Valleycat

I decided to get in some miles and test out my new set up by doing Mike Hall's Valleycat back in April

I left Bristol at 11:30 and took 2 trains to Llandridod Wells followed by a 30 mile ride to the start point.

It was a good ride and taste for what was to come.  It was pretty hilly and the ride to the farm alone was longer than anything I'd ridden since the end of the Transcontinental Race.  I arrived at the farm at about 6:15 giving me 45 minutes until the controls were released.  

At 7pm we went up to the barn and where were given a set of 9 controls.  I brought my laptop so I was able to plot a route.  Roughly it was split into a north and south route.

That evening it was only Craig Dollice and I who were planning to set out that evening with the rest planning to get some sleep and start early the next morning.  I used up one of two of my meal vouchers and had a great vegetable chilli.  Just after 9pm I set off.

I had no food for night so the plan was to buy some at first convenience which was a petrol station on the A44 where I met Craig who had done the same, we cycled together for a part of the night talking about this years Transcontinental Race.  Eventually my legs started to show their weakness and I slowed down.

One of the checkpoints

One of the checkpoints

It was also beginning to get extremely cold and I was aware that I still had a big climb to up.  I realized if I got to the top of this and defended I would probably freeze so I began starting to search for shelter.  Eventually I found a public toilet where I filled my jersey up with toilet paper and covered myself in bin bags from the recycling outside the toilet.  From about 4am to 6am I sat there shivvering uncontrollable, the Garmin said at one point -6.  

The sun started to rise so I got back on my bike.  It was incredible cycling at this time of day, with nice roads, a fantastic sunrise and no cars.  An uneventful morning including a stop for some Welsh Rarebit in cafe saw more coming back into camp 150 miles later.

I needed to get back so Stephan Kiwi (Fixed gear from TCR 2015) headed to Aberywyth to catch the last train out of Wales for the weekend.  I got back home and had to cover my knees in ice - more training needs to be done!

Conclusion:

Fantastic event, well organized and Wales is some of the best cycling to be done.  I thought my day/night out there was harder than any of the days I did on the Transcontinental.

But I've got some kit revisions:
-The Front Dynamo light was fantastic however as soon I stopped, it stopped so I'm going to need a second weak light - most likely a helmet light.
-The weekend has confirmed my decision now to ditch the sleeping equipment, I'll sleep in the day or find adequate shelter.
-All my charging cables were a mess - need smaller/cleaner set up
-My Castelli gloves were a bit overkill, one of the few parts of my body to get cold
-I'm also planning to get rid of my 'regular' cycling gloves - I've done several rides now where I've not used them at all.
-Get a smaller warm hat
-Better bottle cages for the front so they don't fall out
-Feed bags
-Larger cassette