Well what can I say this has been in the pipeline for a few months, much chatter over on twitter as Si Bradley with a nudge from Greg and it seemed to spiral what started as a small bunch of social media friends wanting to meet and ride ended up with a frenzy of communication/comments under the #MTBmeetup. With the great assistance from Thomas, wiggle offered some freebies and then many other stepping up with freebies and then raffle prizes. This suddenly went from a relaxed social to something a whole lot more. We found a suitable good cause that fitted with everyone’s love of bikes.
The chosen charity was http://www.cyclistsfightingcancer.org.uk a charity that helps children recovering from cancer to get back on bikes.
Then the prizes/donations seemed to come from nowhere. From holdalls, books, prints, race entries, through to bike servicing and boxer shorts. I personally was amazed at the generosity of so many companies be it large or small that were willing to back a group of people getting together for a social meet up and ride. If this was some sort of national event/race with magazine/forums/club envolvement I may of predicted it more. I guess that goes to show the power of social media in today’s market place for companies.
My weekend began on Friday morning, children off to school and me back home and rushing up and down the stairs to try and organise myself with all the necessities. So I have a bike, pump, shoes, helmet, some tools.. Hmm better take the socket set just in case, oh and, oh and the it seemed almost never ending but then with the aid of a spacious van and just me travelling it didn’t really matter. Fortunately my wife was super organised packing me food and drinks to keep me going for at least the first 24 hours!
I left home just before 10am and headed to Taunton where I was supposed to be picking up a set of knee pads. Upon finding the said shop the man at the counter pulled out a set of pads which were more use for full on DH duties than the trail riding pads pictured on their eBay page. I ask about the pads advertised.. Nope don’t have any of those (despite my reference to a phone call to him on Wednesday asking). Oh well just have to avoid falling off (well that’s normally the aim!).
I then plugged in the sat nav and headed for wales, radio on trawling along with traffic wondering what to expect when I arrived at the bunkhouse at Dalgellau. Before I knew it I had made it to ‘the’ bridge
Welcome to Wales.. yep it was raining.. Is this what always happens? Can anyone clarify? I was then on to A roads and winding my way through the welsh countryside, passing through Brecon, Rhayader I saw so many breathtaking sights. I must confess I’ve not ventured much past the south east corner of Wales.. My god what a place, from my personal experiences I found views very comparable to a mini Scottish highlands, big hills, huge lakes and winding country roads opening your eyes to some incredible sights, I had everything from, grey sky’s, rain, hail, sleet and even drove through some snow! My trusty van chugging along up some rather big hills and back down again.
As I carried on past the snow I found myself getting ever closer. At last some 5hours after leaving I was almost there! I found the bunkhouse I was staying at.. Hmm mobile signal somewhat lacking for any sort of data usage, text my wife to find the coed y brenin postcode. Phew that was lucky.
I decide to have a little look around and get a rough idea of where everything is, Dalgellau to me seemed like a small market town, small winding side streets and alleys with a vast array of drinking establishments. Hmm let’s find where I’m going to be riding.
I get to coed y brenin and first things first have a look in the bike shop. Some very nice bikes for hire and a vast array of kit.. You could arrive with nothing and be able to kit yourself out fully in less than an hour if you so wished! I meet Steve in the shop who is very friendly and I chat about tomorrow and he gives me a quick run down of the terrain and also helps me with the correct pronunciation of Dalgellau (pronounced dal-geth-ly not dal-ger-lau) oops. Time for a quick visit to the cafe for a cuppa. A large mug of tea for a very reasonable sum and I sit myself by the window watching the world go by. The cafe is a great viewing platform to look out across the valley (in my head that word needs the correct welsh pronunciation) for many miles. Tea gone and time getting on, now getting on for 5pm I think I best head to the bunkhouse before darkness arrives.
I pay my fee and get given the key code for my bunk room. Being a bunkhouse facilities are basic but adequate and for £10 a night I was certainly not going to complain. In the kitchen room I find a tv and chairs so think this will do for now until the others turn up. I meet up with Craig, Helen and Gizzy (the dog) who are camping on the site and heading to the town for a bite to eat and a drink. I ask if they mind my company and we head on our way. We found a dog friendly pub who kindly opened the kitchen for us (with a bit of persuasion from Craig). Fed and watered we head back to the campsite/bunkhouse. Upon opening the bunk room I realise it had reasonable heating greeted by the warm waft of air as I open the door. Perfect at least I won’t get cold tonight. I get my clothing and sleeping bag in from the van and get sorted out for the night. The others arrive and after introductions and a bit of chatter we settle down for the night.
Morning comes, it’s dry.. Hmm could it be (crossed fingers) we get to coed y brenin just before 9am to ensure a good parking space and Get some food and a nice warm brew. People slowly start arriving and with introductions and are you…. I think I recognise you… All a very friendly bunch! The cafe staff point out a conference room across the balcony for us all to meet at. Upon entry we are greeted by a large tea urn provided by the lovely folks at Pure Mountains, aswell as some delicious home made cakes. Thomas and others are busy filling goodie bags for all to take home, Si is frantically arranging the raffle prizes on a large table. Wow this is brilliant.
There’s a bit of chatter then Si takes the stand
Explaining how the event came about and who was responsible for it all. It’s clear this event has taken over a big chunk of his life in recent weeks (think a big thanks needs to go to his wife too!). He announces that the raffle tickets are £2 a ticket which then triggers a bit of a frenzy of people wanting tickets and collecting their goodie bags.
People from here on seem to splinter off to do different routes. The largest of us deciding to ride the MBR route. Andy the forest ranger takes a photo of our group just before we set off. As inevitable when riding in a group of this size it gets broken up, faffing at fire road splits etc. the route is nothing like I’ve ridden before, the vast majority being rock. But boy is it fun! Part way round we’re caught up by Rich Pips who to our amazement is riding the rough rocket descents on his cx bike.. More amazingly so is he is followed by mini pips (Tom) aged 9 this lad could quite easily out ride a lot of us that are here! I end up following him through a couple of sections the lads skills and confidence are apparent and he’s doing a great job!
Each junction makes for a bit more waiting and ensuring we all clear the sections safely (good for all of us!) we encounter all types of rain (wet, horizontal, heavy, light, drizzle and even some hale stones for good measure) but enjoy it none the less. The route was great and certainly put me through my paces, think the skills course my wife bought me for Christmas will help here!
This was the result,
Upon returning it’s time to sort the raffle.
I was amazed to win something, a lovely signed print from Anthony Oram
After a bit of chatter we all started to say our goodbyes as many faced long drives home.
I headed back to the bunkhouse and got sorted deciding to leave a day early. Missing my wife and children and not really being prepared with spare dry kit for the next day didn’t help matters.
Upon arrival home I thought I’d go through the goodie bag, wow what an incredible array of items that were
Donated to all riders!
I thoroughly enjoyed the venue, riding and company. Hopefully get to do it again at some point!
Also a big thanks to Chris from http://www.chrisdaviesphotography.com for spending his time photographing us. No doubt some amazing pictures were taken, hopefully a couple of me too 🙂
And obviously to Mr Si Bradley for arranging such a great day. Here’s to many more!