Its a bit click baity, but I have to try anything these days to get views!
If you haven’t been to BikePark Wales in a while you might not know they’ve made some new trails – 7 in all. Well I rode 5 of them on Monday and in the video above you can see montage of my day.
I’ve put a shortcut below to each trail and highlighted the 5 new ones with an asterisk. I have also colour coded the trails Blue and Red.
Please note that ACDCand Watts Occurring are graded as RED below but are a bit of a step up in some ways. Any other trail centre and they might be considered BLACK as they have some features that require commitment and in some parts of the trail there is no obvious line choice.
Anyway, i hope you enjoy the video and your next visit to BikePark Wales…
I have been threatening to do this for ages and I eventually plucked up the courage to get out and do a solo bivvy camp out.
I didn’t go far, about an hour from home and had a return home plan via the A4 if need be, which I think would take me about 30 mins. I had no bike lights but a pretty decent torch and gorilla tape that I could use to strap it to my bike helmet or bars.
My original plan was to head for the West Woods, but my disliking of strange noises in the night got the better of me and I thought the fewer rustling trees the better. This spot in a field next to Silbury Hill was sheltered from the rain that looked likely by a large tree and was low enough to be out of the wind. At least I thought it was!
I made the shelter by using the top of the barbed wire as support and tied the corners with guy rope. I pinned the other end to the ground with 2 tent pegs and laid my bike on it for good measure.
Shelter Kit List:
Tarpaulin – approx 3m by 2m from Amazon £8.00
Bivvy Bag – Mountain Warehouse approx £20-25
Paracord/guy rope – £5
Tent pegs x 4 (only used 2)
The long grass provided some cushion from the remarkably bumpy ground, but also scraped and scratched against the tarp all night spooking me every few minutes.
I had bivvy bag and a 2 season sleeping bag from Mountain Warehouse and was plenty warm enough at night.
My bike bag was loaded with every usual spare, tools and first aid, as well as some extra layers and clothes in case I got wet and a variety of last minute food snatched from the cupboards at home. Baked Beans, cuppa soup, tinned soup, few biscuits, cereal and tea bags.
I had 2 litres of water specifically for boiling for tea (on top of 2 that was in my hydration bladder) and about a half a pint of milk.
My cooking set up consisted of my Alpkit Jackal Brukit and smaller Kraku stove – the idea was to have the two so I didn’t have to worry about cleaning out the cooking one to boil water in for tea. I’ve previously done a short review of the Kraku – check the link on my Youtube channel. The Brukit might need some treatment also soon.
Thoughts and conclusions
This was my first bivvy and by default my first solo bivvy too – so what did I think? What would I do different next time? Would there be a next time?
In the whole I enjoyed it once I settled (or got too tired to worry about the noises), and I’d love to do this again. I am now hoping for a warm September and looking for some other spots within an hours or so from home.
Sleep – I was perfectly comfortable and warm enough maybe by the end of September I’d need a warmer sleeping bag, but for a coolish August night this was perfect.
Shelter – The tarp fixed over the fence was ideal. Maybe I could use something to protect it from the barbed wire (some old inner tube or something), but otherwise this was perfect. I need to try some sort of free standing shelter next, maybe some poles are required.
Food – One night is easy. I took a tin of soup, a crusty roll, some biscuits and tea for the evening. And took a portion of cereal (mixed up some granola, choco pillows and raisens) and more tea and biscuits for breakfast. I also had a couple of bananas and cereal bars.
Clothing – As it was August and I wasn’t far from home I had my riding shorts and jersey on. And i took a spare jersey, socks and a water proof – as well as a woolly hat.
Lighting – I could do with recommendations for a night light / lamp of some sort. I had a pretty decent mini torch with me and spare battery, but could have done with some sort of lantern.
Many people will have been inspired by Steve Jones and Doddy’s e-bike adventure in the Black Mountains, including me and I was only there a few weeks ago. Go and watch it now if you haven’t – I guarantee it will make you want to go out and ride!
But before you head off to the hills its worth checking the rights of way along your “planned” route.
Unfortunately much of our beloved countryside is not open to mountain biking. We have a bad reputation of supposedly ruining the footpaths, scaring walkers and a multitude of other sins that simply just aren’t true.
British Cycling, Open MTB and numerous other organisations are on a constant campaign to convince the organisations like the Welsh Government to grant sensible access to the countryside in England and Wales much like they have in Scotland where the Access Code says:
Access rights extend to cycling. Cycling on hard surfaces, such as wide paths and tracks, causes few problems. On narrow routes, cycling may cause problems for other people, such as walkers and horse riders. If this occurs, dismount and walk until the path becomes suitable again. Do not endanger walkers and horse riders: give other users advance warning of your presence and give way to them on a narrow path. Take care not to alarm farm animals, horses and wildlife.
I’m a qualified British Cycling Level 2 MTB Leader and like many other guides I cannot legally take rides in some of these amazing landscapes or we will not be covered by the terms of the Leadership Agreement, which includes liability insurance.
So, my advice:
If you want to enjoy adventures like the one that Jonesy and Doddy had in the video above, check very carefully if you are allowed to ride there. Many national trails look very appealing but are restricted walkers.
And if you do decide to ride them, you do so at your own risk and please ride sensibly and considerably – maybe adopt that Scottish way of thinking above.
If you have any questions or would like some route planning advice I am happy to help and even guide you there if you fancy having someone else take on the navigation duties
Now is always a good time. That’s another saying I like.
Done is better than perfect. Not one of mine, but I like it and its my new blogging/vlogging moto.
Don’t wait until you have perfected it, just get the content out there and be yourself. Sometimes too polished and fancy can seem fake. Sure I’m doing some intro’s, adding music etc but you have to make it a little interesting, there’s just no need to spend days making a slick edit, unless thats what people want. Mountain bike videos don’t have to be all from behind the bars or on top of your helmet.
Anyway – i might do a “guide to mountain bike vlogging” post at some point, but for now please head over to my YouTube channel and subscribe.
I’d love the support and encouragement and if you could hit the Like button and leaev comments that would be awesome!