To El an Back

By Nick

This weekend saw the second winter event for Bearbones bikepacking.

The aim is to reach one designated point, a small bridge at the north end of the Elan Valley (SN 903715) with the event starting at the community centre in Llanbrynmair. There were a series of random checkpoints and 4 designated over night stops. Stuart of Bearbones on the whole tries to put these checkpoints close to the awesome trails that Mid Wales has to offer, but I'm sure occasionally he places them close to places where it's not so much bikepacking as backpacking with a bike, and the bike takes on a persona not unlike an anchor.

The weather report prior to the event had everything from 5cm of snow to sleet to sub zero temperatures, in the end we had most of that. The riding is as hard as you make it, but even if you think you are making it easy it can still turn out hard. If you are fit you would be expecting to hit over 150km, with our very own Mr Errington hitting circa 160km on a single speed Fat Bike. 186km was the highest number I heard by Ian Barrington of Wildcat on his new singlespeed cross bike.

Paul Errington chose to sleep in a rabbit hutch for safety

It was great to see so much Alpkit stuff, Stingrays, Gourdons and the much loved by the biking community Airlok XT. As ever equipment choice became crucial to how comfortable you made your overnight. There was perhaps one common problem which was cold feet. No matter how much you spent on your footwear, frozen shoes in the morning seemed a common problem. If you can keep your feet dry you are on to a winner but thigh deep tussock thrutching into knee deep puddles is quite a test for anything but waders.

High point - Passing a still Llyn Clyweedog on Sunday Morning.

Low point - A 2km Tussock tussle north of Bodtalog.

If anyone is interested in multi-day bikepacking then head over to the Bearbones website and sign up for the Welsh Ride Thing in June.

As always we have to thank Stuart and Dee for putting on the event, providing the cake and making us tea. Without them our weekends would be a bit to comfortable.

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