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Rob Penn ride out

  • Posted by ade
  • 27 May 2011

Next Tuesday Rob is coming to Cardigan to start his ride from the coast to the Hay Festival. He's getting the train over to Carmarthen and then once he gets to Cardigan this is his very loose plan for his ride to Hay.

"Tuesday 31 May - 'Le Petit Depart':

Let's meet in Cardigan from midday, for a 2pm departure. We'll meet at fforest cafe, alongside Castle Street, on the banks of the Teifi River, beneath the howies shop.

Cardigan ain't easy to get to: the nearest train stations are Fishguard Harbour (about 20 miles away - and served by only two trains a day) and Carmarthen (about 30 miles - but 1 or 2 trains an hour). On trains beyond Swansea, the official bike policy is restricted to two bikes only: in practice, it's more flexible. Give me a shout with questions about bikes on trains. Carmarthen is obviously the easiest route in. It's quite a hilly ride if you want to pedal from Carmarthen to Cardigan.

If you'd like to arrive in Cardigan the night before, there are several great places to stay: try Llety Teifi (www.llety.co.uk) and speak to Clare, or fforest (www.coldatnight.co.uk).

Setting off from Cardigan, we'll ride 25 miles to just beyond Llandysul, following the Teifi River for the most part. There are a few steep hills, so be ready!

Sleep @ Nantgwynfaen Organic Farm (http://www.organicfarmwales.co.uk/): this is booked for us as a group. Accommodation here takes various forms - bedrooms, the 'Glamour Van' and tents if need be. We'll play spoof to see who gets what. There's a pub down the road for dinner, although Amanda has offered to throw a bbq. We'll plan food nearer to the time when I know numbers.

Wednesday 1st June

35-40 miles, mainly following the Teifi Valley, much of it on Sustrans route Lon Teifi. We'll have a picnic somewhere on the river, an ice cream at Conti's Cafe in Lampeter, a pint in the old drovers pub, Talbot Arms in Tregaron and stop for a bit of bird watching on Cors Carron. For those with juice left in the legs, there's a lovely ruined medieval Cistercian abbey at Strata Florida, a couple of miles beyond our destination.

Sleep & eat @ The Black Lion Hotel (www.blacklionhotel.co.uk), Pontrhydfendigaid (small prize for the first correct pronunciation): PLEASE BOOK ROOMS DIRECTLY with Dominic: 01974 831624

I've reserved four rooms in my name: Dominic will release them on a first come, first served basis. Please get on and book this.

Thursday 2nd June

30 miles, over the top of the Cambrian Mountains to Rhayader: this is a stunning day's riding. There's a long pull on to the tops of the hills, but it's worth it. The landscapes and views are wonderful and the descent through the Elan Valley is breathtaking.

Sleep (and maybe eat) @ The Elan Valley Hotel (www.elanvalleyhotel.co.uk). Speak to Cari - 01597 810448. Again PLEASE BOOK THIS DIRECTLY. There are other a few other options in Rhayader if you don't want to stay here.

Friday 3rd June

An early start for the 35 miles, following the Wye Valley, gently down to Hay. There are a few hills, but it's another lovely ride. I have to be there at 2.30, to give a talk at the Literary Festival. That's really where it ends... Accommodation during the festival is hard to come by.

We'll be pedalling light. Bring tools etc. Do, please, bring a spare tube or two that fits your own wheels. There are bike shops in Carmarthen, Cardigan and Rhayader. Bring some cash: we'll run a kitty for picnics etc.

Look forward to hearing from you and really look forward to riding with you. I leave you with this lovely quote from American poet and author, Diane Ackerman: 'When I'm on my bicycle, the world is breaking someone else's heart.'

If you fancy doing a bit, it's going to be a slow ride to Hay. We have our quiver at the ready.

How Far Can You Go?

  • Posted by ruben
  • 27 May 2011

Chris, an ultra-running-machine friend of mine just sent this video to
help with post-marathon inspiration.

Next week we're going to head out and run 16 miles of trail.

So the next adventures in running begin.

