Spotlight - equipment views and reviews from the AK team
Long Mynd delights
26, Jan, 2017
Pedal powered peace, the charm and beauty of the Shropshire landscape
Leaving our bunk house early we set off up the Burway, an old drover’s route leading directly out of Church Stretton to the Long Mynd. It was a challenging start – steep and with a 600’ drop-off on the right. Half-way up the climb the words of a local we’d met in the pub last night echoed in my head – “There ain’t no easy miles in Shropshire”.
Rides on the Mynd are defined by tough climbs, short periods of respite and rapid descents. Tarmac, gravel or grass, single track and fire roads – it’s all there. For this kind of terrain you need a tough, light, responsive bike with decent brakes. We’d brought along the Camino Ti and a prototype bike for testing. Reaching the trig point at Pole Bank we stopped for a breather. We’d been told that we’d be able to see across to Cheshire, Herefordshire and maybe even Snowdonia – but the typically claggy British weather had other ideas.
Threading our way along the top of the Mynd we watched a peregrine falcon fighting a vicious turf war with two ravens – their anger at odds with the peace of the day. We turned to descend Asterton Bank, infamous amongst roadies for being one of the UK’s top ten hardest climbs. The descent was followed by a ride across the valley to Stiperstones along a mix of byways, farm tracks and deserted tarmac lanes. No people, no distant traffic noise. Shropshire is wonderfully quiet.
Stiperstones is a bleak, wild place so we pressed on south until we found a more sheltered spot for our bivvy. The day’s mileage was probably less than forty but it felt much further – after stove cooked food and brews sleep came pretty quickly. Waking early to clear crisp skies and low sun we packed our bikes and set off, eager to get some circulation back into our weary limbs. As the sun slowly rose we sped along deserted lanes and through tiny villages, our legs coming slowly back to life.
Our final loop took us along the foot of Caradoc and back towards Church Stretton. There we found a picture postcard cafe; it even had a parlour complete with local gossips and doilies. Suddenly feeling slightly feral we sat near the door – this was a world away from last night’s wild camp. Over coffee we mused that if we’d been in the Lakes or Peak this cafe and it’s surrounding hills would have been crowded. Shropshire seems strangely undiscovered by the masses.
“Be aware not all biking routes on the Long Mynd are marked on the OS map. Pop into the bike shop in Church Stretton or the National Trust cafe in Carding Mill Valley and ask for the map of approved trails. Also, Shropshire miles can be hard miles - Be realistic and don’t get over-ambitious.”
Or check it out online - Mountain bike map for Long Mynd
Heading out for a couple of days is surprisingly easy and it doesn't have to weigh you down or hinder your riding too much. Below is a rough idea of what can be loaded onto your bike.
Gravitas [Mens]Super light 170g men's highly breathable 3 layer durable waterproof jacket for running, riding and adventure racing£140.00
Heiko [Mens]Warm, windproof and packable. Mens Primaloft jacket, synthetic insulation for all conditions£85.00
Rhythm Thicky Cycling Jersey [Mens]Premium thermal cycling jersey for all-season comfort and warmth£50.00
Balance [Mens]Quite simply the best technical fabrics and uncomplicated design gives both form and function. Highly breathable, waterproof, low weight with a great cut£175.00
Katabatic [Mens]Using Primaloft Gold Active insulation, this hooded jacket is designed to keep you comfortable throughout a range of cold weather activities, whether it's fat-biking through a Cairngorm blizzard or climbing icefalls in the Alps£140.00
KoalaLightweight saddle pack storage with 3 point attachment system for a secure and stable ride£70.00
Fuel Pod MediumTop tube mounted bag for easy access to trail mix, gels, tubes, GPS and tools when you are on the trail£28.00
Possum MediumVersatile bike luggage that attaches to the underside of the crossbar using our versatile webbing ladder attachment system£60.00
Stem CellHandy stem-mounted bottle/ accessory bag for easy on-the-go access during your bikepacking adventures£25.00
Airlok Dual 13lThis 13 litre dual ended dry bag is based on our hugely popular, single opening Airlok XTra and tweaked initially for mounting on the handle bars for bikepacking£16.00
MytiMug 400400 ml titanium mug, perfectly proportioned for morning coffee and soup at lunch, the perfect cooking mug for lightweight heroes£20.00
KrakuKraku is possibly the world's lightest commercially available micro camp stove, its tiny pack size makes it the perfect stove for the solo adventurer£25.00
HunkaA simple bivvy bag weighing less than 400 g, Hunka is breathable, packs down small and a favourite of many weight conscious bikepackers and alpinists£47.00
Airo 180Your full length lightweight and compact self-inflating mat£50.00
Cloud BaseLightweight inflatable camping mat weighing 395 grams and 6 cm thick to soak up uneven ground£50.00
QarkPowerful 300 lumen LED headtorch with optional motion and light sensor mode for tasks when you need hands-free operation£36.00
In Daring Deeds