The WRT has moved. If you're looking for info, entries or anything else bikepacking related try Bear Bones Bikepacking, the Bear Bones blog or the Bear Bones forum - ta.

Yea, yea, yea, but what is it?

The WRT is a 3 day and perhaps more importantly 2 night ride through and around mid Wales. You'll be expected to be self sufficient, carrying everything you need and sleeping out in or under whatever you think best. It's not elitist, entry is open to anyone who wants to try it. All the money raised by the WRT goes to the Wales Air Ambulance charity ... an organisation I hope you'll never need.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Road to nowhere!

There was always a slight concern about where everyone was going to park at this years WRT. Even though we're surrounded by a vast expanse of nothing, flat ground is at a premium. The only really viable area had what some might describe as a bog at the entry ... not good for cars.
You'll be glad to hear the problem should now be sorted with the building of our very own Appian Way. We now have a 40 yard raised road into the field that means 4x4 is now optional. It took 2 diggers and a rather large dumper all day Saturday to build it so I'm hoping it'll be well up to the job.

Monday, March 29, 2010

No torch required ... perhaps.

I've just realised that there will be a full moon on May 28th which with a bit of luck will mean lots of light on the nights of the 29th and 30th ... a real bonus if you're planning a late camp. The lack of any light pollution in the area should also mean lots of stars, so you could always throw away the compass and gps too, use the stars to navigate and become truly hardcore (obviously this isn't to be recommended if it's cloudy or in fact at all).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

AlpKit ... Purveyors of bivy goodness.

There can't be many people reading this that haven't heard of AlpKit. It seems that they've pretty much got everything you could want for nights out under the stars. Quality bivy bag at the right price, performance down sleeping bag for the price of a synthetic one, titanium cooking gear ... like I say, all your bivy essentials. The new Airlok XTra dry bags should be of great interest as they feature loops on the outside which allow them to be easily strapped to your bars / frame, etc ... the ultimate in lightweight baggage perhaps.
If you're in the market for equipment for the wrt or any other trip then pop over to have a look around and get yourself sorted.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

King of the swingers!

Last week saw me sleeping in a hammock for the first time. It's something I've meant to do for quite some time but never got round to it but an email from Taylor gave me the excuse I needed. It transpired that Taylor and family were spending a few days at their mansion over the other side of Mach' and Taylor was planning to ride back to Knighton ... a reverse Trans Cambrian. I wasn't going all the way to Knighton, instead I was going to do a there and back with mid point been where ever we got to on the first day.
So, Friday night saw us dragging a couple of far too heavy bikes through a forest high in the Welsh hills before setting up in a very small clearing. I have to say that my hammock was comfy, warm and water tight with the inclusion of my small tarp. Taylor was more comfy and certainly warmer due to him having a hammock underblanket and had it rained his much larger tarp would have protected half the Welsh sheep population too.
Taylor has kindly given me a kit list of what he was carrying and he's certainly left nothing to chance. Remember though we were expecting night temperatures well below freezing and there were still patches of snow within the forest so the bikes were pretty heavy (as my quad insertion strain will testify).


• Hammock                                     

• Merino top

• Trousers

• Socks

• Woolly hat

• Down Jacket

• Long sleeve shirt

• Inners

• Outers

• Socks

• Shoes

• Gloves

• Gilet

• Helmet

• Glasses

• Sleeves

• Rain jacket

• Gps

• Underquilt

• Tarp

• Top quilt

• Sleeping bag

• Stove/fuel

• Lahoon

• Dried food x2

• Bars

• Coffee

• Gps

• Spare batteries

• Maps

• Mapcase

• Compass

• Head torch

• Gerber knife

• Brufen

• Brake pads

• Water filter

• Tick twister

• Spot

• Bog roll

• Toothpaste/brush

kit list worked out fairly well although my chilli con carne for

breakfast was sh1te so I'd take a different one and I didn't need the

sleeping bag AND the top quilt so just one of those.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New bars ... designed for bivi trips!

