The Icicles Challenge 2016
Full itinerary ->
The 2016 season started off with the now usual Icicle Challenge, a test of rider and machine on a one night camp at altitude. The idea being that we undergo sub-zero temperatures! [How did we agree to this]. Following on from 2015’s Breacon Beacon tour this year it was decided to go back to a L-O-S-T favourite, Llanthony Priory in the Black Mountains. This year, last season’s team was joined by two Icicle debutants Colin and Pompey.
Each rider this year planned quite meticulously the kit they would be carrying and more importantly the pre-enduro bike maintenance. Needless to say though, when dealing with lambrettas’, on the morning of the event there were two breakdowns’. Mr Green’s just needing a few new electrical components and off it went. Unfortunately for mine, like a good Top Gear challenge when you have a complete failure of vehicle the replacement machine arrived, in this instance a PX200.
The team finally assembled at the Aust Services adjacent to the original Severn Crossing into Wales and headed off on what turned out to be a most pleasant day for scootering on impressive B roads. The team soon released as they entered Chepstow that the normal route normally undertaken to get into the Black Mountains / Brecon was not the route of choice today. At the back of the group I could hear the cries of ‘What no Iron Horse this year?’. Breakfast is always an activity that each member looks forward to, so where was Mr Green taking us. Our leader started navigating us out of Chepstow on the Lydney Road taking us now back in Gloucestershire. The uncertainty of our ‘new’ route soon went away when the Scenic Route brown signs started to appear. We took a sharp left following one of the aforementioned signs and now start traversing uphill, heading back to the Welsh borders. The tree lined road soon opened out to reveal Steve’s first pit stop, The Dean Forest Railway. [Yes, this was the breakfast stop].
The Team now fully refreshed mounted their respective scooter and headed off on the ‘magical mystery tour’. [The itinerary noted that we would be going along the Wye Valley, guess what we weren’t – this always adds fun to the events as well as choice words from Moods] The route though was spectacular, twisting roads, generally tree lined occasionally following a river through an area we had not explored previously, The Forest of Dean. The miles flew by and it wasn’t a surprise when we dipped into Herefordshire. A quick refuel and we headed west to the Wales / England border and onto Llanthony Priory. The valley leading up to Llanthony, although now familiar, is a brilliant last section for the day with the highlands rising up sharply on both sides, woodlands on the lower elevations and stream meandering its way down the valley. A couple of sharp bends, a red telephone box [still works] and we were there.
The tents were erected quickly as a couple of local hostelries were close by that served local beverages and had log fires. Both of which were high on the priorities of the team. Indeed the food at the Priory cellar bar was home cooked and in quantities that would assure that we all could get a good night’s sleep that evening under canvas. It was also ironic that Steve M had mutual acquaintances with the Landlord of the pub, we can’t take him anywhere.
It was surprising how many other mad souls shared the same desire to camp in and around Llanthony on a cold night in February and are sure that they also found the early morning alarm of the local woodpecker undertaking rhythmic knockings extremely quaint. The farmer’s dues paid and camp packed up we headed back to civilisation and indeed a brief stop at the Iron Horse. Well done Steve, we kept up with tradition.
Thanks to Steve G, Steve M, Malc, Colin and Pompey for making this one a memorable trip. Looking forward to see how we can top that next year. M.