Update: Please note that due to a ghost.org / theme issue, my embedded photos should link to my album on Flickr but they don't so follow the previous link if you want to see me at higher resolution...
I'm currently enjoying a fortnight off the bike to recover from the 2014 Welsh Ride Thing (WRT), and what better time is there to belatedly blog about our adenture?
It's my 3rd WRT. My first challenge was with Chris and his mate Ben. Last years was with my now ex-neighbour Jason. Reflecting on these 2 attempts, I've gradually traded the challenge of self sufficiency with that of gaining more points through travelling further and ascending more.
Last year we cached a tent near Devil's Bridge, and tried for all but three points, but recall actually failing to get 5. This year, we planned to get all but two points, using roads as much as possible but how did we do?
Whilst I was planning this years route, Saturday presented far more of a challenge than the longer sunday ride due to the large distance between the obviously defined start point, and closest civilised accomodation - Bishops Castle. It is around 30 miles from Pennant as the crow flies. Add Category Three and Four hills contributing to nearly 1,500 metres of ascent and 43 miles of actual riding. And we wouldn't start riding until 13:00.
As we were caching gear at both Bishop's Castle and Llanidloes this year, I left home around 06:30 and met Jason at the Shrewsbury Little Chef for a light (Olympic) breakfast. After swapping gear between our cars, I drove to Llanidloes to pitch the tent for Sunday night, and cache clothes etc. Jason drove to Bishop's Castle to cache gear in a camping pod and met me at Llanidloes where we drove to Pennent together.
After the mandatory faffing, further eating and tredding in loads of sheep crap, we watched the raffle and impatiently ended up first out of the gate.
We warmed up with a sharp climb over Newydd Fynyddog, after which we covered 15 or so fast miles to Newtown aided by a pleasant, quiet and smooth A470. We then started a series of large road climbs past the Anchor Inn and onto the Kerry Ridgeway.
We were denied an easy high level passage along the ridgeway; instead we had to descend half way down the other side to gain a deliberatly frustrating point before turning around and painfully regaining all that lost altitude. It wasn't all bad though; once back on top, we were greeted with a lovely, fast road descend on a beautiful quiet country lane to Bishop's Castle for rest and refuelling.
Luxury at Bishop's Castle
Once at BC, we quickly showered and changed into casual clothes to enjoy a lovely meal at the Castle Hotel with a good cycling friend and ex-colleage Jez and his wife Kim.
The pub was lively, the food tasty and plentiful, the ale refreshing, and the atmosphere lively. We were entertained with lots of colourful locals, singing and a good chat before we retired early to the camping pod for sleep.
And with 2,000 metres of climbing planned for Sunday, boy did we need sleep...