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Tuff Trip to Ross-On-Wye & BikePark Wales

Thanks to Mike Barrett for submitting a report of the latest Tuff event he organised; a very jolly trip swimming in the River Wye, and then a trip to Merthyr Tydfil to Bike park Wales. Mike relays the stories from the weekend.

“Who’d like to jump in a cold river and swim in the wild rapids, currents and eddy’s of the river Wye and then throw themselves down the side of a mountain in Bike Park Wales?

Surprisingly there wasn’t that many of you. However, after a bit geeing up we managed to get 12 to the swim and 9 to Bike Park Wales.

“Unfortunately Mark, Vanessa and Verity had a technical issue half way there which couldn’t be repaired resulting in a DNS for them (Is that your first ever DNS?). When I asked the group for a few words, Vanessa gave the following report! Popham service Best services.. Great AA man… Good company… plenty of snacks…5 stars..and Verity announced her bike was better than her car. In good spirits they are ready to do it next year”

“The remaining 9 of us stumbled across each other near the pre-arranged meeting places’ car park but conveniently outside a pub so it didn’t take long before we were ordering pints of Dutch courage!”

“Then it was down to meet Angela Jones wo was an absolute delight, very lovely, and her team. With temperatures taken of the waters and of us, cha ching went her cash register as Jon and Iris purchased her ‘special’ at £35 a pop, rugged  water shoes, followed by the book plug and then the name drops, the safety briefing, and then actually a number of really good lessons; a few more name drops and then it was kit on and head upstream”.


“In we get and we’re climatising by doing breathing exercises (it’s what Ant Middleton & Joe Wicks were doing, apparently!)”

“It’s cold, but not shocking, but what is shocking is the power of the current, it is indescribably soooo strong. We wade out halfway and then suddenly we’re swimming out and down stream, we stop the other side and take it in, then turn and swim up stream, Jon was the only one who made any progress the rest of us slowly inched downstream while swimming up stream. Next up was to swim back to the other side. Carnage, Tiff lost a shoe in the commotion, arms legs and struggles everywhere as we all tried to get to the other side. Few were lucky, while the remain Tuffs clambered over the fallen branches and reeds in desperation to not be dragged off down stream”.

“Left feeling somewhat exhilarated we were asked to swim back across the other side, which was done this time with a bit more ease. I think technique and lesson learned on direction. We regroup and start to head down stream at a rate of knots, hang out a bit, swim a bit, hang out and then a few of us started showing signs of being cold. Wondering who she was talking about everyone looked at one another and then Pete confessed to eating a blue ice pop before he got in and that was the real reason his lips had turned blue. A few temperatures were taken in the water, we had been in just over 35 minutes and completed about 1000m, we finally swim under the bridge of our exit point”

Back to the car park for plenty of post swim chat, more temperature taking, Trevor is officially a cold blooded mammal for 2 reasons, 1) his core temperature never changed and 2) Whilst I can’t complain as forgot to bring any, but Trevor makes the weakest coffee in the world. We all drank Jon and Tiff’s coffee and ate Angela’s Welsh Cakes.

Dry and slowly warming up we head up to the pub with a view

A quick drink because Iris had arranged for a food shop to be delivered and we’d been notified it was on route, we all arrived back at fairly similar times but with various SatNav stories. A quick unpack of food, room allocation and then it was time to prep dinner! We’d arranged for a Gusto delivery too (with special offers it was a very cheap meal); step up Chef Jon and Chef Danny who did a sterling job to produce the evening meal!

Then it was party time!

Next day, with our very own FULL English breakfast cooked and eaten and everyone trying a bit of Mike’s “sos arge” it was time to head to BPW.

L to r Danny Cunnett, Iris Bennett, Tiff Orton, Jon Roper, Trev Harvey, Pete Littleboy & Mike Barrett

Raining and damp, ideal BPW conditions. We are all signed in (I forgot my helmet so hired one, hence why I look the part until you spy my white cycling socks and think helmet!) We gingerly head to the uplift with various degrees of nerves and excitement. Bikes go on the trailer and we all excitedly get on the minibus first and sit at the front…(such a bunch of triathletes) meaning everyone else has to clamber over us to get in!!! Up up and up we go, until we’re at the top and we head to the green, we stick together and head down taking it nice and easy stopping and regrouping at  various stop points. About 20 minutes later we’re all back at the start and everyone is smiling and grinning. Gonna be a great day. Up we go again, again sticking together we all come back down the same green route, sticking together we stop less but this time! It’s gone up another level. Higher up the burns and lightly lifting the back wheel on turns and rollers. Delighted we are all together and smiling we arrange to go up again and this time regroup for coffee after this next run. 3rd run, at the top the group split and Pete took group 1 lead down a blue run  myself, Danny and Jon all following while Trevor, Iris and Tiff stayed on the green and built on their growing confidence.

As Pete flew down the mountain hopping and skipping his bike neatly, I thought yep I’ll follow that and we began to build speed as we got near the bottom of the run, my confidence was sky high and I was ready to pop up off a roller, push down and up and I was airborne, my foot slipped off the pedal and I was expecting the worse, I landed on the top of the burn and rather than stay there I’d gone into crash mode and started the bike downwards on the side which of course meant I had about 5ft to travel before landing, enough time to tuck my hands in and save breaking anything, but my elbow took the impact so (Saturday) it’s heavily bruised and (Monday) I’m in minor injuries in Bognor (Tuesday week) I’m in surgery having my elbow pinned back together… 

I gingerly get up and head to the café where I declare I’m out and I’m kindly taken back to El Villa. At 5pm everyone was back to the sounds of excitement with Tiff bursting through the door and shouting I @@@@@@@ loved that, it was awesome, we have to come back! I did green and blue runs and Trevor and I were, we just were, OMG it was brilliant.

The evening was the second gusto meal cottage pie and everyone helped out doing their part and we sat around chatting about the days event. Youtube mountain biking, Ironman and Otillo events were all played and discussed. Everyone was unanimous in saying we come back next year (maybe in September when the water is a little warmer).


Trever added

The swim requisites of gloves, booties, gimp hat & wetsuit weren’t really required given the mild temperature but that didn’t detract from a very enjoyable swim…..& then to the bike park.  A very well organised venue with a great selection of runs made for a great time.  Some of the punters used the pressure washer to hose themselves down as well as the bike; proving it was a dirty weekend!  A great bunch of Tuffs & really enjoyable so thanks to Mike for his great organisation & to Iris for shopping/menu planning.

Iris said

A really informative and great experience in the River Wye with Angela Jones.  A great couple of runs down at Bike Park Wales.  Fabulous company, lots of laughs, a new annual Tuff Fitty event.

Tiff wrote
Wild swimming with Angela in the River Wye was fab. No where near as cold as I’d imagined and man you have to respect nature, those currents were strong! I was extremely anxious before BPW as going downhill is not my favourite but after a couple of green runs as a group I got some confidence. Then, with Trevor as my wingman, we explored the blue runs. Weeeeeee!! We kept calling out flowing through berms and over little lumps, it was ace. Literally couldn’t stop smiling!! Staying together at the house was so much fun with the boys assuming the reins of organising the first night’s meal (even Jon lol!). The vegetarian food was so tasty (yes even Jon enjoyed it!). We had such a laugh, can’t wait for the next one!

These events, create such a great moments in your life and memories and friendships that last a life time.

Next year, will be earlier in the calendar and will include a couple of other little adventures 😊