Back in 2008, the first Welsh Ride Thing took place. Aside from it being the inaugural WRT, it was also the very first bikepacking event to be held outside of the good ol’ US of A. Those of you awake will have already computed that 2023 marks the 15th anniversary of the WRT and is perhaps something of a milestone … but not a Welsh mile because they always seem longer than your standard 1760 yard version.
A lot’s changed in the last 15 years – after all, some of you were probably still at primary school in the balmy spring of 08. However, as much as so many things have altered, there are those that remain constant and steadfast. From the very outset, the WRT encouraged exploration and rewarded those with both an inquisitive nature and some imagination. Rules have always been scant to the point of non-existent. Ego was never on the guest list and ‘taking things too seriously’ always heavily discouraged – and nothing’s altered.
For some, the WRT was a springboard that propelled them towards ever further and increasingly harder. For others it’s an annual distraction and a welcome chance to unplug from the everyday. There are those for whom the WRT provides their first taste of bikepacking life just as there are those for whom the WRT has become an integral part of that life. There are no distinctions made and no top table to sit at.
It would be wrong of me to suggest that everyone ‘gets it’. For some, the WRT is too laid back, too fluid and much too flexible. Where others see a dozen grid references and a hundred square miles as ‘freedom’ they see ‘confusion’ and find it hard to operate within such broad constraints. I understand how a blank page on which to write your own story can appear daunting and the anxiety of the unknown overshadows the joy of discovery. To help ease the burden of choice and the inherent fear of making the wrong one, a WRT ‘Lonely Hearts Club’ exists and provides a buffer for anyone requiring a co-author to help pen their weekend … there’s also the option of purchasing a preformed route for a donation to the cause.
Speaking of donations, over the years the WRT has raised in excess of £30,000 for the Wales air ambulance (I stopped counting, so don’t know the exact amount). Part of that is done with the aid of prizes donated for the raffle by the cycling and outdoor industries, so do please get in touch if you’d like to make a contribution and have your logo resplendent on this year’s T shirt and be forever in the thoughts of those riding.
If I’ve not added to your confusion or put you off in any way, then you may be interested to know that entries for this year’s Welsh Ride Thing open on Feb 1st and it takes place over the weekend of April 29th / May 1st. Just pack an open mind and a desire to discover what lies round the next corner.