A few weekends ago I loaded up the Salsa and rode out on a 90 mile warm up to Tewkesbury. Stuffed my face and rested overnight then at 4am Saturday morning went for a meander round Wales. Although I didn’t need the kit, the bike was packed as a full dry run for the Transcontinental minus the Passport and Euros. This raised quite a few eyebrows at the start of the Dragons and Legends 600K Audax at 5am, I think most people viewed me as an idiot who didn’t know how to travel light overnight. The sensible ones had a drop bag transported for them for the mid ride Hostel that was booked for our use. So here’s the ride (clockwise): The stats are still blowing me away: A coffee and some slices of fruitcake was all I managed for Breakfast at the Depart, then we rolled out as a sizeable group. Last year I’d have been smashing it with the group which included Gareth who is also doing the TCR. As it rose up a few easy rises I let them go….not my usual being smart, I just didn’t have the legs. Travelling through Monmouth, Abergavenny, the Brecons then loomed. Soon I was on my own, bit of drizzle, a sizeable bit of gravel, loving it, even got overtaken by a fast lady, down boy Testosterone bag in the locker. Time for a proper full English breakfast and the first sit down at a nice Café at Talybont on Usk This was be the start of a great trip down memory lane as throughout the weekend I was continuously crossing MTB tracks and places that I have covered over numerous TransWales expeditions over 20 years. many smiles as the dark recesses of memory were triggered, funny how almost every memory involved being wet in Wales. Tardiness in writing this means its a bit truncated and lacking in flowery pros: Along the way I caught and rode with several riders briefly, the Landovery food stop was packed, glad I stopped where I did, highlights and notes include;
- Lyn Brianne reservoir views as for the first time doing a road lap rather than the gravel tracks.
- Mad descent video with a couple of lads ( cheers for saving me missing the monument control too)
- The Mad speed down to Dolgellau, just touched 50mph and others taking the easier route, Grr
- Barmouth Bridge across the bay, having to run through sand dunes on it from the wind.
- Rice pudding with jelly babies love at the manned Barmouth control, meeting lots of riders there.
- The sunset over the coast at Barmouth and the joy of 200 miles before sunset in such lumpy terrain.
- 1am in Snowdon hills and shivering blasting down to Betws with the roads to myself.
- elation at reaching the hostel and the disappointment of “sleeping” on floor under a sink
- Very cold start, riders sleeping on grass in the early sun and superb climbs around Bala
- The realisation that 33-36 just might not be enough for 2 hr climbs up the Ventoux loaded.
- Breakfast at the Oasis of a shop at 7am, Abertridwr, Lake Vyrnwry and beckoning other riders to join.
- The mind funk of rollercoaster ups and downs to the checkpoint hall and bacon and beans relief, Audaxs really do win over sportives in the heart warming food at times.
- Staying true to the route on the mindless climbs towards Leominster, as others took the easy main road.
- Got my karma pumping someone else’s tyre up, this is pretty common, still bemused why people throw money away on CO2 and tiny pumps.
- More memories and Horror at climbing the Malvern Hills after Ledbury
- The great food at the finish and making the 40 hour deadline easily.
- Abandoning my paid for accommodation in Cheltenham, for an easier roll back to Tewksbury food and shower beckoned.
The following week the sun came out in the UK for the first real summer period and I continued on into Wales back over the Severn bridge to visit a friend for a boozy night. Then the plan was a whole session of 200 mile days in TCR mode but I’m afraid to say I forgot I was human and these old bones need a bit of recovery time. The killer hills of Exmoor and North Devon coast just hammered my speed and thick mist on the tops showed just how the weather can scupper any plans. I had a great week and the bike and setup worked superbly, 600 miles more meant I’d topped 1000 in a 7 day period of some serious climbing terrain with full TCR kit. The riding part of the ride to Istanbul I’m now sure I can deal with, just the continental food and sleep deprivation to cope with now.