The Welsh 1000 - Kinesis Bikes
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The Welsh 1000

THE WELSH 1000 ULTRA-ROUTE.



A post-lockdown escape ride by Matt Jones



After the first lockdown of 2020, Matt Jones, seasoned 24hr mountain bike racer (and former National Champion), decided he was missing a personal challenge on the bike. With a friend he set about designing a route to circumnavigate his home country of Wales in a speedy bike tour that he hopes will inspire others to venture further. It seemed like the perfect excuse for a lighter, faster bike: step up the Kinesis RTD. He found the bike to be just the ticket for this thousand kilometer mini-epic.



Article 1_Welsh Cycle Network




Picture: Welsh Cycle Network



Like many during the first 2020 lockdown, finding new ways of challenging ourselves by bike within the limitations that existed was essential. For me that was exploring local roads, hanging up the mountain bike to reduce risks etc. During this time, my friend Ian Walker (North to South Europe by bike world record holder) got in touch to see about planning a big challenge ride when restrictions eased. The simple idea was to ride around (literally) Wales on road bikes over a long weekend. We wanted to test a concept for a challenge route that others might have a crack at themselves. With more people ending up doing staycations, it felt like a great time to encourage people to explore by bike what Wales has to offer.



Article 2_The Welsh 1000 route




Picture: The Welsh 1000 route



Ian knows a thing or two about taking on ultra-endurance bike packing rides but for me this was a new adventure as I’m more of a one hit ultra-rider with success in 24 hour mountain bike races. I know I would need a bike suitable bike for the job and my research settled on the Kinesis RTD which was designed around epic bike packing like the Transcontinental Race. Taylored Cycles helped me with the build based around Reynolds A29 carbon wheels and a 1x SRAM group set with a 10-42 cassette and 42t front oval ring. Having a proper endurance road bike was a welcome relief ahead of the ride which as it shaped up would total over 1000km.

The Welsh 1000 route has, at its core, the idea to see some of the most beautiful spots around the perimeter of Wales. These were also places that Ian and myself had always wanted to see too. The route evolved to a clockwise ride between six key locations in the shortest possible time, with our start location being Barry near Cardiff .

1. Barry / 2. Rhosilli (Gower) / 3. Tenby / 4. St Davids / 5. Holyhead / 6. Rhyll

Once mapped we discovered we would have to cover 1000km to ride between these points, hence “The Welsh 1000”



Article 3_Day 1_View at Rhossili




Picture: Day 1 - View at Rhossili



Day 1: Barry to Aberystwyth 240 miles







A big first day on the road setting off in the dark from Barry with last night’s pizza and a couple of isotonic ales fueling things early on. We wanted to get the biggest miles in and the biggest climbing day whilst the legs were fresh. This certainly started off in what felt like the more urban section of the Welsh 1000 but as we headed along the coastline we had some lovely peninsulas to break things up. The view at Rhossili was a highlight of the whole trip, a fabulous long beach from the view point. Aside from the views I was also amazed by Ian’s absolutely shocking eating habits of destroying massive calorie hits in one go at each stop. Whole bags of pastries washed down with a big pot of yogurt anyone?! Pushing against headwinds and some rain towards the end of the day made things a little chilly. Arriving in Aberystwyth in time for the late night mega pizza takeaway helped replenish the 10k calories we had already burned.

Day 1 stats: Miles: 240 / Ascent: 4797m / Ride time: 16hrs 30min / Calories: 10,882



Article 4_View toward Dyfi Estuary




Picture: Day 2 - View toward Dyfi Estuary



Day 2: Aberystwyth to Llandudno

A stiff climb out of town past Aberystyth University awakened us sharply. Ian shot up the hill powered by the Redbull he had just necked or maybe he was keen to claim the first view of the day which turned out to be one of the best, looking out towards the Dyfi estuary. The scenic road contoured and hugged the coast as we sped North to Barmouth bridge. With Covid restrictions for international travel we were already starting to appreciate that you don’t have to travel half way round the world for wow factor views and they often right on your doorstep if you just look for them. An unexpected mechanical hit us later in the day when Ian’s gear cable snapped. In hindsight it would have been sensible to carry a spare. Riding another 206 miles on a single gear did not seem an options after 14 hours of riding so we opted for a longer rest and a ride the next day to Rhyll find the help of a local bike shop.

Day 2 stats: Miles: 206 / Ascent: 3796m / Ride time: 14hrs 18min / Calories: 7883



Article 5_Epic climbs




Picture: Day 3 - Epic Climbs



Day 3: Llandudno Junction to Barry (Coast to Coast)

An unintentional coast to coast North to South awaited us on day 3 which starts to frame the scale of the ride in that normally this sort of thing would be a big challenge in its own right! Getting Ian’s bike fixed delayed our start and I started to have some Achilles pain that persisted throughout the day due to a stiff cleat. Painkillers were deployed and the distractions of the day ahead were generally enough to keep me focused on the route ahead. We’re heading South and it felt good the be closing the loop. Many highlights greeted us over some stunning Brecon mountain climbs and past the Talybont Reservoir and the bonus tailwind this day was very welcome! Food is normally always on your mind during long rides but as we sped down the final valley towards the coast the excitement built and even my love for petrol station food was banished for the final push. We finished under bright moonlight and in Ian’s words we had done ‘All of Wales’, a complete loop and a fantastic adventure.

Day 3 stats: Miles: 196 / Ascent: 3760m / Ride time: 13hrs 43min / Calories: 6990



Article 6_Matt Jones and RTD




Picture: Matt Jones and his Kinesis RTD



Reflections

Riding with a friend was a massive positive in making this mini-epic trip enjoyable. We set out a challenge, but it was needed to be enjoyable. Ian and I share a lot of common interests both through leisure and work but rather than chatting all day we found comfortable silence for long stretches of the ride, comfortable in each other’s company. This allowed lots of personal head space whilst having the joy of sharing the highlights and the unexpected that always happen on these sorts of trips. It has given me a newfound respect for the mental strength involved in riding solo day after day but for those that love that solitude, I truly believe The Welsh 1000 is a route to relished whatever your pace or ambition.



Article 7_Kit List




Picture: Kit List



We travelled light on kit and were relatively looked after with the weather apart from some strong winds. The Kinesis RTD proved to be a perfect bike for the ride with a lightweight scandium main frame and comfortable geometry it ate up the miles. I had the loan of the Reynolds carbon AR29 disc wheels from the Kinesis distributor, Upgrade bikes, who also provided excellent Lezyne accessories. The comfort in comparison to my road bike was notable and the carbon wheels felt and sounded fast as well as surefooted and light.

I think for those looking to improve on a bike they already own then the RTD frameset is a perfect choice and can take up to 34mm tyres should you wish even more comfort and adventure.



Article 8_Epic scenary Gower




Picture: Epic scenery at the Gower Peninsula



The challenge details…

Ride around Wales between 6 points in Wales:
1. Barry (monument on the sea front in middle of town)
2. Rhosilli (monument overlooking sea)
3. Tenby (castle)
4. St Davids (castle)
5. Holyhead (ferry port)
6. Rhyll (Bike Hub)



Our Welsh 1000 Route
We think of our route as a suggestion that can inspire your own version if wanted. Your goal is to ride between the six nominated points choosing your own roads between them to determine your tour length. Maybe a 3-day dash like us or a week-long tour. The main thing is to explore and enjoy the ride.



Follow Matt’s adventures:

Insta: @mattjones_mtb

Strava: Welsh1000

Podcast: Matt Jones on the Cycle Station Podcast chats about the Welsh 1000






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