Welsh Ride Thing 2012
In it's 4th year the WRT is now an established event on the adventurists calender, although in essence it's a tough 3 day mtb event in the wilds of mid wales. There is no scoreboard no competition and very little in the way of rules. It's just a series of waypoints that point to some great riding, which you can make as hard or as easy as you want. This makes it equally suited to the trail centre rider wanting to make things a little more adventurous or the competitive cyclist wanting a stepping stone to world class events such as the tour divide and Colorado trail race.
packing it WRT style
The event takes place over a bank holiday and give the entrants a chance to have 3 days of biking and two nights under canvas. This extra night adds a surprising amount of extra commitment and reliance on gear. A horrible wet night isn't half as bad knowing your are just a few hours away from dry clothing and a pub meal. When you know that after several hours in the saddle your going to spend yet another night out then every compromise you make becomes blindingly obvious. These compromises are born out of competition, specifically the lightest bike weigh in.
queing for the weigh
Before the start everyone gets a chance to weigh there bike and total gear set up. 75lbs is heavy, 55-65 is ok for a full suspension and some decent gear. Sub 50 allows for lwt geared bike and gear. At Sub 40 the bikes are more often than not rigid single speeds. This year was a tie at 33lbs with some really good efforts from Ian Barrington of WildCat gear and Paul Pomfret our good friend and sort of previously semi sponsored rider. They both completed the event so despite the weather they had everything they needed to spend two nights in the rather unpleasant but not extreme damp cold.Despite Paul not taking a stove he did have pork pies so I guess that's alright then.
Wet Right Through
The weather over the weekend did mean a few retirements, Saturday night was relentless althought not entirely severe but the sort of continuos rain that shows up any deficiencies in your sleeping arrangements. As always it's not just about keeping things dry whilst you're biking, but having the discipline to take off slightly damp thermals to put on dry ones and even harder to put the slightly damp thermals on again.
checking the way
This event was my first proper ride of a 29er and I really liked it, Genesis were kind enough to lend me a Fortitude Adventure (Rigid Fork, Alfine Hub 11speed) and it worked just great on an event like this. The 29er wheels dont quite give the under seat clearance of 26er but it was enough for a seat pack. However I did learn to check my tool kit before a ride. My usual stead is a pimped up carbon forked single speed but it doesn't need a 13mm spanner to tighten the rear axle. Unfortunately the fortitude did and I was really lucky not turn this very minor detail into an epic.
enjoying the riding
As always the choice of waypoints was sublime many chosen to their proximity of amazing riding and some chosen purely sadistically. If we wanted world class 100% rideable singletrack we'd be at a trail centre ticking off circuits, in doing the welsh ride thing we were after a little adventure. Sure, sometimes it's a little tedious to carry your bike over umpteen upturned logs even more tedious is to have to push your bike down hill as the mud is so claggy, but these are the bits you remember when you get home a little broken. For an event like this we have to thank Stu and Dee from bearbonesbikepacking who raised just over £2000 for Wales air ambulance.
More info on the Bearbones website.