MID & NORTH WALES +A DAY OFF-ROAD RIDING WITH MICK EXTANCE
Back in March 2014 at the Scottish Bike show a discussion took place between two Kawasaki Experience Partners, DragonMotoTours and The Mick Extance Kawasaki Experience. The thinking of both parties was along the same lines and that was to put together a tour which would include excellent motorcycling roads through Mid and North Wales together with a day off-road riding in the heart of the Tanat Valley in Mid Wales. Within a short time of having the initial discussion in Edinburgh DragonMotoTours met with Mick together with Anthony Rosser the Director of an award winning 4* country hotel – The Lake Vyrnwy which overlooks the lake of the same name – and the tour was put together.
We had 18 clients with us over the course of the three day tour, the majority joining us at Shrewsbury on the Sunday morning for the ride through Mid Wales, but we did have one lady drive to the hotel venue to make the most of the Spa treatments on offer! And one who flew to the hotel in her Gazelle helicopter from Lincoln – talk about arriving in style, we did say to Jim, her husband, that he needed a sticker for his bike “My other bike is a …………”!!!
Morning coffee on Day 1 was something of a step back in time where we visited the Bird on the Rock café on the Welsh Border and some very happy riders sat down to tea and cake before riding into Mid Wales on open flowing roads under blue skies
and onto our lunch venue at the Clywedog Reservoir
We continued our ride taking in stunning views on our way to Machynlleth, known as “the ancient capital of Wales”. We had a wide variety of road bikes for this tour but the rider with the biggest smile was Mark, a KRC member and proud owner of a new Z1000 SX – this was his first time on a tour and everytime he took his helmet off he was smiling
The sun shone for the entire day and we arrived at our hotel before 5pm giving everyone ample time to unpack, unwind and take in the stunning views of the sun setting over the lake that evening before Mick Extance joined us for dinner in the Tavern restaurant.
Day 2 was upon us and 14 of our tour group had signed up to take part in the day off-road riding with Mick and his team. Mark was having too much fun making the most of his Z1000 SX and had opted not to go off-roading, instead Geraint took him “one-to-one” touring through Wales and onto the Welsh coastline. Three ladies stayed back at the hotel to chill out in the Spa and Jan spent the time with Mick taking photos of the day in the Welsh hills.
Mick and his team provided an excellent day for all concerned. The mix of abilities was diverse from people with no experience of off-roading to those who had done some before and others who last sat on an off-road bike over 30 years ago……. But as Shaun said – “it really is like riding a bike” and it all came back to them within a very short time. Mick gave everyone a comprehensive safety brief, showing how to sit, stand and position on the bike, together with the correct way to pick up the bike (a skill required by several of the group during the course of the day…. Not least Tony who decided to take his Kawasaki scuba diving, not once but twice and in a very muddy puddle at that!!!
Having said that, it certainly did not “dampen” his spirits and he was raring to go after a mid morning brew stop.
Mick’s team were very encouraging throughout the day and in particular to Beckie who has a great deal of experience on road bikes together with several track days under her belt, however, her nemesis is gravel….. or should that now read “was”. For sessions one and two of the day Beckie had one-to-one training with Graham, one of the instructors, and she quickly mastered both the bike and the terrain
before riding out with the main group for the afternoon sessions. Mick’s stable of bikes range from 125cc to 250cc to 450cc and as such catered for not only all skill levels but also gave people a chance to try out different ones. What was obvious from the brew and lunch stops was how much everyone was enjoying the day, lots of banter and laughter could be heard and not only did everyone comment on how much fun they were having but also on how much they had learned during the day.
Geraint and Mark met up with everyone at Mick’s base and we all rode back to the hotel where some of the participants from the off-road day took advantage of the sauna and steam rooms in the hotel whilst others had a soothing massage before we all sat down to a wonderful evening meal overlooking the lake followed by a presentation firstly by Gary Hartshorne of Bridgestone Tyres who works with Mick and secondly by Mick himself on his Dakar Rally Experiences. Everyone was enthralled by the presentation and a great evening was had by all.
For the final morning of the tour we were greeted with blue skies and good temperatures for riding. The hotel provided us with another hearty cooked breakfast with our large group table overlooking the lake and surrounding welsh hill sides. We had a group photo taken before we left The Lake Vyrnwy hotel.
Our route took us over the Berwyn Mountains
before descending towards Llyn Tegid and Llyn Celyn and into the heart of the Snowdonia National Park for morning coffee at a very welcoming 17th Century pub who had even baked cakes for us to enjoy with our cuppa. Weather conditions were so good that as we climbed the Aberglaslyn pass we were provided with stunning views of the top of Snowdon before we continued our ride on some of the best riding roads in the area to lunch at Brenig Reservoir on the Denbigh Moors. The tour concluded in the Welsh/English border town of Oswestry, the location chosen due to it’s ease of access to routes east, south and north for the onward journeys of our tour group.
As this was the first tour of its kind for DragonMotoTours it was extremely pleasing to receive the thanks we did from all our clients. The weather certainly played its part, The Lake Vyrnwy Hotel provided us with an outstanding base with great food and friendly staff. As for Wales, the roads were made for riding and the scenery is just spectacular, add to this the opportunity to have some fun in the woods and mud with The Mick Extance Kawasaki Experience on off-road bikes and the result is a perfect way to keep everyone grinning from start to finish. We are looking forward to running similar tours in the future.