Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Red Kite's very own blogger gets back on a bike after years of keeping away.......

It will be the first time I’ve ridden a bike in years. I actually can’t remember the last time I rode one, and feel both dubious and nervous about starting again. It’s a whim – my Dad is a keen road cyclist and my sister often goes out with him for hours at a time, exploring the miles of quiet country roads that surround us here in Mid Wales. I have also started writing a blog for Red Kite Events, a company that runs MTB and sportive events. It’s got me a little bit more interested than I used to be and I feel like I should go out on a bike just once to see what all the fuss is about.

Dad has chosen a short (very short!) route for us – an out and back 5 miler from home, going a little way out across the Epynt. He’s put my bike saddle up and done something to the gears apparently, I’m not sure what and it makes little difference to me since I don’t understand it anyway. He explains everything he’s done to me and it goes in one unknowledgeable ear and out the other in seconds.

The weather is warm and I feel mounting apprehension as I climb onto the yellow bike. What have I let myself in for? I like walking and have climbed Snowdon this year, but cycling has never been something I was keen on, even as a child when I did ride more often. But there’s no turning back now – Dad has already set off.

We hit uphill straight away because the track to our house is on a hill. I hate it already, struggling up the slope, progress slow. It feels like it takes forever to get to the road, but I am triumphant when I reach tarmac – I haven’t gotten off to push my bike once (a big achievement for someone who’s not ridden one for years, let alone up a hill!) and made it all under my own pedal power. I take a gulp of water and catch my breath.

All you experienced bikers reading this are probably laughing by now, the track was only three quarters of a mile and I’m acting like I’ve cycled 50 all uphill miles. But it felt like I’d passed some sort of test, that first hill, and I carry on along the (flatter) road feeling elated.

The route is fairly flat and very familiar from my thousands of car journeys to and from home over the years. You don’t notice the lumps and bumps or the camber of the road when you’re driving though, and I’m surprised to realise that the ‘flat’ road is actually gently sloping downhill. I pedal along, enjoying the slight breeze.
I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it is obvious to me now that cycling opens up a world of opportunities – so much quicker than walking and so much more quiet and calm than driving. You can breathe and take the scenery in. I’m still wobbly though, and find that staring straight ahead is my best bet for the time being!

We reach the point where we turn back quicker than I expected we would. I feel like I could go loads further. Once you settle into a rhythm, even hills aren’t that bad. There is one ‘big’ hill on the way home to tackle. I catch Dad up and manage to overtake him, which I think takes him by surprise. We laugh and then he zooms down the other side and out of sight. I go more slowly, not yet confident enough to take my hands off the brakes and freewheel it.

The whole ride takes us no more than half an hour to 45 minutes and I arrive home feeling pleased with myself. I’ve managed to tackle hills I had been looking at before the ride and dreading. I feel okay, although I have muscles in my legs that I didn’t know existed before and my bum is a bit sore. And most of all, to my greatest surprise, I realise I actually enjoyed myself!

It takes me a week to email Dad and suggest we go on another bike ride. This time, we do a circular route. It is muggy and after work, so I’m tired and not feeling one hundred percent. I almost ring to cancel, but then tell myself that exercise is supposed to help and make myself drive home.

It takes me a little while to establish a rhythm this time, and there are a couple of occasions where I hop off to catch my breath and push my bike for a little while. Dad cycles slowly beside me and we chat. Finally, I manage to get into the swing of things and tackle a long, steady uphill, reaching the top without stopping and without getting too out of puff. We pause for some water and to take in the view. Despite low-slung clouds partially obscuring the Cambrians, it is stunning. I feel happy and excited. Cycling could open up many more opportunities for me to enjoy one of my favourite pass-times – taking in a good view. Walking allows me this opportunity to an extent, but it takes longer.

The downhill is long and flowing, beautifully smooth tarmac. I even get up enough guts to take my hands off the brakes and freewheel it down to the bottom. My fingers hover nervously over the brakes but the feel of the wind rushing past me is exhilarating. I barely pedal for the next five minutes.

I make it to the top of the last uphill again without stopping, keeping a slow and steady pace. I’m elated and have a private celebratory fist pump into the air. Dad is way ahead again, cycling homewards. I amble along, enjoying myself. He waits at the top of our drive for me and we head down towards the house together.

I’m sore again, but less so than last time. And what is more, I definitely want to go cycling again! And for longer… Maybe I’ll push for a 10 miler next time? Who knows. All I can say is that I have definitely been bitten by the cycling bug. Maybe I’ll even take part in one of Red Kite Events sportives in the future? Or am I being a little over-ambitious after just two short rides… Only time will tell!

Apologies for the lack of pictures of me on a bike - once I'm on I generally just want to keep going!! The few that have been posted are of the scenery in our wonderful corner of Mid Wales, that can all be viewed from the saddle of a bike, whatever experience you have!! 

From top to bottom:
View across Llyn Brianne Reservoir.
View across the Cambrian's from the Epynt viewpoint, on the B4519 between Garth and Upper Chapel.
View across the top of the Cambrian Mountains (one for you mountain bikers), up above Coed Trallwm.
View across the Epynt, taken along the back road between Cynala and Tirabad.
View of the sunset in early August 2013, looking across rooftops in Llanwrtyd, taken from the A483 road bridge that crosses the River Irfon in town.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Some housekeeping and a quick catch-up!

Lots has been happening recently with Red Kite Events.

To begin with, Neil, the main man behind Red Kite Events, recently completed the London 100 event. This event was developed by the Mayor of London and his agencies as a true legacy of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Boris Johnson even took part in the ride himself, completing it in approximately 8 hours.

Neil managed a better time, taking 5½ hours to ride the 100 miles. Neil raised £787 for the charity Diabetes UK and said that the ride was good and he is already keen to take part next year.

Altogether, 17,000 people completed the closed road ride through the City of London and out into West Surrey, and it is likely this event will just continue to get bigger and better. If you fancy taking part next year and raising some money for your chosen charity, why not check out for more information about 2014’s event.

On 21st July, The Breckland Devil got underway in the Thetford Forest, Norfolk. Approximately 230 riders took part and the road event in particular was excellent, with some great cycling along fast, flat roads and good local knowledge allowing the team to put together some really great routes.

The following weekend, 25th-28th July, the Devil’s Bash was held in Llanwrtyd. This is a new event quite unlike any others that are run by Red Kite Events. It involves experienced guides, who have excellent local knowledge on where all the best MTB routes are in the area, taking riders out for a fantastic day in the hills.

18 riders turned up for a weekend of guided riding, and the event was highly sociable and different to the normal events put on by Red Kite Events. Everyone who came thoroughly enjoyed their stay, with lunch provided each day by the Drovers Rest and delivered out onto the route for riders to enjoy. The event was successful, and it is likely that similar events will be held again in future, for those who wish to experience the very best trails in the area.

The Winter XC series will be held throughout the winter months, with dates to be confirmed shortly. Look out for more information at, or keep your eyes peeled on Facebook and Twitter. Alternatively, the dates will be given on this blog in the near future.

As well as this, we have the Devil’s Challenge 2 fast approaching on the 22nd September, once again set in Llanwrtyd Wells. This will be a sportive and MTB event, and you can already enter online.

For more information on any of Red Kite Event’s upcoming events, check out
Alternatively, check out our Facebook page at!/pages/Red-Kite-Events/133742836741821?fref=ts or Twitter - @redkiteevents1. Make sure you keep an eye out for future blog posts too – we have one about a charity Coast to Coast ride coming up very soon indeed!!