Strapping dry bags to your bars is becoming quite a trend but it does have a few problems. Having enough room on the bars between your controls can sometimes be an issue ... not anymore! These new, FFS bars from Welsh company Arsface have been designed to address that problem.
Manufactured from agricultural grade tree, they feature a full 4' 7" width, 7 degree back sweep and 12" rise. Designer and part time singer with the Irish folk trio, Da Tree Fellas, Jonny Knob said, 'these should be big enough to strap 32 dry bags and 7 spare tyres to and still have room spare, they're right good'. The back sweep puts your hands in a very relaxed position with minimal weight on your wrists. The design also allows for the bars to be 'flipped' which should make them suitable for 29ers too.
No price has been set yet but I am told they will be available in light oak, dark teak and pine. I'm lucky enough to have a pair on very short term test so I'll report back once I've ridden them.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Inspiration and ideas.

If you're reading this then it's a safe bet that you've some interest in either, off road cycling, bivvying and quite possibly both. If that is the case and you haven't just stumbled across this whilst looking for adult entertainment then these 2 books should interest you.
First we have, The Book Of The Bivvy. It contains everything you could possibly want to know about the art of kipping rough, we call bivvying. There's bivi history, choosing a bag, coping with rain, camp choice and something which should be of interest to anyone riding the WRT ... a chapter on crossing Pumlumon (or Plynlimon in English). I've had an old copy for 10 years or so and I still pick it up now. The one in the picture is the new edition and you'll have a chance to win a copy at the WRT. If you can't wait that long just pop over to Cicerone (the link's over there>) and order one, trust me you'll like it.
Next we have what should be considered the Bible of adventure cycling, The Adventure Cycle-Touring handbook. It doesn't matter whether your riding 30 miles and camping or riding from north to south America, this book will be useful and entertaining. Besides pretty much everything you could ever want to know from a practical point of view there are also chapters detailing other peoples adventures around the globe. If ever something was going to inspire you to pack up and pi$$ off this is it. A new edition is due out within the next month or so (again you'll have the chance to win a copy at the WRT) but you shouldn't really be waiting that long to read it ... so follow the link over there> and get a copy ordered. If you don't enjoy it then you have no adventure in your soul, it's nearly time for Eastenders and you dropped a stitch on your knitting!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Stove Wars ... A late entry.

Taylor called round to drop some stuff off last night and amongst everything was his Jet Boil stove. Not wanting to miss an opportunity I thought we'd give it a go. Now, these things have a fantastic reputation for fast boil times, efficiency and build quality so I was expecting it to give the present leader a good run for its money.
The test was carried out in the same way as before. It took a few minutes to put the thing together but I think I made hard work of it and a semi trained chimp would have been quicker. The only thing I didn't do was use a wind shield. It's pretty still out there and as Jet Boil seem to have thought of everything, I figured it doesn't come with a wind shield so doesn't need one. Fuel was a half full, 100 size gas canister. Within 30 seconds of lighting things were looking pretty impressive, after 2 minutes I had tiny bubbles forming ... not far off I thought. I was wrong. It took a further 4 minutes before it produced a 'rolling' boil, so 6 minutes total.
I don't know how much difference a windshield would have made but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have dropped the time vastly. Taylor assures me it is very efficient and I can vouch for the quality and design (it all packs away into its own mug / pot so is pretty compact and light) but I still can't help thinking it should have been quicker. We're out this weekend on an overnighter so I'll see how Taylor gets on with it. All I've got to do now is try and get it all packed away again ... where's your chimp when you need it?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

What tyres for ...

