Turning adventure riding dreams into reality takes time, but work and a small budget meant James Eaton had to ride smart.
With two days and a limited pot of money, the Tiger 800 XCA rider wanted an adventure and adrenalin fix that would get him back behind his desk fully recharged by Monday.
James fully admits that he has “too many ideas but never enough time or money”. So his solution was Taffy Drwg. It’s a thrill-a-minute mix of camping, trail riding and orienteering. And all through the forests and hills of the Welsh countryside from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.
He takes up the story…
I ride up from Devon to the Brecon Beacons ready for anything. After pitching our tents, we’re handed maps and instructions and are told to work out our own route for the next day. I’ve been riding the Tiger on my local trails for a few months but am still hesitant over the complexity of what lies ahead. I’m relieved as I counted the other Tiger 800s parked up between the tents before a hearty dinner, craft beers and a good (but cold) May night’s sleep.
Up at dawn, my team makes sure we’re all fed and ready early so we can crack on. Any team that gets back after 5.30pm is hit with a time penalty.
Our aim is to head to the furthest cluster of clues and work our way back. As I fire up the Tiger, the thermometer reads 2°C and within minutes of setting off I spot snow on the hilltops. A beautiful sight but not when you’ve anticipated warm weather and haven’t packed the linings for your jacket and trousers. Schoolboy error! Luckily the heated grips and seat worked a treat and I was the envy of my teammates.
The day’s trails are smooth and the Tiger rises to the occasion every time, keeping pace with my team with minimal effort. The first gear on the Tiger had been an issue for me when starting out trail riding as I occasionally found it too high and that caused problems at slower speeds on the trails and up steep climbs.
Had I competed on the newer Tiger 800, I wouldn’t have this problem as its first gear has been designed lower to make it eat up those tricky off-road sections.
Tiger takes it on
At each grid reference we’re given a clue. For example: ‘What is nailed to a tree along this trail?’ or ‘what colour is the grain silo?’. With more than a hundred clues dotted around, it means little time out of the saddle all day. Once again, the Tiger shows its versatility against my teammates’ smaller bikes on long gravel trails or roads. The bike is a mile muncher, no doubt about it.
We rack up 50 answers throughout the day. After a mad dash back to the finish line, we change out of our muddy clothes and head for some well-earned dinner. The winners are announced and we’re not surprised to hear we haven’t won. The guys who did had won the previous year and were better prepped, but we still feel like winners now we’d got a weekend shot of adventure into our system.
We’re a rider down today, a slippery river crossing to blame. The rest of us kit up, grease our chains and head out for some trail riding through the Welsh countryside.
The Big Bike group sounded too tame as it was a combination of road and gravel tracks. I ask if I can join the half-day group for smaller bikes. The marshal is hesitant when I tell him what I’m riding because the Tiger is the biggest bike by at least 100cc. A few trails later and I’m commended for keeping up with the group.
No competitive edge this afternoon as we don’t have to worry about checkpoints, clues or map reading. This allows us to focus purely on enjoying the trails and take in the incredible beauty of this place.
Riding through across hills, I’m glad I brought my Tiger. Then, I’m hit by two sudden thoughts competing for superiority. Firstly, it’s work tomorrow but secondly, our next adventure together won’t be too far away.