High Rouleurs Society

So near, yet so far

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I can’t feel my hands, and my feet ache with the cold. The last climb – a solid 2 km up the stiff gradient that gains the plateau of Mynydd Eppynt – did little to warm up my extremities. It’s minus 2 degrees Celsius up here, but at least I can see over the fog.

In the distance the unmistakable outline of the Brecon Beacons is silhouetted against the faint orange of the first hint of dawn. I take a photo, and continue my passage over the plateau, eventually plunging back into the freezing fog in the valley on the other side.


Bikepacking, Races

Bear Bones 200 – 6th Edition


I turn the lever on the yellow door in front of me and open it slowly. An eruption of noise bursts out through the  opening; laughter, talking, children, the clatter of balls being knocked around a pool table. Then there’s the light – from the small dim pool of light on my bike straight into a brightly lit room; it’s like a massive assault on my senses. It’s 22:44 on Saturday night, and I’m at the bar of the Star Inn, Dylife, the highest pub in Wales. I’m in time for last orders. (more…)


Everesting: Bwlch-y-groes


It’s well over a month since I completed my Everesting of the Devil’s Elbow. It was a strangely satisfying experience, and one that has lead to further plotting, reading, research and general calculations. The Devil’s Elbow was just the start; of how many, who knows, but the lure of the first Everesting ascent is strong.

But first, and in case missed the last instalment, I’ve got to convince my chimp.



Everesting the Devil’s Elbow


Everesting, in case you’ve not come across the term before, refers to making a repeated number of ascents of a climb until the cumulative height gained is equal or greater than the height of Mount Everest (8,848 metres). I first heard about Everesting about a year ago, and almost instantly dismissed it as something that wasn’t for me. Despite that initial reaction, a seed was sown that gradually developed from dismissal to a fully fledged desire to take it on. But before we get into the nitty gritty of actually doing it, the first question you’ll want to ask is….




Spectrum – Part 1

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If mountain bike racing in the UK had a spectrum, at the red end you’d have events like the Highland Trail with its duration measured in days. At the violet end would probably be something like downhill, with a duration measured in minutes and fractions of a second.

spectrum  /ˈspɛktrəm/

1. a band of colours, as seen in a rainbow, produced by separation of the components of light by their different degrees of refraction according to wavelength.

2. used to classify something in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme points

I’m not usually one for racing at the violet end of the scale; something to do with not enough margin for error, and requiring more emphasis on outright skill than actual fitness. But, I guess it’s good to operate outside of your comfort zone once in a while.


Bikepacking, Races

A Highland Tale – The Final Chapter


Day 5

It’s light. Definitely more light than I was expecting.

I feel a bit disoriented. Where was I? My mind is slow to engage. I sit up and look at the view. Oh, yes… I remember now. The plan worked, sort of. I wasn’t cold, but there’s a heavy dew over everything. I pull my damp sleeping bag from the bivvy bag and stuff it back into the dry bag, hopefully for the last time. Today should be the last day.

Carr Brae Viewpoint


Bikepacking, Races

A Highland Tale – Part 3


Day 4

“Wake up”

“Hmm, what..?”

“Wake up. You’ve got to get up right now!”

It was 4:00am, still overcast and barely light.

“Come on, quickly. You’ve not got long…”

It was my bowel talking. When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go! I returned several minutes later and Andy was shuffling out of his bivvy bag. Kenny was still fast asleep, but he needed resupply in Ullapool, so was going to have a lie-in. We were away pretty quickly, dropping into Ullapool as the lorries were pulling out of town having collected last night’s catch of fish.

We span up the road taking a breakfast of sorts on the move. No resupply in Ullapool for us, but with what I had with me, I figured I’d be OK. At the end of Loch Broom, we picked up the Coffin Road – a steep and unforgiving push over to Dundonnel. Alan Goldsmith caught us up here, after his overnight stop in Ullapool. We chatted  briefly, and Andy said how hard it is to keep up with his planned daily schedule, and declaring that he planned to do 90 miles today.

“90 miles?!” Alan exclaimed, “Good luck with that!”


Bikepacking, Races

A Highland Tale – Part 2

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Day 3

My eyes flickered open at the sound of tyres rolling over gravel. It was light. I looked round but couldn’t see any sign of anyone. Maybe I was dreaming. The wind had dropped, and the midges were out in force. Breakfast would have to wait. In conditions such as these, I was glad I had my sleeping set up well dialed. Everything was centered around a single 5 litre dry bag that mounted into my Wildcat Lion harness, and it wasn’t long before I was up, packed and back on the trail. It was 4:45am.

More comfortable than it looks


Bikepacking, Races

A Highland Tale – Part 1

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Unfinished Business

Hopefully by now, the Highland Trail doesn’t need much of an introduction. It’s in Scotland, it’s a chuffing long way, it’s very remote and you’re pretty much on your own. It’s also one of the most amazing multiday rides you can do in the UK. If you’ve been following the story so far, it’s been a mix of success and failure. It is more the latter than the former that has driven me back here for 2016, and that has been a strange motivator.

“Right, you’re on pole!”, said Alan Goldsmith as I tried to blend in among the other 50 starters for this years group ride.

“What, me?!” I said, somewhat surprised.

“Yes, well, front row at least”

I wasn’t really feeling front row material if I’m honest. Preparation for this event had not panned out as I had hoped due to sporadic illness and other commitments, but here I was anyway, very apprehensive and in full knowledge of the magnitude of what I was about to undertake. That sounds like an excuse, but is really a statement of fact. A few had speculated that I had been hiding my efforts on Strava as part of some strategic plan. If only that were true! (more…)

Homemade Gear

Switch oveR


About 8 years ago, I organised one of the Welsh XC Rounds near to Brecon. After the race, while walking the course to retrieve the race signage, I found a short piece of carbon bar with a partially mangled bar-end attached to it, presumably where some unfortunate racer had collided with a tree. In much you same way as you find odd shoes around the countryside, you’d think one bar-end wouldn’t be useful to anyone, but I picked it up anyway and took it home where it lay in the bottom of my “bits and pieces” box ever since.

Back to the present day, I’ve been thinking for a while about how to charge electronic devices while on long bikepacking trips. Having acquired both a dynamo hub and an Exposure Revo, I’ve been happily enjoying not having to charge my light batteries all winter. But, during the day when you don’t necessarily need your lights off road, you could be putting all the energy generated by your hub into something else, like a buffer battery or, via a Cycle2Charge, direct into a GPS/Spot/Phone. (more…)