Wednesday, 20 May 2009

The Big Black Mountain Challenge

There are ideas, and then there are 'ideas'. There are silly ideas, like deciding to get on a train to Penzance one day on a whim and riding from Lands End to John O'Groats; there are stupid ideas, like going off for a ride one afternoon in Northern Californian bear country with no food or water, no map, no idea where you're going and without telling anyone; there are dangerous ideas, like riding up Snowdon in the dark at 4am on a February morning wearing lycra in a snow storm; and then there are those ideas which are just wrong. There's no excuse for them, they're just wrong.

The Big Black Mountain Challenge on Saturday was one such idea. It started off badly and just got worse. I knew it was a stupid idea - having cracked a rib just 6 days before at round 2 of the BMBS in Dalby Forest, the idea of walking 45km over the Black Mountains in South Wales probably wouldn't be high on many peoples list of convalescing activities. But there's a bigger picture to think of here, namely The Great TO DO.

So Tony and I set off on our epic walk at 8am Saturday morning. It started raining. Then it started raining harder. Then the wind picked up. Then the wind almost picked me up! Walking along the first ridge out of Llanthony was made difficult by the 60mph wind and miserable due to the torrential rain. 4 hours later the rain finally stopped - for half an hour, just enough time to dry out before the rain came again. And the wind picked up.

The day continued in this cycle of misery for nine and a half hours until with sore feet, knee pain and an aching rib it finally came to an end. I can't remember ever walking in such horrendous conditions for so long. It really was an epic day and with the exception of Tony's witty tales, comments and then hysterical laughter (see video), not one I particularly enjoyed. But it was a necessary evil for the task ahead. On The Great TO DO I'd have 5 more days of this (well, the mileage, hopefully not the weather. Please God, NOT the weather!)

It was a useful exercise though and I learnt a few important things - one such lesson is that if you have a cracked rib and try and walk 45km up and down the muddy Welsh Mountains in the pouring rain and highs winds carrying a heavy rucksack, it's going to hurt. More importantly though, is it's going to hurt more the following day. But at least I had a whole day free and lots of 8 week old Bernese Mountain Dog pups to cuddle to cheer me up.

If you want to see some great photos of this epic, or a video of just how bad it was, take a look at Tony's blog - Tales From The Rock. Oh, and feel free to buy one of the 178 miles of The Great TO DO (if you want to know more, you'll have to use the link to visit the web page - it's worth it though!)

4 comments:

I'm not really gay said...

put me down for 2 miles :-)


seeing as I have two bollocks !

MTB Girl said...

Will you be joining us at all?

Mountain Bike Holiday said...

Sounds tough! Great blog you have here, will definitely be a regular visitor!

Rich Down said...

You got round two hours quicker than I did and with a cracked rib. I've slung up some pictures on my blog www.blogs.liverpoolecho.co.uk/aintnomountainhighenough/ but the conditions and the sense of 'just get on with it' I was feeling from my mates meant the shots weren't as good as I would have liked. Like the way you write - got through to the end with a smile on my face and I often lack a spot of concentration.