Whether you’re into adventure riding or not, Touratech UK’s bank hoilday open weekend in South Wales promises to involve a great ride to a great event in a great part of the world.
If you need an excuse to clear off for a riding weekend, they don’t come much better than the annual Touratech UK Travel Event. Held at the accessory manufacturer’s shop in South Wales, this year it’s planned for the bank holiday weekend of May 1-4.
It may be aimed primarily at adventure bike riders, though anyone not riding or adventuring will also be very welcome and will find plenty to do at the event in the town of Ystradgynlais (much easier to get to than say) on the southern edge of the Black Mountains.
Getting to the event should be every bit as enjoyable as being there, as there are some brilliant routes whichever way you’re coming from. Travelling through Wales on a bike can be hugely satisfying. It has some of the UK’s best biking roads, with many eerily short of traffic compared with most in England. Plenty are flanked by spectacular scenery, as they twist and undulate through valleys and over mountains in thrilling fashion. They’ll certainly hone your riding skills, with their challenging and rewarding nature.
Those coming from the north are probably best placed to enjoy the journey to Ystradgynlais. From the Manchester area, if you suffer the monotony of the M56 briefly you can leave at junction 10 and take the A49 to Shrewsbury. Round the town’s ring road to pick up the A488, and the fun of the run then begins. After just under 20 miles, turn right onto the A489 before Lydham and head for Newtown.
From here the brilliant A483 will take you down past Crossgates (where you can eat and refuel at the Crossgates Service Station, LD1 6RE) to Llandovery (fine food is served at the West End Café, SA20 0AR). Then follow the A4069 over the Black Mountains to join the A4068, which will get you to Touratech’s UK headquarters.
Riders from the Birmingham area can enjoy the route along the A4117, which runs off the A456 west of Kidderminster. At Ludlow, you’ll hook up with the A49 briefly before joining the A4113 to continue west to Knighton. Here you can join the A488 to later meet the A483 at Crossgates, and then follow the Manchester route.
Londoners and those coming from the east of Touratech can use the M4 to junction 12, then join the A4, A430 and A329 to get on to the A417 heading west. This will take you through Wantage, Faringdon and on to Cirencester. Regrettably the direct route of the A417 becomes dual carriageway to Gloucester. Meeting the A40 will take you with interest to Ross-on-Wye, and then via more dull dual carriageway to Abergavenny (refresh yourself at the Oasis Café, NP7 5HF). You’re then compensated by the A40 becoming much more rewarding to Brecon. Stay on it to Sennybridge and then drop down south on the excellent A4067 to Ystradgynlais.
Once at the event, Touratech will be able to help with your enjoyment and knowledge of the area still further. One of the many free things they’ll be offering at the event is a guided road tour. Over a couple of hours, it’ll take you to some of the area’s best spots along favoured routes. Those wanting to ride more independently can add a light challenge to affairs by competing in a treasure hunt at their own pace.
Owners of adventure bikes will get a rare chance to use their own bike on some off-road terrain at the nearby Walters Arena, home of the renowned Off Road Skills school. The 4000-acre site has a massive variety of types of terrain, so there’s room for everyone from complete off-road virgins to experienced mud-pluggers. Guidance and basic tuition will be available to all; useful for anyone who might need to get over any anxiety in tackling life on looser surfaces.
Should you fancy trying a pukka enduro machine for size you can sample one of those from the Husqvarna range, which will be on site. All the organised on-bike activities scheduled for Saturday and Sunday are free, but you will need to register in advance on Touratech’s website (www.touratech.co.uk) to help the organisers manage the numbers.
Spectators will also be welcome at Walters Arena. You can view a taster of the forthcoming GS Trophy (the BMW-backed off-road competition) where winners of previous events will demonstrate their considerable skills aboard GSs. Touratech boss Nick Plumb (a former Dakar racer), along with other leading enduro riders, will also wow viewers with their jaw-dropping abilities on more serious off-road machinery over impossible-looking terrain.
The non-riding action is based at Touratech’s UK HQ at Ystradgynlais. A vast array of kit will be on display in the impressively stocked shop to help you with your adventure bike riding. Virtually everything you’d want for your journeys, including clothing, luggage, sat navs, camping and cooking equipment, can be checked out.
You’ll be able to consult with experts from leading brands to get more information and advice on specific products. Some will be discounted. Guidance will also be available for budding adventurers. Touratech’s new off-road style Aventuro Carbon helmet will be on show, and the firm’s electronic suspension can sampled on the BMW R1200GS it’s fitted to – though you’ll need to book this beforehand.
Guest speakers will entertain visitors with their tales of biking adventures, along with tips and guidance from a survival expert.
This will be the fifth event of its kind. Like those that have preceded it, the weekend should be a fun and very social gathering with hundreds of like-minded people. There’ll be plenty of food and drink available, with a licensed bar to help lubricate the experiences and conversation. A bonfire will keep things cosy, as will some gently played guitar music. There’s also a children’s indoor-play centre sited opposite Touratech, open throughout the weekend.
Facilities for campers will be open from Friday onwards and space will be more than ample, with room for up to 250 tents and parking for motorhomes. Showers can be found on site. All the activities and facilities will be free of charge, though you’ll need to register to secure a place on the more popular activities.
This article was taken grom this month's RIDE MAGAZINE.
THE LATEST ISSUE
Riding home from the office last night I had to improvise a diversion to avoid some kind of blue-lit armageddon on my usual route. It was cold and it was dark, but on the plus side I was riding the splendid new BMW R1200R and soon found myself on the B660, one of the finest roads in this part of the world.
What might have been a 10-minute detour turned into an extra half hour, and my most enjoyable ride so far this year.
The rides you don’t plan can be great, but you can’t rely on them. That’s why, starting in this issue, we’re going to be doing a lot more to suggest great rides to great events, such as the Touratech weekend in Wales previewed in this issue.
As much as anything in this life is certain, you’ll enjoy getting there and being there
Enjoy the issue
Colin Overland, Editor