Archive | September, 2013

Riding the Foel

9 Sep

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So I gave in and went for a ride with brother; he’s not keen on sedate riding and the fact he rides with knee pads and a full face helmet makes me feel I really need to catch up with the times.  His favourite riding spot is the Foel, a mountain I first road back in 1999 but since then the trails have grown somewhat and my XC bike is longer fits in.  I find the riding normally ends with a broken bike or a broken body for me; if possible I try to ride my brothers bikes when visiting; its cheaper for me without the repair bills!

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The mountain is due to have the trees felled and preparations have begun with the widening of the access roads; back in 1999 my brother was still riding a rigid Orange Clockwork and I have vivid memories of him holding a straight line through one of these bends and flying face first into the trees.

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Views of Port Talbot from the top

Riding the Foel

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My favourite, very steep and very tight switchbacks

Big Drop

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The tent that blew away…..

5 Sep

A few years ago I bought a Terra Nova Laser Space 2, until then I had been using a lightweight super rigid tent but not very spacious.  The Laser Space 2 is a very large lightweight tent which sleeps 2 people and has a huge porch area.

Dol Llys Campsite

Terra Nova Laser Space 2 Tent

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Its not a cheap tent, it now retails for £600 and when I bought it in 2010 I managed to get it for £300 online.  The tent weighs just under 3 KG and packs down to a reasonably small size of 55 x 20 cm.  The porch area is high enough to stand up in, for two people to comfortable move around in unpacking bags etc at the same time and if I remove the front wheels from the bikes I can fit two bikes inside with still plenty of room to move around.

On the downside it is built a bit like a sail, pitching in wind is a bit more challenging than smaller tents and the 18, yes 18 guy ropes can take a little longer than normal to set.  The tent comes with super lightweight titanium pegs although I now use some sturdier aluminium pegs for key points.

Terra Nova Laser Space 2

Cooking in the Terra Nova Laser Space 2

Terra Nova Laser Space 2

The tent pitched with no inner

Terra Nova Laser Space 2

There is a front and rear door to the Terra Nova Laser Space 2

The first time we pitched the tent was in a valley below Mt Snowdon, on our way back down the mountain we could see the campsite but I couldn’t see the tent anywhere, Kate convinced me we were too high up to see the green tent but once we were back in the field the tent was still nowhere to be seen!  Where had it gone; it had blown away and was caught by some bull rushes, it wasn’t the only tent in the campsite to have been blown away, I counted 6 damaged tents in the campsite and several of them badly ripped by the wind.  But still, it was summer, it was an expensive tent, I felt it should be able to stand up to strong wind on a valley floor.  The tent was slightly damaged, it had a bent pole and some of the loops had broken off.  I contacted Terra Nova and they repaired the tent free of charge and sent me some new pegs to replace the ones lost, it was only a week old so I thought this was the least they could do.  Since then I have been a lot more careful where I have pitched it and if I know I am going on any trips where it will be exposed or above the tree line I make sure I take a more suitable tent.

With this said; its an excellent tent for cycle touring.  Its lightweight and very big once pitched, people are often amazed it was transported by bike.  Its great in wet weather as there is plenty of room inside to change clothes and cook.  The material are excellent quality although I am not sure how long they will perform for, the inner tent floor is starting to let in water after a night of camping and it is probably in need of waterproofing although it is still to let in water through the fly sheet.

Bikes inside Tent Porch

Plenty of room in the porch area even with bikes inside.

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Terra Nova Laser Space 2

Terra Nova Laser Space 2

The tent has 18 guy ropes

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Specification

  • Sleeps: 2
  • Season Rating Spec: 3 season backpacking
  • Free standing?: No (tent requires guy lines to be pitched)
  • Minimum Weight: 2.77Kg (6lb 2oz)
  • Packed Weight: 3.05Kg (6lb 12oz)
  • Pitch Time (estimate): 10 mins
  • Number of Porches: 1
  • Number of Doors: 2
  • Pitch Type: Fly and Inner pitch together

Packed Size: 55x20cm
Poles: DAC
Pegs: 24 x 5.5g Titanium skewers and 4 x 2g Titanium pegs
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The first Superlite tent you can stand up in, with room for 2 bikes in the porch

Campsites along National Cycle Network Route 8

2 Sep

Sometimes finding a campsite when touring can be problematic; if you have ever cycled 50 miles and then decided to look for a campsite only to find out you have to ride another 10 miles until the next campsite you might know what I mean.

I have got better at planning my trips but I still like the flexibility of stopping when I’m ready and not to a fixed itinerary.

Recently I have been playing with Google maps; its a great feature on a smartphone and as long as there is a signal opening up My Maps can be really useful.  So whilst researching for a trip on NCN Route 8 I created a spreadsheet of campsites close to the route and saved them as a map layer along with the route.  It took a few different programmes to create but the results are pretty good.  If you click on one of the pins in the map you will get the campsite details from the spreadsheet I created.

If you want to use the map you can click on the View Larger Map link and then copy the Google URL or download the KML file.  Enjoy.

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