Bear Bones 200 – 2013
The more I read about bikepacking and ultra-endurance off-road cycling, the more I wanted to do. Sometime in early 2013 I stumbled upon the Bear Bones Bikepacking website and forum, and information about the upcoming third instalment of the Bear Bones 200 race. I signed up there and then, not really knowing what I was letting myself in for.
Having the spectre of such a massive and arduous ride hanging over me, really spurred me to train, and train hard, throughout the course of the year. After lots of long rides, October was suddenly upon us and it was time to drive up to Pennant and do the ride. Gulp.
I camped the night before at Dolgadfan campsite, with a few other riders, we chatted, debated kit choices, discussed previous experiences and pretty soon most went off to sleep to get a good night before the ride. I slept like a log, woke early and had a 5 egg scramble and beans, plus a nice strong coffee to kickstart the system.
From the very informal start, the pack quickly spread out on the initial road climb from Pennant up to Staylittle, we soon entered Hafren Forest. Here I tried to cross the ford, where I got wet feet, what a great start! Only to realise there is a footbridge 30 metres downstream! Damn it!
There was a nice long section of sustrans cycle route down the valley by Rhayader, which rolled by easily. The sections of the course that really stood out were Carnau, a vast tract of open moorland, with little in the way of tracks on the ground. And some nice bogs too (see pic of Nigel below!). The other section that had been hyped up was Roman Camp, coming up of the last reservoir, it was supposed to be brutal, and I knew it would be dark when I arrived there. Luckily I had ended up settling at a good pace with Neil and Andy, and we tackled it together after a brief stop at the toilets at the reservoir for a water top-up. We basically followed the line on the GPS, and it was pretty straight forward. It was now raining pretty heavily, and as we hit the section of road after Roman Camp, we just got our heads down and went for it, if nothing else, just to stay warm.
The last 30 miles seemed to take forever. Some climbs were actually climbs, on hand and foot, dragging the bike. I’m sure there was an easier way around, but the other two were determined to stick to the line that Stuart had so ‘carefully’ drawn on the map.
Overall, I was really pleased with my time, 20 hours and 32 minutes. I also met some great people who I’ve now ridden with many times since. Big thanks to Stuart and Dee for putting on the whole event! Bring on the BB200 2014…