Hugo and Pete from SAS came up to our Cardigan HQ to build a plan about us (that includes you) helping with their annual fund raising raffle.

howies are giving away the headline prize and we will be asking you our whole database to sell tickets to help hit their target of £20,000.  Last year they raise £12,000, so we have a mountain to climb this time.

As well as howies kit, there will also be hand made wooden boards,

These are some reasons to get involved;

90p in every pound raised goes to fighting their causes.

They directly lobby industry with solutions to the problems they are causing.

Their support comes from many other users of the coast. Walkers, runners, body boarders, kite surfers, sun bathers, swimmers and dog walkers.

They are working as hard to prevent marine pollution, climate change and litter as much as sewage.

They are have a network of reps all over the UK who give their time to campaign, raise money and awareness and get hand on help to beach clean.

So when the time comes all we ask of  you is to sell a few raffle tickets to your friends and send the cash to SAS and we will give you regular updates on where we are, Blue Peter style.

And if you can spread the word over your social network to spread the word, we have the potential to give them the cash to campaign the hardest they ever have done.

And you could win an amazing prize.

26.2 miles

  • Posted by ruben
  • 24 May 2011

On Sunday, I ran my first ever marathon up in Edinburgh.

26.2 miles. At least 4 miles further than I had ever run before.

Towards the end, every mile felt like an impossible distance.

By 22 miles, I was sure I'd give up at any minute. How could I keep going?

When I saw the finish line ahead of me, I couldn't quite believe I'd done it.

10k: 51 minutes
Half marathon: 1 hour 47 minutes
30k: 2 hours 43 minutes
Marathon: 4 hours and 17 minutes.

Just got this video through from Mr. Matt Page.

It's a great insight into what goes on at a 24 hour solo MTB race.

Inspiring stuff.

Our latest addition to the BMX team Lawrence 'Pipe' Williams is pushing himself in a new direction. He is set to do the three peaks  (Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon) this weekend, which is I'm sure most readers are aware (and some have direct experience) a challenge in itself. For a man known to us best for his skills on a 20" bicycle (and with a shovel in his hand) this is seemingly even more of a challenge. Most BMXers wouldnt have the fitness levels (here im talking about the 'freestyle' side of BMX) to come close to completing one of these.

But Lawrence is not doing the 3 peaks in the regular fashion. That would seem far too easy/dull. He is doing it as a member of the 'Men of Sparsholt' a Tug of War team that i can only assume originates from the village of Sparsholt in Oxfordshire. Being this way inclined, their approach to the 3 peaks is unorthodox: "On each peak (Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon) we will have a tug of war competition against whoever we can find - or just against each other.  Why?  Because we can and, for some strange reason, we must!". So this is what Lawrence is up to next weekend. If you happen to be on any of the three peaks be aware of a potential proposition for a game of Tug of War.

This idea is not simply the result of Oxfordshire village life. There is a purpose to the event and the team hope to raise a lot of money for the Helen & Douglas House that is a fantastic charity that cares for children and young adults with life-shortening conditions.  Helen & Douglas House looks after people from birth to 35 and their families, in the most difficult of times. So the guys have a justgiving page and would be very grateful for anyone who can add to their running total as well as anyone who can make it to the top of Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike or Snowdon and fancies a tug.


Dalby Dare

  • Posted by ruben
  • 11 May 2011

In what other sport can you experience the same challenge as the World’s leading athletes?

Whether you’re spectating at the bottom of Medusa’s Drop, or actually riding the very same descent, the Dalby Dare is an object lesson in just how deceptively easy the top riders make it look when they tackle the same obstacles the following day.

If you’re one of the lucky entrants who secured a place in this year’s Dalby Dare, you probably don’t need reminding of the tough task that lies ahead of you! For everyone else, here’s a little more about the Dalby Dare and why it has become a “must-do” for so many mountain bikers

The Dalby World Cup course is open to the public all year round. But it’s one thing to ride it on a quiet weekend with your mates. It’s an entirely different experience to tackle it with hundreds of other riders, spectators looking on and with all the World Cup branding in place. The tension ramps up as you wait to start beneath the World Cup arch and the adrenaline just keeps on coming as you roll out onto the course. Every rider is equipped with a timing chip, which means you can compare your time with that of the pros.

