Before I was a runner, triathlete, ultra runner and any other category I might put myself in, before I entered any race or even contemplated the idea of a training plan, I was a mountain biker. I can remember going with my dad to the bike shop to get my first mountain bike aged 13, it was a glorious aluminium framed rigid (of course this was the 90’s) Giant with 18 gears and shiny silver bar ends (remember them?!). It was bright yellow, team Giant colour scheme I believe and I thought it was awesome.
Growing up in the quiet Oxfordshire countryside this bike gave me freedom, the chance to explore with mates or ride to the local river to go fishing. We’d ride through the forest to the bomb drops and see if anyone was brave enough to face near certain death trying to drop in on one of the slopes. Faces in awe as a ‘proper’ mountain biker rode through and smashed through the jumps.
Adventure by OS map
Some weekends I’d grab my OS map and disappear for a few hours to explore some new bridleways, I may not have been aware then as I am now of my need for movement and fresh air but it’s clear looking back that my needs haven’t changed much. Even then I enjoyed the peace of my own company, the feeling of exploration and challenging my body physically. I love learning about the area I live in by running or cycling through it and discovering paths and tracks that you’d otherwise never knew existed.
Since moving to Wales last year I’ve rediscovered a love for cycling, I’ve ridden a mountain bike for the first time in 10 years or more and find myself wanting to cycle as much as I want to run which is a completely new experience. Almost 25 years since I rode that yellow Giant I’m once again getting the OS map out and planning an adventure.
Wales bike packing
In September I’m planning to ride the Cambrian way, a 100 mile off road route across the Cambrian mountains. It starts on the English border new Shrewsbury and finishes almost at the coast near Aberystwyth. Hopefully joined by my little brother for 2 days of glorious and challenging riding with a wild camp somewhere near half way. It looks like an amazing route across some stunning and often remote scenery in an untouched part of these British Isles.
These sort of adventures are precisely why when buying a new bike in November I chose the Sonder Frontier. Great fun riding around the trail center but also perfect for a bike packing adventure or 2. First time riding a 29er too, which is certainly different but having spent a weekend in February throwing it around Coed Y Brenin it’s safe to say I’m a convert.
I guess I should finish by thanking my parents for lighting the spark all those years ago and giving me the freedom to explore. Perhaps not surprising they did when you consider that my dad aged 69 rides 100 miles with his cycling club most weekends, clearly something in our genes!
Have you got any bike packing plans? Any routes on your bucket list to tick off?