...the Welsh Ride Thing? I'll know we've become mainstream when I see that post heading on Singletrack World. This is just a little thank you to Singletrack really, after all the whole WRT came about because of a thread about the Great Divide. Chipps and the good folk helped us out with 'prizes' last year, which was great because no one else was bothered. The WRT also got a magazine feature in Singletrack too but I think the real stars there were the people who took part, took pictures and wrote about their experience. I believe we should be getting some goodies this year too. It's people like Singletrack that make things like the WRT possible so next time you sell something on the classifieds bung them a couple of quid or take out a subscription ... without them the mountain bike world might just become a little too sensible and besides who would you ask about tyres?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Carradice ... if it ain't broke

Carradice have been producing cycle luggage up in Lancashire for quite a while ... over 70 years in fact, so it's safe to say they know what they're doing. They're possibly most famous for their saddlebags, some members of the RSF are still using the same one more than 40 years on!
I think it's far to say that Carradice have perhaps been a little over looked by the mountainbike world but I think this'll change with the rising interest in off road touring ... many of their products are ideal for our purpose.
I have 2 saddle bags, a Super C (big one in pic) and a Barley. The Super C has a 23l capacity which means I can get pretty much everything required for an overnight trip in there, including a sleeping bag. The Barley is quite a bit smaller with a capacity of 7l, I tend to use it for guiding duties and day rides. You might be thinking, having all that hanging off the saddle must make the bike handle oddly - well it doesn't, you really don't notice the things there. Both have proved to be fully waterproof, the Super C even during a N to S Wales trip last August where it didn't stop raining for 4 days solid!
One really nice thing about them is the way they age. The more use and abuse they get the better they start to look, very much like a Brooks saddle. So if you're in the market for something to carry your gear go and have a look at the full range of stuff - it'll be something to leave to your grand kids!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

For those who don't like bivi bags.

Sometimes you don't want a bivi bag. Perhaps it's winter (or British summer time) and you're out for a few days, a bit more shelter might just be nice ... a little tent maybe?
The trouble with little tents is the price, the smaller and lighter they are the more they cost. A tent costing £100 could be classed as cheap. This on the other hand really is cheap (but not nasty). It's a 1 man, double skinned, lightweight tent and it costs under £30.
Every time I put this thing up I try and find fault but I can't. It's waterproof, doesn't suffer with condensation, has a bathtub ground-sheet, weighs 1.5kg and packs to 40 x 15 x 15cm or a bit less if you fight with it. If I was to be very critical I'd say, there isn't much porch area and it pitches inner first ... I suppose if you need a porch a small tarp could be used and you can't pitch it outer first so get over it!
Please don't think I've gone soft here, bivi bags are great but at this money I think there's always a place for something like this ... in summer! So, if you fancy one just type Gelert Solo into google and away you go.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Stove Test Shocker ... Results In.

 Comparisons are done and the results are in and I have to say it took me by surprise. From cold, each stove boiled enough water for 2 cups of tea, the water had to reach a steady rolling boil before been deemed hot enough. All 3 were run at full power or as near to as possible / sensible (that'll be a first).
All times are from a standing start but with fuel source in place, any priming, lighting or warming through are included in the time ... for the Kelly Kettle the time 
includes lighting the fire in the base!
• MSR Dragonfly petrol stove. Running on half full bottle of Coleman fuel with a fully pressurised fuel bottle. Stove was used with an aluminium windshield. TIME 6 minutes 53 seconds.
• Coleman Pocket stove. Running on a half full, small (100 size) propane / butane canister. Stove was also used with the windshield stolen from the MSR. TIME 5 minutes 26 seconds.
• 1 Pint Kelly Kettle. Running on some old bits of skirting board and an envelope from this mornings post. No windshield - it doesn't need it. TIME 4 minutes 37 seconds and remember that includes lighting it.

As I say quite a surprise. There's obviously a slight size penalty with the Kelly Kettle (although the weight is pretty even for all 3 when you take fuel into account) but on the plus side, you'll never run out of fuel, break it or lose a bit. You can cook on the Kettle too, just use the fire in the base with your pan or whatever on top. However, I think if I was just out for a night or 2 in the UK then I'd opt for a small gas stove over anything else. It's the lightest, smallest and cheapest of the 3 and waiting an extra 49 seconds for a brew won't kill you!