Winter Bothy Loop, Mid Wales

I somehow overlooked the email from Stu about the Bear Bones Bach to Bach winter event, but I saw the bothy photos popping up on the forum and I got a bit jealous. I had a few spare holidays rolled over from 2015, so I decided to get back out to Wales for a long weekend of bothy biking.

I’ve been meaning to check out a bothy for a while now. The winter months are quieter and a bothy is surely cosier than a frosty January bivi.

I was joined by Andy and Scott, both Tour Divide vets and active Bear Bones members. It was great hearing their stories from the TD, as it helped to prepare (scare) me for the HT550 coming up in May. Andy will actually be joining me at the start line, so I guess this was a sort of training ride for us.

It rained off and on most of the weekend, straight from the first pedal stroke on Friday morning. Regardless, we stayed mostly warm and had mostly ‘type 1’ fun, with some exceptionally satisfying breakfasts at the Tea Rooms in Rhayader on both Saturday and Sunday!

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Setting off from Llanwrtdyd Wells just past 0800, we were met with a persistent, heavy drizzle…
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… the rain let off just past noon, but by this time we were fully drenched. We’d put a big dent in the Tywi route heading on our way towards the Llyn Brianne reservoir.
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Bikes and logs always seem to compliment each other.
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It was a bikepacking baptism for Rasputin…
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… very pleased with the setup, though I am still getting used to 1×10 after running 3×9 for so long.

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Following some epic pub burgers at The Black Lion in Pontrhydfendigaid (can the Welsh actually pronounce this?), we climbed up to the Claerrdu bothy. We were in luck. The place was fully stocked with firewood and candles. We warmed up in front of the fire for a while drying things out before tucking into our bags…
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Who says bikepacking isn’t romantic?
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I stuck my earplugs in and slept like a baby — even overslept a bit. Apparently a mouse came in the night and was eating my nuts and Andy had to defend them.
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And then there were three bikes. Scott arrived in the night after riding over from Shrewsbury.
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The sun made an appearance as we set off towards the Claerwen Reservoir…
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… with a few dark clouds following close behind us.
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An obligatory cow photo for Jenny. For some reason they make her giggle.
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An undulating gravel road zig zags around the north side of the reservoir.
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Scott and Andy probably chatting about some new gear. They both ride some well tuned, super lightweight rigs.

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We arrived into Rhayader and headed straight to Guner’s cake shop, where we met this man who wanted to tell us all about the leaning chimney above the Old Swan, a grade II listed 16th century pub.
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The old timbers are marked 1683, but there is evidence that it dates back to 16th century or earlier.

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We lucked out yet again at Nant Rhys bothy, where we found a big bag of coal for a hot fire. This bothy has a seriously hot stove. Super cozy!
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I was covetting Scott’s Revelate harness. It’s a super sturdy setup with that Lomo bag upfront.

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