After a good nights sleep, the plan was to get up early and get back to Pennant as soon as possible, picking up the last few remaining points en route.
A quick sandwich got me through the first 10 miles or so, out to Llanidloes and up to the first point at the edge of Hafren Forest. The final drag up a bridleway was tough, and we were freezing. As soon as we reached what we thought was the point, we turned around and were treated to a great, fast descent down to Llyn Clywedog.
I dispatached my final "real" food, a Ginsters steak slice and we started the massive road climb up alongside the reservoir. The views on our left were truely beautiful, and at the top, we stopped for a few minutes to take it in. We also spent a moment thinking just how lucky we had been with the weather. One blue sky / sunny day is rarely found in Wales, and we had three consecutively!
The majority of the morning went well. More beautiful quiet roads, some great if slightly energy zapping bridleways through the forest overlooking Staylittle and a fast decent to the main road near Pennant.
Only a couple of miles left, and one point. Unfortunately, it was at the top of the hill overlooking Pennant. We crossed the main road, and entered a small wood, but as soon as we tried to navigate the bridleway heading towards the hill, it quickly disappeared. We crossed several streams, got stung by nettes but were finally met with barbed wire fences. No getting through this. Tired, hungry, and keen to get back to the car, we retreated. It was the only planned point of the weekend we failed to gain, and being the last one, stuck in our minds for a while.
All that remained was a quick dash along the road to the farm, sign in to say we've finished the event, grab some cake, and drive home.
Over the last few weeks, since the event, I've pondered and reflected on our plans and adventure. Through this process, I've discovered a few lessons.
Firstly, maximising use of quiet country lanes rather than bridleways was a winning concept. Althought it probably adds a few miles, the efficiency gains are tremendous, and the pedalling easy.
We both felt the faff and logistics of caching different stuff at two places was onerous. Next year, regardless of camping arrangements, I'm going minimal, and self sufficient, at least in terms of carrying accomodation and sleeping equipment. The forced reduced gear reduces choice and faff, although will obviously add to bike weight.
The last thing regards training. Neither Jason, nor myself had done the training we did last year. Doing more 40+ mile mixed riding with lots of ascent would have made this years challenge easier.
However, all in all, it was a great weekend. The weather was great, the riding good if tough and it's certainly set me up for a good 2014 riding year.