Back at the basecamp cottage, tired but clear-headed, it was time to kick-back around the woodburner with a drink and de-brief on our experience with Quoc's new shoes over the last two days. They were perfect for the type of riding we get up to. The initial great first impressions on look and feel were matched with comfort and performance on the road and tracks of mid-Wales - comfy and rugged enough to ride steep passes, ford streams, make sweet-potato lunches, and spend an evening off-the-bike in. Time will tell how they fair over a few of these bikepacking trips...
With all our shoes in pairs around the stove steaming and drying, we unpacked the bikes, re-lofted sleeping bags and aired sleeping mats, and took the chance to ask Ben, Athena and Quoc one last question:
"…so, where did we go?"
Ben: “We’ve been right into the depths of the Desert of Wales, to an unpowered stone hut in, from what I could tell, the middle of nowhere. This morning we paid for yesterday’s good weather with a pretty grim start – the cloud was down to the ground and it was raining so we took a slightly more direct route back than planned, retracing our tracks through the forest, back to our cottage basecamp … it is cliché, but there is something intensely satisfying about heading off and being completely self-sufficient for that time…”
Athena: “Err...we cycled from our basecamp cottage, to a stone bothy, and back here again … the riding was amazing … including a handful of river crossings, which Stefan made up for with a mushroom risotto, treacle cake and custard and a fire at the bothy in the evening … The experience was what I expected, in that it ended up being completely different to what I expected, if that makes sense? With these things, you always have a rough idea of what a trip might be like, but it always ends up being something completely out there; which it was, especially because we didn’t know exactly what we were doing…”
Quoc: “We’re still in mid-Wales. I still can’t pronounce the name … we’ve been riding some of the most amazing roads in the UK - remoteness, hill climbs, gravel, river crossings … bog – it was an experience, and it opened my eyes to so much more … if you want escape, then this is one of the best places – it clears the mind. Fresh air, views. You don’t need to go far – the UK has the most stunning landscapes that other places can’t compete with, and it’s fairly accessible…”