What do the Welsh do when the sun comes out? Well perhaps you have your ideas but what I can tell you is that a lot of them head for the hills where some of the best trail-riding routes are to be found. If you’re lucky, the elusive sun will come out on one of the most entertaining and thrilling weekends of the year on the Welsh TRF calendar – the Taffy Drwg, pronounced ‘Droog’ for anyone outside of the village. This motorcycling orienteering funfest in aid of charity is held in and around the Brecon Beacons and was formerly known as the Taffy Dakar, for which they got into a spot of trouble with the French who perhaps mistook it for something a little more serious than the beer-swilling, hog-roast munching, thigh slapping reality. But we’ll skip over that for now.
Around 300 entrants with team names such as ‘Two Strokes with Smokes’, ‘Three Mustget Beers’ and ‘Gnarled Nobblies’ took part with a huge variety of bikes (ABE – Anything But Enduros, motocross and race) in a quest to locate answers to clues that could be found on 6- or 10-digit OS grid references. The 140 questions were spread over roughly a 30-mile square and it was up to each team to decide the order and the amount of clues they wanted to tackle, ensuring a display of a certain amount of skill at map-reading, forward planning and mild to moderate cursing. This wasn’t a competition, clearly, just a fun weekend of camping and riding with the occasional points thrown in and prizes, rather randomly, but that’s all part of the laid-back style.
As well as orienteering, there were three ‘special’ sections – an enduro course, slow speed control and a woodland trail which required a degree of technical skill in order to navigate through the trees, with sharp 90 degree turns and roots to unseat the nervous – or unlucky – rider. This brought about some awesome displays of ability from riders using heavier bikes. I took my trusty Yamaha TTR250 and my mate his BMW 650 Sertao, both bikes were up for the course but I came a cropper on the enduro section, not giving enough gas going up and sliding down on my side on the loose mud on the way back. It all became rather comical as I was hanging on for dear life and my phone and helmet comms decided to randomly play Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’ at full pelt in my ears. No, dear Lionel, I wasn’t looking for you, just some kind of purchase on the loose soil for my back wheel. Suddenly remembering the importance of body posture I sat right back on the seat and finally managed to get down in an upright position.
But this weekend was truly only about having masses of fun and making new trail friends from Wales and as far afield as Portugal, Scotland and Ireland, who incidentally put on their own version called the Paddy Dakar. (At least it still is at the time of writing.) Wales offers the most amazing roads, byways, mountain tracks and jaw dropping scenery in the Brecon Beacons and it was good to see how respectful the riders and organisers were to the locals and the land as they made their way from one waypoint to the next. Invariably there were wrong turns, missed clues and dead ends but at the end of the day massive smiles adorned every rider’s face.
A hilarious ‘prize’ giving ceremony at the end had everyone in fits of laughter as the beer flowed freely and tired limbs and legs were ignored in favour of spirited recollections of successes and failures during the day. In a surprise turn of events, the same team received the trophy as last year, ‘My Hog Won’t Spark’ must have got up at the crack of sparrows to knock out so many clues. I’ll have whatever they’re drinking next year. If you’re a fan of trail, beginner or experienced, you should head to the hills and support the TRF to ensure these amazing trails stay open and the beauty of the Welsh countryside remains accessible to all. www.taffydrwg.co.uk
The Existential Biker @existentialbiker