Finally, a report from the Welsh Ride Thing – a mainly Singletrack-forum-inspired event that combines the self-sufficiency aspect of a Polaris with the ‘you’re on your own’ aspect of the Great Divide Race, only on a much, much smaller scale… Stuart Wright – chief dis-organiser, takes up the tale:
For those who don’t know, the Welsh Ride Thing takes place at the end of May and this year as the riders rolled into mid Wales so did the rain, wind and cold weather. Around 60 riders braved the conditions for the noon start on Saturday.
There had been quite a bit of chat on the STW forum in the weeks leading up to the Thing. Much discussion about route choice and offers of bribes to those in possession of local knowledge, what to take for the three days and how to carry it featured heavily. It was no surprise then, that just about every type of bike and load carrying combination rolled up to the start, full sussers towing trailers to hardcore hardtails with riders sagging under the strain of some very big rucksacks.
At 12.00pm there was no whistle or dropping of flags, instead riders quietly pedalled off in to the mist and rain in which ever direction they saw fit … a few were pointed in a better direction than the one they’d first chosen though. If there were no injuries or serious mechanicals then I didn’t expect to see anyone until Monday lunch time.
This year riders had been given 13 grid references but would only be required to use 11 of their choice. These points would be the basis of everyone’s route but every route could be very different, route distances seemed to be somewhere between 150km and 200km. Navigation in mid Wales isn’t always the most straight forward of things, combined with the interesting terrain, weather conditions and loaded bikes it was surprising most rode as far as they did. One person managed all 13 grid references, another handful completed their lovingly planned routes but the majority settled on short (often long) cuts and diversions to see them back at a reasonable hour Monday.
The weather decided to be a little kinder for the remainder of the weekend, the bothies of Saturday night giving way to bivvy bags on Sunday (glad I included the bothies now aren’t you?). The weary, muddy and aching started to roll back in from mid morning, big smiles and 1000 yard stares were the order of the day. Tea was drunk, Welsh cakes were scoffed and stories of hardship and suffering abounded but oddly everyone said they’d be back next year.
A thank you to everyone who donated prizes – Singletrack, Dirt, AlpKit, Cicerone, Velo Solo, Trail blazer and Gil at The Cycle Shed. To everyone who rode, well done, the Wales Air Ambulance is now better off to the tune of a few hundred quid … see you next year.