“Your first bivi ride” I said “No worries feel free to join me” I said. “Where you riding” he said. “A nice summers weekend ride out in Mid Wales” I said………….
I’ve only met Mark Burrows once before and that was only last weekend on our Fat Bike beach ride in a group of 13 riders so we hadn’t had much time together before this weekend.
The forecast wasn’t too good for this weekend, but when have the forecasters ever got it right before? I picked up Mark in my van, me with my Travers 29er+ back packing bike and Mark who’s 29er+ was still 24 hours away from it’s delivery on his Fat Bike and off we went into the deepest darkest park of Wales.
Mark commented on route, there aren’t many hills this big in Southport or even Rivington as we passed the lower hills on the way to the start. “You’ll be fine” I said.
We parked up and Stuart of Bear Bones gave us his insightful and local knowledge of both routes which I had an idea of doing and we chose the Southern loop option to miss the worse of the weather and have less climbing.
And off we went up the first climb, there was no need to worry about Mark’s fitness as he was keeping a good pace and even when the top of the hill turned into a “type 2 fun” tussock push spirits were high.
The wind was strong and the dark clouds were over to the North of us so once on the flat trails we cracked on knowing we had made the best choice to head South.
Then it started to rain and rain it did, this combined with the strong winds made it “unpleasant” to say the least but my new Columbia waterproof jacket and waterproofs over shorts were working perfectly as were Mark’s waterproofs. With no thought of turning back and free wheeling back to the van and an ignominious retreat we carried on into the head/cross wind and driving rain.
Looking at the GPS I asked Mark ” how far do you think we have ridden?” “21 miles” came his reply……. Why he didn’t punch my lights out there and then and turn right around calling it a day I will never know as my reply of 7.2 miles was greeted with a laugh not a punch and a strop.
We stopped at the edge of the last forest before the 6 mile exposed crossing of an open high up moorland expanse, both with wet feet (seal skin socks are pants once soaked) and waited until the horizontal rain slowed, it didn’t and as we were getting colder so we pressed on.
Puddle after puddle became ford after ford, then the river crossings which we simply got off the bike’s and walked straight through as our feet couldn’t get any wetter. The wind and rain was at its worse now and for the first time in my life I offered up a silent prayer to any God who would listen asking for no mechanicals and no punctures, either we were lucky or one was listening we trudged on and finally found a pub with a warm boiler room to dry off wet clothes and shoes, plus good food and drink for a late afternoon chill out.
With the worst of the weekend behind us I’ll sum up the rest for you.
Waited until the worst of the rain had passed, rode up to Nant Syddion bothy to find it empty, loads of wood, paper and even a fire made ready to light…… but no matches or lighter to get the fire started to help dry out our damp clothes. Not to worry it was August so not really cold. We relaxed for the evening, got our heads down and after 7 hours of sleep we headed out this morning into the gloom and low cloud to ride back to Bear Bones Towers. 10 miles from base the heavens opened but nowhere near as bad as yesterday.
48 miles, 5687ft of ups and downs, Time out and back 24hrs 05mins, Average speed 7.5mph and max speed of 48.5mph
My gear and knowledge
Travers Rudy Fat 29er+ – 10/10
Lauf Carbonara fork – 11/10 a revelation after riding with rigid forks for so long
Columbia Titanium OutDry jacket – 10/10 Link here
Wildcat bike packing luggage – 10/10
Mark’s ability not to kill me – 10/10
The ability to start a fire without lighter or matches – 0/10