Bikepacking, Trails

Trans Cambrian Way Double (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1

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.

At the bottom of Y Grug, I stopped to fill my bottle up, drop in a caffeine tablet and put my jacket on to fend off the cold air. I certainly needed it for the fast descent that soon followed into Staylittle. Hafren Forest became a bit of a blur – straight forward climbs now required significant effort to get up. I was certainly starting to feel the effects of tiredness and fatigue. The yawns started to come, and so at the next opportunity to fill up with water, I put in two caffeine tablets. The result reminded me of Red Bull but without the fizz. I scoffed some chocolate down too to hopefully give me a bit of a kick.

After crossing the A44, there is a long and punishing climb into the forest where Nant Rhys bothy lies. I wasn’t far now from my opportunity to put my head down for some sleep. The caffeine tablets seemed not to be making much difference, and I could feel me head nodding while riding. I get off and push some of the upward bits – it was probably safer. Eventually, the top came, and I rolled wearily down to the bothy. I arrived at 00:50 am, 19 hours 20 minutes since leaving Knighton, and with 226 km on the clock. That was pretty much two thirds distance, and I was fairly well spent.


  • What an awesome effort mate, I think I would have just stayed asleep in the bothy. I’m hoping to do the West Highland Way this year with Ross Mallen, we will see, I am mostly training for a rowing competition I got roped into and the rowing training is really tiring

  • Hey I could beat you once ! Twenty something years ago! Well done mate awsome effort great write up. Sys stephen

  • Wow, what an inspirational ride!

    I’m doing the double in a couple of weeks as part of my prep for the TransAlp, although we are not mad enough to do it as a time trial and we will be aiming to complete it in 3 days. I have to say I am a big fan of riding single speed, and I can see the attraction in this case because of both the low weight and the low risk of mechanical failure. However, I think we will stick with gears!

    I take it that the route is one that you know reasonably well, I have heard that navigation can be a struggle. Do you have any thoughts on that? My biggest concern is having weather close in, and then getting off track and wasting mileage and energy.


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