One of my goals for 2014 was the BearBones inspired bivi a month challenge. The clue should be in the name and if you haven’t worked it out yet, I’m not going to explain.
I got the year off to a good start with the There N Back event. This turned out to be a pretty easy start as the weather played ball and although cold it was bright and clear. It was great to ride with Andy and Gabe again. We stayed out for one night and covered about 81miles and 10 000ft of climbing over the 2 days. Full report here.
I had had high hopes for this trip. 3 nights/4 days riding round the gravel roads of Wales avoiding the worse of the effects of this winter’s incessant rain. It was a good plan and one that almost came off if it hadn’t been for another weather factor, namely the wind. There were so many trees down that the planned route became a mere suggestion, as I was forced into some substantially challenging hike-a-bike through thick forest or got lucky and realised the way was blocked before the point of no return. On top of all it I had a minor emergency back home which meant I had to cut short the trip on the day 2. Not a highly successful trip but a nice bivi spot over looking Llyn Brianne reservoir and the successful testing of some kit did go some way towards making up for it. Full report here.
A last minute change of plan saw me head towards mid Wales again. I stayed in a bothy for the first time which was a pleasing experience and something that I would certainly do again. There is always something special about getting a fire going and to be sat in the middle of no where on your own contemplating the simpler things in life was a special moment. The weather was excellent and it made for my best bikepacking trip to date. I threw in a quick lap of Nant Y Arin trail centre as I had never been there and rode an entertaining mixture of types of trail. Full report here.
4 of us set out from Great Orms Head to cross the length of Wales north to south to complete the Welsh Coast to Coast. Unfortunately we didn’t quite make it but along the way had lots of fun. Some of it type 1 some of it type 2 but ultimately it was a trip to remember for all the right reasons. I feel that I learnt loads on this trip, not only due to riding with some very experienced guys but over 3 days crossing as much terrain as we did you are going to encounter a lot of experiences to learn from. The weather was fairly bad and the terrain very challenging, which provided tests for rider and equipment a like. Full report here.
The Welsh Ride Thing was the occasion this month with 5 of us setting out for a social ride rather than pounding the miles. The plan had been that I would stay out for 2 nights with Gabe and Andy while Nigel and Burt would only be joining us for the first night. Unfortunately I had a painful resurgence of my knee problem and I decided that going home on the second day was the sensible thing to do. On the whole it was a good weekend with the weather playing ball and great company. We did stumble across a bothy that none of us knew about which will be good for the future and I was able to test out some new gear. Full report here.
Due to a knee injury June’s bivi had been in serious doubt. Luckily my knee got better quick enough for me to still get out there before the end of the month. As I didn’t want to push my luck I did a local midweek bivi. It was the first time I had done an after work bivi and it was nice to be able to not tie up a whole weekend but still get my fix. I headed towards Henley-in-Arden and after a pub dinner and couple of pints of Guinness I found a great spot in some trees with soft tall grass. It was bike week at work as well which meant breakfast was laid on the next day. Full report here.
This month saw the Tour De France start in the UK for the first time, so what better excuse could you have for heading north and getting in a couple of nights out on the Yorkshire mores. Kindly Chew has organised the weekend, sorting a great route, great viewing points and some excellent places for us to pitch up for the night. It was actually the biggest group I have ever done a trip with, starting of with 9 of us on the Friday and dropping to 7 by the time we got back to Halifax on Sunday afternoon. Can’t really say enough how much I enjoyed this trip, with it being a leading contender for trip of the year. Full report here.
I was lucky enough this month to get out twice. I headed over to Wyre Forest with Mike and Hux for an after work pub bivi. Mike and I rode some great single track around the Kinver area before meeting up with Hux in Kidderminster. We then dropped into Bewdley for fish and chips and a mini pub crawl. Hux had picked out a great spot in the forest where we pitched up the for the night. Full report here.
I got the train out to Caersws and went north. I found a great bivi spot looking down the valley towards Llangadfan. It was clear and didn’t bother with the tarp which meant I was able to lay in my bag watching the sun set and some owls hunting in the field. Amazing really. The next day I rode down to Stu’s to meet Chew, James and a group of first timers that they were bringing with them. We rode out to Nant-Y-Moch and then on to Nant Syddion bothy for the night. We got soaked but spirits were high and it really didn’t matter. Next day I left them at the bothy and gave it some back to Caersws to get the 12:30 train home. Full report here.
Managed to get out twice again, but this trip wasn’t really that successful in the big scheme of things. It was a second attempt at the WC2C and to be honest it went worse than the first attempt in relation to how far though the route we got. The first day was fine although we did get to Penros Isaf significantly later than planned. Unfortunately the day had obviously had a bad effect on Nigel and he just wasn’t at it all the next day. The pace slowed right down and I realised fairly early on that we weren’t going to make it to Worms Head. Over the course of the day his legs gradually deserted him further and by the time we reached Machynlleth it was clear that to press on regardless wasn’t really going to be worth it. We jumped a train back to Birmingham that afternoon and went home. Frustrating but at least we had some great weather for short tour of north Wales. Full ride report here.
As my longer trips this year have been mixed in terms of success I thought I would take what was probably the last opportunity I had to get a long one in before the weather turned nasty for the winter. I had not really visited east Wales that much so jumping off the train at Newtown I headed south the Radnor Forest. I found a great spot in the trees for the night near Water Breaks It’s Neck waterfall. The next day I headed West towards Rhayader. I really wanted to go to some places I hadn’t been before so I passed through Comin LLanwrthwl and made for Moel Prysgau. I hadn’t been to this bothy before and although its a bit of an effort to get to it’s certainly worth it. It has a very remote atmosphere and the feeling like it isn’t used a great deal. The next day I went north through Cors Caron wild life reserve. I would really like to go back and do a few of the walks. I stayed at Nant Rhys which is a very nice bothy and even got in a bit of riding round there with out the luggage. The next day I decided to go home and rode back to Newtown via Hafren forest. It was a great trip that finished off the summer just nicely. Full ride report here.
I headed up to Lluest Cwm Bach with Mike. This is one of the few Welsh MBA bothies that I hadn’t been to. It is not only one of the newest ones but also one of the best appointed. There is something really nice about the way it’s laid out and although not having a snug makes it a bit harder to heat I really liked the lofty high ceiling. We parked in Rhayader and headed west through Elan Village, crossing the valleys around the reservoirs. This made for some great descents and before long we were heading over Garreg-ddu viaduct. We spent the evening eating cheese, drinking whiskey and port and talking bollocks in front of the fire. The next morning we took a leisurely paced ride back the Rhayader via a number of great descents before stopping for coffee and cake at the cafe. Full report here.
It had been a difficult month. I had had a lot of chances of to get out but due to one thing or another those chances kept passing me by. I couldn’t even do a local one as something was up with my knee again and wanted a few days off the bike to make sure that I was going to be fit for the BearBones winter bivi. Eventually I got to the point where I realised I wasn’t going to get my November bivi in so this brought me to my last option of a bivi in the garden… so that’s what I did. Full report here.
It was great to finish of the year with a purely social trip in the shape of the BearBones winter bivi. We didn’t ride that far or for that long but sometimes that just doesn’t matter. The company was great and it was nice to put a few faces to forum names. Full report here.