Outdoor Fitness Magazine, Chasing the Dragon.
A friend of mine Matthew Page rode from Caernarfon in North Wales to Cardiff following an off-road route set out in 2009 by another endurance rider, Dave Buchanan. That record was broken a year or so later by another rider Richard Holmes. These athletes didn’t take days to complete this route, they somehow completed the 340km off-road route in less than 24 hours.
After a tough start Matthew completed his record attempt in 18hours 41 minutes smashing the previous record by an hour and a half. That in its self is an amazing achievement but if you read his blog you will soon realise just how much he went through mentally and physically to gain the record.
I wanted to follow Matthew on part of his challenge so that I could take some pictures for him to use in his blog and to hopefully help him in his main goal. OK, the record was a goal and a pretty big one in its self but the larger one here was raising money for Cancer Research Wales.
I decided I would follow him from around the half way point in this set route, which happened to be around the beautiful Strata Florida Abbey. After arriving I realised that with the pace of this pocket rocket I wouldn’t have time to get back in front of him at the pre selected points I want to take pictures from. So a few stock images were taken and I was off. I was lucky that my partner Nerys had decided to keep me company and also took care of the maps and route which was so well done we pretty much never missed a location from here on. From here we went to the chapel of Soar Y Mynydd (maybe the most remote chapel in Wales) where we waited for him to arrive. After a little walk around and some much appreciated soaking up the sun Matthew was spotted coming down the track towards us. In my panic and excitement I managed to completely miss the shot I was after!! It was great to see him and now the chase was on, it wasn’t until we were in the car driving to the next location that I appreciated just how far he had already travelled and how calm he was. I couldn’t imagine riding that far in a few days, let alone a few hours. We then caught him coming over the dam wall at Llyn Brianne and up into the forestry heading towards Llanwrtyd Wells. So with all this excitement going on, we decided to pop home for a cup of tea.
The next stop was Brecon and this was where the chase and fun really started for us. Back in an area of good phone network we were able to follow his progress on his tracker and therefore increase the amount of picture stops. I waited for Matthew at the start of the Brecon canal and then kept in front of him taking pictures all the way to the Talybont on Usk reservoir. It was near here Matt told me his GPS had stopped working, which he was using for navigation and time checks. Luckily he had a good idea of the route from here on.
Following Matthew along the Taff trail was pretty funny and at times damn scary, maybe more for Matt than myself as I kept jumping out of dark alleys and from behind trees to take pictures of him pushing on towards Cardiff Bay. After the last picture spot near Penrhos Cutting we drove on to Cardiff Bay to meet him for the finish. Arriving at the Bay I was surprised to see a gathering of people already waiting for Matthew. In this group were the two previous record holders who had turned out at this late hour to welcome and congratulate Matt in his triumph. This to me just showed how close knit the mountain biking world is and how everybody is there to support the next rider even if they are about to take your record.
|Cycling Photography, Published Work|