But there’s more to the Dalby Dare than just a lap of the World Cup course: after riders cross the finish line at the end of the World Cup loop, they head off into the forest once again, this time for a tour of some 20km of Dalby’s outstanding trails. The forest is home to some of the best Black and Red graded riding in the country and the Dalby Dare loop is a fine extension to the rip-snorting World Cup course.

The Dalby Dare goody bag is worth the price of entry alone, containing a howies organic cotton T-Shirt topping the list of free goodies assembled by the people at Purple Mountain in Dalby Forest.

To find out more about the event and get your last minute entry, head to mtbworldcup.co.uk

The mini welsh adventure

  • Posted by dan
  • 11 May 2011

It's a slight change from the wintery pictures you have been seeing of late but here is my April blog.

Me and beatrice set off on an adventure to explore some of wales on my parent's bikes with plenty of luggage including camping gear, in total nearly 20kg on each bike.

We saw some amazing views, riding from Haverfordwest all along the coast line until Cardigan and stopped there for 3 days on the howies photoshoot then continued on....

Tenby has the best food spots.

Aberaeron has the best fresh fish.

Aberystwyth the most students in drag on friday night.

Elan valley, just lots of ruins and never-ending windy hills on which the time passes faster by wheeleing the bike, looking at rivers and playing games like guessing the number of ruins or trying not to say 'nice' for the duration of the day.

The road before elan valley has the most random post box next to some woods in the middle of nowhere.

Devils bridge, some lovely waterfalls.

Rhaeder has the best quiche lunch!

And home is home :)

We had pretty sore legs and some well tested merino from howies at the end of the last day after riding 50miles on mountainbikes and luggage over the elan valley hills and back home but it was well worth it.

Here are just a few of the pictures we took. hope you enjoy them



SSEC 2011

I've just returned to the green isle from a whistle stop tour of Europe, including: Denmark, Germany and Belgium. Several thousand road miles then, and many petrol station snacks (best in Germany), an array of strong beers (I recommend 'Maredsous Abbaye') and a plethora of hipsters (Copenhagen is rather trendy). I was on a search for the soul of mountain biking that I suspected lay somewhere in a sunny field within Europe, and also to race in the highly prestigious, incredibly un-serious Single Speed European Championship..

Single Speed mountain bikes are exactly as the title suggests – mountain bikes (MTB's) with one gear only. Why, you may ask, would a MTB be devolved into something far less functional than the multi-geared workhorse that the last two decades has crafted it into? The answer, I'm afraid, is not a simple one.

People’s reasons for riding and racing Single Speeds vary from a desire for simplicity, through to a lust for something entirely impractical – sense of humour needed. Pitch up at a Single Speed European Champs (SSEC's) and you will absolutely not find racing snakes warming up on exercise bikes.. OH no, at an SSEC outing you are far more likely to find a man wearing nothing more than a nappy, a 6ft lady sporting stripes and affro, or even a team of Morphs, than you are to come across an obsessive racer.

Possibly, no, definitely, the most fun I've had racing my bike for quite some time, I'll remember this one and its fabulous location for many years to come. As for the after party, well, I'm doing my best to erase those memories! Only kidding - what a great bunch of people having some good old fashioned fun.

The soul of my sport does survive and prosper then.

The Single Speed European Champions 2011 are: Gemma Frier from Scotland and Julien Conan from France – well done to ‘em.

In 2012 the event will be hosted by the aforementioned Morphs in the south of France – and you can certainly count me in!

Oh, and there's still time to enter the World Champs in Ireland this August – http://www.sswc2011.ie/

Thank you to Bruno for organising such a great weekend’s racing, to Kingdom Bike (Chris and Nick) for forcing me out of my downhill habit, and to Riders Refuge, Bike Dirty and howies, of course.. Cheers!

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