’s Road from London to Harlech. In the 18th century, this was the main route through this part of Wales (long before the existence of the coast road). The old road remains as a walking/ riding track now, and the bridge still stands in this wonderfully isolated position.
The sunrise in the morning was amazing, and it’ll be a trip I will remember for a long time to come.
Fat bikes seem to shout “get me loaded”… And “take me on an expedition”. We only have to follow our hearts, the call of mother nature and the call of our fat bikes.
– Gian Liesch
Up until now, I’d also been “flying under the radar”. I had a Spot tracker with me, but only Beth (my wife) knew where to look for progress updates. It wasn’t until a I sent out a few tweets at Dyfi Junction that I declared my intention to ride the double. But now the word was out, I was committed to getting to the job done.
Every joyful descent leading down to the Dyfi Junction became a painful climb to regain the higher elevations – they’re not called the Cambrian Mountains for nothing. Glaspwll track was a steady slog on foot; its gradient too steep for my 32:19 ratio and my already well-traveled legs. Once at the top, the grassy terrace was even more beautiful in reverse, and with the low sun now casting a warm orange cast over the landscape. However, this was soon forgotten when I reached the bottom of Foel Fadian. Its intimidating steep flanks rose up steeply to a crisp darkening sky. The push turned to a slog, and I would occasionally stop and look back to where the sun had been, but it didn’t diminish the effort required to complete the ascent. By the time I reached the top, it was properly dark and the temperature beginning to drop. (more…)
I roll down the high street in Knighton early on Saturday morning. A nearly full moon is beginning to set in the south west, and the first light of dawn is beginning to show in the other direction. I pull up at the railway station, place my bike under the sign and take a photo. Its 5.30 am. There’s only one ride that starts here: the Trans Cambrian Way. And for the first time, possibly, it’ll also feature as the end of the ride. Here is my account of the Trans Cambrian Way Double. (more…)