|Bear Bone BikePacking |
Organisers of the Mach'n Back
It was an extremely cold, but bright and sunny weekend. I had a fantastic, but undoubtedly hard, time and enjoyed every second. I'll be sure to be back for more! Here's a quick round up of my weekend:
A long week at work and an inevitable slow start to the morning saw us arrive a little late to the start, but with a 4hr window in which to get under way we made sure we'd filled up on tea and toast before we loaded up our bikes and set off.
|Bike & rider loaded up and ready to head into the hills|
The first climb set the tone for what was to be a ride that was much tougher than we had envisaged as we were forced to push for a section of the very first climb as the recent warm weather had turned sections of the trail to deep mud.
|Enjoying working up the first climb and the view around us, we started at the very bottom in the background|
|The trail that contoured along the hillsides in the background here was a great reward for the climb to the top|
|Worth getting out of bed for|
We caught up with some more riders and rode (and pushed up steep hills) with them briefly but it was apparent they had a different, shorter, day planned so we said our cheery goodbyes, exchanged agreeing opinions about our annoyance at the deep unridable mud on the slope we were all struggling up and (literally) pushed on.
|Grace tackling our impromptu stepping stones|
and I can assure you that's quite the raging
torrent there, despite how it looks!
Slogging up the next, muddy, hill we were then treated to perhaps the low point of the day. A swoopy pretty steep down hill as a reward but one that was so muddy we had to pedal down it and even then, staying upright was a challenge. Not good for one's positive mental attitude.
|Almost through the tree maze|
After this it was heads down for a final hour, the last two points of the day and then what seemed like an endless climb up a frozen wasteland to the designated overnight spot. More than ready for dinner and bed by what was "only" 8:30, we were greeted by just one other rider, "griffdowg" who had battled through the day on a 'cross bike, was bitterly regretting the optimistically aggressive gearing that had left him with and who was already fed and sheltered in the trees tucked up warm for the night! Route notes and the day's experiences were swapped, with a constant theme of "that was a lot harder than I though" running through each anecdote, filling everyone with some fear of what lay ahead for the nhext day to make it back to the start.
The tent went up and dinner was first cooked and then inhaled in a matter of minutes before we got down to the serious business of getting a good night's sleep. Not a problem as it turned out after the day's efforts and we awoke, some 10hrs later, ready for breakfast and set to launch into Sunday's riding with (almost) carefree abandon.
|Can you spot where the tent was piched?|
|Early morning trails|
|Two very happy riders|
|Proof I actually made it to Machynlleth|
|Only two grid references left after this one, good times!|
|A very happy rider indeed! :-)|
The rest of Sunday flew by in that way that Sunday morning rides in the sunshine do, we paid attention to try and ride only on South facing slopes to absorb as much of the day's heat as possible and this made the ride rather pleasant, almost gentle! After a few short sharp climbs we found ourselves at the last checkpoint. We'd done it, all the grid references had been ticked off. Time to head home for the promised tea and cake.
On the final push we spotted a lone rider in front. This was an adventure event, not a race, but just in case there was a short moment of heads down and we soon had a third rider to chat to and exchange route notes and experiences with. We rolled into the car park with massive grins on our faces. Maybe a little too tired to say "again?" just at that moment, but it was only a matter of seconds before the brilliance of the experience was agreed unanimously and plans for a bigger and better ride in 2013 were already being made!
Once in the kitchen, we joined the other riders in sitting in the curiously welcoming school chairs, exchanged tales of great daring, while not quite so daringly wolfing down tea and cake. And then it was time to go home.
|Tea & Cake (+ stories of great daring)
with the other riders, hard earned!|
Photo cheekily nicked from the BareBonesBikepacking website
All in all the Mach ' Back was a weekend's cycling I'd recommend to anyone and it was great to. Well, anyone who owned a nice warm, sleeping bag ;-) It was great to try something new and bikepacking is something I'll definitely be doing a lot more of and be hoping to be getting more proficient at as 2012 progresses.
You can also read about Nick Gilling's ride at the Mach 'n Back in his write up here