Hay-on-Wye proves it’s not just about browsing bookshelves in April as the town hosts its second, weekend-long festival of cycling.
The booktown’s inaugural Hay Bike Fest took place last year and is gearing up to return bigger and better in 2014 with a packed programme including guided mountain bike rides, skills sessions and a British Mountain Bike Orienteering (BMBO) event.
Luke Skinner, one of the organisers and co-owner of Hay-based Drover Cycles, said: ‘The country roads, moorland and mountain bridleways around Hay provide a rich variety of riding.
‘We’ve been working hard over the last year to build on the success of the first event and we’re sure we’ve done the sport proud.’
South Wales’ Black Mountains and the Radnorshire marches will provide the stunning setting for guided mountain bike rides and off-road orienteering.
Roadies needn’t despair – they are catered for with a sportive boasting 100–mile and 60-mile loops.
Guided leisure and road rides complete the programme, alongside Bikeability skills training for kids, bike maintenance classes and a festival hub in the grounds of Hay Castle.
Kicking off the weekend on Friday 25th April is a dual slalom race for all-comers.
‘The emphasis is on fun,’ said Luke. ‘It’s an event best suited to mountain bikes, BMX or cyclocross, but anyone can have a go. It doesn’t matter if you’re 6 or 60.’
Bikeability skills training sessions for children will be run on Saturday April 26th in Hay town centre, while off-roaders can take their pick of guided rides suited to everyone from beginners to experts.
Local mountain bike guide Rob Eveleigh of www.wild-rides.co.uk said: ‘We’ve spent hours scouring the hills to find some really great routes. Regardless of whether you’re throwing your leg over a mountain bike for the first time, or regularly nailing red runs at the trail centres, we’ve got a ride for you.’
Roadies get their turn on Sunday April 27th with the High Above Hay sportive, featuring a descent from the highest tarmac road in Wales – the 551m high Gospel Pass.
Sunday will also see British Mountain Bike Orienteering bring an event to Hay for the first time.
The festival hub will provide a space to meet fellow riders, browse the stalls and talk bikes with exhibitors – or to simply recover and refuel at one of the food stalls or bar.
It will also host the Timbuktu Turbo Challenge, where sponsored cyclists on four static bikes will aim to clock up between them a staggering 6078km – the distance between Hay and its Malian twin town.
Luke said: ‘We still need volunteers to take a turn in the Timbuktu Turbo saddles – there are 60 hours of pedalling time available. You could sign up for an hour-long stint or commit yourself to a nightshift – it’s up to you!’
Hay Bike Fest runs from Friday April 25th to Sunday April 27th.
Visit www.haycycling.org for booking rides and local info.