The Rivette QUESTars Adventure Race Series

Brecon Beacons Adventure Race


Course Conditions

Information about the course area and trail conditions for the 2017 Brecon Beacons adventure race

 

Special Notes

Watch out, slow down and give way to other people and animals. Parts of the course area are popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders so expect some of the trails to be busy with other members of the public out and about. A bike bell is strongly recommended so you can warn others of your approach.

Some fields have livestock in them. Please make sure gates are both shut and properly fastened behind you, so animals do not escape from where they are supposed to be.

There are some fords / stream crossings so expect to get wet feet when running and mountain biking.

Whilst virtually all the off road routes were clear of vegetation when we did a final recce of the course area last week, we did cut back brambles and nettles in one or two places where they obstructed the main routes. Nevertheless, a couple of trails are a bit narrow in places where the vegetation encroaches from either side. And it's impossible for us to check all the public rights of way so you may wish to wear long socks, have full finger Mt bike gloves and carry leg protection (long over-trousers) with you just in case you do take one of the lesser-used routes and end up coming across some stinging nettles / stray brambles. It's also worth checking your tyres are in good nick as there were one or two brambles on the ground in places. We didn't get any punctures when we cycled round the Mt bike course but best not to risk it with old / damaged / perished tyres.

Look out for fingerposts and waymarker posts to keep you on the right track. Most routes are well signed but in some places the small discs are easy to miss. Also look out for these small signs on gate posts showing routes which you must not use.

 

Trail Run

The Trail Run is largely on public rights of way (e.g. public footpaths and bridleways), with sections on tarmac (pavements / minor roads) linking the footpaths together. Whilst running along roads you must use pavements if present.

There are some flat sections along by the canal and the River Usk, and some undulating to hilly sections away from these waterways. The surface of the majority of the off-road trails are either grassy or bare earth, but you will find one or two are rocky or have had gravel laid down on them.  

The off-road trails are on the whole quite firm (despite all the wet weather we had earlier in August). However, it doesn't take much rain to make any bare earth wet and slippery so the weather on the day will play a big part in what the conditions of these trails are like. There are one or two boggy patches where water seeps from the ground so expect to get wet feet at some point along the way! Trail shoes that are comfortable both on and off road are best if you have such a pair.

 

Mountain Biking

Bikes are only allowed on roads, bridleways, restricted byways and other designated off road cycle routes. Taking your bike on footpaths or any other unmarked trail is against the law and therefore strictly forbidden - there are no excuses - pay attention to the information on the map and the signs on the ground! Make sure you know the difference between footpaths and bridleways

The off-road cycling tends to be at either end of the spectrum; it's either easy going on flat to gently inclined well maintained trails or quite technically challenging on steep, rocky ground. This is nowhere more apparent than in the forests where the Mt bike trails are either wide, well-graded gravel tracks that you could drive a car along or eroded rocky vehicle tracks that you'd struggle to get a 4x4 up or down. 

The designated off-road cycle routes are at the easy end of the spectrum with some sections characterised by a smooth wheel-chair friendly gravel surface whilst other parts are narrow, uneven and bumpy (the routes that are flat hold the water so expect lots of puddles along them if it's rained). The off-road cycle routes are also public footpaths and these are some of the most popular trails with walkers (especially young families). You must slow down and cycle considerately when passing other people.

At the other end of the spectrum are restricted byways (and sections of some bridleways). These tend to be steep, rough and rocky. Their gradient alone would not normally pose a problem for those used to hills, but it is this coupled with the fact that their surface is frequently covered with loose sandstone rocks which makes these routes challenging even for the most technical riders. That said, all the routes have been riden and are rideable (in one direction at least) but if you are not technically competent or if you end up going up one of these routes, you may find you will have to get off and push / carry your bike a short distance over the roughest / steepest sections.

Bridleways on the open hillside tend to have either a grass or bare-earth surface. The bridleways that go over the hilltops are better drained, firmer and therefore faster than those that skirt around the hillside where longer grass, boggy patches, undulations and more gates makes the going quite challenging. Cyclists are required by law to give way to walkers and horse riders on bridleways. Please make sure you do this and that you slow down / stop when passing horse riders.

When descending steep slopes, it is your responsibility to avoid any cyclists coming uphill in the opposite direction. They have right of way and can choose whichever line / side of the track they want - if they have to stop they might not be able to get going again but if you stop you have gravity on your side! 

When on roads, always cycle single file (apart from being considerate to others, it's more efficient) and keep in to the left hand side so that vehicles can pass when it's safe for them to do so. Some of the roads are very narrow - they are not wide enough for you to pass an oncoming car. Moderate your speed when descending these narrow lanes and take extra care at sharp bends / road junctions - you must be able to stop if a vehicle is coming the other way!

 

Kayaking

The kayaking takes place on a stretch of the Brecon & Monmouth canal which is free of locks and low bridges so no portages are required. 

The canal is partially dug into the hillside and a large part of it is lined with hedges and trees giving some protection from any wind. The chocolate coloured waters get their distinct tone from the local red sandstone. 

Access to the water is via a wooden mooring platform that runs along the edge of the canal, which is quite high off the water. Best to put your kayak on the water, sit on the edge of the platform with your feet on the kayak and then gently swing your bottom round and down onto the kayak.

There is a big gap between the mooring platform and the grassy bank that it is attached to - take care not to fall down this gap.

Although permission has been given for us to use the canal, it is subject to a number of conditions, one of which is that you give priority to other boats / vessels / canal users. Please make sure you do this and are particularly courteous to narrow boats using the marina whose owner has kindly let us launch our kayaks from there.

 

Photos

View all the photos taken on recent recce's showing different parts of the course here

 

 

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