After a delayed 5 and 3/4hr journey North and then West, the Essentia team arrive at our Bunk house deep in the Mid Welsh Valley of Pennant, courtesy of Stuart Wright of Forest Freeride. The Log fire was on and a bottle of milk in the fridge.
After a few hours sleep we were up and on the bikes ready to go. Unfortunately almost straight away one of the team suffered an unexpected injury meaning that we had to administer some onsite massage half way up our first climb. Sadly the injury was there to stay and a divert was put in place to get our colleague to our overnight hotel. This still meant getting to the top of our climb and then coasting down the 8 miles to Machynlleth. After making sure our man was OK for a few hours and after the first pint of the day we down to 5 and off to get on with the afternoons climbs and climbs they were. We were told that where we needed to aim towards was roughly 400 metres above sea level and the town that we had just left was at sea level. Fortunately the weather was on our side and almost spring like throughout the day.
Some of our riders hadn’t been on bikes for a few years, one not since his teens so the afternoons session was always going to be a tough one. There were many up’s and downs, literally and emotionally but at the end of the afternoon we all very pleased to have scaled a mountain on a mountain bike.
Upon arriving back at the hotel, saying goodbye to our biking host for the evening (we offered him a place at our dinner table but he kindly declined) we found our wounded colleague and after some much needed baths/showers, hit the bar downstairs for the start of the evening. This was followed by a Curry, some impromptu presentations, more beers at the pub opposite, a deadly drinking game using playing cards, some shot’s, a game of precision pool, then onto our Hotel for more drinks, more shot’s and then finally time to turn in.
Saturday morning was a reasonable start after a hearty breakfast which was served up by our Hotel owner Wendy including admirable Welsh customer service. Back on the bikes with some moans, and groans as the leg’s of many questioned “what again????? to their owners”. Back again we went up the mountain, this time approaching from the road side. More pain, more climbs but there was smooth with the rough with some excellent Technical downhill which was pretty much riding downhill through a rocky low forest stream. We were now heading back to the start of our trip on Friday, so the bunk house but like nearly everything in Mid Wales if you’re not going downhill then you’re heading uphill. This involved a trip down a very unpredictable grassy hill which was so steep it cooked the non-disc brakes of some of the bikes. After just a few more climbs for good measure our final descent our guide had another little technical off-road treat for us which was a fast downhill rocky path which 4 of us gladly consumed. We only suffered three punctures during the two day trip and one was slow and nursed back to the end without the need to change.
Our injured man had kindly been dropped back at the bunkhouse earlier and we were then ready to exchange 2 wheels for 4 and commence the journey home. A great experience all round was the general feedback and the next trip is already being thought about.