I recently spent 4.5 days cycling around the Bear Bones Bash route at a comfortable pace. Not quite ready for the BB200 format yet, though maybe with a slimmed down kit (no chair!).
I wild camped for 1 night (July BAM ✓), camped in at a campsite for 1.5 nights, slept in a summerhouse at one of the campsite for 0.5 nights after unexpectedly strong winds flattened my tent at 1am. My last night was an unplanned bothy stop (August BAM ✓), which felt very luxurious.
I spent hours pushing, pulling and lifting my bike across and over boggy tussocks, through streams and puddles that seemed endless. My feet were unavoidably wet for the whole time I was riding (& pushing) each day. Thank god for merino socks. I don't know why I didn't think to take my Sealskinz socks, to at least try and stay dry.
I was both relieved and disappointed to reach sections of tarmac. The weather was mostly quite kind and I only got pretty wet instead of very wet most of the time and only slightly blown around instead of blown off my feet.
I got so used to the routine of bikepacking, my trip felt simultaneously longer and shorter than the 4.5 days it was.
Wales is a landscape that's got a special place in my heart, having been a regular visitor over the years with my Dad for a week of riding every year. I've always lived in Kent, but I guess I've long considered Wales my 'spiritual' home.
So many countless, small things happened that made the trip what it was for me, but are entirely inconsequential to anyone else:
- I met other bike packers and sheltered from the rain outside the Co-op at Machynlleth and chatted for a while.
- I learnt for myself, very quickly, that just because there's a green dashed line on the map, it doesn't mean there's a visible path to follow in real life. And even if there is, it may not be all that path-like.
- I had a few near misses and one very close over-the-bars on a mundane section of sheep track.
- Some sections of downhill (like the last descent into Rhayader) were dangerously fun on a loaded bike.
- Finding a bridge over a water crossing instead of wading though yet more water.
- Drying out my shoes & socks while stopped for lunch one day, only to have an unavoidable, knee deep water crossing less than 10 minutes later, much to my despair.
- Views, basically all day, every day – I hadn't realised just how empty (of people) mid Wales can be.
- The relief of unexpectedly finding a bike shop 4 minutes before they close and getting some much needed chain lube.
The Bear Bones Bash route was vastly different to the rides I've done before. It took some time to get used to the different terrain and moving speed. The route and the surroundings exceeded any expectations I might have had and were a welcome change to 'easier' routes like the King Alfred's Way which I'd done a couple of months before.