By: Blonde Two
You might remember that back in February (such a long time ago) I visited some Welsh bothies with a friend. Whilst I was indulging in the luxury of a roof over my head at Bothy 1 (Lluest Cwm Bach) Mr B2 was cycling 132 miles through the Welsh night (and bogs) on a 29 hour solo non-stop extravaganza (the route of a time-trial that he couldn’t take part in last year). Here are a few sections of his account (and some pictures of his poor feet!):
It seemed a little odd arriving at Llanbrynmair Community Centre and finding it all locked up and empty. No car park full of other apprehensive, faffing, mad fellow bike riding rapscallions. So, at 10am, with no opportunity to put off the inevitable, I got the bike out of the car, changed into my riding togs and set off. Again, quite a different experience with nobody else about.
According to the time stamp on my picture, it was about 11.20am that I first got my feet wet. Trogging through a very wet section of forest that was definitely unrideable.
By the time I arrived at the dam at Llanwddyn, I was already hungry and a bit cold, so I stopped at the cafe and bought two bottles of coke and a large slab of gooey chocolate cake. The young man serving me was very concerned that the cake may still be frozen and tried to insist on heating it up for me. Hot cake just sounds weird so I grabbed it assuring him that I didn’t care if it was cold or otherwise. I just needed cake! Very nice (and not frozen) it was too.
The grassy push beyond the Hotel (whatever it was called) seemed to go on too long and I was a little concerned that I could see snowy peaks in the distance. I was relieved when I did reach the top at Y Cloggdd as the going had been very soft. Up to my knees soft at one point! I really enjoyed the descent though and was feeling privileged to be riding in such spectacular scenery.
Riding out of Llangynog, I really didn’t enjoy the muddy, off camber side slope traverse where someone had helpfully locked the top gate and put a “No right of way” sign. It was tricky lift of the bike over the fence trying not to fall backwards down the hill.
Then came the dreaded bracken surfing section. Although I could make out the elusive sheep tracks that are the best way through this section, by now I was losing the light, so between the bracken stumps, gorse bushes from hell and the streams to cross, I was glad to get that bit over with. I was now grumpy and tired. Time for a sit down to scoff a pork pie, cashew nuts and a chocolate bar! These helped lift the spirits.
As I crossed over the open section of moor that came next, I found it frustrating that I could see car lights on the road in the distance, but seemed to be heading away from them. I now realise that that there was a steep valley between where I was and the road. The next thing I remember is stopping in the bus shelter at Llandillo at about 9pm to brew up a hot chocolate and eat some more grub. I watched the people eating their dinner in the restaurant opposite with envy! Yet another steep push out of town and out on the tops again.
To be honest, the rest of the route through the night is a bit of a blur. A mixture of exposed tracks out on the moors, then dropping down into little towns before heading into the sticks again, chasing staring sheeps’ eyes…
I always like it when you first notice dawn breaking after a ride through the night. However, I didn’t especially enjoy my morning wake up river crossing at 7.30am! It was a bit fresh… I was pleased to manage to cross without incident.
I nearly jumped out of my skin when a fellow cyclist drew up alongside me somewhere between Clatter and Staylittle. A nice chap on a cross bike. He asked me how my ride was going. I told him that at that point, I had had enough as I set off at 10am the previous morning. He obviously noted my luggage and asked where I had bivvied overnight. He was somewhat taken aback when I told him I hadn’t stopped, but kept riding all night except for comfort breaks and snacks. We chatted for a few miles. He asked me where I was headed for, so I mentioned Staylittle. He told me out of the three ways he knew from where we were to Stayliitle, one had a nasty climb. I was fairly sure that my route would take me this way.
I bade my new friend farewell and tried to muster any form of energy to get to the finish. Whizzing down to Staylittle was like a drunken euphoria, though I struggled to keep control of the bike and found my judgement a little lacking when deciding when to brake for corners. I put the wind up myself more than once on the descent.
Once on the B4518 at Staylittle, I knew it actually really was nearly all downhill all the way home. Even so, I could not manage to ride all of the way, and had to get off and push on the very slight inclines, but finally, and with indescribable relief, I reached the Community Centre, almost exactly 29.5 hours after leaving. 132 miles later, I had made it…
I really struggled mentally on this ride. I experienced most known emotions at some point on it, and at present seriously doubt if I will attempt a BB200 (Bear Bones 200) again. There are no two ways about it, it is a properly hard thing to do.