Hear ye….hear ye....ladies and gentleman…boys and girls…gather around for another two wheeled disaster of monumental proportions. The last few months has seen my bank balance become frightfully bountiful…we’re talking three figures…£0.22….Thus, with more Benjamins than Franklin himself I decided it was time for another adventure. I chucked the bike in the back of the Rolls and made haste to the private jet...but where was I heading?! The Bahamas, Hollywood, Timbuktu….the moon…Mars….Middle Earth….Nope. Wales. Like I said, jet-setting billionaire playboy.
The truth is most of us take our little island for granted. It’s all too easy to associate exploration with some far off land…crawling with dinosaurs, cannibals & Blackbeard’s treasure. However, we forget that the United Kingdom has some of the most exciting and wild landscapes in Europe. The first time I visited the northerly parts of Scotland I truly thought I had entered into the Land of the Lost. I simply couldn’t believe that this cretaceous landscape was all part of the country I call home. Consequently, I became overwhelmed with the need to explore the most remote parts of the UK. I almost felt ashamed that I had focused quite so much attention to exploration overseas, whilst neglecting the epic wilderness on my doorstep. Since, I have cycled the length of the UK, made plans to circumnavigate Ireland and in this blog entry I complete the Welsh Coast to Coast.
I’ve visited Wales a number of times growing up and always loved it. It was only a matter of time before I organized a bikepacking adventure through this visually stunning, historic and culturally rich part of the UK. Over the Christmas period I got my hands on the ‘ Big Book Bundle ’ from Rough Ride Guide (referred to as RRG from this point onwards). This brilliant package consists of over 250 MTB routes covering the Chilterns, North & South Downs, Exmoor & Dartmoor, Wilshire & Dorset and the Welsh C2C. RRG work in conjunction with Ordnance Survey maps in order to produce their routes. As a result, these designs offer unparalleled detail in the most remote parts of the UK. RRG combine highlighted routes with numbered annotations in order to navigate you along scenic hiking/riding paths. These maps are excellent and offer some of the most adventurous and exciting MTB rides in the UK. However, before you make your purchase, pack your bags, sell off the house and vow to a life of fast pace mountain descents make sure you check out my quick review of the RRG here!
In classic ‘ Worlds best dad ’ behavior my old man offered to drop me off at Conwy and pick me up from St Talbot. Honestly, we both love the midnight road trips…as prolific music lovers it gives us the chance to work through a heap of classic albums, drink more coffee than the Colombians, chat complete and utter rubbish and watch the sun rise over a deserted motorway. That said, not sure either of us particularly enjoyed the three hours sleep in the castle car park at Conwy….none of Jimmy Page’s solos made sleeping in my freezing hatchback any easier…who would have guessed?!
After enjoying a family packed easter Sunday, driving solidly through the night and sleeping for three hours with the Surly ECR crank stuck in my head I felt completely refreshed and ready to cycle over a mountain range. I almost fell out of the car with excitement…and by excitement I mean ‘delirious exhaustion’… and by ‘almost fell out of the car’ I mean lost all feeling in my legs and quite literally face planted. Solid start. I packed the bike, said my goodbyes and made haste to the first trail on the RRG. As I hurtled down Conwy highstreet my dad drove by…beeped…and I caught a glance of his ‘ I’ll never understand why he turned out to be such a lunatic ’ face in the rear view mirror.
Wales proved to be a cruel mistress. The weather was brutal, torrential rain & wind battered me almost constantly, the nights were freezing, I got lost….a lot, endured insane elevation, slept in a bus shelter to the complete shock of a group of youngsters who piled in at 3am, cycled along trails that had become fast running streams, covered less than a mile per hour along routes ankle deep in mud and learnt that trying to navigate through thick woodland in complete darkness is well…pretty stupid. Fortunately, I like a cruel mistress…it kinda turns me on and Wales certainly proved to be into some serious S & M. The ride may have been tough…arousing….but the beautiful landscapes and epic singletrack more than made up for it. At this point I’m going to save you from anymore of my niche sexual preferences and let the photos & short film do the talking. So sit back, relax and enjoy the madness.
This short film documents my ride...expect awful production, worse editing and getting lost....a lot! I recommend viewing in full HD...that way you can enjoy the terrible production & editing in all its glory. Please subscribe to my channel for more two wheeled adventures & reviews.
So there you have it….I survived yet another Bicycle Touring Apocalypse. I want to thank everyone reading this for your continued support, it really does mean the world. This is a very exciting year of two-wheeled exploration and I look forward to sharing my stories, reviews and general madness with all of you! Special thanks to Berghaus, Rude Health, Bear Bones Bivvy Gear, Snugpak, Wildcat Gear, Toaks Outdoors and Bikepackers Magazine for being part of a very exciting ride. I’m off to the Kyrenia mountains in May for another two-wheeled odyssey.....expect nudity, tribal warfare, cannibalism, medieval first-aid and of course enough bike pornography to arouse the gods.