Bikepacking, Homemade Gear, Trails

Welsh Ride Thing

The weekend of the Welsh Ride Thing still brings me out in a grin when I think about it.
Packed with memories of rain, wilderness, bothies, open fires, whisky, sunshine, singletrack, fireroad, river crossings and socialising with thirty odd like-minded riders who got together for a weekend of exploring the Big Welsh Wilderness.

Saturday’s rain wasn’t particularly heavy, but quite persistent. My choice of 32:20 gearing wasn’t quite as light as I would have liked, but any lower and the flat sections would have been tedious. My progress was slower than I had planned, a combination of weather, riding a loaded bike and hard (but enjoyable) trails. I chose to trim my route a little and headed for Claerddu – a remote bothy I’d not been to before.To my surprise, I was the only one there when I pulled up at 8pm. It concluded a 40 mile ride, which had taken in some great tracks, though not in the best conditions. I had enough time and light to get the fire going and cook up some food. Another WRT rider arrived at about 9pm, and we shared tales of the days riding.

Sunday dawned with patchy cloud and warm sunshine – a welcome change from the day before. I headed NE along Monks Trod, a route I am familiar with from previous exploits and one that can be either magnificent or miserable depending on the weather and/or the choice of line. Today, though, it was magnificent. An hour and half since leaving the bothy, I was back on the mountain road. A stiff climb lead me to Nant Rhys Bothy, before a long forest descent took me back into the valley to the north. Hafren Forest lay the other side a long winding climb through a broad valley bathed in sunshine. Hafren Forest was a delight to ride through. I seemed to miss all the singletrack, not really knowing the area, but instead stumbled upon a fantastic waterfall and the above pictured quarry with its iron tinged wall.

I rolled back into Pennant with another 40 miles ridden to conclude an excellent two days of riding. New trails, new people, new places and new inspiration to head out into the Welsh Wilderness some time soon. The whole weekend was a great departure from the normal riding I do, and a world apart from my previous racing endeavours. Check out all the pictures I took over the two days here.

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