7 May, 2024

Conquering the Ultimate Welsh Mountain Bike Adventure

Molly Weaver and ‘The Triple Crown’

 

When you think of epic adventure rides, you don’t immediately associate them with Wales, UK. A few months ago, Orbea athlete Molly Weaver planned to ride three major routes across Wales mid-winter, linking them at their start/finish points to create one mega-journey to push her limits.

The route went from Eastern to Western Wales on the Trans Cambrian Way, up North through the Snowdonia National Park along the trails of Traws Eryri, and finish on the Welsh coast following the Sarn Helen route. Roughly 700 kilometers, 11,000 meters of climbing, and a predicted 50 hours in the saddle.

“There are some challenges you dream up from the comfort of your couch and then just can’t let go of; an itch that needs to be scratched. The idea of tackling the three biggest routes in Wales (back to back) was exactly that, with the added twist of doing them in the middle of winter. A moment of madness perhaps, or just the desire for two wheeled adventure in a challenging season.”

 

– Says Molly

Day 1

Trans Cambrian Way

Molly set off from a frosty railway station at 5am with her dad cheering her on.

“The varied landscape, the changing surface under my wheel, these rides are full of contrasts. The narrow trail pulling focus away from the vast views, the fine balance between the next a minute of riding and the next hour or day, solitude and support standing side by side. In moments it felt like I was floating over the terrain, and in others like I was being dragged down by it.”

 

– Says Molly

Day 2

Snowdonia National Park & Trans Eryr

One could sense the scale and beauty of the landscape. Mountains silhouetted against the skyline, nothing but the noises of nature and lakes surrounding Molly. Adventure by bike is full of surprises, and moments of beauty like this are made even sweeter by the effort it takes to get there.

Orbea Rise

“I had been excited about riding this route since it was first launched in the Summer, the call of the mountains getting ever stronger as I heard about other people’s rides through the Snowdonia National Park.”

 

– Says Molly

Day 3

Sarn Helen

“As I hiked up the hillside the power of the environment my relative fragility became more apparent. Riding became impossible, the gradient too steep, the winds too strong, the trail hard to follow. As I reached the summit of the first major climb of the day conditions worsened. The deep bog made walking a challenge, low visibility leading to wrong turns, as grass transitioned to gravel I remounted my bike. I had to get to somewhere warm and dry, as fast as my numb legs would take me. A glance at the map, a small village only a few miles away, this was the only finish line that mattered for now.”

 

– Says Molly

“I sat in the pub, shivering in front of the raging fire and I knew this one was over. I had known that as soon as I stepped off the bike and walked into the warm room, but I needed some time to process the decision before really calling time on the attempt. The conditions made it too dangerous to continue, and knowing when to stop riding your bike is just as important as knowing when to start.”

 

– Says Molly

Oiz

The bike had been fantastic over every obstacle thrown at it so far, but it was in the last few hours of this ride that I really appreciated that! As the route grew more complicated, I could no longer see the surface up ahead clearly, and exhaustion slowed my reflexes, the ability of the Oiz made up for it.